Choosing the Right Program

With Many Young Lifters Confused at all the Training and Nutrition Online, Here is How to Fit in Some Different Strategies!


As serious “physical culturists,” we learned a great deal from the muscle mags, courses and books during the classic era of the sixties, the seventies, and even the eighties. We had to patiently study to earn keys to our inner universe, the proper methods of pumping iron...all for the ability to possibly earn a Mr. America or Mr. Local City title back before a pro card really meant anything. We learned how legends like Robbie Robinson, Dave Draper, Rachel McLish, Frank Zane, Bill Pearl, Cory Everson, Mike Mentzer and Arnold put things together.

It is just not the same these days. Lifters get online and watch a half-dozen 280-pound pro bodybuilders mention their training, nutrition and supplement techniques and... when some champions place well in the various classes of the next month's pro show, everyone watches them brag about their techniques. It is quick and fast, but most young lifters tend to try tons of different things and still feel confused. Jeff, one of my intermediate Rusty Gym members, is a great example.

Jeff has been a member of Rusty Gym for two and-a-half years. He joined the gym on the week he graduated from high school. He wanted to head to college looking like some of the musclehead guys he had see online. When I saw that he had brought a few twenties with him, I signed him up for a membership and encouraged him to go after it in an aggressive manner!

The first thing I had to teach him (which 80% of the beginners can't handle) is that it doesn't happen fast. When I was a kid, I hoped to be on the cover of Ironman and Muscle Builder magazines a few months after I started lifting. I still haven't made their covers (which might be why both of those mags were sold) but like a serious lifter, Jeff had stuck with the program... although I could tell recently that he wasn't sure where he is headed.

Jeff has now gained quite a bit of muscle. His frame has filled out nicely, but he feels like he needs more. People now ask him if he is an athlete or competes, so that is a step in the right direction. He doesn't miss a session of his training program and follows the nutrition and Beverly supplement programs I have given him since he started. He is doing well... but I can tell he is undergoing a phase in which he is confused. “So what is bothering you, J-Dawg?”

“How much volume? How many sessions? Which intensification techniques? The right method seems to change every day. I really don't get it!” says Jeff desperately.

I almost begin to talk but the confused lifter continues...

“The guy that just won the California Pro Cup trained an average of thirty sets per body part, and I love the fullness and balance of his physique... but the guy that won his physique class in the Junior Nationals does less than half as many sets, and I think his V-taper and conditioning is impressive. One of them trains four times one week, five times the next week. The other one trains nine times a week with most of those being two-a-days. Also, one of our top Arnold Classic competitors trains two-days-on/ one-day-off during their off-season but with lots of intensification techniques added to each set...”

“Enough info. I get it,” I add. “We saw these differences years ago. Mike Mentzer and Arnold Schwarzenegger were dramatically opposed on their training concepts. Both built amazing physiques, so which one was right? Fortunately, I have figured that out!”

I turn to my left and yell over to one of the few lifters we have that finds the plug and uses the one treadmill we have. “Hey Mark, how much longer do you have on there? I'm going to have you help us with something...”

Now Mark has a strong East Coast accent and a beard so he sounds and looks like he may have been on the Sopranos, but he’s had some schoolin'. He never talks about it, so Mark probably doesn't realize that I even know he has his doctorate in exercise physiology, masters of nutrition science and dietetics, and runs the department at nearby Central University. Mark spots people when asked, but keeps to himself. I like him. Fortunately, he is wrapping up his cardio. Mark wipes his sweaty forehead and politely sits near us. “How can I help?” he asks.

“We are having a discussion about fundamental aspects of training,” I include. “Jeff is confused by all the concepts he sees online through InstaSpace, FaceTube, YouBook and those other social media sites. I figured you and I can help him understand the truth based on both science and experience!” Just to impress them with my modernization, I hold up my two communication devices. “We all need to advance. While I still have a pager to get messages, I now also have a flip cellular phone. Now I never take either of these out on the gym floor, but I want you to see I understand your tech-driven concerns!”

“Is it safe to say that serious lifters are far ahead of the scientists, but our research is limited by the fact that it is just on one subject... ourselves?” I say.

“Definitely, Rusty! To be honest, I look at the concepts that serious bodybuilders, powerlifters and gym meatheads follow and the ones that intrigue me the most are the areas I recommend for studies. Serious lifters are ahead of scientists but we solidify the training ideas for diverse lifters at various experience levels, ages and different goals.”


