Mike Mentzer was well known as a proponent of high intensity workouts that involved all out effort combined with a minimum number of sets and repetitions. The idea was to do perfect reps over a perfect set to completely exhaust the muscle. Mentzer had made quite a splash in the bodybuilding world back in the 1970’s and after he retired became a sought out personal trainer.
Many of his basic techniques have been taught and passed on as mainstream knowledge. But a few of his advanced ideas never gained the same level of notoriety. So we are sharing them here with you.
Heavy Duty Basics
The original school of thought followed that beginners did not need to use intensity techniques. Since they were new to working out they muscles would be adequately shocked into growth just from experiencing a workout. But after that you would need to increase the intensity to obtain results and stress the muscles beyond what was done previously. The Heavy Duty method is about results but also doing it as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Now to stress the muscles you need to go one step further. Mike often advocated doing pre-exhaustion, forced reps, and negative reps to stress his muscles. He would use 1 of these techniques with each exercise he did. But he typically only did 1 hard set per exercise, only 2 exercises for big muscles, and 1 exercise for small muscles.
- Pre-Exhaustion – You use focused exercise like Leg Extensions done to failure followed by a more compound exercise like Leg Presses (to failure) to blast the quads because the accessory muscles will assist and push your further.
- Forced Reps – A training partner assists with 1-3 reps after natural failure is met.
- Negatives – A training partner lifts the weights into position and you control them in the downward (negative portion).
Now we are on to the brutal methods that many people just can’t handle doing. After doing a few light sets to warm up Mike would jump in with an absolutely brutal maximum rep push using his Rest-Pause method. The idea is you do 1 maximum rep on let’s say Machine Rows. He would wait 10 seconds and then do a second rep (with partner assisting if needed). He would then wait 10 seconds and do another rep. If he needed he would reduce the weight by 15-20% to do the rep. He would then rest 15 seconds and crank out 1 more rep. So basically he has done 4 max reps over a minute and a half. The rest period gives the muscles a chance to flush.
This type of workout is very hard because you need a training partner and can’t be afraid of pushing yourself. But, it is also a very brief and intense workout so you are not spending all day in the gym.
Super Advanced Techniques
This part might seem a bit crazy, but after working through all the techniques you need to take it up another notch. Mike combined his Rest-Pause technique with a Negative Rep and included Static Holds. This is not for the weak and you must have a partner.
Here is how each rep would work. On Bench Press, for example, you would do a 1 rep maximum. Then his partner would spot him for a slow negative as he lowered the weight down to his chest (with the partner even pushing down a little). During the lowering he would pause the weight and do a Static Hold at three points (1/4, 1/2, 3/4 of the way down). The partner would then help rack the weight. Mike would rest for 15 seconds and do his second Max Rep/Negative/Static Hold combination just like with the Rest-Pause technique.
As it was well documented, Mike and his brother Ray did this type of super intense workout in 1979. Mike gained 14 pounds of thick muscle in 9 weeks while losing fat and made a huge splash in the bodybuilding world at the pro level. Ray won the Mr. America contest. This workout is not for everyone. You have to be very serious about giving 100% and more each time in the gym. But if you haven’t been seeing the gains you want it never hurts to try a new program. Mike had amazing results. Can you?