Mike Mentzer – Nutritional Reality (1993)


The following excerpt comes from Mike Mentzer’s 1993 nutritional work, Heavy Duty Nutrition. A keen follower of Arthur Jones’s Heavy Duty training system, Mike was the poster child of an alternative and oftentimes radical form of bodybuilding. It should come as no surprise then that his nutritional advice also tended against the norm. 

In the following weeks, more chapters from Mike’s book will be shared on bulking, cutting and general good health. Enjoy!

In order to develop a sense of nutritional reality, the bodybuilder must first acquire a realistic perspective of his goals, or what it is he might realistically achieve. Anyone with even a modicum of training experience knows that the development of muscle tissue beyond normal levels is a slow, arduous process. The rank beginner, however, imbued with a fiery enthusiasm, but little in the way of practical knowledge or practical experience, often expects to develop a Mr. America physique almost overnight. I know, because I was once an enthusiastic but ignorant young bodybuilder who sincerely believed he could gain a pound of muscle a day.

Again, some of these deluded goals stemmed from reading the ads in the muscle magazines. While it is easy for me to sit here now and say those ads were obviously ludicrous, I was once taken in by them, and for many in varying stages of development and ignorance, it is all too easy to succumb to such rousing blandishments. Never did it dawn on a young Mike Mentzer that if he were to gain a pound of muscle a day, he could gain 365 pounds of muscle in a year merely by drinking a crash formula! How was I supposed to know that growth first had to be stimulate by exercise before proper nutrition became a factor in allowing for such growth? Of course, had I thought about it, I would have realized that no one could gain 365 pounds of muscle in an entire lifetime, let alone one year.

We must always keep in mind that growth is a slow process for everyone. And while some may grow a little faster than others, it still remains relatively slow and no one ever gains fast enough.

How much can the average bodybuilder expect to gain in one year of regular, intense training? In their very first year of training, some will gain as much as 20 or 30 pounds, especially if they are underweight to begin with. Once such an individual’s bodyweight stabilizes closer to a more normal standard for his height and age, growth will then slow down considerably despite heavy training.

For the individual of normal bodyweight who has been training a year, the addition of 10 pounds of lean muscle tissue is possible, but a considerable achievement nonetheless. And it’s an achievement that’s only possible if one is willing to train as hard as is required and eat properly. Of course, just about anyone can gain 10 pounds of bodyweight if that weight is fat or a combination of fat and muscle.

To many, 10 pounds a year may not sound like much. But look at it this way: in five years the average adult male weighing 165 pounds, gaining at a rate of 10 pounds of muscle a year, will gain 50 pounds and end up weighing a muscular 215 pounds. Not bad at all considering that only two of the 15 competitors at the 1979 Mr. Oly,pia weighed more than 215 pounds. Looked at in this way, perhaps even a 10 pound gain of lean muscle a year is more than many might reasonably expect.

And make no mistake about it: for the serious bodybuilder, lean muscle gains are the only gains he should be concerned with. Size for the sake of size is a mistake, a lesson I had to learn through bitter experience. Gaining all that weight years ago has altered my metabolism so much that is now harder for me to get cut than most. And there are the stretch marks that come from growing too fast – or should I say, from getting fat too fast! It is always to your disadvantage to put on fat, because someday you will be confronted with the unpleasant task of shedding it. And the more fat you have, the more unpleasant the task.

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