The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding: The Bible of Bodybuilding, Fully Updated and Revised
Who would have thought that anyone could compile an encyclopedia on bodybuilding and resistance training, let alone one more than eight hundred pages long? After all, how much is there to say about hoisting heavy metal plates? Bodybuilding isn’t, as they say, rocket science.
Well, many people take exactly that approach when they begin a bodybuilding program; I know because they’re easy to spot at the gym. Such individuals generally load excessively heavy weights on a bar, heave the iron with whatever form it takes to get the weight up (with an extra thrust from the lower back for good measure), and then let the bar come crashing down. That’s not bodybuilding! Strong on desire but short on smarts, these folks are either sidelined by an injury or often will give up quickly because they aren’t seeing any significant results from all the work they’re doing.
The truth is, it doesn’t take a Ph.D. to learn the complexities of bodybuilding, but neither does it come as naturally as, say, riding a bike. Heck, the bodybuilding vocabulary is like a foreign language: pyramid training, gastrocnemius, negatives, periodization, instinctive training, spotting. Learning the many distinct elements of resistance training, from the hundreds of unique exercises and variations to understanding how to put together a results-producing workout, all take time and practice. To make progress at the fastest rate possible, you’ve simply got to know what you’re doing.
If you’re rich enough to afford $50 (or more) an hour for a personal trainer you might be able to get away with being a bodybuilding dumbbell. Or, for about the price of a single session, you can invest in this encyclopedia and reap a lifetime of gains that’ll start with your very next workout.
Many people forget that I, like you, was once a beginner, and started building my body and my career standing in exactly the same position you are right now. If you find that difficult to believe, there’s a selection of photos from my teenage years that will show how far I had to come, how much work I had to do. What made me stand apart from my peers, though, was a deep, deep desire to build muscle and the intense commitment to let nothing stop me. Along the way I made countless mistakes because the only guidebooks I had were a couple of Joe Weider’s English-language muscle magazines, and I didn’t even speak the language! The magazines inspired me to learn English so I could follow my early idol Reg Park’s routine. Still, the magazine could teach me only some rudimentary concepts; everything else was done by trial and error.
Experience, however, is the best teacher as long as you learn from your mistakes. When I began, I trained biceps far more intently than I did triceps, a larger muscle group. I pretty much skipped ab training altogether because that era’s conventional wisdom dictated that the abdominals received enough stimulation during many heavy compound movements. I put so little effort into calf training in those early years that when I finally came to America, I was forced to redouble my efforts. I even went so far as to cut off the pant legs on my training sweats so that my calves were constantly visible and under scrutiny—a constant reminder to me that my weaknesses deserved greater attention. Nor did we have many machines available; I never used a leg curl or leg extension during my first years as a bodybuilder. Most of all, though, I was handicapped by my lack of knowledge; my catalog of exercises to shape the total body consisted of just a few movements. Fortunately, with this book, you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.
You’ll find, as I did, that building muscle builds you up in every part of your life. What you learn here will affect everything else that you do in your life. As you witness the fruits of your labor, your self-worth and self-confidence improve, and these traits will color your work and interpersonal relationships long past your competitive days. I credit bodybuilding with giving me not just physical attributes but also with laying the foundation for everything else I’ve accomplished—in business, acting, even family. I know I can succeed in anything I choose, and I know this because I understand what it takes to sacrifice, struggle, persist, and eventually overcome an obstacle.
Even today, many of the people I work with comment upon my commitment; when I’m making a movie, I’m ready to do a difficult scene over and over again until we get it right. Why? It all comes back to discipline. If you make a commitment to better your physical health, you’ll find the same self-discipline, focus, and drive for success carries through into the rest of your life’s activities. Though you may not realize it now, you’ll eventually recognize it when you take the same disciplined approach in tackling a particular challenge. That’s another reason I’m so enthusiastic about what bodybuilding can do.
