by Greg Sushinsky
1. Q: What’s the most important aspect of training?
1. A: Workouts that work for you. You should begin with general workouts, though eventually the most productive workouts will be the ones you’ve used and refined, so that they have the specific elements you need and eliminate those you don’t. Keep adjusting and refining your workout approaches all the time. This is what the most successful bodybuilders do on any level.
2. Q: How important is nutrition? What percentage would you ascribe to its importance?
2. A: Nutrition should not really be looked at as a percentage of importance. Instead, it should be considered an integral part of your bodybuilding. There is training and nutrition, and both should be maximized for anyone to come closer to reaching their bodybuilding potential.
3. Q: If I get stronger, won’t I automatically get bigger?
3. A: Not necessarily. Developing strength and developing muscle size can be related, can overlap, but they don’t always do so. This is confusing not only for beginning bodybuilders, but for many experienced ones as well, and unfortunately, most drug-free bodybuilders have completely bought into the concept that “If I lift more weight, I’ll have to get bigger, my muscles will have to grow.” Strength and muscle hypertrophy are somewhat different responses in the human body, and can require different approaches. Include both approaches at different times.
4. Q: Are the basics--basic exercises and basic workouts--best?
4. A: The basics have value, sometimes great value, but again, like strength training, building a great physique often requires more than just this. If a young, natural bodybuilder whose structure includes poor shoulder width and easily developing glutes, does excessive squats and military presses, his shoulder width won’t improve, and his glutes will become even more out of proportion to the rest of his physique. He must include at some point (sooner preferably), the so-called shaping moves–lateral raises for shoulders, hacks for quads, and curb the use of presses and squats. This crucial strategy is often scorned and disregarded by drug-free trainers today, but it is what is meant by training for shape and proportion.
5. Q: Isn’t high-intensity training the best way to train?
5. A: So-called high-intensity training is not usually and certainly not exclusively the best way to train. Let me say that brief training does have value, though training to limit reps or failure, less so. This kind of workout can deliver results–though for many it does not. The amount of effort as measured against the results is often unfavorable. This is its key flaw, and is a conclusion from empirical evidence, not theories. It often works best as an occasional, not main, training method. If you like it and it works, keep doing it; but if it doesn’t, modify it or change to something else that does.
6. Q: How many sets should drug-free bodybuilders do?
6. A: It varies with the person and objective. A general range might be from one to ten sets per muscle group, with four to six sets being a good middle range. One set would usually involve the so-called high-intensity method, while the ten set workout would obviously be a volume workout–perhaps specialization on a lagging muscle group, only to be done for a short period of time–and most likely with lighter or moderate poundages. For most of us, changing around (most disagree and don’t do this enough) and using different set amounts with varied intensities works best.
7. Q: What about eating clean?
7. A: By eating clean, I assume you mean lowfat or very lowfat eating. This is not always appropriate for natural trainers, or at least not all the time. Hard gainers, for example, often have a terrible time gaining on low fat nutrition (without beef, eggs–the whole egg– & milk). Even mesomorphic bodybuilders can often do better including more fats. While many easy gainers or overweight natural trainers may thrive on a lowfat eating approach, it is in no way the ultimate or only approach to health and muscle gains through nutrition.
8. Q: Isn’t the term “hard gainer” a cop-out for bodybuilders who don’t train hard enough?
8. A: No. The term hard gainer can be helpful to locate and diagnose training and nutrition problems, which is a first step toward finding the best approaches for making gains. The value in understanding whether you are a hard gainer or not is that you can find alternative approaches that work best for you.
9. Q: Can a drug-free trainer equal a drug-user’s physique?
9. A: In some cases, possibly, in most cases, probably not. If you are asking whether natural bodybuilders can compete with the steroid bodybuilders on the top level of competition, the answer is that they cannot. That’s just facing what is the current reality of bodybuilding. If you are a natural bodybuilder, you can still make great gains and achieve a tremendous physique. That is worthwhile to many of us.
10. Q: Is citing genetic potential an excuse for failure?
10. A: Genetics, again (see hard gainer question), can be helpful in locating where you are on the continuum of bodybuilding potential, though this is inexact. This can help you figure out more precisely how to train and diet, and save you years of wasted effort. Why not stay motivated and work hard no matter what your potential, and see where it all takes you?