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Training for Mass: Second Edition

Preface to the Second Edition

When the first print run of Training for Mass was completed in July 2007, before a single unit had been shipped, the book found itself in a unique predicament. A few veterans of the business side of the bodybuilding industry, people that make a living by either photographing bodybuilders or by promoting contests and events, unanimously declared that the book was doomed to fail. What made these predictions especially interesting is that they were all made independently—and all by people who had not read a single word of its text. Their reasoning couldn't have been more simple: The book had no pictures.

Looking back on it, they probably had good reason to hold this opinion. If the 100 top-selling bodybuilding training books prior to 2007 were compared and contrasted, one thing would be rather obvious: Bodybuilding books all have pictures, lots and lots of them, usually hundreds in any given example. It's therefore not difficult to draw the conclusion that within the publishing industry, bodybuilding is essentially a genre of picture books. In such a field, what chance did a book without pictures have? Training for Mass threw its hat into the ring nonetheless, with naïve disregard for the opinions of experts who expected it to be bludgeoned into obscurity. It appeared for sale in major online booksellers and as part of the Ingram distribution catalogue.

Of course all of this begs an obvious question: Why didn't the book have pictures? The Prologue section which opened the book, present in this edition as well, is dedicated to answering that question in full. Nevertheless, the basic rationale is as follows: We bodybuilders have spent years looking at pictures of other bodybuilders—in books; in magazines; on the internet; in posters; and in the photo albums of competitors. Although a lot of weight-training enthusiasts seem to be perfectly happy with that, some of us want more. We're tired of the same old standard-fare bodybuilding books. In fact, we no longer buy them. We know that looking at another book of pictures won't help us to improve our physiques. What we want is something new, something of substance. In short, we want information.

Training for Mass was created with these people in mind: the less-conspicuous group of dedicated weightlifters who want serious information, presented in a serious manner; a group that wouldn't care if a book didn't have pictures; basically, a group that the experts apparently didn't even know existed. Yet one question remained: Were there enough like-minded people, enough of us, out there who would read it?

Then something rather odd happened. People did begin to read it. The book slowly gained a word-of-mouth following, and sales increased. After a while the online community took notice, and the book was mentioned in articles in a few of the more prominent online bodybuilding magazines. Sales escalated further. It even regularly out-sold the training books of a few big-name professional bodybuilders.

Somehow, the "experts" had been wrong. By declaring the book a failure without reading a single word, they all revealed an identical sentiment: Content isn't important. Bodybuilders want to stare at pictures. When they dismissed the value of a pictureless bodybuilding book, the experts may have known that they were insulting the collective intelligence of the entire bodybuilding community—the very people the experts rely on, in one form or another, for their livelihood. They might not have cared. Either way, they seemed pretty certain of their opinions.

What they failed to understand is that pictures themselves suggest the true purpose of this book. Pictures are objects of aesthetic value, as are the bodybuilders who appear in them. The creation of any aesthetic object, be it a photograph, art, music, film, literature—or even the physique of a bodybuilder—requires methodology. Bodybuilding training is one such method of creation. Like the methodology of nearly all other creative disciplines, it's fundamentally a technical subject. Some of us may recall, in the not-too-distant 1980s, that the big-muscle aesthetic captured the imagination of a generation. The explosion of action movies; the resurgence of pro wrestling; the proliferation of bodybuilding contests; and—yes, it must be admitted—the popularity of the television show American Gladiators; these all helped to elbow aside the rail-thin chic of the '70s. The entire fitness industry was transformed. Jogging was out and weightlifting was in. Suddenly a lot of people wanted to be muscular. Multitudes still do. Yet apparently it was lost on some of those close to the epicenter of the new physique culture that if you want to build your muscles, you have to immerse yourself in a technical discipline.

The question of how muscles are best built has been with us for at least 2500 years. It was only in the last few decades that we've come to grasp some real answers. Only during that brief period have we come to formulate a sensible methodology, to understand important technical issues, to define the discipline. So here we are in the early 21st century. We're finally experiencing a Renaissance of thought and discovery about bodybuilding training—and a few prominent members of the body-building community insist on dismissing its significance. Maybe this can be counted as an obscure instance of history repeating itself. Regardless, there's a significant segment of dedicated weight-trainers who are hungry for information.

Training for Mass was conceived to be nothing more than a book of information. It happens to espouse the high-intensity strategy of weight training, but in the bigger picture that point isn't all that important. What's significant is that the book sought to address, in a serious manner, various points of contention in the realm of bodybuilding training; it provided reasonable arguments for its opinions; it didn't pad its length with a clutter of pictures; and people wanted to read it. That last point alone proves that bodybuilders aren't all the knuckle-dragging mouth breathers than some people think we are.

So here's the Second Edition. The popularity of Training for Mass essentially created a mandate: Though the first edition was well-received, it hadn't reached its potential. The book deserved a do-over. Thus the new version differs from the first in a few ways. Several key sections have been revised. The chapters dealing with intensity, duration, and specificity received an overhaul. Several other chapters, including Working sets, Volume and injury, Free weights vs. machines, Range of motion, Nutrition, and the conclusion have been rewritten and/or expanded. Almost every part of the book was changed at least somewhat. There are also some new appendices. One of the first edition appendices was removed, both to make way for better material and because it was perhaps a bit off-topic.

Otherwise, it's the same basic book. If you've never read anything about weight training and have never seen the inside of a gym, some parts might seem foreign. There are suggestions in the following chapter for such instances. For everyone else, you might say that Training for Mass is somewhat of a dissertation. It's as much a book of analysis as instruction; it emphasizes theory and touts evidence; it shuns dogma and questions tradition. You might like it. You might hate it. Whatever the case, be glad that in reading it you've sent a message—that as someone with a serious interest in increasing your muscle mass, you're not content to merely stare at a book of pictures.

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