Q: I’ve been reading up on your POF mass-training system, and I think I understand it. I’m just not sure how training a muscle with only two sets on two or three exercises can produce serious muscle growth. Most pros do four or five exercises for four or five sets for each bodypart or more.
A: Positions of Flexion is one of the most efficient mass-building workout styles out there. We’ll explain why in a moment. First, we feel the need for a reality check: All the pros are taking significant amounts of drugs that jack up their recovery and muscle-building abilities. That’s on top of their already superior genetics.
Those two advantages put them miles ahead of the pack. Nevertheless, they do have the multi-angle training idea correct. That’s necessary to get size stimulation in all of the growth fibers in any muscle. The problem is, they use the shotgun approach. They often simply pick a random bunch of different exercises and just do lots of sets. That imprecise style is fine if you have the luxury of superior genetics and anabolic drugs in your corner. Most of us don’t…
The majority who want to build muscle as quickly as possible must cover all the angles as efficiently as possible. You absolutely, positively cannot overtrain. If you’re like us, you don’t have drugs to cover your butt if you overdo it in the gym; even slight overtraining leads to undergaining—or even shrinkage. Not good.
Bottom line: You must train enough to stimulate as much growth as possible, and that’s all. After that, get out of the gym. Rest time is grow time—and POF is a big step that allows size to accumulate quickly…
With POF you cover all the angles with two or three exercises per muscle group. Hitting the three big positions—midrange, stretch and contracted—trains the muscle through its entire range of motion. Bonus: You also get significant anabolic hormone release and muscle-growth stimulation along the three key pathways of hypertrophy—max force, stretch overload and tension/occlusion (more on that in a moment). Let’s use biceps as an example…
Midrange: Barbell curls, 2 x 8-10
Stretch: Incline curls, 2 x 8-10
Contracted: Concentration curls, 2 x 10-15
With those three specific exercises you train the biceps in a range that extends from where they’re back behind the torso (stretch; incline curls), to where your arms are slightly in front of your torso (midrange; barbell curls), and to where they’re out and up close to your head (contracted; concentration curls). Full-range muscle building…
You cover the biceps’ full arc of flexion, so you get full, dense development quickly. You’ll feel it happening with those few precise sets. (Many trainees have said they feel like the skin is going to split due to the full muscle engorgement created by so much full-range fiber recruitment.)
But full-range work is only part of the efficient POF mass-building effect. As we mentioned, that 3-way mass method also provides the key hypertrophic triggers for multiple layers of development to triple your muscle size effects:
- Max-force production via muscle synergy with the midrange-position exercise (heavy compound movements).
- Stretch overload, which has been linked to hyperplasia, or fiber splitting, with the stretch-position exercise.
- Occlusion, or blood-flow blockage, which has been shown to significantly increase size and strength, with the contracted-position move; continuous tension is over 10 to 15 reps is the key for a full-blown pump.
All of those are critical for maximum mass development. We’ve often said that max force is most important because you use the big compound exercises, which hit the majority of fibers; however, stretch is something very special. An animal study increased muscle mass by 300 percent—that’s tripling a muscle’s size—in one month using only stretch overload as the hypertrophic stimulus. Unreal! Obviously, progressive stretch overload can create incredible mass effects quickly.
If you train intensely in every position for full-range stimulation, you also jack up the key anabolic hormones…
- Big midrange exercises, like squats, presses, etc., trigger testosterone release.
- Stretch exercises have been shown as one of the only ways to produce anabolic hormone release within muscle tissue.
- Contracted exercises block blood flow for muscle burn, which stimulates growth hormone release.
You can see why POF is so efficient at maxing out muscle growth in minimal time. In fact, it packed 20 pounds of muscle onto Jonathan’s frame in only 10 weeks when he first tried it. It was also what allowed Steve to leapfrog his Skeletor genetics and go from 120 pounds to 200 in ripped condition.
Can you use more sets? Absolutely. The numbers above are merely a guideline. Your ideal volume will depend on your individual recovery ability, how often you’re training each muscle group and even your lifestyle (stress can slow recovery). But six all-out work sets, two for each position, is a good rule of thumb and will do the job for most trainees seeking maximum mass. Here’s another example for lats…
Midrange: Pulldowns, 2 x 8-10
Stretch: Pullovers, 2 x 8-10
Contracted: Stiff-arm pulldowns, 2 x 10-15
The POF trifecta is very flexible. As we mentioned, you can add volume—if you can tolerate it. You can superset or add intensity techniques, such as drop sets, X Reps or X-hybrid techniques. You can even do a big midrange set in negative-accentuated style, as shown in the POF program in The Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout. There are almost infinite variations to keep you growing and growing.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
ATTENTION OVER-40 BODYBUILDERS
One of the most interesting read-me pages on Testosterone and other muscle-building hormones we’ve seen is The Truth About Testosterone.
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