You know our mantra: You can trigger bigger gains with one small change. But let’s multiply that for even more mass. We’ve got 3 simple things to get you growing immediately…
1) Frequency of training. Many trainees hit each muscle once a week. But what if instead of hitting a bodypart with, say, eight sets once a week, you train it with only two to four sets three times a week?
Of course, that requires stacking more bodyparts into each workout. However, that overall systemic synergy from training many muscles at one session can trigger bigger testosterone surges, as well as growth hormone output.
A good example is the first phase of the Size Surge program. Here’s the innovative Phase 1 split that you use during the first few weeks—no doubt a big change from what you’re using now:
Monday: Quads, hamstrings, chest, back, delts, calves
Wednesday: Deadlifts, calves, biceps, triceps, forearms, abs
Friday: Quads, hamstrings, soleus, chest, back, delts
While it looks as if your arms get trained only once a week, they actually get hit three times a week—on Wednesday with direct arm exercises AND on Monday and Friday with chest, back, and delt work. You can bet that frequency and variety will get your arms surging with new size!
Okay, look at the split again. Quads get it three times a week as well—some type of squat on Monday and Friday and deadlifts on Wednesday. Talk about a metabolic mass momentum. While you don’t do a lot of sets for each exercise—usually two—you work a lot of total muscle tissue every time you train…
Multiple muscle engagement at every workout is why this first phase of Size Surge is so radically effective—it’s a serious Anabolic Primer program. You’ll feel it happening. (Phase 2 is a different split with full-range muscle training that includes stretch overload that kicks in another round of growth—remember the animal study that produced a 300 percent mass gain with only one month of stretch overload!)
2) Rep speed. Another small change that can produce almost instant mass gains is slowing down the negative stroke on some or all of your reps. A study showed that the optimal rep tempo for muscle growth is about one second up and three seconds down. [Int J Sports Med. 30(3):200-204; 2009]
There are two reasons that one-up-three-down cadence does great things for mass gains: 1) The slow negative produces more muscle damage, and 2) the somewhat fast start to the positive innervates more muscle fibers right at the turnaround, near the bottom of the stroke—like the bottom of a squat…
The bottom is the key semi-stretch spot where the target muscles can generate the most force and fiber activation. So a controlled explosion—NOT a bounce—will get more muscle mass into the action on each rep. Move slow to grow on the way down and get a semi-fast blast on the turnaround for the most muscle activation on every rep. [For more on that study and optimal size-building rep tempo, see The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout e-book.]
3) Concentrated warmup. Studies show that a muscle saturated with blood can produce much more force than one that’s not so “warm.” In fact, a study published in the Journal of Strength Conditioning Research (15:362-366) reported that there was an INSTANT 20 percent increase in strength with an influx of blood prior to a heavy work set.
On big exercises, like squats and presses, say you do two warmup sets, as suggested in the Anabolic Primer phase of the Size Surge program. Do your first for at least 10 reps, 3 seconds up and 3 seconds down. On your second warmup set, add weight and do 8 reps at your normal cadence—one to two seconds up and about three seconds down. Oh, and don’t lock out—keep tension on the target muscle for extra blood flow after…
There you have it: Training-frequency variation, slower negatives, and bloodbath warmups can do great things to give you new muscle gains immediately. Prepare to grow!
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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