Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Classic Physique Building: Finding that "Sweet Spot" of Muscular Growth!

(Photo Above: Classic Physique Building Champ - Steve Reeves in France, 1948)

We've all heard about and recognize the importance of the mind-body connection in building muscular mass, but learning how to utilize it and trigger it for muscular growth is perhaps not so easy! Nor is it easy to talk about or describe - but here we go!

You can do everything seemingly right - get the right amount of rest, eat properly, and have a good routine with the right amount of exercises, sets, reps, and poundages. So, on the surface, it looks like you are doing everything right, but you still don't seem to grow! So what's wrong? It could well be your "mind-body connection." In other words, your body is going through the correct motions - but because the mind is not engaged, your muscles still aren't getting the right amount of stimulation to trigger muscular growth!

The key here is to find that "sweet spot" of mind-body connection where your mind is focused on the muscles being exercised, you are putting in the correct amount of intensity, and your mind and body are "sensing" and "remembering" this level of intensity as you are going through your reps. This "sensing" and "remembering" is critical - because without this, you cannot adjust your intensity level up or down to find that "sweet spot" where the muscles are being stimulated "just right" for muscular growth.

Developing this "sense" and "memory" requires conscious practice, some "trial and error," and tape measuring yourself before each workout so you can check the muscular growth you are getting or not getting against your "sense and memory" of your intensity during your reps of your last workout. Getting this right means having your mind centered and focused on your body and, in particular, on the muscles you are working - "your mind needs to be in your muscles."

Steve Reeves talked about this mind-body connection in his book "Building the Classic Physique - The Natural Way." This connection was so important to him that he wouldn't speak to anyone during a workout! He was a nice guy, by all accounts, but simply told anyone who tried to interrupt him to please speak to him after his workout. He would not let his mind-body connection be broken! Other Golden Agers practiced and talked about it. And this is why Vince Gironda was so dead set against playing music in his gym! He thought that there was no way a person would be able to get this "connection" if their mind was focused on music instead of their muscles!

So think about this and how you approach your workouts. Do you allow yourself to get distracted? Is your mind really "in your muscles"? Do you have a "sense and memory" of your intensity and what level triggers muscle growth for you?

Again, this is a tough subject to talk about, but it's very important and so was worth a try. Hopefully, you now have some insight (or perhaps a reminder) about this. Given that everything else is in place, the mind-body connection is really the "trigger" of muscular growth. So get to work finding that "sweet spot!"


P.S. For a free 1 year subscription to Classic Physique Builder Zine (CPBzine) - a pdf "zine" (do-it-yourself magazine) 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 annoying automated email (even from us)!


Johnny G said...

You know I read or heard one time years ago that after someone in fairly good shape who trains truly hard for 5 years will reach their physical peak - I have seen this and I would agree with this assessment - maybe some of you and I will have to put myself in this category, workout sporadically and we achieve modest gains thru out the years - Some might say that we can still acieve incredible gains after years and years and to that is all I can say is that for years and years we have not been focused and didn't train hard enough to acieve the bodies we want (we never hit that sweet spot on a regular basis)- When you look at the bodybuilders in the Golden Era the pre-steroid era most of them acieved the physiques with in the first 5 years of their training from the age of 18yrs of age up to 25 yrs of age - Then you see pictures of Ronnie Coleman or Jay Cutler and they continue to grow year after year after year, as Arnold and others with the help of steroids- So before I get off point as I usually do is this to have a short range, medium range and long range plan and to understand after a true hard year of training for many of us readers here @ CPB we can make great strides - It is not to late regardless of our ages, but to put aside the outside world when we go into the gym and hit that sweet spot as Anthony is bring up - You know for most of us a Classical Physique is obtainable with the right focus - It is also said the difference between a Steve Reeves physique and an average man is 20lbs of muscle - So if you are around 6 feet tall and about 195lbs in fair shape to get to Reeves weight of 215lbs that is a total of 20lbs of muscle or about 5lbs per year for 4 years and then to refine it another year - So there is our 5 years(will not promise ya you'll look exactly like Reeves, but you can have about the same amount of muscle density if focused and hitting that sweet spot!!!!

UK Steve said...


I would add to Johnny G's comment that would involve 5 years of training on the right type of program - and with the right type of diet. Unfortunately most beginners get their initial training advice from Globo-Gyms and the mainstream magazines / books available.

I would say that the first 5 years of my training were by far the most dedicated - and by far the least productive - trying to follow the programs of the top modern bodybuilders and paying no attention to diet.

If everyone stumbled across sites like this before they first entered a gym - and implemented the advice contained within it - there would be a lot more people achieving their potential in their first five years of training!

Kind regards

Johnny G said...

UK Steve, you are right on about having a mentor - Most gyms today have few or none - just some snot nose brat who just learned about bodybuilding or training from a book - We have a guy here at Gold's Gym in the Harrisburg, Pa area by the name of John Heck - John is 68 years old and has seen it all for over 50 years - One of the kindest and smartest trainers you'll find - So there are a few mentors out there, just got to look hard for them