I feel like almost every workout my eyes were opened to a new reality. I felt like I was learning a new subject in school. Doing the Boise Experiment was a revelation. Now I am going to try and put down some of the things I learned while on the Boise Experiment.
Time off between workouts
Initially BigAndy and I were doing our HEAVY DUTY™ workouts on every 5th day. This was about 4 days off in between workouts, which normally you would think would be way too much time off. It seems crazy but even after a couple workouts we were already seeing even greater benefits from more days off.
Every workout we performed was accompanied by great results, but the workouts were the results were absolutely off the charts were when we had more than 5 days off. And the last workout (number 9) we saw the greatest strength increases and rep increases and we had almost 2 weeks off from the previous workout.
After seeing such phenomenal gains following huge layoffs it has made me believe I could do extremely well in muscle mass gains and strength gains training only two times per month. I will actually try the two workouts per month starting in January, and maybe in March I will do another photo shoot to show the results.
One thing that was clear and easy to see from day to day was the effect fat consumption had on my body. When I started the Boise Experiment it was extremely difficult to eat large meals. I was eating very clean in the beginning and really nailing the ratios suggested in Mike Mentzer’s HIGH INTENSITY TRAINING THE MIKE MENTZER WAY® (25% calories from protein, 60% calories from carbs, 15% calories from fat).
It was very difficult eating that clean, although to look at the numbers it seems like it would be easy, but you would be surprised how much fat is in foods. So while trying to maintain the desired ratios I was also trying to increase my daily caloric intake. I found that as I increased the size of my stomach and was able to digest more food I also began cheating to get in more calories.
I began to eat foods that were higher in fat. Big mistake!!! On days I consumed too much fat, I could literally tell (by pinching my belly) the next morning my body fat was higher. Now by the same token, if my diet was dead on I would see a reduction in body fat… yes in 24 hours I was noticing these effects.
It’s probably easy to notice these slight changes when you are so focused on the diet and workouts.
So now I feel that when a person eats a high calorie diet to facilitate muscle growth it is very, very important to have your fats in check. If you have high calories and high fats (above the desired ratios) that is a high probability of putting on body fat.
Sleep. The best fat burner ever!
There were two days (far apart from each other) during the Boise Experiment that I went without sleep because of travel. In my youth (late teens and early 20’s) I would skip sleep all the time. Example… following a night of partying I would go straight to work. Or driving back from Las Vegas and go straight to work.
I never seemed to care about missing sleep because I knew I would get plenty of sleep once I was dead LOL. Now during the Boise Experiment there were a bunch of times were I only got about 4 hours of sleep… it’s what happens once you have kids. The day after I would miss sleep I noticed I could pinch more on my pelly. In other words my body fat seemed to have gone up.
Every time my sleep pattern was robbed or eliminated I noticed this increase in body fat. Then on days where I got 8 hours of sleep it was like my body burned more fat and I would pinch less.
I concluded that the more sleep (within reason) that I could get, the more body fat I could burn. I mean think about it for a second. while you are sleeping you are fasting. Note eating at all. Then on top of the fasting your body is just cooking up all sorts of recovery hormones, rebuilding muscle tissue, creating new muscle tissue etc. The best thing you will ever do to burn body fat is get a great nights sleep!!
Never rest, never pause!
When I read HIGH INTENSITY TRAINING THE MIKE MENTZER WAY® I started to think that in order to stimulate the most amount of growth in the least amount of training that I would have to experience pain like never before. The book talks about hitting momentary muscular failure. But it must truly be absolute failure… failure like never before.
I didn’t take this to necessarily mean negatives or forced reps. And in retrospect after having done forced reps and negative reps I believe taking normal reps to absolute failure is more intense physiologically. It might just be my personal opinion, but when you continue to push your body till it completely stops, this just seems so much more intense to me than having assistance. Because if you are receiving assistance whether during negatives or forced reps, the assistant must lower your intensity in order for you to get back to the start position.
Any way just my two cents… now on to the topic. During my breaking workout i noticed I would do several reps, then experience a burn… then I would pause for a second or two… let the burn subside slightly, then continue. After some thought I started to realize, by resting (if even for a second) I was reducing the intensity.
When I had this revelation I realized that once I started a set there must be no stopping, no pausing only constant motion. The only time I would be able to stop is when my muscles would stop moving. Not when the pain was unbearable, not when my muscles hurt, not once I was tired. Only once my muscles could absolutely not move the weight anymore (and I would stay in an immovable push for several seconds) only then could I consider the set complete and stop.
Once I had made up my mind that all sets would be taken to a point of momentary muscular failure, and that this would cause me a great deal of physical pain as well as a psychological battle, I knew I would be going places I had never been before.
