Q: I just want to get bigger as quickly as possible? I’d settle for looking like your before pictures at the X-Rep site. I’m working out four days a week on a basic routine with mostly compound exercises. Do you have any tips on ways to get bigger right now?
A: It takes time to pack on mass; however, most trainees can do better than they’re doing and double or perhaps triple their progress. Here are 6 ways to get bigger “right now.”
Remember, early in Jonathan’s career he gained 20 pounds of muscle in 10 weeks, so it can be done—if you pay attention to details every day.
1) Grow while you sleep. When most people snooze, they lose—as in muscle because sleep can be catabolic if you don’t have the building blocks in your bloodstream for muscle repair. This mass-building trick is simple: One or two scoops of a casein-whey combo protein right before bed makes sleep anabolic. And many of the aminos will increase serotonin for a deeper, rejuvenating rest. (We like BioTrust’s Low-Carb Protein, as it’s delicious and an all-around great protein—and you can get a free bottle at that link).
2) Use your last compound set for Density. We’ve explained how research shows that the dual-capacity 2A muscle fibers, with both power and endurance, dominate the muscles of the biggest freakiest bodybuilders. [Eur J Appl Physiol. 103(5):579-83. 2008.] You’re no doubt training heavy with lower reps—like most bodybuilders. That means, like most bodybuilders, you’re getting at only half the growth capacity of the 2As.
Solution: On your last set of each compound exercise, reduce the weight so you can crank out 12 to 15 reps to exhaustion. Arnold called these “burnout” sets, and they worked for him, building the endurance side of his 2As for extra mass…
Note: For more on Arnold’s mass methods, see The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout.
3) Add X Reps. On at least one of your heavy compound sets, tack on X-Rep partials, eight-inch controlled explosions down in the semi-stretch position, such as near the bottom of an incline press or chinup. On chins, for example, when you can’t get another full rep, lower until your arms are just short of
4) Use a mass-building rep tempo. Most bodybuilders drop the weight through the negative stroke and then attempt to throw it through the positive. That results in wasted effort and inferior growth stimulation. Instead, use a one-second-up/three-seconds-down cadence. Keeping that tempo for the majority of your reps builds more muscle mass. That’s due to the semi-explosive action that occurs at the turnaraound—where you move from negative to positive—as that’s the key spot for optimal fiber activation (which is why you begin X Reps at the max-force point). A semi-explosive turnaround combined with the microtrauma of slower negatives triggers
5) Don’t lock out. On bench presses, overhead presses, chins, pulldowns,
6) Add stretch moves for mass. You say you’re using mostly the big compound exercises, like squats and bench presses. That means you aren’t getting much stretch overload. Add a stretch-position exercise for your biggest bodyparts—for example, flyes for chest, sissy squats for quads, stiff-legged deadlifts for hams, and pullovers for lats. One or two heavy sets for 8-10 reps is all it takes—and be sure you feel the target muscle working (use the mass-building rep speed from #4).7
Follow that 6-step recipe to get your mass rising, and you’ll be bigger before you can say “freak physique.”
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
ATTENTION OVER-40 BODYBUILDERS
One of the most interesting read-me pages on Testosterone and other muscle-building hormones we’ve seen is The Truth About Testosterone.
It even talks about a fruit, a specific part, that can up your T naturally. Cranking up your testosterone will not only get you jacked in the gym, but in the bedroom too—not to mention help rip up your midsection as it ignites fat burning. If that interests you, there’s more from our colleague and registered dietician, HERE.