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Is Mike Mentzer's Heavy Duty Effective?
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Dave Price

New Jersey, USA

Hey just a quick question on Mike Mentzer's Heavy Duty training and other high intensity training protocols. Is his approach to training similar to that of Ellingtons guidelines? Is Mikes way an effective way to train? Not very familar with his work but I like to investigate. Any comments will be appreciated.

Thanks Dave Price
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Michael Petrella

Ontario, CAN

Hello Dave,

Everyone reacts differently to different programs. From my experience training people I have found Dr. Darden approach to be superior to Mentzers HD approach.

Although there is considerable debate on what HIT is the main difference between Mentzer and Darden is that Mentzer dropped down to a very low amount of exercise. To low for most I think. Also Heavy Duty 2 was a split routine.

Darden recommends Full Body routines 2-3x per week. It almost always drops down to 2x per week as your strengh increases.

I would read material from both and experiment on yourself to see what works for you.

Michael
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davise

Depends on who you ask and which iteration of HD are you speaking of? Using the consolidated routine for six months (twice a week of 3 working sets each) I got noticably weaker, deconditioned and lost muscle mass. I got so sore from each workout I came to dread it and would get out of breath just working out 10 minutes twice a week.

The advice I got was I was working out too much and I wasn't recovering and I needed more rest days between workouts. The truth was that I was horribly out of shape by the end of six months. Some people think its the greatest thing since sliced bread.

You have a lot of people who are deceiving themselves because they are fascinated by the logic of the system and are into the whole Ayn Rand/Objectivist thing as well. They keep training less and less and getting worse and worse results.
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stevecollins33

Dave,

You have opened the proverbial can of worms with this posting!

MM achieved cult status in part due to his awesome strength and high-calibre physique. When he espoused a training system that promised huge gains by only lifting weights once or twice a week for very brief periods, iron lovers sat up and took notice - a feat possible mainly due to his affiliation with Joe Weider and his Heavy Duty column in Flex magazine.

Although highly influenced by Arthur Jones, MM departed from full-body workouts (albeit late in his bodybuilding career) and adopted body-split training and super-abbreviated workouts.
His Consolidation Programme ended up thus:
Workout 1 (1 set of each exercise to failure)
1. Squat (8-15 reps)
2. Close-grip, palms-up pulldown (6-10 reps)
Workout 1
1. Deadlift (5-8 reps)
2. Dips (6-10 reps)
Users perform Workout 1 then rest 4-7 days before workout 2. The workouts themselves last 2-4 minutes.
Critics, including Ellington Darden, claim such routines are too abbreviated and won't trigger an efficient anabolic (and certainly cardiovascular) response in your genetically average bodybuilder.

Personally I haven't used his methods for reasons stated by Dr Darden and others. I have instead responded well to full-body routines performed three times a week using high-rep, short RI. The effect on muscular gain/maintenance and fat loss, as well as general cardiovascular conditioning has been most rewarding.

As a result I cannot envisage embarking on 2-4 minute workouts once or twice a week and what that might do to my physique.
However you will find plenty of support for MM on this forum, and rightly so since he was also one of the few honest pros when it came to steroid use in bodybuilding.
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H.I.T. Believer

dave:
there are actually 2 different heavy duty routines...The abbreviated stlye he endorsed late in his life has been covered by others here, some people have loved it and some not..

His earlier HD style was working out 4 times every 8-9 days and a split routine..mostly pre-exhaustion cycles of say arm cross supersetted with chest press - done for 2 cylces.

He did 4 sets a bodypart for most bodyparts , maybe a few more for legs..
when he plataued with this , for his last olympia he did fewer sets done in a rest pause manner and got in the best shape for his life for what would be his last contest.
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coomo

davise wrote:
Depends on who you ask and which iteration of HD are you speaking of? Using the consolidated routine for six months (twice a week of 3 working sets each) I got noticably weaker, deconditioned and lost muscle mass. I got so sore from each workout I came to dread it and would get out of breath just working out 10 minutes twice a week.

what total rubbish.What kind of fools do yuo take us for ,if you think that strength trainnig will make you weaker,and lose muscle? you are lying,stop trying to take others for the idiot you are.

