In this forum, there seems to be a lot of confusing information about what Mike Mentzer recommended at last. The following are my thoghts about it
Personally, I am highly suspicious about everything that has been put out after his death in 2001. The book “HIT the MM Way” contains a lot of old information which Mike refused as early as in HDII.
As for the HIT video (which was also put out after Mikes death), we don′t know if Mike also planned to include the Consolidation Routine. The video looks a bit “raw” to me, i. e. Mike hasn′t really completed it.
IMHO, the only “real” late Mike Mentzer story is to be heard in the Underground Seminar. Mike says that he starts everyone out on his bare-bone, base-line program (aka The Athlete′s Routine) for at least six months. This statement implies that he would then assess the clients progress and would maybe include an isolation exercise for lagging bodyparts. So there should be no confusion about this particular subject.
I′ve read many times in this forum “Mike said, Mike did, and so on”. I think that this is not what Mike would like us to do. He always emphasized the value of judging independently and rationally. I try do to do that and come to the conclusion that even Mike Mentzer has some flaws in his theory:
1. If the triceps fails first in incl. presses, or the lower back in squats, then why do any other (isolation) exercises for these body parts? Then squats had to be the ideal exercise for the lower back. In my opinion, failure is to be viewed as the failure of all muscle groups participating in an exercise added together. The goal is not failure for every individual muscle, but inroading as deeply as possible in the shortest amount of time (determined by fibre type) the whole targeted muscle group.
2. The position of full muscular contraction is a myth. Firstly, it is impossible to reach such a position with any of your limbs. For example the quadriceps. It has four heads, as the name suggests. In which position do you think you can maximally shorten all these heads? It is simply impossible. Neverthless, to maximally contract a muscle, you had to cut it off. You can only straighten your knee, but your quadriceps could shorten even more.
3. It is not necessary to do static holds in a position of full muscular contraction (which doesn′t even exist…) for full range results. You can recruit all available motor units of a muscle even when it is fully extended. They can fire at a very high rate without contracting. But, you need to do the static hold in a position, where all muscles of a particular group come into play (the upper pecs in the first 30-45° of front-grip pulldowns, leg extensions 15° or less from full extension…), then you will have full range results.
4. On one side, Mike says “Strength and size are directly related” (I agree basically, but motor learning neurological efficiency and more factors also contribute to strength gains). But then he goes on and says, that you can get very strong on his routines without gaining size, because you didn′t eat enough. That is illogical or at least contradicting. That statement implies, that when I progressed from 200 to 400 lbs deadlift in the consolidation routine, but only ate enough for maintenance, I will gain nothing, but my twin, doing the same routine with the same strength increases, eating twice as much, would now be a 250 lbs hercules. Come on, guys…
5. Mike didn′t recognize the importance of the differences between fiber types. Fast twitch subjects, if trained with high TULs/rep numbers, will loose muscle size and strength or at least not progress no matter how long the rest period between workouts, because of overuse atrophy. Subjects with a preponderance of slow-twitch fibers are barely able to stimulate increases in strength and size when training with low TULs/rep numbers. To Mike′s defense, he has never published any opinion about this subject, but it is important, so it had to come up.
So, just my 5 cents. I hope to have provocated some thinking on your side and I am looking forward to the discussion.
BTW, I think that the fiber typing of particular muscles might be the reason, why some people need pre/post-exhaustion for some muscles.
If your biceps is fast twitch, but your lats slow-twitch, your lats won′t get enough stimulation with pulldowns/chins and need to be exercised for longer TUL. And vice versa, naturally. The reversed case might be the reason why some people need direct exercises for their arms (I have yet to meet one…)
It is not my intention to talk bad about Mike Mentzer. He is my hero, physically and intellectually. If it was not for him and his writings, I would have been severly hampered in my thinking and judging. I just wanted to make a point that even Mike Mentzer himself isn′t infallible