Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Classic Physique Building Tip for Avoiding Sticking Points: Train 21 Days, Rest Seven!

(Photo Above: Classic Physique Builder Vince Gironda - Owner of Vince's Gym)

Every trainer, sooner or later, will run into a sticking point - a point where both muscle and strength gains seem to slow down and stop altogether! We call this a "sticking point" or a "rut" or "going stale," etc. So what do you do when you hit a sticking point?

Well, there are many things you could do when you hit such a point, but the first thing you can do is to try to AVOID (at least as much as possible) sticking points altogether! Now, how can you do that?

Vince Gironda, before he started selling his training booklets in the 60's and before he became known as the "Iron Guru," was a physique contest competitor and owner of his own gym (Vince's Gym) in the pre-roid Golden Age. He developed quite a knowledge of natural training by experimenting on himself and never advocated anything that he did not try out on himself first! He said 'train for 21 days (3 weeks) and rest for seven (1 week).' Here is a helpful quote from his booklet called "Vince's Corner":

"I have found three weeks of concentrated training to be about enough, and the point at which most body builders become bored and stale. And at this point, after three weeks of hard training, I find that one week of rest to be much better than would a change of program, because the softening up of muscle tissue allows for renewed energy by the storing up of vitality and re-stimulation to muscles for the resumption of training."

Vince goes on to explain that the one week rest was more for the nerves than for the muscles:

"Rest is nature's method of restoring the nerves and whole body. Surely this is logical. If anyone robs himself of needed rest and allows his enthusiasm to govern him, he then continues on nerve force which will soon prove detrimental for muscle-growth. And if one cares to go into precise physiological technicalities he will readily find that the nerves need rest more than do the muscles. Muscles over bad nerves soon become weaker under the power of mis-directed nerve force."

So there you have it! A method of AVOIDING (as much as possible) sticking points in your training - train for 21 days, then rest for 7. Pretty simple. Give it a try and see if it works for you!


P.S. If you would like a free 1 year subscription to Classic Physique Builder Zine (CPBzine) - a pdf "zine" (do-it-yourself magazine) that is patterned after the muscle mags of the pre-roid Golden Age of Bodybuilding (the 1940s and 50s) - just email your name, the name of your city (not your actual address), state/province, and country to cpbzine@gmail.com. That's it! Any info you send us is strictly confidential. We don't share info with anyone. So you won't get on any unwanted lists or receive any automated email/spam (even from us)!


UKSteve said...

Good article - I actually tried this a few months ago and found that I very quickly got into an overtrained state after the layoff. I eased back into training after the layoff at about 80% but you then have to ramp up the intensity pretty quickly to reach new gains in a few of the lifts in your program before your next week off.

I probably made some mistakes in my interpretation of it - I was doing the Steve Reeves beginner program twice per week at the time - so may have taken the technique out of context of the way that Gironda recommends training around this 3 weeks on 1 week off structure - but this was my experience of it!

Kind regards

Johnny G said...

body feel is the key - as Steve says that he had to ramp up the intensity - instinctive training should be the most part for any one who has been lifting for awhile(set programs to gauge your production is also important too) - the only problem I see in this program is that once you are off a week here and there it might turnout to be 2 weeks off the next time and more after that - Life has away of taking ya away from the gym -rest is most important as training, but remember this unless you own a gym as Vince did it is easy to get out of the habit of going to the gym - Infrequent training can turnout to be NO TRAINING at ALL, and I'm sure all of us been there already

- CPB (Blog and Zine) - said...

Hi Everyone,

I think UK Steve and Johnny G make some great points!

The 3 weeks on, 1 week off pattern that Vince is advocating is a result of his many years of observing regular people training in his gym. So it is a generalization. It could be that someone does well doing a 6 weeks on, 1 week off pattern. Others might thrive on a 4 week on, 1 week off pattern, etc. So don't be afraid to experiment with the principle without taking it too literally!