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Drew Baye

Florida, USA

Everybody responds differently. Some will do better with a more traditional Nautilus approach (12 to 16 exercises, whole body, 3x/week) and some with Mentzer's consolidation routines. Most of us are probably somewhere in the middle. They key is experimenting and finding what balance of volume and frequency works best for you.
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Welshace13

mike mentzer consolidation routine worked awesome for me. got me from a beginner into an pretty advanced trainee within something like 3 months.

i gained some awesome strength, like went from normal bodyweight pull ups and dips to 40kg added to both pluss my bodyweight. my dead lifts went from something like 100kg to 160kg in like 3 months. thing is i didnt gain weight, but then i was 16 at the time. so it wasnt bad.

one thing though dont do normal reps with this style of routine, do rest pause, make that 1 little set kill you, you have to train hard. one way i did it was cluster style. so what i would do is do 1 rep, rest between 0seconds and 1 minute, depends how i felt, and keep going until i reach 10 or failure. doesnt sound much but its pretty intense.
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davise

Wow. Yes, MM HDII consolidated routine made me WEAKER, LESS MUSCULAR, and DECONDITIONED. Those were my results after six months of doing it as prescribed. YMMV. I don't take YOU or the mysterious group US that you belong to as fools. I do take you as rude. www.highintensity.net is a good site for his followers.
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TheSofaKing

Manitoba, CAN

davise wrote:

You have a lot of people who are deceiving themselves because they are fascinated by the logic of the system


This is what in my opinion gets you the rude responses that offend you so much. It's fine for you to say it didn't work for you. But claiming anyone who thinks it did work for them is delusional, is a tad condescending.

Mentzer's consolidated routine gave me some of the best gains I ever made.

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Tomislav

New York, USA

davise wrote:
Wow. Yes, MM HDII consolidated routine made me WEAKER, LESS MUSCULAR, and DECONDITIONED. Those were my results after six months of doing it as prescribed. YMMV. I don't take YOU or the mysterious group US that you belong to as fools. I do take you as rude. www.highintensity.net is a good site for his followers.


davise,
I think coomo was just incredulous; it is hard to believe you grew weaker and less muscular from doing heavy squats, dips, presses and deadlifts.

Dave,
I think consolidation training is very effective for advanced athletes; if you're squatting 95 lbs you don't need to wait two weeks to recover to squat again and may instead lose ground. On the other hand an advanced athlete squatting 4 or 5 hundred pounds for 20 reps may find they need two weeks to recover.


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Drew Baye

Florida, USA

I really wish everybody here had attended Ryan Hall's presentation on genetics and individual variability in response to exercise at the last HIT seminar. There would be much less arguing about this sort of thing.

I do this for a living, which means I have to deal with a large number of people with different responses to exercise, not just myself. I can tell you that while most people respond in a very similar manner, there are some who get much better results with more time between sessions, and others who seem to be impossible to overtrain because they respond so quickly to everything.

The problem with very low volume routines is that muscle hypertrophy is, for the most part, specific. To stimulate a muscle you have to work it, and direct exercise for a muscle group is going to do more to stimulate improvements than if that muscle group is simply involved as a synergist or stabilizer in an exercise for another muscle group. Too few exercises could very well result in a loss of strength and size in the muscles not directly trained over time.

Even if someone does recover very slowly and has a low tolerance, they must at least do enough exercises to address all the major muscular structures. This doesn't take a ton of exercises, but I think cutting back to only one or two is really pushing it. If someone's recovery ability is so poor they can only do that many exercises once weekly or less, my first question would be what else is going on that would affect it. How is their diet? Do they get enough sleep? What else are they doing? Is there some sort of physical problem? You get the picture.

