John Balik, Total Muscularity: SuperStar Nutrition (Santa Monica, 1979)

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Describing himself as Arnold’s Seminar Nutritionist, Balik opened his short pamphlet on gaining muscle with the often forgotten law that ‘nothing beats persistence.’ Produced alongside a pamphlet on gaining muscle, which we’ll be discussing in a future post, Balik’s Total Muscularity represents a great insight into the training philosophy of 1970s Muscle Beach bodybuilding. Sparing myself the task of typing out his pamphlet word for word, which I suspect would infringe on some form of copyright law, I decided that a brief synopsis of the book would suffice. At the very least it would pander to our ever decreasing attention spans.

So in today’s post we’re going to look at Balik’s theories on individual body types, the type of diet he recommended and also what we can learn from it nearly forty years after its publication.

  1. Know Thyself

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Though ‘type training’ as George Walsh termed it in the early twentieth-century has begun to fall out of vogue in the current training climate, it is important to note that Balik proved a firm believer in individual responses to training and diet systems. This he believed was especially important in the case of weight loss which for bodybuilders meant reducing body fat while maintaining lean muscle tissue. Thus, Balik asks readers to reflect on whether they possess an Endomorph, Mesomorph or Ectomorph physique.

For those new to this concept it can generally be summed up as follows

  • Endomorph: Naturally large with a tendency to store body fat. Can gain muscle relatively easy but has a difficult time becoming lean/losing weight.
  • Mesomorph: Characterised as athletic, naturally lean and capable of gaining muscle. May possess a high metabolism and in some cases can be eating junk food while maintaining a year-round six pack (okay that last part is bitterness on my part!).
  • Ectomorph: Naturally slim and may be relatively lean. Has no difficultly maintaining slight physique but often experiences trouble gaining muscle mass.

Importantly Balik did not view these bodytypes as permanent states that neatly divided all of humanity into three neat boxes, as is so often the case online. No, Balik presented these body types as rough descriptions of individuals, noting that there individuals are often a mixture of these body types or possess their attributes in varying degrees. The most crucial element was knowing what your body responded best to, a point made on page 3:

While Dave Draper is not an extreme endomorph, it did take him over two years of following a muscularity type nutrition program to break the bonds of his “baby fat” type and emerge as the Mr. Universe that he is. The important thing is to recognise your type and work with it. If Dave Draper would not have had the intelligence to recognise his problem, muscularity, and continued to train just for size, he would not have reached his Mr. Universe goal.

If this type is to successfully reach his bodybuilding goals he must totally revamp his attitude about food…

As a former fat boy the last comment cut a little deep. In any case endomorphs were encouraged to follow a three stage ketogenic diet. Stage one represented a simple but nevertheless simple menu

3

Breakfast

  • Eggs – as many as you like poached preferably but soft boiled or fried is acceptable, or meat, fish or fowl broiled 1/2 lb.
  • Coffee, tea or water

Lunch

  • One-half pound of meat, fish or fowl. No sausage or processed meats (too much carbohydrate filler and sodium based chemicals – water retention etc.)
  • Salad – lettuce, celery, radishes, and cucumbers one cup total with a dressing of oil and vinegar
  • Coffee, Tea or water

Dinner

  • Same as lunch

Depending on individual reactions to the diet, Balik next recommended calcium and magnesium supplements to deal with cramps and nervous energies. Similarly he suggested using sodium and potassium if individuals struggled to get through their workouts.

Stage two encouraged individuals to add just five grams of carbohydrates to the diet in the form of leafy greens such as cucumber, spinach, parsley, avocado etc. Stage three allowed another five to eight grams carbohydrates from the same sources while the final stage allowed another addition of carbohydrates to bring the total daily figure to 25-30 grams a day.

Stage four also had the benefit of one protein drink a day consisting of three raw eggs and one level tablespoon of lecithin granules taken en lieu of a meal. For those wishing to remain on the programme in the long term, Stage five allowed 30 to 40 grams of carbohydrate a day although Balik noted that few used this strategy.

Mesomorphic Program

For Mesomorphs, Balik recommended a largely similar eating plan with the modification that mesomorphs could generally handle between 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates a day.

Interestingly, in a piece of advice I hadn’t seen before, he encouraged mesomorphs to hold their muscular bodyweight for a period of at least four weeks before contest time.

Ectomorphic Program

This one was the hardest read for me. Balik told those with a naturally athletic body to simply cut back on their food quantities as this was often times all that was needed.

Some people have all the luck.

Evaluating Total Muscularity

For current readers, Balik’s program may appear toned back in an age were counting calories and measuring foods to the closest milligram is the norm. But for ease and effectiveness, Balik’s diet appears to represent that used by the majority of bodybuilders during the Golden Age.

During my last contest prep I used a system largely similar to Balik’s to great effect, only switching to calorie counting in the final weeks as I sought a level of leanness unsuited to Balik’s time. If you’re a former fat boy like me and seeking to lose weight, Balik’s approach was relatively stress free and saved me developing a food neurosis until the closing weeks of my pre-contest diet.

Now for those of you seeking to gain weight stay tuned, as in future weeks we’ll be reviewing Balik’s sister work You Can’t Flex Fat. Aside from having my favourite title of all time, the work breaks down the foundations of building biceps and not your belly.

As always… Happy lifting!

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