Q: Your 4X Mass Workout e-book is one of my favorites, but I’m not sure using 4X at every workout will produce maximum mass for me. As you say in The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout, a muscle needs both density and power to grow to its biggest at the fastest rate possible. To me, 4X feels like more density because I fatigue very quickly. Then the muscle feels worthless on the next exercise. I’m thinking about using the Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout that includes both 4X [short rests] and power sets [with longer rests]. Are there any adjustments you would suggest?
A: The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout is great for building size and strength (4X is primarily for muscle size). As you said, the Power-Density Mass Workout is a mix of straight power sets, 4X sequences and drop sets. For example, here’s the biceps routine from the full-range Positions-of-Flexion workout in that e-book:
Midrange: Barbell curls, 2 x 9, 7
Midrange: Undergrip pulldowns, 4 x 10
Stretch: Incline curls, 2 x 8-10
Contracted: Concentration curls (double drop) 1 x 10(7)(5)
On the last exercise, concentration curls, you could do a 4X or 3X sequence instead of a double drop. By that point, your biceps will be very fatigued, so any type of short-rest method will be almost total density. That’s probably the only change we’d make…
For those not familiar, 4X is taking a weight with which you can get 15 reps, but you only do 10; rest 30 seconds, then do 10 more and so on until you complete 4 sets. If you get 10 reps on the last set, you add weight to that exercise at your next workout. For 3X you just reduce it by one, so the third set would be to failure—and the weight you use for the 3X sequence would be heavier than for 4X…
Speaking of 3X, using that instead of 4X in any of the total-4X Mass Workouts in that e-book gives you a slightly more power-oriented approach. With fewer sets—3 as opposed to 4—you will be able to use a heavier weight, and the sequence moves a notch or two toward power. For example, here’s a 3X POF triceps routine that will take you only about 10 minutes:
Midrange: Close-grip bench presses, 3 x 10
Stretch: Overhead extensions, 3 x 10
Contracted: Pushdowns, 3 x 10
Four sets, as in a 4×10 sequence, seems to be the tipping point for most trainees. Fewer sets, as illustrated above, makes it more power; if you add sets to the sequence it becomes more and more density. Remember the Power/Density Continuum chart from The 4X Mass Workout…
So a 4X sequence on the first BIG exercise of a bodypart routine is a balance of power and density; whereas a 10×10 sequence is almost pure density, as you can see from the chart above. The weight is a lot lighter for 10×10 than for 4X. Nevertheless, total 10×10 training on one big exercise per bodypart can create exceptional mass bursts during two-to-four week phases because it’s a unique size-building stress most trainees are not used to…
For now, try The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout and let us know how it goes. Integrate power with 4X and 3X, and prepare for new mass-building success.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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