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Muscle Maturity

Maintain a stellar physique while staying injury-free.

Per Bernal

THROUGH TALKING WITH HUNDREDS OF IFBB PROS OVER THE YEARS, WE’VE FOUND ONE INDELIBLE TRUTH: AS BODYBUILDERS GET OLDER, THEY TRAIN SMARTER. 

Mark Dugdale, 42 years old as of Christmas Day 2016 and still going strong in the IFBB’s aesthetically pleasing 212 division, is our latest exhibit. Following a memorable 2004 NPC USA light-heavyweight and overall title, Dugdale began carrying the torch as one of the few remaining well-known pro bodybuilders employing the high-intensity training style, à la Mike Mentzer in the 1980s and Dorian Yates in the 1990s. Not to be confused with HIIT (one “I,” not two), HIT involves relatively low training volume in terms of total working sets, yet each of those working sets is taken to absolute, pain-provoking, grunt-inducing failure. 

The HIT style certainly worked for Dugdale (not to mention Yates before that), but it also exposed him to injury. Let’s be honest, injuries happen from time to time when you train intensely, whether you’re a professional athlete or just a passionate recreational gym rat. Yet Dugdale still decided he needed to tweak his workouts to stay healthy. 

“My training philosophy has changed significantly from the HIT days of my 20s,” he says. “A minor pec tear on my second rep with 500 pounds on bench press in my late 30s forced me to reevaluate things. I train with a bit more volume and a significantly greater amount of frequency than I did earlier in my career. That’s not to say that I don’t still train with a high level of intensity, but the methods and timing in which I employ intensity techniques are much more intelligently implemented.”


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Dugdale had three 212 wins in 2016 (Arctic Pro, Chicago Pro, and Vancouver Pro) and still sports one of the pro league’s most aesthetic physiques, proving his training wisdom is paying huge dividends into his 40s. His chest training routine featured here is a great example of his “muscle maturity”—both in appearance and practice. 

 

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