With every workout I would psych myself up for the upcoming battle. As my body got stronger I sometimes felt like my muscle was coming off the bone during the reps, but no matter what I would not stop or pause. I remember in the old days I used to pause all the time. I would do 8 quick reps… fell a little burn… pause at the bottom then keep going…. WHAT A JOKE!
The pain from my HEAVY DUTY™ workouts became my drug! It hurt so GOOOD, but only for a minute. Then a few hours after my workout I felt like I was hit by a train!!
So remember these points for your reps. Once you start, keep the cadence going. 4 seconds positive phase, 4 seconds negative phase and if there is a contraction point then hold for 2 seconds. Once the movement starts there is absolutely not stopping or pausing. Keep going till the muscle fails!
It will hurt, and there will be a point where you consider ending the set prematurely, but if you got to the maximum pain stage… then this too will become your drug. And the side effect of consuming this drug will be MASS – extreme muscle mass.
Keeping a Journal
I never gave much thought to a journal in the past, but as soon as I kept one on my daily diet I realized how important it was. As soon as I began documenting my daily caloric intake I realized how far off from the proper ratios it was!!! (the ratios described in HIGH INTENSITY TRAINING THE MIKE MENTZER WAY®)
I had always believe my diet was good, not great, but good. as soon as I started keeping track of my foods I saw almost immediately that my protein was too high, carbs were to low and fats were off the charts!!!
The one way you will know for sure if you are getting bigger and stronger is by watching your rep and weight progress for each of your workouts. If you document your workouts, then you will know exactly what is required to improve with each and every workout.
Heavy weights are relative
In doing the Boise Experiment using the HEAVY DUTY protocol I was caught off guard using the suggested cadence of 4 seconds to complete the positive phase of a rep, 4 seconds to complete the negative phase of a rep, and if a rep has the opportunity of maximum muscle contraction then you would do a 2 second hold in the max contraction.
What do I mean by maximum muscle contraction and a 2 second hold? Good question. I will use two similar exercises to demonstrate what I mean. Compare flat bench dumbell flys with pec dec flys. On dumbell flys on a flat bench, the point at which your pec muscles would be in their shortest position (which should be most contracted position) is when the dumbells are straight up above your chest. However in this position there is virtually no resistance and so no reason to hold for 2 seconds, because all you will do is allow your muscles to rest. The point where your pecs have the most tension from the weights is when the dumbells are out to your side. So flat dumbell flys are actually a poor exercise choice and should only be used as a last resort.
Now compare the pec dec. The tension is high throughout all range of movement, and once your hands are in front of your chest and your pec muscles are at their shortest they still have an enormous amount of tension on them. This will warrant that you hold in this contracted position for two seconds and really squeeze the pecs for maximum contraction.
Now to get back to the cadence. It seems like nothing to use a 4 – 4 – 2 rep cadence, but if you think traditional reps for just a minute. Most of the guys in the gym will throw the weights more than they lift them. If you throw the weight you will probably get threw 10 reps before you could even complete 1 HEAVY DUTY rep.
So as you increase the time under tension for the muscle (in some cases by up to 10 fold or more) the amount of work being done becomes exponentially greater. This will inevitably lead to a reduction in weight, otherwise there will be no way tom complete the required amount of reps and duration.
Because you will be using a lighter weight you will be influenced psychologically. I know I was. I would watch some guy cheat through 200 lbs pulldowns and it made me want to cheat and go fast. At this point I realized “am I here for a show, or am I here to grow”. Then I decided “I don’t give a shit what people see in me, I give a shit about getting consistent results!”
This will have to be your mindset as well. The weights are relative to your cadence. If you are cheating with momentum and throwing your weights then of course you will be able to use heavier poundages… but your results will be slower and less.
Don’t eat before bedtime
I found on many days I was having difficulty getting down all the necessary calories (when you are eating clean this will be the case. If you are eating fast food all day with super high fat content you can easily eat way too many calories) and my eating of meals would extend into the late evening.
On days where I was done eating my required caloric intake at least 3 or 4 hours before bedtime I would sleep like a baby and I would look leaner in the morning upon waking. On days where I ate right before bedtime my sleep pattern sucked! I would wake up to go to the bathroom and in the morning when I would get out of bed I swear I looked like I had put on body fat.
What I found bizarre was on the days where I finished my last meal 3 or 4 hours before bedtime, I would go to bed almost hungry. I could feel the hunger starting, but I would hurry and try to get to sleep as quick as I could to avoid it. The days I had this patter were the best as far as feeling amazing the next day with lots of energy and mental clarity. Sleep was solid and I looked great in the mirror the next morning.
FYI we published the calorie calcualtor we made so it’s now open to the public. This is an open source calculator so you are able to add your own food items and then calculate your meal calories or daily calories.
FYI I will add to this page weekly as I remember key points.