Bodybuilding: From Heavy Duty to SuperSlow

A review of many popular muscle and strength building workouts

One of the unique characteristics of the Iron Game is its focus training systems and the “spirited” debates that take place, deciding which workout is the best. For example, is Volume Training the answer for building muscle fast, or do you train hard and brief with Heavy Duty? Should you use Periodization methods to get strong, or do you max out daily with the Bulgarian Method? Good questions!

For some answers, consider picking up a copy of Bodybuilding: From Heavy Duty to SuperSlow. This book doesn’t contain any of Charles Poliquin’s workouts but offers summaries of many of the most popular workout systems in the past half-century. 

Bodybuilding: From Heavy Duty to SuperSlow is a misleading title, as some of these training systems are not applicable to bodybuilding. The Bulgarian Method, for example, is a program designed for elite weightlifters seeking to develop maximum power and the most efficient lifting techniques for their sport.

After introducing the general principles of training, Cecil presents these popular training systems in the order they were introduced to the Iron Game community, as follows:

·      Volume Training

·      Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) Training

·      High Intensity Training (HIT)

·      Periodization

·      The Bulgarian Method

·      Pre-Exhaustion Training

·      Heavy Duty

·      The Weider System

·      The Hardgainer Method

·      Superslow

·      Holistic Training

·      Power Fact Training

·      Positions of Flexion (POF)

·      Static Contraction Training


Let’s look at Periodization. Periodization describes a long-term planning system that enables athletes to peak at the most appropriate time(s). Cecil discusses the different lengths of a training cycle (macrocycle, mesocycles, and microcycles) and the importance of varying loading parameters (reps, sets, rest, and so on). 

Throughout his book, Cecil provides examples of workouts for each training system. For Periodization, he presents a model introduced by Russian sports scientist Dmitri Matveyev that the NSCA promoted in their strength coaching certification materials. Cecil provided this example of how Matveyev’s model could be used to cycle repetitions over a 7-week period:

Weeks 1-2: 10-12 reps

Weeks 3-4: 5-6 reps

Weeks 4-5: 7-9 reps

Weeks 6-7: 3-5 reps

There are many ways to become an Iron Game champion, and Bodybuilding: From Heavy Duty to SuperSlow discusses several of the most popular. (Photo by Miloš Šarčev)

One bodybuilding system that Cecil did a remarkable job of organizing and summarizing the numerous training principles contained in the Weider System. The Instinctive Training Principle, the Muscle Confusion Principle, the Muscle Priority Training Principles — they’re all here! These training principles were named by Joe Weider and promoted in his many publications, including Muscle and Fitness and Flex. In his 50s, Poliquin became a regular contributor to Flex magazine.

Because Cecil’s book is only 131 pages, it cannot cover these training systems in great detail, so you should seek out the source material. Craig Cecil doesn’t tell the reader his opinion about what the best workout system is, but suggests you try several and decide what is best for you.

[You can purchase Bodybuilding: From Heavy Duty to SuperSlow by Craig Cecil through


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