No, not Evander Holyfield, the real deal about training. Lately, there have been posts that compare bodybuilding to powerlifting, and powerlifting to Olympic lifting. The inevitable arguments about which training methods are best sprout up. So, you get a lot of people saying a lot of things. Well, I'm gonna tell you the REAL DEAL!
First off, we are going to discuss training and injuries. You injure yourself when the force created by a weightlifting movement exceeds the capacity of the connective tissues. Now, force is force. If you bench pressed 200 lbs, and the rep took 6 seconds, you create a certain amount of force. If you bench press the same 200 lbs, but the rep only takes 3 seconds, you have greatly increased the force placed on your connective tissues. Do you get it? The force generated in a movement, if all other factors are equal, is less if you lift the weight in a slower, more controlled fashion. Bouncing the weight off of your chest also dramatically increases the force involved. Now, muscular stimulation has a direct correlation to intensity. Intensity being defined as a percentage effort of your momentary maximum. In other words, if at a given moment your muscles were capable of lifting 100 lbs, and you lifted 100 lbs you were using 100% intensity. So, what is the lesson here? The lesson is, train in a slower more controlled fashion, taking your sets to failure, and you will have sufficiently stimulated your muscles while at the same time reducing the chance of injury to almost zero. This means that unless you plan to compete in Olympic weightlifting, you should avoid those exercises. You should all exercises that involve explosive movements. Now, I am sure that there are certain people who will cry foul at this advice. They will say, "Studies have shown that Olympic weightlifting is the safest kind of weightlifting there is, no one gets hurt if they perform these exercises properly..." Let's think about that. If there are studies that show this, do you think that they could be biased in some way? Of course they could. Even if they are not, were the studies not using successful competing athletes? Probably. If they were, can we use the information they have given us and apply it to trainees in general? No we can't. Again, think about it, doesn't it make sense that these athletes are genetic superiors who probably have much stronger than average connective tissues? Yes it does, and wouldn't the people who don't have this advantage have been weeded out over time? Yes they would. Like I said in the intro, force is force, and tears and injuries occur when the momentary force exceeds the capacity of the connective tissues. So, avoid exercises which will maximize the possibility of injury.
I am in the weighlifting game for as long as my body will allow it. I have been training for nearly 14 years and it has been a passion of mine for that entire time. I have learned a lot over the years, some of it the hard way. I want you all to learn from my mistakes. Even a couple of years ago I would not have given you the advice to train with all exercises in a slow and controlled fashion. This is one I have had to learn the hard way. When I was in my early 20s, I could train with little regard to such things and suffer very few obvious consequences. However, over the years, the injuries and even the little things I did not recognize as injuries have built up. So, with whatever wisdom my years of training and study have taught me, I strongly suggest you train smart!
Ok, we have ruled out Olympic lifts for sensible training. We have also determined that it is best to train in a slow and controlled fashion. That doesn't mean you need to use light weights, it means you need to train under control, but use as much weight as your target reps will allow. You will get bigger and stronger. You will be able to continue to train without injury while others around you fall like flies. Consistency is the name of the weightlifting game, trust me. Now, I am sure that all of you know that I advocate HIT training with a minimum of sets performed to failure and plenty of rest. I don't, however, tell people exactly how many sets or reps to perform because I am intelligent enough to know that people are unique, and my optimum number of sets may not be yours. I also know that there ARE certain don'ts when it comes to the iron game. For the vast majority of trainees, 5-6 sets to failure for large muslces and 3-4 for small ones will be the maximum number of sets to perform. So don't perform more than 6 sets to failure for large muscles, and 4 for smaller muscles. Don't increase the numbers of sets performed as you progress, decrease the sets. Don't train with explosive movements and don't train with sloppy form. Don't train more than 4 times per week. Don't think that some movements build "bulk" and some define. If you train with any movement to failure in a progressive fashion, and allow your muscles to recover, then your muscles will grow. So, if you define "bulk" as larger, stronger muscles, any movement is a bulking movement. Don't believe that training is 80% diet. If your body gets the necessary nutrients, and the necessary amounts of protein are much less than most people think, and you train properly, you will progress regardless of the specific foods ingested. Looking lean is 80% diet, but not gaining muscle. The average American diet (or that of almost any developed nation) provides more than enough nutrients for muscular gains. So, one more time, if you eat enough, and train correctly, the gains will come regardless of whether or not you eat a no fat, low carb, high protein (but only certain kinds of protein and fats like the diet nuts recommend) super diet.
So, in conclusion, train in a controlled fashion, train to failure, train briefly, get plenty of rest, don't obsess over your diet (unless you want to be ripped), and you will be a bigger, stronger, and more consistent trainee than 90% of the people out there.