Also, how you come back off a lay off is very important. You can't come back using the same maximum poundages that you achieved before the layoff! It is best to come back by using 80% poundages and then working up to and then past your previous maximums. This will prevent extreme muscle soreness and overtraining.

Johnny makes a really good point. You have to be careful about layoffs because 1 week can turn into 2 weeks, etc. You need to be persistent! So don't get carried away by a layoff!

All the best,

CPB (Anthony)

Anonymous said...

I actually consider this one of the "secrets" of natural muscle building. If you are training and eating in an effective and disciplined way, a week off at the end of each month will only help.

Johnny G said...

the fine line between training hard and getting enough rest to recuperate - the fine line that all bodybuilders share even if they are clean or not - as time goes on to be in touch with ones body is more about be natural & classical - sometimes the signals the body sends are true about overtraining and sometimes just laziness gets to all of us - I feel maybe part what Vince was trying to say is to be goal oriented - shoot for something attainable - to go day in & day out and not to be able to set goals will rundown all bodybuilders - a big discussion should be about short term, medium term, and long range goals and how we set them up - honest appraisal about where we are now and what can be achieved thru training & diet - The Biggest Obstacle is Honest Appraisal. am I truly getting all I can out of my workouts and diet. So Vince figured one thing out for sure and that is to keep his clients FOCUSED - and maybe his solution was the above program

Anonymous said...

For sure Johnny, I believe that including a rest week at the end of each month is as much a measure against psychological fatigue as it is physical fatigue.

Jeffrey said...

I came across this nice little article about Vince. Thought I'd share it here.:
My name is Roman Footnick. I started at Vince's when I was very young (around 13 maybe). My dad lived in L.A. and mom in Houston, so my training consisted of INTENSE summers and every holiday school break for years. During the school year training was sporadic due to sports, but when I was 17 I decided I would compete. By 18 I had won a few local bodybuilding and powerlifting contests (Nick liked how I was stronger than I looked). More importantly I won texas state and lone star state championships at 18 qualifying me for nationals. I did the NPC teen nationals and placed fourth, and felt great about it. It was during this time period that I learned how pharmaceutical BB was for real. Vince and Nick always told me, but after meeting the other teens and learning what they were doing, and moving to Venice, training with pros and learning what they were doing, and finally meeting with Joe Weider and learning how little "Pros" earn (while knowing how much they spend to be a pro) I decided to no longer pursue hard core bodybuilding (competition).

I've been personal training since I was 16, and now help manage a gym here in Houston as well as teach martial arts. I earned my masters in science, and a license to practice acupuncture and Asian medicine as well. I still train - but its not my life, rather it just adds more joy to my life (barring injury).

To say Vince and Nick influenced my life would be a massive understatement. Unfortunately, I sometimes feel I didn't take full advantage of their expertise and wisdom. They would harp on at me about getting on that old, rickety, wooden bench and bench pressing more than I should "they just tear pecs"...It did. Or "squats will make your ass big"...they were right again. How 'bout "those guys ('80s-'90s bodybuilders) are just tits and asses...you don't want that"...I thought I did-but turns out I didn't.

Being so young I was very naive about the drug usage (by everyone). They (Vince and Nick) would go on and on about this body builder, that athlete, or this actor being on steroids or gh. I specifically remember not wanting to believe Franco (still today my BB/PL idol) ever took anything. I kept telling Nick I could be like Franco (we're both short and stocky - but strong)...and he would laugh and say "Franco's so wide he can barely fit through the door",or "he's as wide as he is tall" as if it was a bad thing. Of course, he would also tell me all those guys (even the Scotts and Pearls) used drugs. I think I was 16 when I overheard Vince say he wasn't going to allow any steroid users in his gym-don't know for sure if it happened-nothing seemed to change from my perspective.

I picked up a few "tricks" in all those years of training at Vince's. But the most important exercise I picked up from Vince's was...research, experimentation, and creative thinking. That's what Vince was all about. I think that's why he seemed so bitter at times, he KNEW what to do but science, medicine, or whatever could not keep up with his findings and theories.