It was back in the 80's when I first read Stuart McRoberts excellent articles in Perry Rader's Iron Man magazine. Here was a voice in the wilderness warning that overtraining is counter-productive and that much of the advice dispensed by illegal drug using professional bodybuilders in the glitzy magazines is useless, and in fact harmful, for the average, natural trainee.
As a neophyte who had made good initial progress on a basic sensible routine but after a year or so became "stagnant", I tried many of the routines in Muscle and Fitness and other sensational magazines of the day. In them, articles ghost-written for the big name bodybuilders, would detail Herculean, if laborious 6 days per week, 2 to 3 hour bodybuidling sessions with 6 sets of 12 reps for each angle of each individual muscle. Obsessed with becoming the next Arnold, Platz, Haney and Oliva my wife, kids and social activities were often put on hold as I just had to get my workout in. All this compulsive behavior for a somewhat muscular, but not much above average physique.
I was soon attempting Arnold's 6 day per week twice daily "body building" workout - and that is when it all came crashing down. I got very ill and lost much of my previous gains. I had no idea why - after all if Platz could do it why couldn't I?
Here was McRobert, and a few others, writing that a few sets of the multi-joint exercises done, at most, twice weekly would actually promote muscle growth! You see, I was quite naieve in that I didn't even know that steroids existed or that guys like Arnold were actually "cheating" and then telling me how I too, could develop a phsyique just like his! Only one little problem - they never said in those articles which and how much steroids to take. It's really no wonder that my nervous system could not withstand the routines used by the professionals and using illegal steroids, when I finally learned about them, was definitely out of the question for me.
Even still after reading McRobert's articles and corresponding with him, I refused to believe that I could build the type of body I wanted with abbreviated training. I was walking around in a severe state of overtraining for many years - and this led to some serious health repercussions that I won't go into here. Suffice to say I essentially burned out my nervous system from working out too frequently and too heavily with not enough recuperation.
Thanks to McRobert I wound up cutting way back on the amount of sets, reps, and poundages in my workouts I built up to 238 pounds bodyweight and got to lifting some respectable poundages (for a natural trainee) in the big lifts - but had I accepted and put into effect fully McRobert's theory of abbreviated training I would have probably gone much further and not suffered health problems. Alas, it is so often the case that when we are young we have the strength but don't have the knowledge and when we are older we have the knowledge but no longer have the strength. Young lifters, read and heed!
Now in my forties, by necessity, it is strictly abbreviated training for me. I still hope to hoist big poundages and keep improving for a couple more decades using the kind of sensible training outlined in Beyond Brawn.
Young lifters, especially, would do well to read and re-read Beyond Brawn and put into effect McRobert's techniques of "cycling". When I was younger I thought I should lift heavy all the time - I didn't understand that the body can not take that over long periods and cycling poundages is absolutely necessary for progress. All this holds true for the older trainee as well.
Lifting weights and wanting a superpysique can develop into an obession. After awhile senseless workouts where the trainee is just trying to complete a number - reps, sets, etc - becomes non-productive and useless for achieving the original goal: muscle mass and strength. Beyond Brawn is a book that can bring it all back into perspective - explain what reasonable goals can be attained and if you are genetically gifted maybe much more. If you are wandering aimlessly from one workout routine to the next published each month in the latest glossy magazine and you are lifting the same poundages as last year - you can get back to actually gaining again using the advice in Beyond Brawn.
Beyond Brawn is an essential tool for anyone who wants to build muscle and get stronger. Although aimed at the genetically challenged and "average" trainee, others would benefit as well. It can be difficult to accept, but once the trainee understands that without the use of illegal anabolic enhancers he is NOT going to become the next Arnold, Haney, Wheeler, et al, he is going to need good common sense advice on how to achieve his potential - and Beyond Brawn is possibly the best book out there for the natural trainee.