Q: I have most of your e-books and am really impressed with The Ultimate Mass Workout [the original X-Rep manual]. X Reps make a lot of sense for giving a set more size-building power. My question is, Should I use X Reps on 10×10 sets? And what about forced reps? Do you ever use them?
A: Remember, with 10×10 you are getting a lot of volume, even though the first few sets aren’t that tough. Nevertheless, you are still working the muscles and nervous system, so overtraining is always looming.
We’ve found that a number of forced reps in a row overtax the nervous system due to imprecise loading and unloading from a partner through the entire positive stroke. In our research, we’ve found that the area of the stroke where the target muscle is semi-stretched, like the bottom 10-inch range of a chinup, is the optimal area for max-fiber recruitment. Instead of full-range forced reps, doing X-Rep partials at the end of a set is much more efficient for high-threshold motor unit activation (more growth fiber involvement).
That being said, we often performed one forced rep on the last set of a 10×10 set grouping and then performed X Reps in the semi-stretch position on that last set as well. That forced rep usually allows you to get a ninth or 10th rep, then X Reps trigger more growth-fiber activation. If X Reps are not possible, we recommend a static hold at the semi-stretch point for as long as possible.
As you read in our original X-Rep e-book, X Reps are very powerful and make a set three to five times more productive, so don’t get carried away with them and be cautious with X Reps on 10×10 sets. One set, usually the last, on an exercise is enough to trigger some big gaining without overtraining.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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