Bob Birdsong's Mass - Density Training Technique 1975
I like to experiment to see how things work out. Around the first of the year with no contests in sight I decided to increase all my poundages about ten percent. Within three weeks I could see a change. My shoulders flared up, my chest got bigger and cut up, and my back got thicker. It worked so well I decided to stay with the heavier stuff all-year-round.
First of all I cut a good half hour of my total workout time. Since my calves are my weakest point I now start most of my workouts with them, and I try to finish with them also. I'm placing a lot more emphasis on my calves this year than last. I've been using 20 to 40 pounds heavier weights this year than last on all the exercises.
I hit the gym about three in the afternoon and start in on calves, 20 to 25 sets, for about 45 minutes. With a lot more with than I was using last year, I do maximum reps, following a couple of lighter warm up sets.
Last year I was following the exhaustion principle, doing maximum sets and reps with minimum rest. It kept me defined and cut up, but I wasn't getting any bigger. I'm not as fanatic this year; I slowed it down, and now even have to use a partner more to help me with the increased poundages. I like working with Kent Kuehn. We've always trained together.
I work my calves at least four times a week, and the other body parts at least twice. One other day, I might work the whole body, every part, so actually that amounts to three days a week for each body part. On that day I work all body parts at once, I do it all in two hours, working faster and more concentrated, doing less sets, but still using heavy weights. I manage to get eight sets on each body part.
Last year I was working my arms six days a week getting ready for a contest. I'd work triceps harder one day, and biceps harder the next. This year I am going to try to do the same thing. I keep weights at home, and I'll do five sets of concentrated Preacher Bench curls just before I go to bed every night. These bench curls give my biceps the isolation I need to build no only lower biceps and forearms, but also actual biceps width, That biceps width is very noticeable when you stand facing front.
At present I'm working abdominal's three times a week, 10 minutes each time. In that short period I can roast them with five sets of Tri-Sets using the three exercises, Hanging Leg Raises, Crunches and Seated Leg Raises, a total of 15 sets.
With my present program I am continuing to get a lot of size through my shoulders, chest and back. I intend to come into the Mr. Universe contest this year bigger and more cut up. I'm not going to repeat what happened to me last year at the Verona Mr. Universe contest. I had started my trek to Europe many days before the contest, and I had completely lost my edge. A bodybuilder is just like a finely tuned race horse. Experienced horse handlers will tell you a horse is no good if you fly him to a race more than a couple of days before. This time I'm going to fly into the Mr. World or Mr. Universe contest that day before, not a whole week, like it the past. Every muscle I worked for is going to be showing.
The longer you're in this business the more you learn. Last year I continually trained at the edge of peak condition, 99 percent. You're on a tightrope and a breeze can topple you. This year I'll drop back to about 95 percent, work for more size like I said, and then come into the stretch with plenty of cuts that aren't going to disappear overnight. I've got a head start along those lines with my new training system
I'm also stepping up my supplement intake this year. Every day I'm taking 75 liver tablets, 50 brewer yeast and 1500 I.U. of vitamin E. I have to bolster myself for the stress of training. Take someone who's never lifted weights before and put them through one of my workouts using only a fraction of my poundages, and they would like as not go into shock. For the experienced, trained bodybuilder a workout is a tonic. You clobber yourself, but your potential for recovery is great. That's what bodybuilding is really about - your ability to recuperate. You can't take hard, two or three hour workouts without first learning the ability to recover. That takes time - years. Beginners should be carefully guilded on that point.
If my mind's not with it one day, I knock off, go out and have a good meal. You won't do much good with a bad mood hanging over you. Also, if you're tired, your mind will rebel.
I start my workout at 3 pm so that gives me time enough to eat two good meals before, a breakfast and another an hour or so before training time. Even though I've eaten quite a bit, by starting my workout with calves and continuing for 45 minutes, my food is well under way to digestion, Calf work creates no real pressure in the digestive area. The vitamin D facilities the transport of oxygen in the body which certainly aids digestion and general metabolism.