Volume and Frequency


“You mentioned being confused about the training programs that different champs use,” I say to kick things off. “That famous example I mentioned previously would be Mike Mentzer's low-volume, four-times-a- week program with heavy weights, forced reps and negatives versus Schwarzenegger's twice-a-day, twenty sets per bodypart training style. You know my program isn't like either of these. What does research say about volume and frequency, Mark?”

“Your program hits it, to be honest,” Mark wisely replies.

“Now in your case, my case, and most of the serious lifters,” I say, “our volume per body parts varies over the year. Chest, for instance... you may just hit your pecs with six to eight sets a week part of the year and it builds up to 13-15 sets. We have done this through each of the last couple years. You probably do not realize it, but I look over your program regularly. Even though I have you increase the number of sets over the year, then take a week off, and return back to a low-volume, three-sessions-a-week version, your poundages on all of the big, compound movements have gone up from what you did a year previous. This keeps you mentally driven and your progress moving forward. We also increase the max volume just a little bit each year.”

“Keep in mind that sometimes high-intensity, low-volume, 30-minute workouts may also be recommended by personal trainers that can earn more income by training twice as many customers each hour,” says Mark. A large grin appears on my face as I consider the concept at Rusty Gym, but I stop myself since true hardcore training and integrity remain my policy.

“I have had a very unique theory about these volume differences,” I say. “There are a few champions...Dorian Yates being the most common example...that have done well with low-volume. He had the biggest, grainy physique we had ever seen up to that point. He also lifted big weights. Someone that is struggling to get 8-12 reps with one third the poundage Dorian used regularly is JUST NOT going to cause significant hypertrophy compared to his hardcore heavy contractions. Do you agree, Mark?”

“That definitely makes sense and I think I just got an idea for a future study I would love to launch!” says Mark.

I add, “Pro and national champion bodybuilders are very rare genetic freaks, maybe just 1-3% of the best muscle-building hypertrophic beasts. It doesn't mean you can't build an amazing physique... you've made a great deal of improvement... but none of the members of this gym is likely to ever look as good as myself or a pro! That is why much of the video knowledge you see online is just not made for the average lifter. These top pro freaks not only have freakishly high genetic levels, but also use growth hormones and anabolics at scary levels. As lifters who choose to be drug-free and have much lower, normal genetics, our nutrition and recovery needs must be right on track!”

“Well, can you just give me an example of what the average, motivated weight trainer should do for maximum results over, say, a 6-9 month period?” asks Jeff.


“Periodization simply means planning your training over time,” says Mark. “NFL, NBA, and Olympic-level coaches do that...and so does Rusty with his clients.”

“Look at how you have trained on my program,” I say. “We already mentioned how your volume changes over the year. Your year would technically be called a mesocycle which begins at the beginning of September. We start our new mesocycle training three times a week, almost all of the sets being with heavy compound exercises, for just a max of an hour in the gym. After the holidays, the workout increases to an extra session each week, hitting each body part twice a week with each workout lasting a little more than an hour. Then we go to our 2-on, 1-off Back to Basics Training with more sets per body parts and bring in one of my inventions, “feeder” workouts to bring up a lagging body part. Even with warm-up times, we still keep things under 75-minutes.”

“In summer, we head towards the top of your volume, with a 3-on, 1-off training schedule. Each workout takes about the same length of time, but more sets are done with shorter rest periods and some supersets, with the last couple of sets to failure. Frank Zane did a cycle like this, peaking for the Olympia in the fall, and continues even after retirement. I have often assumed he copied that idea since he heard it is what I do. It is also something every serious Rusty Gym member does.”

Nutrition Confusion


“You said earlier how important it is for my nutrition to be on track… especially because I’ve chosen to be drug free. Sure, I’ve made great progress on the nutrition program you have given me, but I'm confused by how diverse the YouTube diets I have seen seem to be,” says Jeff. “How can they be so different? Should I stay lean or bulk up? Ketogenic diet? Paleo? IIFYM?”

“Before we had much solid muscle-building nutrition research, we had physical culture gurus like Vince Gironda, Rheo H. Blair, and Jim Heflin who were decades ahead of their time,” I say. “Jim Heflin, the founder of Beverly International, put together diet programs for thousands of bodybuilders, including many of the top champs of the 70s and 80s. He was all about just helping people... not marketing himself. Sandy and Roger Riedinger, who have been running Beverly for two decades, continue this in their magazine, No Nonsense, to help competitive bodybuilders or people with fitness goals. I still agree with each of these experts, so obviously they are all very smart!”

