The following is an excerpt from Mike Mentzer's
HEAVY DUTY II: MIND AND BODY


CHAPTER 6
SERVING THE NEEDS OF THE GROWTH MECHANISM


"Man's possession of a rational mind makes it possible (and necessary) for him to act long-range under the guidance of his mind. Before he can act, man must know (in abstract, conceptual terms) what goals to pursue and how to pursue them - and then he must proceed to act on this knowledge. It is through the volitional adherence in practice to conscious knowledge that man experiences his freedom of action."

Tore Boeckmann, Conscious vs. Subconscious
Motivation in Literature.



Despite the considerable number of articles and books written on the subject over the last several decades, most bodybuilders today still don't know that a bodybuilding program should be geared toward the development of strength. Developing stronger muscles is a prerequisite to developing larger muscles. There is definitely a relationship between strength and muscular size. Most obvious is the fact that heavyweight lifters are stronger than lightweight lifters, and that everyone reading this who ever developed larger muscles observed an attendant strength increase. No one who ever lifted weights grew larger without increasing his strength. It just doesn't happen.

It was discovered by exercise scientists a long time ago that the strength of a muscle is proportional to the size of its cross-sectional area. Many are still confused on this point because there are some who are smaller, i.e., who possess less muscle mass and bodyweight, yet can lift more weight than larger, more muscularly developed individuals. The mistake here is in attempting to draw a meaningful comparison between two different individuals. The fact is that the man with smaller muscles will grow larger only as he grows stronger, and likewise, the bigger man will grow larger only as he grows stronger. The "apparently" greater strength of the less heavily muscled individual can be accounted for by the presence of certain mitigating influences such as more favorable tendon attachments which give him a leverage advantage; superior neuromuscular efficiency and, thereby, greater contractile power per the same cubic volume of muscle; and, last but not least, is the fact that as a muscle becomes larger it grows increasingly distant from the bone, causing its "angle of pull" to be less efficient. So while the muscles of the more heavily muscled individual are capable of contracting with greater force, in some cases they may not "demonstrate" as much strength - and usually for the reasons described above.

Don't make the mistake of comparing yourself to others. The only person you may accurately compare yourself to is--YOU! You will grow larger only as you grow stronger. And as long as you're increasing in strength as a result of each work-out, your training program is headed in the right direction, which brings us to the subject of nutrition...

You will grow stronger each workout as a result of following the workout suggested in the previous chapter. When a person grows stronger week to week, it's proof there's a positive "change" taking place inside his muscles. Since muscles, by definition, lift weights, a muscle growing stronger can't be the same muscle week to week; if it were, that muscle would be limited to lifting the same weight. The point to focus on is that as a muscle grows progressively stronger over a period of time, it is changing during that period. I am not specifying at this moment what kind of change. For now, just remember: it is in a process of positive change.

If, during this period of change, the bodybuilder continues to consume only a maintenance level of calories, by definition, he will maintain his existing physical mass; he won't gain mass, he won't lose mass, he will maintain. It's the laws of physics, or more precisely, of thermodynamics. You can't build new muscle mass out of thin air; certain nutritional and caloric values are required.

By consuming only a maintenance level of calories, the bodybuilder will be frustrating - to some degree - the needs of the growth mechanism. He did train to failure; therefore, he did trigger the growth machinery into motion. Also, he is growing stronger; therefore, the muscle is changing. The growth mech-anism is reaching out to grab the nutritional/caloric cement it requires to build the muscle mass that the workout stimulated, but he only provided his body with enough nutrition to maintain the existing mass; therefore, the change I alluded to above will remain largely one of qualitative/strength, and it won't manifest much, if at all, as a quantitative change, i.e., muscle mass and bodyweight increase.

There are a few who claim that a positive calorie balance is not necessary to build new lean mass while on a body- building program. They say that the body can literally "steal" calories from fat and shunt them to the muscles for growth. In fact, this is precisely what Arthur Jones alleged was the case when Casey Viator gained 62 pounds of lean body mass dur-ing the one-month Colorado Experiment, which I described in my last book. He postulated that the number of calories Casey consumed that month weren't sufficient to account for all of the weight gained. Casey was not on a weight-loss or a maintenance diet. According to observers of the experiment, Jones literally force-fed Casey everything he could shove down his throat - including the kitchen sink. It was calculated that Casey was fed only enough food calories to account for 45 pounds of lean mass increase; therefore, that 17 pounds of Casey's fat was sacrificed somehow to build the muscle.

