Q: I started using your 4X Mass Workout a few months ago, and I put in negative-accentuated [or X-centric] sets for each muscle at least once a week to help burn fat. I also adjusted my diet slightly, but nothing major. I swear I’m bigger as well as leaner now. Is it an illusion that I’ve put on a lot of muscle because I’m just more cut? I weigh about the same, but my abs are much sharper. I always hear that you can’t build muscle while you burn fat, but from my results, I’d have to disagree.
A: There have been studies with rats that had them gain muscle with weight-bearing exercise while on near-starvation diets. We’re not rats, of course, but we believe it’s possible for humans. We’ve seen it on many occasions…
You’ve probably seen the pictures below of Jonathan, but they get the point across. He weighs about the same in both photos, but in the one on the right, taken about six weeks after, he’s bigger—note his wider back—AND he’s also much leaner.
Using the 4X method in conjunction with some X-centric sets is a very good way to make the bigger-and-leaner results a reality quickly. That’s because you train the force-generating myofibril strands as well as the sarcoplasmic energy fluid, where the fat-burning mitochondria are located…
For the uninitiated, 4X is moderate-weight, high-fatigue, growth-threshold training. You pick a weight with which you can get 15 reps, but you only do 10; rest 35 seconds, then do it again. Repeat for four sets and go all out on the last set. If you get 10, you add a little weight to that exercise at your next workout. 4X works because…
1) The moderate weight with a rep speed of one second to lift and three to lower over 4 sets stresses the myofibrils—the slight tears need repair, and your body burns fat making those fixes…
2) The short rests between sets and 40 seconds of tension time per set stresses the sarcoplasm where fat is burned (mitochondria)
3) The short rests also cause lactic acid pooling for muscle burn and growth hormone release—a fat attack and anabolic jack.
X-centric sets, also called negative-accentuated training, has you use a 15RM weight, but you lift in one second and lower in six. The ultra-slow negative produces EXCESS trauma in the myofibrils so your body gets a bigger metabolic uptick outside the gym during the recovery process. In other words, your body burns even more fat as it repairs the myofibrillar microtears caused by the slow negatives. (You get that with 4X, but this style amplifies it.)
Also, seven seconds per rep for eight reps means you get a LONGER muscle-tension time of almost a minute. That puts more pressure on the sarcoplasmic energy fluid to expand even further so your muscles get larger and fuller. It’s the short rests between sets (4X) and longer tension times (X-centric) that cause the fluid to increase netting you larger muscles.
The X-centric style also fortifies the fat-burning mitochondria which are located in the sarcoplasm. And, again, the long tension time creates muscle burn, which jacks up fat-burning, hypertrophy churning growth hormone.
You can see why 4X plus some X-centric sets is a double dose of fat burning AND muscle growth…
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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