“Does research coordinate the supplement info we see online?” Jeff asks.

“Not everything...” Mark admits. “Most supplement companies make big claims. Some may have one research study that makes their new product look great... until you read the study and see how it was not correctly quoted. Beverly sticks to the basics, selling proteins, aminos and other products that have had numerous studies with solid research over time showing their effectiveness.”

“And they are the only company I trust to have the actual ingredients on the labels...” I add. “Dr. Mark, go over the ones we may need at higher quantity as serious lifters. I'd do it, but I need to hit the bathroom.”


As I return, I see that Mark has discussed the Super Pak (multivitamin/mineral) and EFA Gold (healthy fatty acids). Mark has a Muscle Provider on one knee and an UMP on the other, resting his forearms as his hands continue to move. “Eggs, beef, chicken, fish, turkey and other whole foods should provide much of your protein needs, but adding a couple of these quick, easy and delicious shakes each day will definitely maximize your natural growth potential. UMP has an 80:20 ratio of casein to whey, so it is mostly sustained-released casein, with some fast-acting whey...perfect throughout the day and before bed.”

“Research and delicious flavoring are much better than the options out there when I was your age,” I add. “As we all do, I have him use Muscle Provider for a post-contest shake for recovery.”

“Great strategy!” agrees Mark.

“I also recommended Quadracarn in his intake,” I say (as Jeff nods in agreement). “And he has had great results from it.”

“Even more research-shown benefits to older men,” says Mark, “...but studies have shown benefits of the four different forms of carnitine to improve fat loss, recovery, stamina, cognitive abilities, positive mood, testosterone, vascularity and more. That is why this product has been popular for women and men, young, old and middle- aged. As you know I also buy it frequently.”

“He also has me use Glutamine Select,” says Jeff. “Does the research support that?”

Mark doesn't need to look at the bottle to see what goes in Glutamine Select since he always has a water bottle with the purplish- white powder that he shakes up each workout. “Heavy training has been shown to deplete our glutamine levels. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in muscle tissue, so it’s NOT something you want to diminish. Hardcore training has been shown to decrease your level of glutamine, so I would never miss this, particularly for a large body part, heavy session. GS also has branched-chain aminos and a mild black cherry flavor (or the new wild berry version)... perfect as your during-workout beverage.”

“I noticed that my muscle soreness seemed higher when I ran out of drinking this, so I never miss it now.” says Jeff. “Rusty also has me take Density or Muscularity at various times, what does the science world show us on these?”

I juggle two bottles of aminos in the background as Dr. Mark sings their praise... “Density has essential amino acids, which help drive anabolic efficiency. I like three doses of five tablets a day between meals to maximize hypertrophy. The anabolic response to training involves the amino acid l-leucine, which acts as a trigger for activating the mTOR pathway vital for muscle growth and recovery. This is why Rusty advocates taking the BCAA-rich Muscularity aminos before and after training, along with your Muscle Synergy which contains HMB, an active metabolite of leucine that reduces muscle protein breakdown.”

“Serious intake of whole foods, protein shakes and amino acids help you look bigger and better!” I say, while impressing both of them with a Sergio Oliva-like victory pose.

“Now what about goals?” Jeff asks, “It seems like champs rave about their hardcore lifestyles and how they lift and eat perfectly so that they never have to deal with a second-place shamefulness...” (my pose obviously drove him to think of the posing dias and demi-godishness).

The Real Decision

A smile crosses my face when I think of my introduction. “I got into training to win the heart of Barbara, a beautiful homecoming queen I went to school with as a teen. You may not believe it now, but I was fairly scrawny as a sixteen-year-old. No, I didn’t win her heart …but afterwards I realized that I loved training, just for training.”

“I've gotten up on stage a handful of times,” I continue. “Perhaps my physique was ahead of its time or those judges needed glasses, but I didn't win every contest. But, now that I am helping others, I see that how you place doesn't really matter. If you improved, you have won. Not many think this way and maybe I'm just realizing it now.”

Mark nods and leaves this one for my experience. “The lifters you see online may declare that everything they capture on contest day is important, but it is not! That should only be a part of their life. Look at Mark. He trains, but he put education and now research before it. I run the gym and help others also get in shape. Life, happiness and spiritual growth are most important. Getting in shape for a contest can help drive people to make great progress. Just make it a part of things, not everything!”

