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Updated on March 14, 2012

"I've Got A Secret"

Most of you are to young to remember a television program by the name of, "I've Got A Secret". The show revolved around the idea that a contestant had a secret which was to be guessed by the show's panelists. The program is no longer in existence; however, the guessing game is played daily in most gyms throughout the country. We desperately seek out and search for the secret that will transform our physiques into championship form. We count on every word written by or about our magazine heroes. If only we could learn the secret that has been discovered by so many others.

At first, we assumed the secret was hidden in training techniques and diet programs. We experimented with super sets, compound training, pre-exhaust, pyramids, cheat reps, rest-pause, peak contraction, splits, and the list continues. We gorged ourselves with protein and starved ourselves of carbohydrates. We sampled every nutritional supplement that was advertised. We lived on desiccated liver, amino tablets, and protein drinks. First, it was Hoffman's Hi Protein that clung to the blender and hardened like cement. Next, Beef Protein and a chalk, dust like product called Protein of the Sea. When jobs paid well we would splurge and buy Weider's Super Pro 101 or Crash Gain Weight No.7. But, our all time favorite because of its s-u-p-e-r taste and versatility, was Energol. What other supplement could you share with your crankcase?

Later, we were convinced the secret was in the syringe. It was debated whether a 21 or 26 gauge needle was best for the "oil". The talk behind the stage curtain was no longer nutrition but stacking, plateauing, staggering or tapering. Whereas shotgunning might once have referred to a day in the field; today it was no "field day". The labels were still read carefully; however, the names were Ciba, Upjohn, Rugby, and Searle.

The real secret we are chasing after is elusive only because it is not as hidden as we might have thought. The true secret that real champions share in common is INTENSITY. We all realize the word has been overworked to the point it means many things to many people. Rather than define intensity, a simple 5-point checklist can determine if, in fact, we actually practice it during our workouts.


Most bodybuilders over train. Working slowly we perform too many sets of too many similar movements. Our muscles tire, but are never truly overloaded. Although lifting heavy weights encourages rapid growth, we need to target muscles for stress not their ligaments and joints. The arching bench press, the swayback curl, and bent-over squat may help hoist a heavier weight in the short term but improper form does nothing for the muscle the exercise was designed to work.


By continuously resisting the weight during its downward movement back to its starting point, we improve the focus and increase our rate of progress. Without concentrating on this negative part of the repetition, gravity takes control, movements become shaky, and intensity decreases. As a general rule, the negative portion of the movement should take twice as long as the positive. This eccentric contraction completes the movement and without it we have performed only half the repetition.


By now we should have made the choice as to whether we are power lifters or bodybuilders. So why not train accordingly. This is not to suggest that we be unconcerned with progressively increasing the poundage; however, there is a point where ligament and tendon strength receive the biggest share of the stress. Also, it is important not to become locked into a specific number of pounds. Everyone has good and bad days in the gym, so, for any given workout and given exercise let your body tell you how much is enough. Decide by the feel which is sufficient weight for that particular training session.


A fast-paced workout increases intensity. It insures that successive sets have a cumulative effect on the fatigue level of the muscle. A 20 to 30 second rest between sets dramatically increases the intensity. To apply the fatigue-tension principle completely means to rest very little between muscle groups as well as exercises within the muscle group. Keep the exercise cadence steady and brisk. Keep the socializing to a minimum and the workout will take on a rhythm of its own.


Consistency is the element of intensity which helps to solidify the other ingredients. It is the collagen of the training process. Without consistency, good form, eccentric contraction, feel, and the fatigue principle are wasted. With consistency, progress is achieved by even the most feeble beginner. It is the single most important effort to consider when structuring your blueprint to success. Training must become a habit, something we do when we are down as well as up. We must decide that we will train on days we would rather not, because it is a commitment we have made to ourselves. Consider each workout like the pump handle at the old water well. As long as we keep pumping, progress is forthcoming; however, stop pumping and the progress you made is lost quickly, possibly forever.

There is another secret I hesitate to mention, being fearful it may diminish your enthusiasm for intensity. In all honesty, it must be said. The secret of ultimate bodybuilding is to choose your parents carefully. After all, the real secret of a 20-inch arm is a 19-inch bone. Genetics truly have the final say. But you already knew that and decided to be a bodybuilder anyway. So, the second best bodybuilding secret is intensity. Learn it well by mastering the techniques here an you too will have the secret.


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