No more time now. Maybe tomorrow.
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simon-hecubus

Texas, USA

As many have pointed out, there's much more to Mike Mentzer's stuff than those consolidated routines.

Here's a board with much MM discussion:
highintensity.net/Forums/ViewTopic.asp?topic_id=2984

Pay attention to posts from John Heart, aka Faithwalker, who's walking proof that HD is a great way to grow.
[EDIT] FYI, his workouts more closely mirror HDI or non-consolidation HDII workouts.

Scott
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Bill Sekerak

California, USA

Drew Baye wrote:
I really wish everybody here had attended Ryan Hall's presentation on genetics and individual variability in response to exercise at the last HIT seminar. There would be much less arguing about this sort of thing.

I do this for a living, which means I have to deal with a large number of people with different responses to exercise, not just myself. I can tell you that while most people respond in a very similar manner, there are some who get much better results with more time between sessions, and others who seem to be impossible to overtrain because they respond so quickly to everything.

The problem with very low volume routines is that muscle hypertrophy is, for the most part, specific. To stimulate a muscle you have to work it, and direct exercise for a muscle group is going to do more to stimulate improvements than if that muscle group is simply involved as a synergist or stabilizer in an exercise for another muscle group. Too few exercises could very well result in a loss of strength and size in the muscles not directly trained over time.

Even if someone does recover very slowly and has a low tolerance, they must at least do enough exercises to address all the major muscular structures. This doesn't take a ton of exercises, but I think cutting back to only one or two is really pushing it. If someone's recovery ability is so poor they can only do that many exercises once weekly or less, my first question would be what else is going on that would affect it. How is their diet? Do they get enough sleep? What else are they doing? Is there some sort of physical problem? You get the picture.

No more time now. Maybe tomorrow.


Good reply. Perhaps as Arthur stated the stronger you get the less volume you can tolerate.
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fantombe

coomo wrote:
davise wrote:
Depends on who you ask and which iteration of HD are you speaking of? Using the consolidated routine for six months (twice a week of 3 working sets each) I got noticably weaker, deconditioned and lost muscle mass. I got so sore from each workout I came to dread it and would get out of breath just working out 10 minutes twice a week.

what total rubbish.What kind of fools do yuo take us for ,if you think that strength trainnig will make you weaker,and lose muscle?


That's not what he said. Have another read.

What he said was strength training performed with that little volume very infrequently caused him to get weaker and lose muscle mass.

Strength training didn't.
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coomo

fantombe wrote:
coomo wrote:
davise wrote:
Depends on who you ask and which iteration of HD are you speaking of? Using the consolidated routine for six months (twice a week of 3 working sets each) I got noticably weaker, deconditioned and lost muscle mass. I got so sore from each workout I came to dread it and would get out of breath just working out 10 minutes twice a week.

what total rubbish.What kind of fools do yuo take us for ,if you think that strength trainnig will make you weaker,and lose muscle?

That's not what he said. Have another read.

What he said was strength training performed with that little volume very infrequently caused him to get weaker and lose muscle mass.

Strength training didn't.

Am i missing something then? cos any way you try ,it says the same thing,"i got noticeably weaker & lost muscle mass" irrespective of frequency or volume, that statement is still total bollocks.
Why did it take you six months to realise you were getting weaker? surely that would have been evident at once? if you began consolidation training with a muscular build,and after a few months looked liked Woody Allen,then was probaly the time to try another approach.

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MDieguez

Alternating periods of very abbreviated training ( Mentzer) with a 2-3 day per week and a little more volume ( Darden) may be a good idea. I dont think taking it to the extreme of 1x/every 2-3 weeks is a good idea but 1x/every 5-7 days may work when doing very demanding exercises with a ton of intensity.
Mike
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Thorwalsh

I would have thought that Drews response would put this to rest.
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coomo

Everyone seems to forget.Mentzer trained 2000 clients.Most of his later writings and conclusions were related to his experiences with this NORMAL not gifted individuals.With due respect,to Dr D. Id like to see more examples of the effectiveness of 10/12 set 3 days per week w/outs,with trainees with AVERAGE potential,normal jobs,etc.NOT above average students(ie Eddie muller,David Hudlow etc)who Attend college(do fuck all) and have the time to gauge calorific intake on a daily basis,cos I sure dont!