“Whenever you feel doubt...,” says Mark. “... look at the last two years of training, the strength increases, lean weight gained... impressive progress is there.”

For a second, I consider hitting another pose to inspire this young man, but realize my physique only matters to me. Helping other people reach their goals (the purpose of this magazine) means far more to me, as it should for any trainer. And teaching this information to Jeff made me realize what really matters in my goals!

Three Day Split – 1st 3 Months


Monday: Legs, Chest, AbsSetsReps
Squat warm up, then work up to...)35
Leg Curl210
Bench Press55
Calf Raise312
Abs (your choice)320-30
Wednesday: Back, Shoulders, Arms, CalvesSetsReps
Deadlift warm up, then work up to 225
Chin Ups3max
Bent Row36-8
Shoulder Press36-8
DB Pullover212
DB Curl36-8
Triceps Pushdown38-12
Seated Calf Raise310-12
Friday: Whole BodySetsReps
Bench Press33
Bench Press115
Chin Ups3max
DB Press36-8
DB Pullover312
Barbell Curl36-8
Triceps Extension38-12
Leg Curl215
Calf Raise312-15


On the major exercises (Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift), warm up with a light weight and add weight each set until you reach your working weight. Add weight whenever you successfully get all listed sets for the indicated rep range. On the major exercises start your off season cycle with a weight which is about 85% of your repetition max for each exercise. That way you can add weight each week throughout the cycle. On the other exercises go to failure on the last two sets (except abs). If you get one more rep than the listed rep range on the last set of an exercise, add weight your next workout.

Four Day Split – Months 4-6


Monday: Chest, Back, Shoulders, AbsSetsReps
Bench Press33
Bench Press110
DB Flye28-12
Chin Ups3max
Bent Rows310-12
Shoulder Press36-8
Bent Laterals215
Tuesday: Legs, Arms SetsReps
Hack Squat26-8
Leg Curl210-15
DB Curl3-56-8
Triceps Pushdown3-510-12
Calf Raise3-66-20
Thursday: Back, Chest, Shoulders, AbsSetsReps
Lat Pulldown310-12
Bent Row36-8
Bench Press35
Incline Flye210-15
DB Press310-12
Bent Lateral215
Friday: Arms, LegsSetsReps
Seated DB Curl56-8
Triceps Pushdown510-12
Hack Squat36-8
Leg Curl215
Seated Calf Raise3-66-20

Two On / One Off Back to Basics Training - Months 7-9

After completing the Intermediate Three Day Split and Four Day Split programs we go to a 2 on – 1 off program where you workout two days in a row and then take a day off. We still concentrate on the major exercises and include the advanced concept of “Feeder Workouts” to bring up any weak areas.

A “feeder workout” is performed to bring up a lagging body part or promote growth. As an example, we add a feeder workout for legs on Day #4 consisting of 2 supersets of 10-15 reps on Leg Extension and Leg Curl with a usable weight. Then 3 sets of 10 Squat or Leg Press with about 85% of your 10RM. This will get blood flowing to the area, facilitating recovery and growth.


Day #3: Off, Day #6: Off (then start over at Day #1)

Day #1: Legs, CalvesSetsReps
Squat (pyramid)512-4
Leg Press410-16
Leg Extension312-15
Leg Curls310-12
Straight Dead Lift310-12
Seated Calf Raise510-12
Calf Raise (bodyweight)525-50
Day #2: Chest, Triceps, CalvesSetsReps
Bench Press512-4
Incline DB Press36-8
DB Flyes38-12
DB Pullovers38-12
Close Bench Press412-6
Triceps Pushdown36-12
Heavy Calf Raises48-12
Donkey Calf Raise415-20
Day #4: Shoulders / Biceps (Legs – Feeder Workout)SetsReps
Military Press (pyramid)412-6
DB or Machine Laterals38-12
DB or Cable Bent Laterals38-12
Barbell Curl (pyramid)412-6
Incline DB Curl38-10
Machine or Preacher Curl28-12
(Feeder Workout)215
Leg Extension (superset)210-15
Leg Curl210-15
Squat or Leg Press310
Day #5: BackSetsReps
Chin Ups or Pullups46-12
Deadlift & Shrug310
Bent Row or T-Bar Row412-6
Reverse Grip Pulldown38-12
Straight Arm Pullover310-12
Posted in 2019 Collection, Blueprints & Guides, Workouts to Gain Muscle.