This book is not a biography, not the story of my life as a seven-time Mr. Olympia winner or even a history of my life as an actor. (If you’re interested, you can find all that elsewhere.) Though I’m known mainly as a bodybuilder-turned-actor and businessman, on various occasions I’ve been able to take on another role, one that brings me the greatest amount of personal pride, and that’s the role of teacher. That’s why I published the original encyclopedia in 1985 and have continued my close association with the sport. In the years since that first publication I’ve been collecting, studying, and revising information for this expanded and updated reference. That I can say I was able to inspire a generation of men and women of all ages to take charge of their health and fitness is truly gratifying. From the couple of dozen students of bodybuilding who heard me give a seminar in the mid-1970s at a Santa Monica gym, to the elementary and high schoolers I tried to empower to exercise when I traveled to all fifty states as chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, to the less fortunate who compete in the Inner City Games throughout the year and the developmentally challenged who participate in the Special Olympics, to the readers of my weekly syndicated newspaper column and the ones I write in the muscle magazines, to you the reader of this encyclopedia, you are all very much the reason I’ve undertaken this gargantuan effort. I am indeed grateful that you’ve chosen me as your teacher.
That I can share with you my greatest passion in the world, which is truly the only real secret to health, longevity, and a better quality of life, has made this book an endeavor of absolute necessity—and joy! Bodybuilding is my roots, and I will continue to promote the sport and spread the word through my work.
I’ve accumulated more than thirty-five years of bodybuilding experience, including tens of thousands of hours training with the world’s top bodybuilders from yesterday, like Bill Pearl, Reg Park, Dave Draper, Frank Zane, Sergio Oliva, and Franco Columbu, to the champions of today, including Flex Wheeler, Shawn Ray, and eight-time Mr. Olympia, Lee Haney. I’ve studied the writings of the predecessors to modern-day bodybuilding, some of which date back more than a century, including Eugen Sandow’s System of Physical Training (1894), the United States Army’s Manual of Physical Training (1914), and Earle Liederman’s Muscle Building (1924). I’ve interrogated the world’s pre-eminent exercise scientists, researched questions from students at seminars I’ve given on all the major continents from Africa to Asia to South America to more recent ones I hold each year in Columbus, Ohio—and poured every ounce of that knowledge into this encyclopedia. With this reference book, which is designed for students ranging from rank beginners to competition-level bodybuilders to athletes looking to improve their performance to those who simply want to look better and be healthier, readers are free to pick through the expansive knowledge it’s taken me so many years to accumulate.
In one sense, I feel like a doctor on call who is continually asked for expert advice. A skier in Sun Valley asked me recently how to build quad strength and muscular endurance to improve his performance; at a health convention, several people inquired about the latest on the muscle-building properties of creatine; at Wimbledon, a top tennis champion wanted some advice on building his forearm strength; on vacation in Hawaii, a woman came up to me and asked what she could do to lose a hundred pounds of body fat and keep it off; at seminars, young bodybuilders want to know how to put a peak on their biceps and improve their outer-thigh sweep; when speaking to military personnel, I’m commonly asked how to get more out of training with just very basic equipment. Every day I’m asked questions on topics ranging from vitamins A to zinc, to the need for rest and recuperation, to the false promises of performance-enhancing substances. This is why I decided long ago that if I was going to spread the gospel on the benefits of bodybuilding I’d absolutely have to stay current with the material.
That’s been no easy chore. Evolution in bodybuilding has occurred at the speed of light, both at the competitive level and among recreational athletes. Those who simply write that off as due to a greater use of anabolic drugs fail to see what’s taken place in the industry. Muscle-building exercise, long scoffed at by coaches who claimed it made you muscle-bound and inflexible, has come under intense scrutiny by researchers. In fact, the science of resistance training is really becoming a science as exercise scientists verify what we bodybuilders have been working out by trial and error for years. That’s not to say we didn’t know what we were doing; on the contrary, early physique champions were pioneers in the health and fitness field, planting the seeds of development for each generation that followed. We coined such phrases as “No pain, no gain,” words that every bodybuilder today knows and understands.
