Intelligent training is key to building lean muscle.  The sixty-four dollar question would be – of course – what the heck is intelligent training?

Back in the late 70’s and 80’s, intelligent training was supposed to be Mike Mentzer’s Heavy Duty, high intensity training.  Basically, it was intelligent because it was everything opposite of what Arnold Schwarzenegger was advocating.  The two didn’t agree much – as an understatement.

Here’s my take on intelligent training.  It’s not what you do but how you do it and, more important, why?

Here’s the thing – getting big isn’t rocket science.  You eat big, lift big, rest big, and grow (hopefully) big.  The process is as old school as you get.  And however you package it, that’s what it comes to.

Vince Del Monte has a program called, No-Nonsense Building, where he claims you can add 40 plus lbs of lean muscle in 6 months.  Or that he did, hence so can you on his program.


I think the chances of anyone – other than Vince maybe – gaining 40 plus lbs of lean muscle in 6 months is pretty slim and Slim left town a long time ago.  But if you dig into his program, I think Vince kinda, sorta acknowledges that too.

I don’t want to put words in his mouth, nor do I want to overly denigrate his training expertise.  He’s probably helped more people than I ever will.  That said, his program is basically a “bulk up and cut up” program in a very nice-looking presentation.

His proposition is something along the lines of putting on 30 lbs, or thereabouts, of bulk in 3 months and looking very, very noticeably bigger.  And then cutting up.  Versus slowly putting on 10 lbs of muscle over 6 months.

Lookit – consume 5,000 to 7,000 calories as parts of his program calls for and you will get big.

But what if you mess up the “cut up?”  What if you end with a big butt to go with that massive, yet smooth and droopy set of Pecs?

Would that be intelligent training?

To my mind, intelligent training is understanding where you are now and having a vision of what you want to look like before you start.  With a start point and a destination fixed in your mind, you can then plot a course and devise a plan of how you want to get there.  If it’s to put on 50 lbs. of bulk and be a powerlifter – then by all means – bulk up.  Here’s a great link for just that over at Alan Palmieri.

Do you want to look like this guy?  Do you want to add 30 to 40 lbs of richly marbled beef to your frame?

Do you want to look like Brad Pitt did in the “Fight Club?”  Do you want to add 8 to 10 lbs of lean muscle to your frame?

Both looks are fine…

It’s what you want…

What is the end product you want to achieve…

And once you decide, then you have to set a time frame.  I learned a long time ago that a goal with a “deadline” is wishful thinking.  For most folks, it’ll be challenge to add more than 2 to 3 lbs of lean, hard muscle in a month’s time.  You may be the exception.  Maybe you can 5 lbs in a month.  But for most of us, that’s a stretch.  Anyone promising more – well – just run, run the other day.

Also, muscle growth isn’t linear.  You don’t gain 10 lbs a month for 12 months straight and 120 lbs. later, you end up looking like this:


Instead – let’s say, you shoot for 2 lb growth a month.  To get to that 12 lb mark, you’d need to plan at least 6 months to get there.  Or, let’s say that you’re truly a hard gainer and it takes you a whole year!  Think about this – head to your nearest supermarket and see – see – how much beef is 10 to 12 lbs.  Imagine that strategically placed over your body in a year from now.  You’ll be impressive looking.  Plus, all the more stronger and healthier for your year-long effort.

Not bad – not bad at all.

Understand though, if you’re starting a bodybuilding program for the first time ever in your life or if you’re a young lad, then you will experience a pretty decent growth spurt that most of us will not experience.  Some of these programs out there use young men as proof of their programs’ success.  More power to them.  But for a young 18 or 19 or 20 year old hitting the weights for first time, there’s going to be some great muscle growth in first few months regardless of the program. Remember that.

And those are more atypical cases that are not going to apply to the rest of us bears.

So, the path to building lean muscle via intelligent training is to first understand where you stand now and who you are now.  Then you must set the goal and vision of what you want to look like and where you want to end up. After you have done all that, then you can start looking at specific training programs and the tools you need to get that training going.  Don’t put the cart before the horse.

I’ll see you next time…

And we’ll chat about your step…

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