Q: I’m using your 10×10 method after all the great feedback I’ve read, and I love it. Because the poundages are lighter, my joint problems are disappearing, and I’m already seeing new muscle after only three weeks. I love the enormous pumps too! My question is, I feel 10×10 on every exercise, but the intensity varies a lot. Do you guys ever recommend increasing the reps, like 10 sets of 12 reps?
A: For those who aren’t familiar with it, 10×10 is taking a weight with which you could get 20 reps, but you only do 10; rest for 30 seconds, then do another 10 reps—and so on until you complete 10 sets of 10 reps. The first few sets are easy; the last few are brutal.
To answer your question, yes, we’ve varied 10×10 for the reason you mention—some exercises and/or bodyparts just don’t get the big hit from that sequence. A great example is calves…
We’ve found that 8×15 is a great variation for standing calf raises. Soreness can last for days after—in fact, you might get so sore that you’ll need to eliminate all other gastroc work except for one set of leg press calf raises, which you’d do before the standing 8×15 assault. (The leg press calf raises are basically to get blood flowing, warm up the ankles and stretch the calves in preparation for 8×15.)
Keep in mind that Vince Gironda, the originator of the 8×8 system, suggested 8×20 for calves. We tried that but found it difficult to sustain 20 reps for more than a few sets, no matter what the poundage. Pulling back to 8×15 worked much better for us—but it still brings on the fires of hell!
We’ve also noticed that on many single-joint exercises, like cable flyes, using 8×12 works better. We’re not sure if it’s the low neuromuscular efficiency in some muscles or a higher percentage of endurance-oriented (2A) fast-twitch fibers. It’s not a problem on all isolation moves. For instance, barbell curls work perfectly with 10×10.
You could also move to Vince’s original 8×8 protocol on chins—primarily because most people crap out too early using 10 sets of 10 reps on chinups with only 30 seconds of rest between sets. Lats will get sore from armpit to obliques, so you know 8×8 is doing just fine creating microtrauma in the target muscle.
Give 10×10 and its variations a spin. It does great things for muscle size and even leanness. It’s rapidly transforming many of our trainees’ physiques just in time for summer, and it could do great things for you too.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
Learn From the Legend
For more on the Iron Guru’s methods, grab a copy of Vince Gironda: Legend & Myth. It’s a big 330-page anthology of all of his training methods, unique exercises, carb cycling and other diet principles. There are also a few freebie e-books that include his complete 8×8 system. See it HERE.