Q: I’ve been using the Power Pyramid Program (Chapter 2 in the Freak-Physique Stretch-Overload Workout e-book) for six weeks. I’m getting incredibly strong, but I’ve only gained about four pounds of muscle. I realize it’s a muscle strength workout with a size side effect, but now I’m ready to use my new strength to go for major muscle mass. I also want to get leaner. I’m 5’10” and weigh 200 pounds with 14 percent
A: Ah, so now that you’re strong like an ox, you want to get even bigger with some leanness to boot. Sounds good, and it can and will happen. You just need to take your new power in a slightly different direction—still using the multi-angular attack of POF, but altered so you pack on the most muscle size—complete development from origin to insertion.
As you discovered, the Power Pyramid Program focuses on the big midrange exercise with a classic strength-building system, adding weight over three work sets so your reps go 8, 6, 3-4. In other words, it’s heavy work in the muscle strength rep range. Then you follow with one set each of a stretch- and contracted-position exercise. That all adds a size side effect. Here’s an example for triceps…
Close-grip bench presses, 3 x 8, 6, 3-4
Stretch: Overhead extensions, 1 x 8-12
Contracted: Pushdowns, 1 x 8-12
To morph that into a serious mass-building workout, you need a balance of work in all of the positions, as each one builds mass along a different pathway—max force, stretch overload, and tension/occlusion. Therefore, you need to tailor each to maximize its key anabolic trigger. First, here’s how the new triceps program looks…
Midrange: Close-grip bench presses, 2 x 8-10
Stretch: Overhead extensions, 2 x 10-12
Contracted: Pushdowns (double drop set), 1-2 x 10(6)(4)
You do heavy straight-set work—just like you were doing—but now shoot for 8-10 reps, a more size-oriented rep range, plus you do end-of-set X-Rep partials on the last work set only. That extends the growth-promoting tension time even more and also activates dormant fast-twitch fibers.
Do two sets of 10-12 reps—once again, a longer-tension hypertrophic rep range—and at the end of the second set, do a static hold near the stretch position for as long as possible. Feel the target muscle elongate against the resistance till you can’t hold it any longer. Remember, one animal study produced a 300 percent muscle-mass increase in only one month with progressive-stretch overload as the sole stimulus. It’s key for fast-mass results.
Use a double-drop set—start with a weight that has you hit exhaustion at 10 reps; reduce the weight and immediately do six reps, or as many as you can get to exhaustion; reduce the weight one last time and immediately do four or five reps to exhaustion (if you’re really motivated, grit your teeth and add X Reps). You can do two rounds of that brutality if you think you need it; most trainees won’t.
The double-drop on pushdowns is key because that will produce a lactic acid burning sensation, which increases growth hormone. GH is a potent fat burner as well as muscle builder. (X Reps on the first exercise and the static hold on the second will also enhance the burn and GH output, so give those your all too.)
That’s a simple POF variation that should pack some new mass on your frame, although the four pounds you’ve gained already ain’t too shabby. Most bodybuilders struggle to build seven to 10 pounds of muscle a year; you built four pounds in six weeks with the Power Pyramid Program. In our opinion, that’s excellent. (The quote in that chapter from the guy who packed on 20 pounds in about three months with the Power Pyramid is well above average, so don’t think you have to match that to consider your results a success.)
Alter every bodypart routine in the Power Pyramid Program to fit those new size-building parameters above, and you’ll have a terrific fast-mass program. Then after a few phases, try something else, maybe one of the other programs outlined in the Freak-Physique Stretch-Overload e-book, such as the STX Mass Workout or T/NT (Traumatic/Nontraumatic). Or devise your own from those various POF programs and info there. Once you understand the key growth concepts and POF, you’ll not only get bigger but you’ll also become your own best trainer and workout architect.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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