Though science is showing us how best to manipulate the variables that make up your training, you cannot discount the importance of environmental factors. I grew up in a poor family in post–World War II Austria, yet those conditions gave me a greater drive to succeed. Developing an instinctive sense about your training is another intangible factor that many top bodybuilders develop. Desire, discipline, and drive all play a role. Science has a hard time quantifying these factors, but their importance is certainly profound. So, too, are your genetics: Some individuals have the bone structure and muscle-fiber makeup to succeed at the competitive level in power sports or bodybuilding. The bottom line is that with bodybuilding, anyone can make improvements and achieve 100 percent of his or her potential, even without the potential to become a world-class athlete.
Still, exercise scientists and medical experts studying the body, as well as researchers in the fields of diet and sports nutrition, are applying the lessons of yesterday to tweak and refine training techniques. If not set in stone, many of the ideas may best be characterized as principles. Ultimately, however, any finding presented by the scientific community must be useful to students of the sport and bodybuilding champions themselves, who are the ultimate test of the validity of such ideas. Applying these truths to achieve results is the practical basis of this encyclopedia. The information that I present on these pages is proved, of practical value, and will also work for you!
Since I last published the encyclopedia, the nature of bodybuilding has undergone an evolution of sorts in a number of ways. A bench press is still a bench press, and a squat a squat. In fact, the execution of various exercises has changed very little, but I’ve witnessed a number of other very important factors that have. Let me briefly review not just these developments, but how they can be applied to your workout. You’ll learn:
• how to structure your workout, whether your goal is to become a physique champion or simply to firm and tighten your body, and how you can effectively target lagging areas;
• how power athletes can adjust repetition speed to build explosive strength;
• which exercises to include for the greatest muscular benefits, and which ones are best left to advanced-level trainees;
• how to put together a workout that emphasizes body-fat control vs. one that maximizes strength, and even how to cycle them to get the best of both worlds;
• how to not only reduce your risk of injury but actually lift more weight by adding a 5- or 10-minute warm-up and light stretching;
• how to get the most out of each rep and each set, taking your muscles to total failure and reaping the greatest benefits in the pain zone;
• how to mix up the training variables when you hit a training plateau;
• when too much enthusiasm will start reversing your muscle and strength gains.
As I mentioned, few exercises are done any differently now than they were twenty years ago. Exceptions: Science has weighed in with a differing opinion on how you should do abdominal movements. The crunch movement, which features a shortened range of motion whereby the pelvis and ribcage are drawn together, is a safer exercise than the common full-range sit-up. The best bodybuilders of my competitive era did have outstanding abdominals from doing sit-ups, but their strong midsections probably saved them from incurring spinal problems. Because lower-back pain afflicts more than three-quarters of all Americans at some point, the sit-up is fairly universally contraindicated. So, I’ve completely overhauled the abdominal training section to meet current scientific opinion. I’ve also expanded the list of exercises to include the wide variety of crunch variations.
The basic raw materials of weight training—barbells, dumbbells, and bodyweight exercises—haven’t changed much either, but we can’t say the same about resistance-training machines, which have traditionally been favored by some users because of the safety factor. Today, dozens of manufacturers vigorously compete with one another, which is radically changing the face of the industry and the sport. Each year new versions of old favorites are becoming increasingly sophisticated and smooth to operate, now closer than ever to mimicking free-weight movements. Some allow you to alter the angle of resistance from one set to the next; others increase resistance on the negative; still others use a computer to vary the resistance. I would expect we’ll see even more radical developments over the next couple of decades.
Commercial gyms aren’t the only ones to benefit; home gym use has skyrocketed as large, clunky machines have given way to smaller, safer models that don’t take a big bite out of the wallet and still fit nicely into a spare bedroom. That’s an ideal choice for individuals too busy to make it into the gym.
In terms of nutrition, the raw concept “You are what you eat” still rings true, but don’t discount the dramatic changes that have occurred in sports nutrition, either. Sure, science has engineered some super-foods, like firmer tomatoes, and we’re now raising fish in so-called farms and leaner meats from ostrich and beefalo, for example. Today, we also know more about the dietary needs of the hard-training athlete and have seen the introduction of some important supplements that aid sports performance.
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