Bodybuilders Were RIGHT All Along! (7 THINGS)

Bodybuilding and lifting to build muscle is one of the favorite pastimes of men and women around the world. That said, with the emergence of new lifting styles, a focus on training for strength and a general tendency to throw away everything from eras past rather than keeping the things that worked – we are going to highlight the things that 90’s bodybuilders got right. These 7 things should still be used as bodybuilder motivation and be incorporated into your workouts if you want to see the best results for building muscle at home or at the gym.

First up is the idea that you should train your compound lifts before training your isolation exercises. This is actually true in large part. The idea here is that performing the lifts that require the most muscle contribution and will have the largest impact on fatigue management should be front loaded into your workouts. Perform them when you are the most fresh in your workout and you will have a chance to lift the most weight on them and spark new muscle growth from the tension overload you are training. Isolation exercises are often still effective even with much lighter weight and can therefore be used even when you are tired from the initial portion of your workout.

The next idea is that of training to failure. Who knew that this would become such a controversial topic of discussion just 30 years later. The fact is, when you are looking to create change you must always be willing to face a challenge. Suboptimal training intensity as a tradeoff for hard work is not going to get the job done without costing you much more time and workout volume in the process of doing so. If you are willing to train hard, you will be able to build muscle in less time as long as you are prioritizing optimal recovery along the way.

Third is the concept of tension being a prime driver of muscle growth. This is so true. When you want to build muscle and not necessarily solely strength then you have to remember that the way the exercise feels to the muscle is much more important than what the number says on the side of the dumbbell or barbell. Finding a way to make an exercise more inefficient is going to be the best way to force it to change, adapt and grow. Strength training will benefit best from a well orchestrated, finely tuned movement pattern but that is not what we are talking about here.


Fourth on the list of great ideas that you should still be doing from the bodybuilding era is using set prolonging or intensifying techniques like drop sets. The idea behind the drop set is that it acts as an insurance policy to guarantee that you trained hard enough to elicit a change in the muscle you are training. If you were to go to failure on a set of bench press you wouldn’t necessarily have reached failure on the chest – the muscle you were trying to grow. In fact, most often it’s the shoulders that give out at the bottom of a bench press. If you dropped the weight and immediately performed a follow up set you would be able to continue to drive stress to the pecs and help to reach the point of fatigue that forces new muscle gains and growth.

Fifth on the list of things we should still be doing from the bodybuilding era is incorporating posing or flexing of a muscle more often. The simple act of voluntarily contracting a muscle is going to help you to develop a better mind muscle connection with the muscle. When you are looking to overload a specific muscle group, the better neurological connection you have with it the more capable you will be of getting it to respond.

Sixth is the idea that better tasting protein powders and supplements made it easier for us to meet our protein requirements and build muscle in the process. Gone are the days of having to drink protein shakes that taste like battery acid.

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Finally, just because isolation exercises should be placed later in your workout doesn’t mean you should skip them all together. While they used to serve as a way to fill in the gaps on specialized hypertrophy training and to bring up muscle weak points they now can serve the important role of the accessory lift to a bigger compound exercise.

As you can see, not all advice from the bodybuilders of the past should be thrown away if you are seeking to build muscle. Just because something is new doesn’t always mean it is better. If you are looking for workouts that are not just new and cutting edge but respect the exercises and techniques that worked in every era, be sure to head to and check out the programs available.

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47 thoughts on “Bodybuilders Were RIGHT All Along! (7 THINGS)

  1. ATHLEAN-X™ says:

    *NEW “FAST ACTION” Q&A* – Got a question about training or injuries that I didn’t cover in the video? Leave yours (AS A SEPARATE COMMENT!) below and I’ll pick 8 to get a detailed reply from me right here in the comments. Answers will be posted within the first 24-48 hours of you leaving the question. Good luck!

  2. Taimoor Azhar says:

    Interesting Fact:

    11 Years ago, the first comment on Jeff’s First ever video was from Jesse.

    “Jeff, great video! This exercise not only helped my brother for pitching, but it’s helped me for getting ready for lacrosse. Great exercise that works for more than just baseball.”
    -Jesse Laico

    Now ain’t that interesting?

    • ChrisLaico says:

      @Taimoor Azhar Of course man. I’ll pass the message on for sure. He reads most of the comments but there’s so many it’s hard to reply. Glad I could shed some light on the their background.

    • ChrisLaico says:

      @Gambura Frälsaren It’s been 15 years since my older brother and I were training with Jeff, not Jesse. Jesse’s 5 years younger than I and 7 years younger than my older brother. He didn’t start really working out until a few years ago when he began working with Jeff. I wish that you could all see what Jesse looked like in high school so you can actually get a better idea of how far he’s really come. It’s been extremely difficult for Jesse to gain weight and muscle because that’s just the genetics he was given. It’s really easy to be hyper critical in a comment section of someone you don’t really know much about or their background and life story but that’s what happens when you put yourself out there for all to see. I would however say that the Mets, multiple professional athletes, and public figures/celebrities disagree with your assertion of Jeff not being the real deal. So, I think their opinions and experiences with Jeff severely outweighs some random person in a comment section trying to discredit Jeff by using false numbers that were misconstrued from my original comment. But hey, everyone is entitled to their opinion.

  3. Sytse Woolderink says:

    “Fast Action” Q&A: I have a minor case of scoliosis. It’s small enough that it doesn’t need treatment, but I can still see that one side of my pelvis is higher than the other. (quadratus lumborum isn’t tight) Is it still a good idea for me to be squatting & deadlifting and if not, is there anything I can do about it?

    Thanks in advance and thank you for helping me deal with all of my exercises I did wrong (leg extinctions and non arched bench press) and my posture!

  4. Deven Kingman says:

    All jokes aside is has been amazing seeing Jesses journey and seeing how far he has come, he honestly looks amazing and he is a huge inspiration for me and i just love his personality and how genuine he is

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