Mike Mentzer was champion bodybuilder and fitness philosopher. He was famous for his powerhouse physique and was the first bodybuilder to win the Mr. Universe with a perfect score.
Mike Mentzer built his ‘perfect’ physique with High Intensity Training, which he called “Heavy Duty” training.
Heavy Duty Training is an intense, laser-focused, minimalistic approach to bodybuilding. You push your muscles to the absolute limit each workout.
Mike’s Mission was to achieve the perfect body and help others do the same. His practical and philosophical approach to bodybuilding reflected that mission.
Mentzer’s theories are intended to help a drug-free person achieve his or her full genetic potential as quickly as possible. He insisted that weight training should be brief, infrequent, and intense, to attain the best results in the shortest amount of time.
Mike Mentzer’s Training Philosophy
Marathon workouts where common practice in bodybuilding. Spending 3 hours in the gym daily was normal. Mike Mentzer took a ‘less is more’ approach to bodybuilding.
According to Mentzer, scientists since the nineteenth century have known that muscle hypertrophy is directly related to intensity, not duration, of effort. He reasoned that intensity, above all else is the most critical factor to stimulate muscle growth.
Everyone and every thing has a limit and once you reach that limit you can’t do any farther. So reach that limit quickly (and safely) then move on to the next thing.
What is “High-Intensity Training”?
“That last rep where you’re trying as hard as you can and you barely make it!
That is what turns on the growth mechanism in your body.
That last almost impossible rep where you’re bearing your teeth, you’re shaking all over, you need assistance!
That rep is very special, that rep is very different. There’s something special going on inside your body when that happens.” – Mike Mentzer
Mike Mentzer’s High-Intensity training incorporated the following principles:
High Intensity Training Focused on Low Reps with Heavy Weight and Training to Muscle Failure
“High Intensity Training was low volume but pushes your muscles to the absolute limit and beyond. You need a training partner for Heavy Duty workouts. It’s the only way to fully push yourself beyond complete muscle failure.
You Must Maintain Perfectly Strict Form
Perfect form was necessary to keep all the tension on the muscles being worked. Perfect form was necessary to reduce risk of injury. Heavy weights require strict form to prevent injury.
Move the Weights in a Slow and Controlled Manner
Zero momentum is used when training with high intensity. The muscle must move the weight slowly. 2-4 seconds up and 2-4 seconds down. With a stretch at the bottom and a full contraction at the top of the movement.
Work the Muscles to Complete Failure
This is very important: You must work the muscle to complete failure in both the positive and negative part of the lift. Muscles fail first on the positive part of the motion. After this part fails and training partner needs to help you move the weight to the negative portion until you can no longer hold the weight no matter how hard you try.
It Seems ironic to say you need to avoid over training with HIT workouts. What he means here is to allow enough time between workouts for your muscles to make a full recovery. 4-7 rest days for each muscle was thought to be ideal.
High-Intensity ‘Heavy Duty’ Sample Workout Routine.
Here are the basics for ‘Heavy Duty’ training:
- Pick 3 exercises per muscle group for each workout
- Do 2-3 working sets per exercise
- Do 2 of the exercises in superset fashion
- Use the heaviest weight possible to achieve muscle failure within 6-9 reps. Try to increase strength within this range.
- Push passed muscle failure on each set. Use the following techniques to achieve superior muscle growth.
- Forced reps – Force reps are spotter assisted reps. when you can;t lift the weight anymore by yourself, your training partner helps you lift 3-4 more reps until complete muscle failure.
- Rest-pause reps – when you reach muscle failure, pause at the bottom of the motion. Keep hold of the weight. Catch your breath and do another rep. Rest again at the bottom of the rep if necessary. Repeat this 3 or times at the end of each set.
- Negative reps – When you reach muscle failure on the positive part of the lifting motion, do negative reps. Negative reps help you reach complete muscle failure. Hold the weight in the concentric position as long as possible. Fight the weight as long as you can as it lowers. Do as many negative reps as necessary until you can’t hold the weight anymore no matter what.
A good split for this program is upper body workout followed by a lower body workout. Or, you can do a ‘push’ workout followed by a ‘pull’ workout. Space workouts 2 days apart.
HEAVY DUTY Workout Tip Sheet
- After he retired, Mentzer prescribed increasingly lower volume—eventually as few as only one or two all-out sets per body part every two weeks!
- Train with a partner. you will need their help to train beyond failure.
- Do your last warmup with 75% of your working weight. Get a good pump but do not go to failure on warm up sets.
- Use targeted pre-exhaust supersets. This strategically targets ‘related’ muscle groups. First you target the main (largest) muscle group with an isolation exercise. Then move on to another lift that targets the main muscle plus secondary muscle groups. In the workout below, for example, pullovers (which isolate the lats) are done right before pulldowns (which work the lats with the biceps and rear delts).
So, there you have it. Grab a training partner and get to the gym for some ‘heavy Duty’ training. Or, For an in-depth look at Mike Mentzer’s Training Routines Buy his Books:
Mike Mentzer’s Books
This book contains information on High-Intensity Training (HIT). The same training methods Mike Mentzer used to achieve a perfect score at Mr. Universe.
Learn to build a better body using Mike Mentzers revolutionary “Heavy Duty” system. Learn about the “less is more” training approach and discover Mike’s most advanced training techniques and philosophies–previously known only to his inner circle and personal clients.
This book dives into:
- The importance of working to failure
- Techniques for pushing past mental and physical plateaus
- How overtraining impedes progress
- A complete advanced “Heavy Duty” training system
He is often overshadowed by other bodybuilding ledgends like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Serge Nubret. Both of whom he competed against in the 1970’s.
Although Mike Mentzer didn’t have their stardom, his revolutionary approach to bodybuilding makes him a contender for one of the greatest bodybuilders to ever live.