IMPORTANT – The post is written under the assumption that Mike, and the rest of the top bodybuilders of his era, used steroids. If you don’t like this assumption, please don’t read the rest of the post.
He seemed to have realized something that none of the other trainers of his day realized – Time is extremely valuable.
And, Mike may have also realized that he could let the anabolic nature of steroids do the majority of the growth inducing work – That there was a MAXIMAL rate (speed) at which his muscle could grow or increase in size. And once that rate was hit by using the right combination of intramuscular tension, recovery and anabolic steroids, all the bench presses, dead lifts and squats in the world were not going to speed it up to any noticeable degree.
Think about it. The general consensus is that Mike spent very little time in the gym….somewhere between 3 days per week to less than an hour a day every 7 to 14 days (Forgive me – I don’t know the exact claim).
Many of his competitors spent 2-3 hours in the gym 5-6 days per week. And say what you will about Mike, but you have to admit, his build was at par with the rest of the top competitors of his time.
So to me, he was smart enough to know he could train intensely then let the hormones do the work that they do. Essentially guiding growth with infrequent intense workouts. And as we discussed previously on this blog (Infrequent training and muscle growth), he could have done absolutely no work and still would have probably grown better than anyone who was training hard, but not using drugs.
When you compare his results to a number of his peers at the time (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Zane, Boyer Coe and Chris Dickerson to name few.), and if you assume the steroid dosages were roughly equal in effectiveness and health risks, you begin to wonder- why spend all that time working out if you didn’t have too?
Two hours a day, 5 times a week, that’s 10 hours that could have been spent doing something else.
Next, when you consider long term health, and the wear and tear on the body, Mentzer may have also been one step ahead of his peers. It is easy to reason that with much more recovery time between workouts Mike most likely would have had much less joint and tendon wear and tear.
Bottom line. Mike Menzter did less work but achieved similar results as his peers. This is likely due to a combination of awesome genetics, anabolic steroids and a unique style of training.
Now here in lies the conundrum with this theory: Is it better for long term health, use of time, and overall happiness, to not use steroids and be in the gym for multiple hours per week, or to use steroids and hardly be in the gym ever?
The obvious answer is the quick “steroids are bad” retort, but I think this warrants further investigation – Especially when we throw ‘low dose steroids’ into the mix – The amount that would mimic the build of a highly dedicated natural trainer, with a fraction of the time and wear and tear required.
More of a ramble today than a concise thought, but there are some things worth considering here.