If you look at any bodybuilding magazine or website you will frequently see highlighted tittles that read “Leg workout from hell”, “Destroying your back in 30 minutes”, “Arm tearing workout from the sixties” by the time you end up reading the article and included print to go workout you probably think to yourself “That’s not hard, I can do that” and that’s probably true. Bodybuilding has been known as a hardcore sport thanks to the heavy weights, warehouse gyms and the blood and sweat involved in it, and that’s exactly what the old bodybuilding magazines tried to portray, nowadays most bodybuilding magazines are totally different because they want to give the public something that’s easy to relate to.
So that leaves us with a big question, what does a truly intense/hardcore workout look like? And well, even though there is not a predetermined blueprint for a workout of this nature there are a series of factors that have to be considered when trying to achieve a gut wrenching workout. Bodybuilders in the early ages of the sport used to work with what they had, this means no machines, they used barbells, dumbbells and anything they could get their hands on, you have to remember that bodybuilding started out as a freak show (if you want to call it that), this means that the nature of it was to display strength and muscularity.
The first key to having a hardcore workout is using really heavy weight with compound movements while avoiding machines, a compound movement activates your whole body, a machine on the other hand only isolates a certain muscle group; even though this isn’t a bad thing it’s not going to be as effective as the compounds.
Another key factor to having a good workout in is doing medium to high repetitions and sets with a lot of different exercise variations and with heavy weights, bodybuilders in today’s era keep the sets, reps and exercise count low, a bodybuilder from the 70’s or even 90’s would be in the gym for maybe up to three hours, a lot of people would call this overtraining even though technically it’s not, if you get enough rest and enough food to keep you going in the gym you shouldn’t have to worry about when to stop.
Another good sign of a hardcore workout is running out of breath, sweating and maybe even vomiting, you want to be hardcore? Let the weights do the cardio for you, a lot of current bodybuilders rest between thirty seconds and a minute between sets, if you’re doing a lot of exercises you want to be finishes as quick as possible, keep your rest periods minimal and short.
With all of that said there is one more factor worth mentioning that is related directly with hardcore workouts. You can’t call your workout routine hard when you’re not hurting the next day, if you are sore the next day it means you did it right, a lot of the old school bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger went for the pump inside the gym and for the soreness outside of the gym, bodybuilders today call this overtraining and well, it’s not, if you tear the muscle enough it will become sore and as a consequence it will become bigger and stronger, this can’t happen if your muscle never got stretched or fatigued in the first place.
Bodybuilders nowadays work out a lot differently in comparison to the icons from the Golden Era, there is no denying that maybe the workouts of the current pros are intense but they are definitely not hardcore, a younger teenager will always be in awe after watching a Ronnie Coleman or Kevin Levrone training video but not so much when watching a Phil Heath video for example. A lot of the new bodybuilders abuse drugs and don’t even work out hard enough at the gym, that is one of the reasons their physiques end up being washed up by the time they hit forty, work hard, eat right and be consistant.