I recently received a phone call from a local client who’d purchased a product by one of the online “muscle building experts.” This client asked me if I’d take a look at the product (which he’d purchased before becoming my client) and provide my opinion. Given that I’m always in suspense to find out what the online “muscle building experts” are saying (sarcasm abounds) – especially to the desperate “skinny guys” – I reluctantly agreed to allot a bit of my scarce time each day to checking out the content of this product.
Now, I’m not going to mention any names or otherwise throw hints that would identify whom among the many “muscle building experts” created this product (a DVD set, BTW). I’d rather just provide some assessment of the DVDs for the edification of my readers. And though I risk inadvertently portraying myself as a bitter attacker of products that might compete with my own, I’m nonetheless compelled to review some aspects of the product.
“Why?” you might ask.
Because I’m getting tired of watching innocent neophytes of natural bodybuilding being misled with ignorant information that’s propagated by ‘muscle building experts’… or self-appointed gurus… or ‘Internet bodybuilding experts’… or however they think of themselves. It’s pretty bad when these guys are selling information on a topic for which they’ve obviously not even made the most pivotally important distinctions themselves.
“What do you mean by that?” You wonder.
Let me jump in with both barrels blasting: The DVD this ‘muscle building expert’ created follows him as he prepares for a fitness model contest some 16 weeks away. The “expert” is clearly a natural bodybuilder. As he trains for the contest, he solicits the help of professional bodybuilders who are obviously built with hefty doses of regular steroid and HGH injections. He follows what appears to be at least some of their pre-contest training principles/advice and all I can do is watch in horror as I witness this guy’s naturally-built muscle seemingly being seared right off the bone. Here’s a good question:
“Do some of us just start exponentially losing our intelligence quotient as soon as we pick up some weights and start lifting?”
Straight to the point: Attempting to build (or even retain) muscle with workouts containing forced reps is nearly futile for the natural bodybuilder. This is especially so when the workouts are spaced no more than a week apart.
But when you add in the fact that the bodybuilder is already in a catabolic state from strict dieting?
Now you’ve got absurdity bordering on stupidity. It’s catabolism on top of catabolism. It might work for juice-headed drug users, but I even question the rationale in their use of such bodybuilding routines.
‘Muscle Building Experts’: There’s value in the material
The DVD set begins with a physique assessment of our ‘muscle building expert’ by a pro bodybuilder. This is one of two parts of the product that appears most valuable. The other part is where the pro bodybuilder proceeds in spending a couple hours instructing the “muscle building expert” (and viewers) on the optimal manner in which to perform various bodybuilding exercises. This is good stuff. And it’s much-needed information; I can’t even tell you the degree of sloppy exercise form I see regularly at the gym – even by people who are under the tutelage of “trainers.” The DVD course might be worth the 150 bucks (“Wow”) my client paid for it just to be reminded of the optimal way of performing bodybuilding movements (instruction he’s gotten from me but is easy to forget).
But here’s a flawed assumption worth pointing out: Both these ‘muscle building experts’ in the DVD are acting from the notion that the fitness model contestant can correct physique weaknesses in a mere 16 weeks. That’s wishful thinking. Appreciable muscle size takes longer to develop. He should have begun fixing the weaknesses a full two years before the contest. Now the contestant is in a “cutting up phase” and he’s trying to bring up deficient muscle groups in short order. Oh yeah… and he’s an “expert?”
Bottom line: The physique contestant might be able to make the weaker body parts “pop” a bit more before the contest. But to actually make the under-developed muscles catch up with the more developed ones? It won’t happen within weeks for the natural bodybuilder; different rules for the steroid guys (‘Gee… that seems to be a recurring theme’).
‘Muscle Building Experts’: ‘Opinion Relativity’ within their products
I’ll bet you’re really wondering what the heck I mean by “opinion relativity.” I just coined the term as I was writing this. Here’s how it rears its ugly head:
A ‘muscle building expert’ claims in all his marketing material that he’ll show you the best way to build your body. Then… after you’ve bought his material, he seems to say throughout it that “there’s no best way to do anything” and “you’ll just have to experiment to discover what works for YOU.”
