Q: I got your Quick-Start Muscle-Building Guide because I haven’t lifted in a few years. Fantastic info and it’s already working for me. On some exercises, you suggest lifting in 3 seconds and lower in 3 to help improve nerve force for strength. I’ve seen in many of your emails that you sometimes lift in 1 second and lower in 6. Should I try that? I think you said it helps burn fat, and I would love to see my abs sooner rather than later.
A: Lifting in 1 second and lowering in 6 is what we call X-centric, or Negative-Accentuated, training. It is a great FAT BURNER as well as MUSCLE BUILDER, but you shouldn’t use it just yet (more on why in a moment).
X-centric sets have a two-way muscle-building effect…
1) The slow lowering, or negatives, create microtears in the myofibrils, the force-generating strands in muscle fibers. Your body repairs those strands bigger and better than before to prevent further damage…
So by fixing those fiber fissures, your body remodels muscle tissue to GROW.
2) Another way those X-centric sets help you pack on size is by pumping up the sarcoplasm. That’s the energy fluid in the muscle that contains ATP (from creatine), glycogen (from carbs), and the mitochondria (the cell’s powerhouse where fat is burned)…
By doing around 7 reps with a 1-up-6-down cadence, you get 50 seconds of tension time. That long time under tension is something most trainees never get, and it’s key in stressing the sarcoplasm to expand. Sometimes you just have to go slow to grow…(If you aren’t getting longer tension times, you’re leaving a lot of mass on the table.)
So you GROW with myofibrillar remodeling (micro-trauma repair) and sarcoplasmic expansion (long tension time).
As for fat burning, X-centric sets help you torch blubber along 3 different pathways…
1) The myofibrillar repair process takes energy over a period of days—and a lot of that energy comes directly from body fat. That’s right, your metabolism is jacked while your body fixes the fissures, so you burn fat 24/7.
2) By stressing the sarcoplasm with a longer 50-second tension time, you fortify the mitochondria in muscle cells. By supercharging those fat-burning powerhouses, you drop blubber faster and more efficiently.
3) The long tension time produces more muscle burn, which triggers GROWTH HORMONE release; GH is a potent fat burner, and it enhances ALL of the above.
So if X-centric sets are so great and help you build muscle and burn fat along so many different pathways, why shouldn’t you use it? Because you’re a beginner. X-centric sets will produce way too much soreness in beginners. In fact, you may not be able to get out of bed (it can be that bad for some newbies.)
Once you’ve been training for four to six months, you can try it on ONE SET per muscle. That’s how we have The Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout set up. It’s a mix of heavier training (pyramids), X-centric sets, and higher-rep sets on isolation exercises for even more muscle burn and growth hormone release.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
What Would You Do to Protect Your Family?
Mike Westerdal is a renowned personal trainer and national best-selling physical preparedness author, but he’s also a father and a husband… who would do anything to protect his family.
He used to get pushed around when younger and spent years building up his body and becoming stronger, getting mentally and physically tough the hard way. As he got bigger, he learned to handle himself, and working in security, he learned first-hand how violence really plays out.
Some of the other guys online who show off their self-defense videos and books need to get a grip. The level of skill needed to pull off their basic moves is CRAZY for most ordinary people.
If a defense system requires more than a few hours to master, it’s not a program.
The only techniques you will ever use are the simple ones.
They need to work for an ordinary person without prior training, technique, or ability.
So even if you think you don’t have time to learn how to defend yourself…
You don’t need to spend years training to be a martial artist.