While there may be some truth to this claim, I am skeptical. I suspect that either Jones' calculations were skewed, even if only a bit, and/or he really believed that Casey wasn't on steroids at the time, which he was. Steroids are extremely potent chemical agents that dramatically alter the body's bio- chemistry in many ways, two of them being that protein syn-thesis and glycogen/water storage inside the muscle are greatly enhanced. So while stolen calories may account for some of the lean mass buildup, I believe that the steroids helped, too. ( I conducted an experiment years ago, in which I went on a calorie-deficit, or weight-loss, diet while training without steroids, and the first week I lost nine pounds. Then I went on the same diet with steroids, and gained two pounds the first week!) Then again, the stealing of calories from adiposity would be a genetically mediated trait, and like all genetic traits, its expression (i.e., how efficiently one's body makes use of calories from fat to build muscle) would vary across a broad range - from those whose body is poor at stealing calories from fat, to those whose body is very effective, and everything in between.

Prior to my emphasizing the caloric dimension of nutrition to my clients, most would grow stronger, but didn't gain the mass and bodyweight they desired. Since reducing the volume and frequency of their training, and emphasizing the need for a positive calorie balance, my clients' bodyweight gains are finally keeping pace with their strength gains - and in the majority of cases, little or none of the weight gain is fat. As mentioned earlier, whereas one, two, three or four years ago, I would only occasionally have a client gain 10-20 pounds in a month, or 30-40 pounds in three to four months, now it is no longer the occasional or exceptional case - it is the rule.

The Food Diary

The goal is to serve the nutritional/calorie needs of the growth mechanism to gain muscle mass and increase body- weight while adding little or no bodyfat. To do so in a method- ical and predictable fashion, start by keeping a five-day food diary. Write down everything you eat for five days; at the end of each of those days, after consuming the last bit of food for the day, sit down with a calorie counting book and tally the day's total. At the conclusion of the fifth day, add up the five daily totals for a grand total, then divide by five, and you'll have your daily average calorie intake. If you didn't gain or lose weight during that five-day period, your daily average is also your daily maintenance level of calories.

Let's assume, hypothetically, that your daily maintenance level of calories is 2200. Upon embarking on the suggested routine, make a conscientious daily effort to keep a positive calorie balance of approximately 300 calories - but not more than 500 - above the maintenance level. Why? So that you're serving the needs of the growth mechanism. The level of your strength increase will serve as a relative indice of how much growth was stimulated. If you're only increasing a rep or so here and there, obviously there is less growth stimulation than if you're gaining in leaps and bounds.

There's a little more than 600 calories in a pound of muscle. If you are stimulating three pounds of muscle growth a week, you will require 600 X 3, or 1800 calories per week above maintenance. That translates to 257 calories per day above maintenance, but you're taking in 300 calories above maintenance. Since 300 minus 257 would equal 47, those 47 excess calories above growth production need would turn to fat; however, since there are 3500 calories in a pound of fat, a 47-calorie-per-day excess would amount to only a pound of fat gained every 74 days. (If you stimulated one pound of muscle growth per week, instead of three pounds per week, you'd require 85 calories a day above maintenance; therefore, the 215-calorie excess would amount to approximately two pounds of fat gained per month.) If after two months on a positive calorie balance of 300 per day you see fat accumulating, use your best judgment and reduce calorie intake somewhat. (It has been suggested that there is a "metabolic cost" in creating new muscle, so not all the excess calories would necessarily turn to fat.)