Wow… there’s quite a dose of this kind of disclaimer throughout the DVD set my client purchased. And it sure does reduce the value of the information with each successive utterance of the words. The “expert” clearly claimed within his promotional material that he had a protocol for which prospects are searching. In the DVD course, he significantly changes that tune. One has to wonder: If he doesn’t know and want to share ‘the best way’ of doing something, and to label it as such, then what’s the point of an information product?
I can agree with the assertion (made in the DVDs) that there are a lot of ways to burn body fat. However, I’d assume customers of bodybuilding information products are looking for the most efficient ways to burn that fat while retaining maximum muscle. Moreover, they want methods that are efficient and effective in helping them keep the fat off when it’s gone. As an example in contrast, I know of a “personal trainer” at my gym who claims he’s gained (and maintains) six-pack abs by doing “four hours of cardio every day.” That’s ridiculously inefficient. Who has time to do that? He’d be much better off combining an optimal mix of fat-burning exercise with better (but doable) eating habits.
In summation of ‘opinion relativity’: Yes… training principles should possess some flexibility for individual tweaking as needed. However, when an “expert’s” advice becomes nebulous to the point that it blurs too many boundaries – his or her advice ceases to be ‘expert.’
‘Muscle Building Experts’: Are some nearly as lost as their audience?
One of the more valuable aspects of the DVD course I reviewed is the ‘muscle building expert’s advising on fat-burning foods and simple meal plans. This is an area in which a lot of people can use some recommendations. Anywhere bodybuilders and fitness buffs can get convenient and time-saving meal prep advice – especially when demonstrated on video – there’s value.
Ironically, part of this information is interrupted with lessons on a principle that are far enough off-the-mark in examples as to be amusing. He includes a section in which he introduces and explains the 80/20 Rule. He gives great examples of how it was discovered and used by Vilfredo Pareto. He advises the viewer to apply this principle to his or her own life and, of course, to the endeavor of muscle building with fat loss.
Sounding good so far; after all… I’m a big fan of the 80/20 Principle.
However, he takes a turn for the worse when he gives some examples in bodybuilding of possible “20% of efforts” that might “cause 80% of results.” Here are his quoted examples of possible 20% inputs:
“It’s probably your workouts.”
“It’s probably your meal frequency.”
“It’s probably your protein intake.”
“It’s probably the amount of vegetables you’re eating.”
“It’s probably the amount of sleep you’re getting.”
“Ahem”… excuse me… are these the 20% of efforts that cause 80% of positive results or are they the 80% of efforts that only get 20% of results? I mean… the 20% of effort can’t be all these things and still represent only twenty percent… can it?
Before you accuse me of being a hypercritical jerk, allow me to explain why I’m bringing this up. It’s a valuable topic that can save you years of wasted time and effort in the gym. It’s a topic that holds the biggest “secret” to you actually getting the muscular body you’re seeking. Interestingly, the principle’s application to natural bodybuilding is something for which if our “muscle building expert” had accurately adhered – he’d have probably been more muscular in his contest. He might have even won the contest.
Conclusion: ‘Muscle Building Experts’ and ‘The 80/20 Rule’
Unsurprisingly, our muscle building expert was breaking the 80/20 Rule, as it should be applied to bodybuilding, on a massive scale. This is my opinion, of course, but I can explain it very clearly.
I’ve arrived at the conclusion that the 20% of effort that results in 80% of positive results in natural bodybuilding is the precisely accurate ratio between degree of workout stress and recuperation time. Nothing else you do will amount to much of anything if this isn’t optimized. Your protein intake will be wasted. Your perfectly timed little meals won’t matter. Your glorious eight hours of rejuvenating sleep won’t compensate. Your workouts with “perfect exercise form” won’t mean squat. This is the ‘umbrella principle’ under which everything else needs to reside.
But as I mentioned above, the physique contestant/expert appeared to put no measurements or constraints on this vital key. He trained to failure. He trained past failure with forced reps. He even followed sets of heavy incline presses with sets of pushups. What?
…Can someone please explain the logic behind this? What’s the reason for following sets of heavy presses that include forced reps with sets of max-reps pushups?
All that was mentioned in the DVD was that it was “really causing a pectoral pump.” Okay… so… what’s the reason for a getting a pump, again?
Now you know why so much advice from “muscle building experts” is falling short of providing the natural results you’re seeking. Take much of it with a grain of salt.