Q: I’m thin and consider myself a hardgainer. I’ve been training with weights for two years and have managed to add only about 10 pounds of muscle. Not very impressive. I recently got your X-traordinary X-Rep Workout [e-book] and started using the X Reps in my workouts. They feel great, and I wanted to report that after using them for only a few weeks, I’ve added five pounds and look much bigger. I’m so thankful I found this technique! Are there any others I should be using? I feel like I’m finally getting the size gains I’ve been looking for.
A: Great progress! As we often say, hardgainers tend to have more of an endurance component to their muscles. You know how calves and forearms tend to respond better to longer tension times? That’s how most of the muscles on a hardgainer’s body are constructed, so they need longer tension times to grow…
That’s one reason X Reps have worked so well for you. You were probably using the standard 8 reps per set, with each set lasting less than 20 seconds. Studies show that that’s not long enough for significant growth stimulation for hardgainer somatotypes. (Eur J App Physiol. 95:20-26. 2005.)
When you added short X-Rep partials to the end of some of your sets, you automatically increased the tension time. That no doubt made those sets last MORE than 20 seconds, and you got a BIG growth spurt. But there’s more…
The Size Principle of Muscle Fiber Recruitment states that on any set, the low-threshold motor units fire first on the easy reps, followed by the mediums, and then on the last couple of hard reps you finally get a few of the key HIGH-threshold motor units to fire. So those last reps trigger the most growth. By adding short 8-inch X-Rep partials at the semi-stretch point—like near the bottom of a chinup, as pictured above—you force those key size-building motor units to keep on firing for even MORE growth fiber activation and size stimulation.
Also, X Reps increase muscle burn at the end of a set, and that burn has been shown to ignite more GROWTH HORMONE release, an anabolic trigger. (Can J Appl Physio. 22:244-255; 1997)
Now you see why X Reps can make any set two to five times more effective at building muscle size! Plus, as we mention in X-treme Lean, growth hormone is also a potent fat burner, so that fire ignited by X Reps can help you get leaner as well. Exciting stuff! And you can use X Reps on ANY program. We recommend adding them to the last set of the big exercises, like presses, chins, etc. But however you’re using them, they’re working big time, so keep it up!
As for other techniques you can use to get huge, notice that in the X-traordinary X-Rep Workout e-book that you already have, we discuss X-Only sets and explain how a former Mr. Olympia used them in his workouts. We also explain Double-X Overload, a great X-hybrid technique tailor-made for stretch moves like dumbbell flyes for chest…
To try DXO, simply do a short X-Rep partial in the stretch position between each full rep. It’s a double-hitch at the bottom of each rep. That amplifies the stretch overload. As we often mention, there was an animal study that produced a 300 percent muscle-mass increase with only one month of stretch overload workouts. Yes, 300 percent! Emphasizing stretch against resistance is a power-packed anabolic stimulator. (Med Sci Sports Exerc. 25:1333-45; 1993)
For more innovative X-hybrid techniques, check out our Beyond X-Rep Muscle Building e-book. It discusses and explains Stage Sets, X/Pause, X Fades, and X-centric Training. Once you grasp and understand X Reps as well as all of the X-hybrid techniques, you can drop them into your workouts anytime to shake things up. Remember, one small CHANGE can trigger BIG GAINS…
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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