Q: I gave the 4X method a try, and it feels amazing. Definitely a big pump. I’m just worried that since only the fourth set is to all-out failure that I’m not getting enough intensity to stimulate growth. I’m used to doing two to four sets on each exercise to total exhaustion. Will my muscles regress on 4X?
A: In The 4X Mass Workout e-book we explain the all-or-none principle of fiber activation. What that means is that a muscle fiber fires at 100 percent or not at all. So even on SUBFAILURE sets, you’re getting bundles of fast-twitch fibers to fire completely.
Also, realize that one way to boost intensity is to do more work in less time. That’s the reason 4X builds muscle so quickly—you condense the workload into a short time frame, building up to extreme growth-fiber activation…
You pick a weight that you can get 15 reps with, but you only do 10. And even though a number of fibers fire completely, you aren’t going to failure. The set is fairly easy and acts as a warm-up.
After a 30-second rest you do the second set of 10 reps. It’s harder than the first, as more fast-twitch fibers are called upon to fire completely—but it’s still subfailure.
After a 30-second rest you do the third set of 10 reps. Now you almost hit failure and it feels as if the entire muscle is starting to fatigue—many fibers are firing to keep the muscle working, including those you already blasted on the first and second sets.
After a last 30-second rest you do a fourth set. This time you go to failure, getting only eight or nine reps at total exhaustion. You reach the GROWTH THRESHOLD and trigger muscle-size stimulation without too much cortisol release or nervous-system stress. (The growth threshold is explained in The 4X Mass Workout e-book.)
While the stress level is fairly low with 4X training, the intensity is high because you do more work in much less time—about five minutes for the above sequence. It’s a quick, CUMULATIVE muscle attack, bringing in the majority of growth fibers by the last all-out set. Very efficient with less stress than standard all-out sets.
Once you feel as though you’ve adapted to the get-bigger trigger of 4X, you can always boost the volume on an exercise for each bodypart—doing 5×10—which will take just bit over 5 minutes. Do that gradually, however. You don’t want to go to 5X on every exercise for every bodypart all at once or you could trigger overtraining. You want to GRADUALLY ramp up your intensity for more muscle immensity.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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