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Homo Unius Libri

Posted Aug 25 2008 3:34pm
There is a saying that is centuries old, whose meaning has been warped through time, but still bears relevance today:

Beware of the man who reads only one book.

People have interpreted this paraphrase (for it is not an exact quote) in many different ways. But the most popular interpretation is to be leery of people who have limited their education to one book (literally and/figuratively) and hence, subscribe to a singular and absolute philosophy. In the world of strength training and bodybuilding, you have lots of people like this. Here are a few examples:

High Intensity Training: These guys are the worst, because they limit themselves in their minds and in the gym. Arthur Jones, Ellington Darden, John Little and the most notorious one of all, the late Mike Mentzer. Their dogma dictates that one to two sets is all you need. Read my article Supercharging H.I.T. , and you'll learn how to incorporate the H.I.T. philosophy and not be enslaved by it.

The Kettlebell Mafia: Although I am a huge fan of Pavel Tsatsouline, he is only one of several role models that inspire me. Kettlebells and bodyweight exercises are great, but the members of the kettlebell mafia are too anti-bodybuilding for my tastes. Funny thing is they all sound the same: they all sound like Pavel. When they talk, it's Pavel's words coming out of their mouthes. Frankly, I'd rather go to the source: listen to Pavel, not his disciples.

"Basic Lifts Only Dude": When some newbie asks, "How do I gain mass?" the dogs of bodybuilding dogma always howl, "You gotta do the basics. Compound lifts, dude."

And you know what? I whole heartedly agree. If you want to gain mass and muscle, then lift heavy on the compound lifts: bench press, squats, deadlifts, etc. Where things go stale is when the lifter relies solely on these basic lifts. Your body was meant to move and to move on various planes. That's why it grows on a wide variety of exercises. The basic compund lifts are great, but they are not the be all and end all. Sometimes you need to do specialized movements to develop a more balanced physique. This point of a balanced physique is so important that I devote a whole chapter to the subject in Strength and Physique, V1.
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