In response to request to elaborate on problems of running in conjunction with bodybuilding: after thirty years in the gym business a man does not have to be very smart to learn a few basic truths. Observation of repetitious failures of successes in bodybuilding problems finally becomes startlingly clear.
Even animals learn through repetition without any outside influence. The first article I ever wrote for a physique magazine was concerning overtraining (Train, Don’t Strain).
Top men from all over the country who consult me on their training problems are all, down to the last man, overtraining! Too many sets, too many reps, too many different exercises. I teach them to simplify their routines and if you can absorb this – train harder. (Train over your head). Get more work done in the shortest period of time, and stay within the confines of your own personal blood sugar levels. Blood sugar level drop and losing your pump go hand in hand. When this occurs you drop into a catabolic state (overtonis, hormone loss, capillary shrinkage, flaccid muscle tissue and a smooth appearance). At this point you have over-trained; this happens because the central nervous system, stimulating capillaries to expand, suddenly stops the process so you do not rupture the capillaries. At this point there is a definite muscle tissue loss, which is followed by general weakness and lassitude (Negative Nitrogen Balance).
Abdominal work also produces central nervous system shock and the aforementioned condition if not fully understood by the trainer. Needless to say, running also produces the same state. At this point I am presenting an article from a jogging and running magazine (now out of print) called “Fitness for Living”, November, December, 1968 issue. The article explains what makes muscle tissue grow and what does not. Also, I am including a page from my newest booklet on ‘Overtonis’ (Vince’s 6-Week Bulk Course).
Increasing Muscle Size:
Many people are under the misconception that any exercise makes muscles grow larger and stronger. That’s not true. Back in 1925 German scientists discovered that to acquire large muscles you must increase the intensity of work done within a given time. That means that it doesn’t matter how much work you do. What counts is how fast you do it. This discovery has come to be known as the overload principle. Perhaps the most famous experiment which demonstrates it involves rats trained to run at different speeds for varying lengths of time. Rats that ran at 6 meters per minute for 195 miles had smaller muscles that rats that ran at 26 meters per minute, but for only 58 miles. In another study all rats ran the same speed. One group ran for an hour per day for three months for a total of 35 miles. Another ran at the same speed for 3 hours a day for six months, a total of 207 miles. When the experiment ended, the size of the muscles in both the groups remained the same.
The principle of overload also explains why sprinters have bigger and larger muscles that distance runners. Although it’s more work to run a mile than it is to run 100 yards, the sprinter is doing more work per second. Consequently, his muscles will become larger.
A muscle is composed of muscle fibers, the number of which vary from person to person in the same muscle. The muscle fibers in the upper arm of one man may number 40,000 while the calf muscle may contain 1,120,000 fibers. Another person may have only 946,000 fibers. Heredity controls the number of muscle fibers present, and it will not change.
It it these muscle fibers which determine how large a muscle can grow. In 1897 an Italian scientist named Morpurgo showed that even though exercise had produced a 50 per cent increase in the size of a muscle, the number of muscle fibers stayed the same. The reason for the change was the increase in diameter – about 40 per cent – of the muscle fibers. Thus, he developed the principle now commonly accepted that strength development has a definite limitation depending on the number of muscle fibers present at birth and on the fixed maximum size to which any muscle fiber may grow. That means that people who want to grow stronger cannot expect unlimited development. Heredity has already drawn the line. But, through proper exercise they may reach their heredity boundaries.
The Bodybuilder’s Greatest Pitfall: Overtonis:
Overtonis is a condition caused by too many sets, too many different exercise combinations – in short, overwork, which causes muscle tissue loss, hormone depletion, weakness and a smoothed-out appearance, inability to produce a pumping effect and a general lassitude or weakness.
Overtonis produces a stringy appearance with no healthy round look apparent in a properly worked muscle.
Overtonis is caused by male hormone loss.
Overtonis causes the central nervous system to cease pumping blood into capillaries which might otherwise rupture. To achieve a maximum pump exercise until you notice pump loss. At this point, check back the number of sets, tempo and repetitions required to achieve this effect. This is your personal exercise requirement level.
(IronMan Magazine March 1976 Vol. 35 No. 3)