The Question:

I think I’m now ready for the advanced stage as a bodybuilder. How should I change my training?

The Answer:

My own success is based upon the wisest adage of the ages: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

You say you have progressed to the advanced stage of bodybuilding. If so, you have been doing something right in your training and diet for years to get to this point. My advice: continue. Don’t change a thing.

I even hesitate to remind you of some of the basic bodybuilding tenets, such as using proper exercise form and getting a good pump. The mere suggestion could preoccupy your mind with such specifics and distract you from concentrating on the higher priority of your mass-building principles that have been, and still are, working.

If you’re like me, you dove into bodybuilding with a passion, not a strategy. It was, and still is, something you loved, not a scheme for success that you reached after comparing it with other ventures. Bodybuilding is something you’re driven to do, no matter what. It’s in your blood, not in your mind. You toss and turn in bed at night, resenting the hours that keep you from your next workout. In your dreams, you’re in the gym, grunting, sweating, smashing those weights, cheering your training partners to their personal records, then getting under the bar when your turn comes and beating them at their own game, as they in turn cheer you on. When you awake, you gulp down some breakfast before you’re off and running, unable to resist the allure of ringing iron and the delicious pain of rough-cut knurling.

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You have no chart or graphs to consult, no calculus of how many more muscle fibers will be stimulated with each additional repetition. You’re in there to lift as hard, as heavy and as long as you can, because you’re conquering the world, and it feels good. When you drag yourself home, the only thing on your mind is getting back in there the next day, so you can do even better.

That’s what brought you to your current advanced level. You will continue growing only if you retain the mentality you had as a beginner. Sure, you’re smarter now, but not more intelligent, so don’t let your brains affect your workout. Thinking doesn’t make you grow. Muscle mass is a product of energy, and energy is a product of hunger. You’re growing because you’re still ramming into those weights, and you see no end.

I keep harping about having 27 years of training behind me, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m still a kid, trying to get as big and as strong as I can. I haven’t gone through stages, training one way as a beginner, another as an intermediate, and still another when I turned pro; nor have I differentiated between mass-building and shaping exercises. Every exercise I do is for mass and strength. I use two different workouts per bodypart only because more mass-building exercises exist than I can fit into a single workout. They do fit, however, into two.

If you had watched me train 20 years ago, the only difference you would notice today is that I lift a lot more weight. To me, though, every workout is brand new because I have a brand-new goal: I intend to lift one more pound, or get one more rep, or a portion of one more rep, or a fraction-of-an-inch more of a rep with those same exercises than in my previous workout. That’s the freshest challenge I could possibly face.

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