by Ellington Darden, Ph.D.
"Training secrets? There are NONE!" Arthur Jones often said.
"Just understand some simple rules concerning intensity, progression, and frequency — then, combine that with a few good exercises. That's all you need."
Jones with his rules, exercises, and commanding personality produced outstanding results for almost every man he supervised.
Arthur Jones, shown here from page 55 of The New Bodybuilding for Old-School Results, certainly understood the HIT guidelines. But did he recognize
fully the secret revealed in this article? I don't think so.
For more than 30 years, I've preached and practiced successfully what Jones said. Learn the basics — and workout hard, in good form.
Recently, I've began to wonder if amongst the basics there was something hidden that actually contributed as much or more to Jones's and my training successes.
Jones's death on August 28, 2007, caused me to reflect like never before on those early days at Nautilus. Prominent in my mind were Casey Viator's all-out training, Arnold Schwarzenegger bagging it, Sergio Oliva sweating what seemed like gallons, The Colorado Experiment, The West Point Study, Mike and Ray Mentzer going through their workouts, Eddie Mueller getting pumped, hundreds of seminar demonstrations, and thousands of one-to-one exercise sessions.
What I'm about to share with you kept popping up after each prominent memory. The pops were small at first, but as I progressed, they became larger.
After several days, those pops revealed a profound element in high-intensity training that I had failed to appreciate. That element had been there all along, in plain sight, rearing its head during almost every training session.
I hesitate to call it a secret, because it's sitting right in front for everyone to see — staring you in the face every time you train.
If anything the HIT crowd has tended to believe the opposite of this concept. I know, I have . . . all the while prodding, "Relax your face, breathe, keep the resistance moving, one more rep, fight the negative."
Applying the above guidelines, I was trying to teach , the ability to understand all the fine points — so a person could eventually train himself.
But I was wrong . . .
Very few people retained the details. Most did NOT. Worse, many people didn't have the ability to understand. But the vast majority could, if they were in the ballpark, get good results — but nowhere near great results.
Note: Good is not the same as great. Most people want GREAT RESULTS.
The unrealized key to great results, a secret, if you will, is simply:
But don't let that simplicity fool you. It goes way beyond just training harder. It has to do with FOUR elements:
Literally, no one can . . .
a) Make the right training choices for his own body.
b) Understand accurately and clearly what's going on during his workout.
c) Push himself through HIT-style workouts.
d) Be consistent, day in and day out, with what's required for maximal and optimal results.
It just can't be done. Not by Casey Viator, not by Mike Mentzer, not by Arthur Jones, and not by me.
Let me repeat myself. It is NOT simply about busting your butt during each training session. It's much more than that.
You see, no one really views himself like other people do. In other words, you have a distorted self-image. We all do.
And you have a distorted view about what you need in the way of training. In fact, some, maybe even most, need the exact opposite of what they're feverishly striving for.
From professional bodybuilders to teenage trainees to the serious in-betweens, all of those who traveled to Florida for Nautilus seminars in the 1980s, not a single one saw himself with the same accuracy as the rest of the world.
How can I make such a statement? Because I was there . . . and I talked with each one.
For outstanding ongoing results from your training, you must have an experienced, objective, non-distorted view of what's happening to your own body — both in and out of the gym. Then, you must be able to balance your physique, and your life, to the reality of day-to-day living.
Perhaps a few, a very few, have been able to see, evaluate, and balance their bodies in a healthy manner. But if so, they don't attend fitness seminars nor frequent bodybuilding Web sites.
Take off your shirt and stand in front of a large mirror. Study closely your neck, upper chest, side deltoids . . . your biceps, triceps, and forearms . . . and, of course, your midsection and abdominals.
Be honest with your assessments.
Are you satisfied with what you see? Are you pleased with your muscular size?
Do you train yourself?
I used to observe Arthur Jones and marvel at his ability to plan individualized routines for people. He'd then put them through the best workout they'd ever had. And, afterward, over a meal, he'd explain what had happened and why.
Those enthused guys would return home to train themselves. After four weeks, we'd get a call, with something along the lines of: "My progress has stopped, PLEASE HELP?"
And we'd help, with a slightly different routine, a new technique, or encouragement to revisit the Nautilus headquarters. It worked; growth would resume — for a short while. Then, the cycle would be repeated, again and again. And it went on this way for years, throughout the 1970s and the 1980s.
Gradually, as I observed, unlearned, and relearned — I reached a level where I could provide the same guidance as Arthur did. I authored a dozen HIT books, with case studies, to prove it. But neither Arthur nor I understood and appreciated fully that . . . You can't train yourself.
In other words, we were getting results, not from the teaching of the basics, as much as it was from the individual attention we were giving the subject.
Looking back on the Nautilus era, which stretched from 1972-1985, the practice that remains strong — in fact, even stronger today — is the one-to-one, personal-training concept.
Arthur Jones and Nautilus almost single-handedly started the personal-training industry in the 1970s. It's somewhat difficult for me to accept that one-to-one training may be more lasting than all the HIT techniques combined.
I should have recognized this more than a dozen years ago when many clients kept repeating my weight-loss programs at the Gainesville Health & Fitness Center. A dieter would lose 20 pounds, regain it, rejoin, and lose it again. One guy did this seven times over a five-year stretch.
In today's TV-marketing world of tasty, high-calorie foods, it's almost impossible to lose significant amounts of fat and keep it off permanently. Any lasting approach has to be grounded — not on self-reliance — but on old-fashioned coaching and someone to answer to. It's common to pay top dollar for this service.
Is supervised dieting any different from supervised training? No, the guidelines are similar and the application is the same: They both require coaching, measurements, hard work, and accountability.
The facts remain that you and I need help. We all need help and the right kind of coaching, based on experience and science.
One of my best training experiences involved Keith Whitley, a bodybuilder from Dallas. Keith responded by packing on 29 pounds of muscle. His complete training program and results are reported in my book, Bigger Muscles in 42 Days.
Training people has been the core of my passion . . . at Nautilus in the 1970s and 1980s and at the Gainesville Health & Fitness Center in the 1990s. I like to work with people, people of all ages, in small and large groups.
With Jones's passing and my spending hours reflecting on my career, the most fulfilling times of my life have been training people one-to-one.
I especially remember those men who had a burning desire to improve and an unwavering commitment to success. Under my coaching they thrived and .
That's why I've decided to offer private, three-hour workshops from my new home gym in Orlando. I want to help. I want you to achieve GREAT results, the best-possible results, from HIT.
Stay tuned to this Web site for all the details on how to take advantage my training workshops.