Q: I know this is a weird question, but can a muscle get bigger after only one workout? I’ve been using the X-centric Mass Workout for only a week, and I swear I look bigger in almost all of my muscles. Is it my imagination? I am motivated so maybe my mind is playing tricks on me.
A: Well, when you use negative-accentuated techniques, it produces more microtears in muscle tissue, which leads to soreness. A sore muscle definitely FEELS bigger. But is the muscle really fuller and larger?…
Yes, it might be—but not due to fiber hypertrophy. It’s more from inflammation. Remember that the NA (negative-accentuated) technique is designed to cause muscle trauma, which is essentially small fissures that damage the muscle enough to trigger growth. However, those microtears also lead to an inflammatory response inside the muscle structure. That means more fluid retention during repair and that actually does make the muscle look bigger for a few days…
That swelling is one reason in-the-know bodybuilders often use some form of negative-accentuated sets—lowering a heavy weight slowly—before hitting the beach or some other place where they want to look BIG. Granted, you get sore, and the inflammation can mask some muscle detail, but the size effect is usually what a bodybuilder is after.
The extra size will only last for 24 to 48 hours, depending on the extent of the damage and individual response-recovery variations. In the X-centric Mass Workout e-book, we describe how a 60-year-old man gained an inch on his arms after only two weeks of negative-style training. Some of that size was no doubt due to an intramuscular inflammatory response—but it was still mighty impressive.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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