I make sure I get no less than four meals a day, and, if possible, six. I don't gorge. I eat three meals of a half pound of ground round steak, a couple of eggs and cottage cheese. I will eat vegetables, usually with the lunch and dinner meals. I like zucchini, string beans, carrots and beets. I don't cut out vegetables before a contest. I burn up what little starch is in them. I need them, I workout too hard. My metabolism is efficient enough to handle it. I don't want to lose muscle size by eliminating these things from my diet. Ten days before a contest I can do what little restricting is necessary to get the final cuts I need. The food is no problem. The only time you'll really have problems is when you let yourself get out of shape. If you stay looking like a muscle man all the time, there's no problem.
No matter what you do it's always going to be hard to be as cut up as Pierre van den Steen. He is limited only by his natural size. They wouldn't vote him over the big ones like Waller or Ferrigno. I'm in the middle height class. If I can get as cut up as Van der Steen, I can beat Waller and others in the tall class because I've got comparable size.
Although I spend 45 minutes on my calves, I am able to complete my other body parts in less time than I used to by cutting down the number of sets and using more weight. I do a lot of forced reps. Like on lateral raises, I now use 65 pound dumbbells, and my partner helps me force out the last three or four reps. They kill me, but I feel fantastic afterwards. I do them till they ache plenty. I'm really growing from it. With forced reps I can still do 10 or 12 reps, so you can see I'm burning those reps out.
I am doing three exercises for each muscle group, five sets each, for a total of 5 sets. I have kept the exercises I liked best. For shoulders I still do the Seated One Arm Pulley. I warm up with it and also finish with it. I'm also keeping the Standing Lateral Raises. I need help on these when they get heavy. On a lot of the other exercises I still manage to get my 10 or 12 reps without assistance even though I am using heavier weight. I've got my head into it more this year. I'm doing what it takes to use increased poundages.
I've changed my triceps routine a bit. I like doing Bentover Kickbacks with 30 - 35 pound dumbbells. I will do three or four sets with both arms at the same time, and then when they are tired, I can still do more by doing them one arm at a time. That way I can push the triceps to the limit.
On the chest the Incline Dumbbell Flys have helped me a lot. I've changed the angle of my Lying Flys, bringing the weight up more to the rear, maybe level with the top of the head. I don't bring them together at the top, instead I stop them a foot or more apart and lower them again. In this way the tension never leaves the pecs. Also, by cutting down the range of motion I save energy and can do more reps with heavier weights for the affect I want, broadening the chest. It's the same movement that Arnold and some of the others use. It gives you wide pec development. For the inner pec development along the sternum I'll use a separate exercise. Cable Crossovers. On these I bring my hands together and try to squeeze the pecs together.
I have to get eight to 10 hours of sleep a night to function at my best. I eat four to six meals a day, use heavier weights with slightly lower repetitions, and every third week very heavy weights with forced repetitions. I am using the same intense effort is last year but using 10 to 20 percent more weight, thereby cutting down then number of sets and lopping a half hour off my workout time. I am still working along the basic principles. Supersets and Tri-sets. This year I'm heavy on the Forced Reps. I'm saying pretty close to the Weider Principles.
Last year I was using the Double Split System mainly because I was working out with a buddy who wanted to train that way. It was good, but this year I am too busy on the outside and I can't get to the gym twice a day.
I usually work, all the body parts at once on a weekend day, Saturday or Sunday. I do eight sets a body part, 12 reps each two different exercises. I continue to do forced reps on my laterals on that day. I have no problem getting a pump, even with less sets, because I workout fast. I knock off completely one day a week, ordinarily on the weekend.
This year I'm going to have more mass with even greater muscularity than last year. I can see it happening with my present program.
I've put an upper limit of 15 sets on any body part except the calves, of course With Forced Reps speeded along by Quality Training, and using heavier weights. I have forced a a breakthrough in my training this year. I am excited about the possibilities in my new program. It has stimulated me mentally I'm training with greater interest.
The proof in what I'm saying will show in my next public appearances. I know I'll be better than last year, and I hope y'all will be there to see it.
Bob Birdsong Stats:
o Mr. Los Angeles 1973
o Mr. Pacific Coast 1973
o Mr. America 1974