Q: I’m blown away by your Super-Size Crash Course e-book. Great workouts and innovations in training. Love the [Progressive-Speed 4X]. I felt bigger just reading about it. LOL! And bigger yet after trying it. One question: You often say that you don’t need heavy lifting to get big, but you had [Jordon Williamson, your test subject] doing heavy training every other workout in Phase 1. Could he have made similar or even better size gains without that heavy training?
A: Excellent question, and, yes, we often say that trainees can get big without ultra-heavy training. Research verifies that fact.
As for Jordon, while his Phase 1 had some heavy training, his Phase 2 Super-Size workouts were ALL more moderate-weight, growth-threshold sessions, with Downward-Progression 4X and standard 4X for every exercise within a POF framework—and that’s when he put on the most size…
Jordon was only 18, so Steve knew he needed to develop more strength for a solid foundation to build on. Going heavy may not pack on the most size, but it does contribute—and it can help prevent injuries in the future by thickening tendons and ligaments.
Heavy sets also help improve neuromuscular efficiency, or nerve force, in beginning bodybuilders so they can contract more muscle fibers…
Interesting that despite no ultra-heavy training in Phase 2, Jordon actually got stronger. Being a young buck, he had to test his strength toward the end of the summer. He benched 315 x 3 and squatted 385 x 5. Not bad for an 18-year-old beginning bodybuilder….
Now, he did have a decent base from football the previous fall, which helped. But still, these were RECORD lifts for him. He was bigger and stronger than he had ever been before…
So what does all of that mean? That you can get big without ultra-heavy sets. However, to prevent injury and add your muscle-fiber thickness, you should probably include some heavy training—IF you’re fairly young.
Us older guys should steer clear of mega-poundage sets that cause joint stress. That’s why we included the ALTERNATE PHASE 1 program that consists of PS 4X with DP 4X+ workouts. That combo is perfect for anyone looking to build extreme size, but especially for older trainees who can’t or don’t want to train heavy.
Incidentally, our colleague Jerry Brainum spoke to Clancy Ross, 1945 Mr. America winner who defeated Steve Reeves twice. According to Jerry, Clancy was adamant that if he could do it all over again, he would NOT lift as heavy as he did for as long as he did because it left him with many injuries and pain throughout his life.
Take heed. Use moderate weight, short rests, and some smart training techniques. That will get you almost all of the extreme mass you need.
Note: The Super-Size Crash Course is great for trainees looking to add a lot of size in a short time, and it features Steve’s controversial 2-Days-On intermittent fasting plan.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson