- May 22, 2015
Mike Mentzer is known for his high-intensity training approach, HEAVY DUTY. The world would have seen many bodybuilders who excelled in their niche. But there are rare examples where a bodybuilder wholeheartedly shared his knowledge, experience, and bodybuilding philosophy. The wholesome perspective of Mike Mentzer has been exemplified in his contributions and works. Some considered him a pathbreaker; others highly acknowledged his philosophy.
The heavy-duty man was a person of morals and reason. The courage and audacity to beat the hardships and a positive aspect in life kept him high and pioneering in the field of bodybuilding and the science of life. His books, articles, and audio tapes are thoroughly scientific with a philosophical touch. Bodybuilding was more than just passion for him; it was his profession, business, philosophy, and writing.
Mike Mentzer was born on November 16, 1951. He worked for US Air Force on 12-hour shifts and still managed to work out. This smart bodybuilder knew how to grow muscle in just a short time. While many of his contemporaries worked hour’s together 5 to 6 days a week, he hardly worked for three days per week.
Mike’s bodybuilding career
Mike started his bodybuilding career at the age of 18. Though not a good start, he contested first in 1969 and participated in the 1971 AAU Mr. America. Though he did not win the title, he found a leap with the contact of Arthur Jones, Trainer. He returned with great practice and preparation in the 1975 Mr. America contest when he was positioned in 3rd place after Robby Robinson and Roger Callard. On his third attempt in 1976, he won the most coveted AAA Mr. America title with first position in the medium-weight class. The next year he won the North America Championships in Vancouver and stood second at the 1977 Mr. Universe contest in Nimes, France, behind Kal Szkalak. However, in 1978, he won the title of Mr. Universe held at Acapulco, Mexico, with a good score of 300. In the World Amateur Championships, he won first place in the heavyweight class.
He stood first in IFBB Florida Pro Invitational and Southern Pro Cup IFBB, second in IFBB Canada Pro Cup and Pittsburgh Pro Invitational IFBB, and third in the IFBB Night of Champions.
In 1979 Mr. Olympia excelled with his high-class performance in heavyweight class but lost the title to Frank Zane. In his second try at Mr. Olympia, he stood fourth with Boyer Coe. With great dissatisfaction, he quit competitive bodybuilding at the young age of 29 years.
Mike’s Bodybuilding Philosophy
He used science and understood the perfect recipe for muscle training with little resources and time. He knew hormones play a major role in building muscles, and high stress due to regular workout reduces the pace of bodybuilding. Exercises and the extent of reps and intensity determined the process of bodybuilding. He said our body wanted the right blend of exercise and recovery phase with cycles of beginnings to failures. You do not have to work hard or expose your ligaments to wear and tear due to strenuous exercises without sufficient breaks.
High-intensity training the Mike Mentzer Way: Val Segal, a friend, and colleague of Mike Mentzer, is a person whom Mike corresponded with to develop this video. Unfortunately, soon after this assignment, Mike Mentzer rested peacefully in sleep.
Mike helped the beginners understand the concept of high-intensity weight training with this video. He said regular but infrequent and short but intense workouts are the secret to attaining good results in no time without using drugs or steroids. Mentzer has been noticed for trying to perfect what he learned from his trainer Arthur Jones.
His bodybuilding ideology was meeting philosophy through or at the end, and he felt the body is integrated into the mind. Bodybuilding is incomplete without perfect reasoning. The same goes with life; reasoning is the secret of happiness and contentment. All in all, he was a man of pursuits who liked to delve into something beyond bodybuilding; this was very much evident in the discourses presented in his books.
Heavy-duty training system
With his encounter with Casey Viator, the muscle training started at a competitive threshold. He learned about the high-intensity training Viator regularly did, which used to be brief and infrequent. Viator introduced Mike to Arthur Jones, creator of Nautilus machines. Mike dug deeper into high-intensity training with the ideas of Jones, who opened up high-intensity workouts for the people in the 1960s.
The mantra was disciplined postures and slow, steady movements of weights until total failure of muscles. Mike liked to experiment and soon understood that Jones had yet to adopt the principles of intense training. It was time for Mike to completely understand the concept, which demanded an investigation. He started experimenting with the effect of variable factors such as exercises, number of repetitions, and recovery period to achieve the optimum training formula.
He worked on a schedule that involved exercises 7 to 9 sets just three days per week. Mentzer’s Heavy Duty program allowed him to be fit and strong with the commencement of modern bodybuilding. Heavy Duty program is also called “minimal training” as it involves a limited workout routine interspersed in the greater rest period. The importance given to the resting period was enormous. Muscle outgrowth is a result of the extent of stress experienced by the muscle rather than the time involved. Short-term stress is healthy as it reduces the physical stress and resistance developed due to stress. Therefore, to improve the resistance and endurance of muscles, they should be strained with intense workouts to the limit of positive failure. According to Mike, this usually involves less than five sets of exercise with a 5 to 7 days resting period.
Paul Becker, in his article, has mentioned his experience as a trainee under Mike Mentzer. In his first encounter with Mike, Mike seemed to have been suffering from back problems that did not allow him to be in perfect shape. However, it didn’t stop him from training his peers. The leg workout was what Mike taught Paul at first. The form used in the exercises was quite slow and intense. A very slow motion of 4-second ups and 4 seconds downs continued. When there were chances of resistance due to contraction, there were 2 seconds extension. This 2-second hold was very hard to follow, but the results were very effective and safe. The leg workout continued without any rest that involved heavy leg extensions and leg presses up to failure. The total motivation and confidence Mike instilled in his trainees are highly effective as they would do their best to postpone failure. This way, the workouts are severely slow and intense.
Books from Mike Mentzer
High-intensity training, the Mike Mentzer Way, was published on December 13, 2002, that was co-authored by John Little.
The Mentzer Method to Fitness: A Revolutionary Weight-Training System for Men and Women was published in April 1980.
Mike Mentzer’s Complete Book of Weight Training in the year 1982.
Mike Mentzer’s Spot Body Building was co-authored with Ardy in the year 1983.
Mentzer also wrote for the magazine- Iron Man. By the 1980s, he had lost professional touch in the bodybuilding industry; he made a comeback and made an impression in the 1990s. Mike and his Heavy Duty principles were responsible for Dorian Yates’s success in Mr. Olympia.
Mike Mentzer used his hands on bodybuilding and capitalized on his talent in bodybuilding apparel. He started a clothing company- MYM- Mentzer Yates Duty, also called Heavy Duty Inc, in the year 1994.
On the very unfortunate day of June 10, 2001, Mentzer was found dead by his brother Ray Mentzer. Mentzer is said to have died in sleep due to cardiovascular complications. On the second day, Ray Mentzer also succumbed to death due to a chronic disease- Berger’s disease.
Mike Mentzer was a man who exuded bodybuilding with style and passion. He excelled as a bodybuilder, writer, and businessman. He was a great thinker who took body-building philosophically. He used the technique he learned from his trainer and learned further beyond with his deep passion for finding a breakthrough. Mr. Universe and Mr. America had something more than a bodybuilder inside them.
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