Q: I’ve been using a drop on my last set, and I do speed reps on that lighter drop. It works great for finishing an exercise, but I’m wondering if I should do it on stretch-position movements, like stiff-legged deadlifts for hamstrings or overhead extensions for triceps? It seems like the proven anabolic effects of stretch with the fiber shock of speed reps would be an excellent mass combo.
A: X-celeration, or speed, sets are much more dangerous with stretch-position exercises because the target muscle is fully elongated. That said, we do use it from time to time, but not with a 1.5-second-per-rep tempo. It’s more like a 1/1 or even 1/2—lift in one second and lower in one or two seconds.
Using X-cel is not for beginners—or trainees with big egos. You must stay in control with a fairly light weight. Start trying to throw heavier weights and you know what happens (“Hello, I’d like to make a doctor appointment.”).
The great thing about speed reps is that they are great for finishing off a fatigued muscle—speeding up the tempo can involve more fast-twitch growth fibers, ones that may have been dormant during standard sets.
Remember, Olympic coach and muscle-building expert Charles Poliquin used to say the #1 least used hypertrophy tactic is changing rep tempo.
We’ve mentioned the 8-10-8 method from the MMX e-book that gives you automatic tempo variation. Use your 12-to-15-rep max, then…
On set 1, lift in 1 second and lower in 6.
On set 2, do speed reps, 1.5 seconds per rep (don’t throw the weight, stay in control).
On set 3, lift in 1 second and lower in 3, a standard Power cadence.
Use the same weight on all sets and rest 35 seconds between sets.
Here’s another even quicker method that we like when we do full-body workouts. Start with your 20-rep-max weight…
Set 1: Go to failure—20 reps; rest 35 seconds as you add weight
Set 2: Go to failure—8 to 10 reps with the heavier weight; then drop to your set 1 weight and do a speed set.
Remember, vary your rep tempo to get ultimate growth.
Note: We have more unique research-based mass methods as well as a number of anabolic “mini” workouts in our MMX Fast Mega-Mass Workouts (yep, that’s a plug, but it’s indispensable for your mass-building library—and it’s only $9!). You get full-range Positions of Flexion to Antagonist-Muscle Supersets to Progressive Speed for every bodypart, plus many complete innovative workouts with the Max-Muscle X-pansion system included. Check in out HERE.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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