For those interested in losing fat, reduce your caloric intake by 500-1000 a day below your maintenance level of calories, and you'll lose one to two pounds of fat a week. And as long as you're training on a proper high-intensity program, you won't lose muscle and may even gain some, depending upon a constellation of genetic factors, none of which you can visually detect. (One of my phone consultation clients reported recently that, while on a calorie-deficit diet, he lost 11 pounds of fat/bodyweight over a three-month period, increased his strength enormously, and gained half an inch on his arms. The loss of bodyweight would have been predominantly fat, with certainly none of it being muscle, as he did grow stronger and increased the size of his arms. This gain of muscle mass while losing fat on a calorie-deficit diet does not prove that his body stole calories from fat necessarily and shunted them to the muscles. It demonstrates that when you're in a modest negative calorie balance, the fat can be starved sufficiently to be used for fuel, and enough nutrition provided to maintain lean mass and to allow for at least some growth production. I told my client that as well as he did in terms of strength and lean mass increases, he most likely would have done better on a positive calorie balance.) When you reach the desired weight, go into a slight positive calorie balance of 300 or so, and see what happens.

As a bodybuilder continues to gain muscle mass and bodyweight, his maintenance level of calories will go up, and weight gains will slow down and eventually come to a halt. When you see that your weight gains have slowed down, increase the calories by 150 to 300 a day, and you'll resume gaining. Likewise, as a person continues to lose weight, his maintenance level goes down, and the weight losses diminish and eventually come to a halt. When that starts to happen, decrease calories by another 500 or so per day, and the weight loss will continue.

When a bodybuilder is gaining muscle mass as well as getting stronger, he should see a reciprocally reinforcing relationship between the two. In other words, his muscle mass increases will facilitate even greater strength increases, which in turn facilitate greater growth stimulation. If, at some point, you believe you may need more than a positive calorie balance of 300 per day, go to 400 or 500 above maintenance. Be careful, however, as not too many bodybuilders will ever require that many extra calories above maintenance levels. If you grossly miscalculate on the side of a positive calorie balance, you'll know fairly quickly, of course, as fat deposition will be appreciable. It has been suggested by most reputable nutritional scientists that when on a weight-loss program, the individual should not go below a total daily intake of 1200-1500 calories, because it is impossible to consume a healthy, well-balanced diet below that level, and the chance of sacrificing lean mass increases. ( By "lean" mass, I mean not just muscle, but all organic tissue mass.) In cases of morbid obesity, it may be necessary to reduce the calories even further, but then only under a physician's supervision.

The Actual Relationship of Nutrition to Bodybuilding

In early 1995 I received a phone call from a young man in New Jersey who was obsessed with the idea that his lack of bodybuilding progress was due to a nutritional problem. As soon as he got me on the phone, without even announcing his name, he launched into what seemed like an endless series of questions about different supplements such as phosphogain, vanadyl sulfate, Hot Stuff and MetRx. In the midst of this catechism, it occurred to me that since he was so confused about the subject of nutrition, it wasn't likely that he understood anything about the science of high-intensity, anaerobic exercise either. Initially, he disavowed this, exclaiming his lack of bodybuilding progress was due solely to faulty nutrition. (In fact, this is rarely the case, especially in this country, where most people are not just well-nourished, but overnourished--especially bodybuilders.)

Upon further questioning, I found I was right. He was violating all of the laws of nature here. He knew nothing about the principle of intensity, or the necessity of training to failure; therefore, he wasn't stimulating much if anything in the way of meaningful growth. And even if he had been, he was so overtrained from his two-hour workouts five to six days a week that his body couldn't have produced any worthwhile results whatever his diet.

I said to him, "Young fella, you remind me of the man who earnestly desires a suntan, but continues to make the mistake of going outside at midnight, then wastes thousands of dollars on different suntan lotions, thinking the next one will solve his problem.

"The issue of the suntan lotion is not without some import," I continued "however, it only assumes relevance within the context of first having satisfied nature's fundamental requirement, which is the presence of a high-intensity sunlight stress. In other words, you can't obtain a suntan sitting in front of a 100-watt light bulb for an infinity of eternities, even if you're rubbing phosphogain suntan lotion over your entire body all the while. Nature sets the terms."

The relationship of nutrition to bodybuilding is similar. While nutrition is, of course, important in the daily life of everyone, in the context of bodybuilding, nutrition is a consideration secondary to a proper high-intensity training program. One must stimulate growth first, via the imposition of an anaerobic training stress, and then adequate nutrition must be provided during a sufficient rest period between workouts so that the growth mechanism may produce any growth stimulated by the training.

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