George Turner is one of the greatest bodybuilders/trainers/writers who ever lived (and ever put pen to paper). He also knows more about training than just about any writer still writing for the major muscle magazines. Probably a lot of younger lifters who read his stuff think that he's crazy—because of all the high-volume programs he recommends—or that he's too "old-school."
The Q&A below comes from a column he used to do for Iron Man magazine. There's more wisdom in the below piece—dealing with how you should train if you're young and how you should adjust that as you get older—than most folks will ever realize. For those of you who DO realize it, then welcome to the wisdom that is George Turner.
Question: How have you adjusted your training and diet as you’ve gotten older?
Answer: My training has changed a number of times over the years. Back in the 1940s I trained my entire body every time I worked out. When I got out of the service in 1946, I continued training that way and was lucky enough to get a lot of help in planning my workouts from Clancy Ross. In 1948 I got a job running the weight room at the YMCA where I trained, and around that time I began working out four days a week. To my three-hour, Monday, Wednesday and Friday workouts I added a Saturday session. I was still training my entire body each time and actually added a set to each of the dozen or so exercises I did. I was 30 years old, and I thrived on all the work.
In 1950 I opened my first gym and began training five days a week on a two-way bodypart split. One week I worked legs, chest and back on Sunday, Tuesday and Friday, and shoulders and arms on Monday and Thursday. The following week I simply reversed the bodyparts worked, with Wednesday and Saturday always my off days.
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In 1967 I began separating upper- and lower-body training. I worked my entire upper body on one day, then on the next I ran two miles and trained legs and abs. I’d follow that schedule as many as 12 days in a row before taking a second day off. I continued training that way until late 1968, when I opened another large gym.
I was now 40 years old and had been training very hard for 26 years. I realized that I’d begun to need additional recovery time. I was quite strong but was beginning to experience wear-and-tear problems, tendinitis, muscle pulls and the like – not really injuries but clear warnings. To give my body the recovery time it required, I cut back to three days on/one off and started warming up thoroughly before each session. That way I was training each bodypart seven or eight times a month. I was still separating upper- and lower-body training. It’s a simple principle: You cannot work upper two days in a row, no matter how different you think the bodyparts might be. It just knocks the top off the recovery cycle.
I continued this method very successfully for a number of years, but by the early ‘80s even the three-on/one-off schedule began causing me to experience the overwork syndrome again. I knew quite well what the problem was – it’s called aging.
By 1984 I’d brought down my weight – which had been approximately 230 for 30 years – and settled in at a constant 208 to 210 pounds, even dropping to 185 to enter the Open division at the ’84 Mr. USA. I also started spreading my three workouts over five days, as follows:
Day 1 – chest and arms
Day 2 – cardio, legs, lower back and abs
Day 3 – rest
Day 4 – back and shoulders
Day 5 – rest
Day 6 – start again
I don’t sacrifice any heavy free-weight work with this schedule. I squat and deadlift religiously six times a month, heavy! I always warm up for 10 minutes on upper body days and ride a Lifecycle hard for 12 minutes to start my lower body workout.
My diet is very simple. I take a shitload of vitamins and supplements every day and have for the past 50 years, and because my metabolism has slowed, I eat just three moderate-size meals a day. I also take a meal replacement drink in the afternoon after my workouts. And, by the way, I eat two dozen eggs – including the yolks, of course – a week and about three pounds of meat. My cholesterol is 168 and my blood pressure is normal, as it’s been all my life.
I hope this long-winded answer to your question helps inyour training.