"You can train hard or you can train long, but you can’t do both” is a popular exercise adage. The bodybuilder Mike Mentzer (1951-2001) had heavy duty training that, in 1982, was described as “based on the idea that you can work hard or you can work long, but you can’t do both simultaneously.” The saying is attributed to Mentzer on many websites.
Wikipedia: Mike Mentzer
Mike Mentzer (November 15, 1951 – June 10, 2001) was an American IFBB professional bodybuilder, businessman, and author.
High-Intensity Training the Mike Mentzer Way was Mentzer’s final work. In it, he detailed the principles of high intensity weight training. Weight training, he insisted, had to be brief, infrequent, and intense, in order to attain the best results in the shortest amount of time.
Mike Mentzer’s Bodybuilding Wisdom
A: You’ve asked a question that most of us in the bodybuilding world have pondered at one time or another. I recall Mike being asked that very question at a seminar in Toronto back in 1980. Here was his response:
“For my biceps I usually do two to four sets, and for triceps I usually perform two to four sets. So I believe in fewer sets for my arms. In terms of repetitions, I typically choose a weight that gives me six to eight repetitions, and then of course I continue beyond that with forced reps and negatives done for one to two reps in Heavy Duty style. I don’t do anything elaborate or exotic, just very hard work. The harder the work you do, the less work you’re capable of doing. It’s not a debatable point. You can either train hard or train long—but you can’t do both, and it just so happens that it takes hard training to build big muscles.”
Women’s Weight Training and Bodybuilding Tips and Routines
By Joe Weider
Chicago, IL: Contemporary Books
Heavy Duty training, according to Cathy and Mike, is based on the idea that you can work hard or you can work long, but you can’t do both simultaneously — in the same way that a runner can go all out in a sprint, but can’t expect to continue like that much more than 100 yards, while a marathon runner can keep going for hours as long as he paces himself carefully.
Google News Archive
9 April 1989, The Item (Sumter, SC), pg. 7B, col. 1:
Heart rate zone
By TOM ROLEN
A college professor of mine would constantly tell us “you can train hard or you can train long, but you can not do both.”
Google Groups: misc.fitness
Apr 16, 1994
>You can train long and you can train hard, but you CANNOT do
This is a phrase mentzer loved to bandy about. There is obvious grain of truth to it, but who says only 1 or 2 sets is the limit for hard training. I can do closer to 4--8.
Static Contraction Training:
How to gain up to 25 pounds of pure muscle mass in 10 weeks
By Peter Sisco and John R. Little
Lincolnwood, IL: Contemporary
Intensity and duration exist in an inverse ratio to one another; in other words, you can train hard (intensity) or you can train long (duration), but you can’t do both.
High-intensity training the Mike Mentzer way
By Mike Mentzer with John R. Little
Chicago, IL: Contemporary Books
As Mentzer often pointed out, “The intensity/duration ratio is inverse; you can train hard or you can train long, but you can’t do both—and it just so happens that it takes hard training to build big muscles.”
By John Hansen
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers
As Mike Mentzer has repeatedly preached in his sermons on training intensity, “You can train hard or you can train long, but you can’t do both.”
Get Stronger, Feel Younger:
The cardio and diet-free plan to firm up and lose fat
By Wayne L. Westcott and Gary R. Reinl
Emmaus, PA: Rodale
As the saying goes, you can train hard or you can train long, but you can’t train hard for long.
New York City • Exercise/Running/Health Clubs • (11) Comments • Saturday, April 14, 2012 • Permalink
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That is some fantastic insight. I don’t think you can go far wrong by mixing things up. I personally like to vary things in a random way so the body has no clue what is coming next. Plus, it is a great way to stay motivated for training.
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Nice Stuff… I like this post.
Great article I tend to do a three week program then switch it around as to gain muscle you need to shock it
superb article, you have written big things in short words. I read your all articles.
I appreciate this quote “You can train hard or you can train long, but you can’t do both”. This sentence contain a lot of hidden wise which we should understand during workouts. Thanks a lot.
Awesome and real opinion of Mike Mentzer! I’ve quite support in the crucial true sentence that “you can work hard or you can work long, but you can’t do both simultaneously.” Thanks for sharing!
Would not have thought that a beast like mike mentzer only did 2-4 sets for biceps and triceps, dang. I do agree with the ‘train hard or train long’ though, no point in being at the gym for 1+ hour, you’ll perform way worse. I try and keep my workouts to a maximum of 50 minutes which works great for me
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Great article !! I tend to do a 1 week program then switch it around as to gain muscle you need to shock it. Keep sharing !!