I finnished my workout this morning,(one legged leg press,naut p/over,naut press)yup three sets twice a week.my press has increased by 20% in four w/o.i dont need anymore proof than that.Mentzer was the first to admit that his physique was primilary not due to his effort but accredited to his parents,his work was for us poor saps whose parents met the wrong partners!
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coomo

Drew Baye wrote:
I really wish everybody here had attended Ryan Hall's presentation on genetics and individual variability in response to exercise at the last HIT seminar. There would be much less arguing about this sort of thing.

I do this for a living, which means I have to deal with a large number of people with different responses to exercise, not just myself. I can tell you that while most people respond in a very similar manner, there are some who get much better results with more time between sessions, and others who seem to be impossible to overtrain because they respond so quickly to everything.

The problem with very low volume routines is that muscle hypertrophy is, for the most part, specific. To stimulate a muscle you have to work it, and direct exercise for a muscle group is going to do more to stimulate improvements than if that muscle group is simply involved as a synergist or stabilizer in an exercise for another muscle group. Too few exercises could very well result in a loss of strength and size in the muscles not directly trained over time.

Even if someone does recover very slowly and has a low tolerance, they must at least do enough exercises to address all the major muscular structures. This doesn't take a ton of exercises, but I think cutting back to only one or two is really pushing it. If someone's recovery ability is so poor they can only do that many exercises once weekly or less, my first question would be what else is going on that would affect it. How is their diet? Do they get enough sleep? What else are they doing? Is there some sort of physical problem? You get the picture.

No more time now. Maybe tomorrow.

Drew.As usual you speak from a logical sensible view.Regarding recovery ability.It doesnt matter how much sleep I get, how perfect my diet is(and its pretty good)or any other of the myraid of outside effects that could hamper training are absent,after 2/3 sets carried to mmf, on a nautilus compound machine,im fried.The instant effect is dramatic and lasting, atleast until ive slept.Till few years ago, id run 5 miles spar 10 rounds,and do a cardio circuit, without feeling this tired-go figure.

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davise

Ok. Lifting did not make me weaker. Lifting so infrequently made me weaker. I tried HDII because I was at a point in my life where I was working and going to school and could not dedicate as much time to training. I stayed with it six months because I really believed in the system, admired Mentzer's competitive physique (which he built doing a lot more volume than is mentioned in HDII) and because honestly that was all the time I had to train at the time. I'm not a big IART fan, but Brian Johnston stuck with it for a year and got the same results...the paper is on his web site somewhere and while I don't support all his views I do believe he is sincere and honest.

I powerlifted and played recreational sports/martial arts prior to doing HDII and I watched my strength, muscle mass and conditioning slowly erode over the six month period. Tried several different things before finally settling on something I can work into my schedule.

These days I do a 3 day a week split with a total of 8 working sets per workout...certainly not high volume at all. I also hike, train combatives/martial arts and play various recreational sports. Bottom line for me is I'm not as strong as I was when I powerlifted (although thats debatable because I used to train explosively and now use a 3/3 or 3/1/3 rep cadence), but I'm more fit and look better (by doing some isolation exercises etc). I certainly am stronger and more fit than when I trained HDII CR and eventually athletes routine. I lied to myself about my appearence and condition when I looked in the mirror and kept telling myself next week would be the week I would make a breakthrough. I was delusional.

For me HDII CR or athletes routine is not precise or best. I really really wanted it to work and busted my ass. It would be great to train so little and make the same results. If you can make it work for you, more power to you.

And really in the bigger scheme of things none of this is that big of a deal. We are not talking about world peace etc. We are talking about working out.
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fantombe

coomo wrote:
Am i missing something then? cos any way you try ,it says the same thing,"i got noticeably weaker & lost muscle mass" irrespective of frequency or volume, that statement is still total bollocks.


