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#1 BBS Manual: "Training to Failure" - D.I.Y Hercules for Everybody
on January 2, 2006
*Note* There is a revised edition of this book.
The Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding is the largest tome of bodybuilding information found in any publication, finishing up at around 800 pages with approximately 1000 pictures and weighing in at a whopping 5.8lbs, making it the only book that gives you a workout while reading it. Arnold divides his massive manuscript into a number of sections, starting with the history of bodybuilding, competitions, the gym experience and training techniques (the core exercises) before rounding up with various poses and additional information on bodybuilding supplements and diets. Arnold advocates trying to find pictures of a bodybuilder who fits your size and figure and then aiming to replicate their results. Arnold himself used Reg Park as a model for his first teenage foray in the gym while in subsequent years built each body part up using different bodybuilding models to achieve his own unique juggernaut definition. This is but a tiny fraction of the kind of good quality recommendations that the Encyclopedia comes up with. Bodybuilders (bbs) everywhere refer to the `encyclopedia' for its awesome display of photographs of superhuman bbs throughout the ages. There is no lack of snaps that detail the human anatomy. You will likely run through the book many times to find that muscle group or separation that you missed the first time. It is startling how much anatomy you need to get around before you can understand what impact each exercise has on the developing muscle. This is a fully fledged subject that will have your attention for years to come and there is no better place than to start here. Combining this book with the movie "Pumping Iron" on DVD will give you a much better idea of where the information is coming from and you will see most of the faces in this book actually exercising and involved in many of the competition photographs that are on display here. Arnold's description of the muscle groups and how to work them is coupled with illustrations and photographs to show the kind of development you should be aiming to achieve. Creating striations on muscle groups like deltoids and pectorals are topics that will cause you to go back to page one to re-examine everything you have read and seen. Anatomical research coupled with exercising methodology and application with dieting will transform your physique over the course of even a few months. As a lifelong hobby you will be bulking up before your first year is out. A few years will have you at competition level. The whole point is get into the gym to work off that fat to reveal your true shape, a shape that can be defined and built upon with muscle. Arnold Schwarzenegger, and other world-class bodybuilders, advocate more than one set per exercise called High-Volume Training, HVT, the traditional method of using multiple sets to train to failure by training each set to failure, resting, and then repeating the set to failure, as many times as it takes before you just can not do anymore sets for that body part. You will build muscle no matter what kind of genetics you have if you stick with HVT. Hypertrophy is the scientific term for the enlargement of muscle tissue caused by a specific amount of intensity needed for the hypertrophy to occur. No intensity, no hypertrophy, no gain. HVT achieves hypertrophy every time because each muscle group is trained to failure. This is the key to building muscle. You must get that straining feeling where you just can't do another repetition. If you find yourself doing lots of repetitions (more than 10) then you need to add more weight. Arnold includes various Power-Training techniques to help shock the body into being able to lift heavier weights. They work. He also includes increasing intensity techniques by utilizing `forced reps', `negative reps', `isolation training', `supersets' and `stripping methods' among a host of others to learn about. There is much more here then any review can hope to explain (and look at the length of mine!). That is why it is 800 pages or so. Apart from the five stars which it deserves the book does have some major drawbacks. The first big drawback is that all the photographs involve drug use. There are only a few photographs of bodybuilders who have not used steroids and the reason is obvious. It is the little dirty secret that hides behind all the bigger muscle on display. You simply will not get as big as these legends without doing drugs. However you will certainly be able to achieve the same definition and still have very big muscles without drugs. The bodybuilders who did not do drugs are at the start of the book in the history of bodybuilding. Look at the photographs of everybody until you reach Reg Park. After that it is all drug users. Achieving the same sizes without drugs is near impossible apart from the exceptionally genetically gifted person. There is also a lesson to learn from this drug experimentation. Don't do it if you put any value on the most important muscle of all... your heart. All of the guys in this book are much older now and you can see them in the bonus material of the "Pumping Iron" DVD. Sadly they don't look good (sadly some are in wheelchairs) and even Arnold has had a bypass. Just go with food type supplements like 100% Whey Protein and Creatine and stay away from all forms of steroids. The other major drawback is that the 70s bodybuilding era did not give much regard to what is called perfect form. Perfect form is all about doing the exercises the right way to avoid injury. A lot... and I mean a lot... of the exercises in the Encyclopedia are considered very dangerous, mainly because of back arching. These include nearly all of the `Rows'-type exercises (Bent-Over Barbell Rows, Bent-Over Dumbbell Rows, T-bar Rows and the One-Arm Dumbbell Row) which are abandoned today. A `Straight-Leg Deadlift' is something you must do right or you can injure yourself. The `Goodmorning' is considered iffy. Using a Smith-machine for the `Vertical Machine Press' is bad because it has a set path. Triceps `Extensions' are a problem. Take care with `Dipping' and avoid `Sissy Squats'. Arnold's book does not do perfect form so well and in most cases just comes up with plainly dangerous material. This is not to say that you can not do the exercises now and again. Most you can, but in the long term you will only get an injury. Avoiding injury = gain. It is as simple as that. So learn perfect form. How to do this? If you want to learn perfecting form then read "The Insider's Tell-All Handbook on Weight-Training Technique" by Stuart McRobert. This book clearly explains how to perform Back Extension, Cable Row, Calf Raise, Close-Grip Bench Press, Crunch Abdominal Work, Curl, Decline Bench Press, Dumbbell Row, Finger Extension, Grip Machine Training, Incline Bench Press, Leg Press, Lever Bar Work, L-fly, Neck Work, Overhead Lockout, Overhead Press, Parallel Bar Dip, Partial Deadlift, Pinch-grip Lifting, Prone Row, Pulldown, Pullover, Pullup/Chin, Pushdown, Rader Chest Pull, Shrug, Side Bend, Squat, Stiff-legged Deadlift, Thick-bar Hold and the Wrist Roller Training. Get it along with this book and you will not be disappointed with what you can learn between the two. Getting that perfect form right is something that you can learn from the latter book and start doing better in a year than the bb who has been in the gym for ten years. It is that important. Slow and controlled exercising does not avoid injury. Injury has nothing to do with the speed or control of the exercise. Injury occurs because of bad form. So get the form right, learn what Arnold teaches you about developing muscle groups and stay away from drugs to live until you are 90 with a darn near perfect body. It can be done!