Q: I feel like a wimp. There is no way I can hold the weight in the stretch position for 30 seconds after a set as you’ve recommended before. On some exercises, I can get maybe 15 seconds, but on many, I can’t even get 10 seconds. Should I just forget bodybuilding and take up speed walking (kidding)?
A: Everyone’s pain tolerance is different. And, if you notice, most trainees will opt for methods that hurt least. It’s why most prefer heavy, low-rep training. Higher reps hurt like hell—and adding a stretch-hold at the end of even a 10-rep set can be excruciating. But, as you said, the stretch-hold is easier on some exercises, like incline curls where your arms just hang, as opposed to overhead extensions where you have to keep upward pressure on the weight to prevent elbow trauma…
To be honest, when we use a stretch-hold, we rarely get 30 seconds. By using the MMX system—high reps to low reps—and just using the hold on the last one, you extend the tension time of the heaviest set. So if you get 6 reps, then hold for 20 seconds, you’re getting the benefit of unique low-rep fiber activation as well as a hypertrophy tension time of 44 seconds (24 secs. + 20-sec. hold)…
Dr. Jacob Wilson’s abstract study about
Leg press calf raises is one of those exercises that’s easier to hold in the stretch position—but it still hurts. With exercises on which the stretch-hold is more difficult, you can simply use shorter hold times—or go for broke on the last set only, perhaps adding a few seconds at each workout for progression.
Bottom line: A stretch hold on all sets or only the last—either way, you step on the anabolic gas.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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