QUESTION: I've heard that steroids and other drugs such as human growth hormone help you recover quicker from hard workouts. Is this true and if so should I, as a natural athlete, train less than those on drugs?
ANSWER: It's true that steroids and other performance enhancing drugs help most people workout harder and recuperate faster. But something that is often overlooked is that such drugs also enable a lot of users to gain muscle size, strength and overall power with less effort. My philosophy of drug free training has always been that in order to force my body to develop naturally I had to train harder, not 'easier' than those taking drugs. By harder I mean I had to do both high intensity andhigh volume and combine them with a high level of consistency...taking a killer workout once every couple of weeks won't cut it.
Let me give you an actual example. I usually start each back workout with 10 sets of wide grip chins or pullups, then I go on to barbell, T--bar or one arm rows and finish off with wide grip, parallel grip or close grip pulldowns. The rows and pulldowns are done from 3 to 5 sets each, including warmups, depending on whether I do one or two varieties of each movement.
Now I'm not recommending that much work for everyone, especially beginners and intermediate trainees. Each individual should gradually progress in frequency, volume and intensity, but once you reach the advanced level it's my opinion that you should work a body part until it's totally pumped (I call it 'fried'). That doesn't mean doing a bunch of half-effort sets - it means concentrated and intense effort to obtain the most results in the least time. Bottom line: If you want to stand out from the crowd you Got To Pay Your Dues!
As far as frequency of training, I feel that most naturals will get best results from training a body part once in every four or five days, with twice per week being the outer limit.