I don't think so. From how I read the statement, consolidating his training into that little volume combined with that frequency caused him to lose muscle mass and get notably weaker. His latest post explains much more specifically what I got from the first one.

But as I said, his post seemed to read that the specific application of the strength training didn't work for him, not strength training didn't work for him.

coomo wrote:
Everyone seems to forget.Mentzer trained 2000 clients.Most of his later writings and conclusions were related to his experiences with this NORMAL not gifted individuals.With due respect,to Dr D. Id like to see more examples of the effectiveness of 10/12 set 3 days per week w/outs,with trainees with AVERAGE potential,normal jobs,etc.NOT above average students(ie Eddie muller,David Hudlow etc)who Attend college(do fuck all) and have the time to gauge calorific intake on a daily basis,cos I sure dont!


I think it's important here also to re-iterate that if you want to compare Mentzer to Darden, Darden has trained just as many people in his career, I would imagine, and has documented the training of hundreds of them in several books.

With all due respect to Mentzer, he may well have done, but if you want to bring Darden into a comparison, Darden is the one in the comparison who has produced the documentation of those results.

coomo wrote:
I finnished my workout this morning,(one legged leg press,naut p/over,naut press)yup three sets twice a week.my press has increased by 20% in four w/o.i dont need anymore proof than that.


It's good to know you've found something that works well for you. It didn't work as well for davise unfortunately, but he himself and Drew have both explained why that is, so I'll leave you with those posts to clear up the matter.

All the best.
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coomo

Darden has trained just as many people in his career, I would imagine, and has documented the training of hundreds of them in several books.

My point was that merely training the genetic advantaged, doesnt validate the efficasy of a routine. Ive not seen examples of these "hundreds" just a few select trainees.This is not meant to be an attack on Dr D.so please dont view it as such,i merely tried to highlight the fact that Mentzers clients werent selected,they were whomever decided to employ his services,he had to work with silk purses and sows ears.
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gmlongo

Connecticut, USA

Some of you need to learn more about Mentzer's routines before commenting. You are all discussing the Consolidation Routine, with tons of rest between workouts. That routine is mainly directed at individuals who have difficulty recovering and respond best to a low volume of work.

If your body can handle more total work, it makes no sense to complain about a lack of progress when you CHOSE to use a routine that is designed to provide LESS work, LESS often. If this routine didn't work for you, then there always is the Ideal Routine that Mentzer advocated. In fact, that is the routine that you probably should have started with before cutting all the way back to the Consolidation Routine.

As for the number of rest days between workouts...that number is very much based on the individual. Mentzer preached that "precise" is best; meaning each individual needs to determine how much rest they require between workouts. His system was not as inflexible as some here are making it sound.

You can't disregard Mentzer's advice, then comment that his advice didn't work.
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simon-hecubus

Texas, USA

davise wrote:
Ok. Lifting did not make me weaker. Lifting so infrequently made me weaker. I tried HDII because I was at a point in my life where I was working and going to school and could not dedicate as much time to training. I stayed with it six months because I really believed in the system, admired Mentzer's competitive physique (which he built doing a lot more volume than is mentioned in HDII) and because honestly that was all the time I had to train at the time. I'm not a big IART fan, but Brian Johnston stuck with it for a year and got the same results...


To Coomo,

I'd just like to underline this point and hopefully get you to back-off this judgemental "why did it take you 6 months... blah blah blah" attitude.

HDII was so eloquently written, so logical, and so persuasive it was easy for me to lock-in and ride it full tilt for at least 6 months.

I cannot concur that I got weaker, but I will concur to looking like shit. Again, I will relate the story of an aquaintance listening to me spout off about my workouts and incredulously asking me: "You workout?!"

It was just the dose of reality I needed to get off my pink cloud.

Consolidation may have worked wonders for some. I wasn't one of them. Period. End of story.

Scott
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