Q: I read where old-school bodybuilders would use lighter weights and higher reps on some exercises before competition to get more muscle detail. That’s total B.S., right?
A: On the surface, yes. But ending a bodypart with higher-rep work—or even doing entire workouts with higher rep work, enhances muscle burn. No, that’s not fat burning—at least not in a strict sense…
Studies show that muscle burn can enhance growth hormone (GH) output, and GH is one potent fat burner. So in essence, higher-rep muscle scorching can help you burn more fat via GH and get you more muscle detail faster. (Can J Appl Physio. 22:244-255; 1997)
Or you can train all heavy, diet your ass off, and do loads and loads of cardio for your fat burning. We prefer to keep those things moderate and mix in higher-rep TORQ work and/or X-centric sets—lift in one second and lower in six to spur the lean-machine process.
X-centric sets give you both longer time under tension and muscle-fiber microtrauma. Studies show that it takes some energy from body fat to repair that trauma, so you’re getting muscle-growth stimulation and body fat annihilation. Nice. [For programs and info on X-centric, or negative-accentuated, training, see The X-centric Mass Workout, available HERE.]
Q: I’m thinking that all I need for maximum quad development is squats. And bench presses for chest. Can a routine with just the big basic exercises get me big?
A: Yes, of course. But maybe not your BIGGEST. Different exercises can affect the muscle in unique ways to enhance development. You mentioned squats. Great exercise for overall quad mass, but…
According to researchers, Steven J. Fleck, Ph.D., and William J. Kraemer, Ph.D.,
[Muscle fiber] recruitment order in the quadriceps for the performance of a knee extensions is different from that of a squat. Variation in the recruitment order provides evidence that to completely develop a particular muscle it must be [trained] with several different movements or exercises.
That’s why we are big believers in Positions of Flexion, a 3-way muscle building approach that trains the target muscle through its full range of motion. For example, for triceps, it’s close-grip bench presses for MIDRANGE work, overhead extensions for STRETCH, and pushdowns for CONTRACTED.
And using variations on each of those can have different developmental effects on the muscle. For example, dumbbells for the close-grips, incline extensions and reverse-grip pushdowns. Change to gain. [For more on this, see the POF manual, 3D Muscle Building, available HERE.]
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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