Q: You’ve said that training each bodypart only once a week never worked for you. But I saw mention in a previous article that you did make gains doing that with X-centric training. I like training each bodypart only once a week because that’s the way the pros do it. Should I use X-centric training to make it work better for me?
A: First, following the pros workouts is a bad idea for 99 percent of us. Steroids and other anabolic drugs make most of what they do NOT applicable to drug-free trainees. It’s like trying to make your Toyota Camry perform the same way as a Formula-One racing car. It can’t be done without some MAJOR “enhancements.”…
We are in the drug-free majority, and training each muscle group only once a week has never worked very well for us. The only exception was when we first started using X-centric training. That is, we added a couple of negative-accentuated (NA) sets for each bodypart. Why did that work? NA sets impart more growth-promoting fiber trauma that can force the need for more recovery time…
Negative-accentuated sets are simply doing one second on the positive and six seconds on the negative to exhaustion, which should occur at around rep seven. That will give you around 50 seconds of tension time, a unique stimulus your muscles aren’t used to. For example, on undergrip pulldowns, you pull the bar down to your chest in one second, then slowly release back to the arms-extended position in six seconds.
Your lats will be screaming on about rep five or six—but grind out seven or eight. Does it work? Here’s what respected muscle-building researcher Jerry Brainum said about X-centric training:
The advantage of eccentric muscle contractions (EMC) is that the extensive muscle fiber damage caused by EMC results in a compensation effect, in which the body responds by upgrading muscle protein synthesis. The net result is that the damaged muscle fiber is not only repaired, but also thickened to accommodate the increased stress placed on the muscle from EMC. The thickened fiber is recognizable as muscle hypertrophy, or growth. Strength usually accompanies this increased muscle fiber density.
So it can quickly increase size AND strength, but by including only one NA set per bodypart along with standard sets, you may need up to seven days of recovery before you train it again. No two trainees are the same, however, so some may be able to train sooner. It depends on your recovery ability and the number of standard sets you do in addition to your NA set for each muscle. Back to Jerry Brainum:
The process that results in exercise accommodation takes some time, particularly after a workout that emphasizes EMC. Studies show that it takes a minimum of 48 hours to repair the damage wrought by EMC, and for larger muscles, such as the thighs, it can take as long as 72 hours for full muscle repair to be completed. If the muscle is trained before full repair is complete, the potential gains in muscle size and strength can be lost.
If you want to force your recovery time to seven days, experiment with doing two to three NA sets per bodypart, along with some standard sets as well. That’s the way the NA programs in The Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout are structured—you train each bodypart only ONCE a week…
The programs outlined in The X-centric Mass Workout, on the other hand, have you train each bodypart once every five days—more frequently—but you tack on only one NA set to standard Positions-of-Flexion bodypart routines. You could use a program from one of those e-books or experiment with your own program. Just be careful, as negative-style training can be draining and cause overtraining. Ah, but just the right amount can get you growing by leaps and bounds…
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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