Q: All the info I’ve read on full-range Positions of Flexion makes total sense. It’s a killer concept, and I’m so psyched to use it. My problem is time. Even though your POF [bodypart] routines are only about six sets, I only have time for half that [maybe 3 sets for each bodypart]. I don’t want to use only the Ultimate Exercise because I see the superiority of training the three positions for total development. Or should I try just the Ultimate Exercise for each muscle and use POF on only certain bodyparts?
A: Using the Ultimate Exercise for each bodypart in a program is one way to go. Your idea of using full POF on one or two bodyparts is a good one. Simply add one set of a stretch- and one set of a contracted-position exercise for those two muscle groups. For example, for chest, the Ultimate Exercise is decline presses…
After that, do flat-bench dumbbell flyes (stretch) and cable crossovers (contracted), one set each to complete the full-range POF chain. Use only the Ultimate Exercise for all other muscles. Then after three weeks go back to the one key exercise for chest, decline presses, and use POF for one or two different bodyparts.
That’s an excellent mass-building strategy, but it may not excite you—and excitement is very important for motivation. When you’re motivated about a training system, you must figure out a way to use it for all bodyparts. The mind is critical when it comes to building exceptional muscle mass—believe to achieve—plus, motivation is fleeting, so you gotta grab it and ride the wave whenever you can. That being true, let’s explore some quick POF-workout options…
One is the 3D HIT Workout in the X-traordinary Arms e-book (pages 35-39). It’s a four-days-a-week program that has you do only one set in each position of flexion for every muscle—except arms. But in your case, instead of multiple sets for each exercise in the arm-specialization sections, just use one set of each. That will make each workout brief, but still very effective at building new muscle (if you follow the 5 tips for more muscle mass coming up). Plus, you’ll still get the various arm-specialization effects (peak, width, sweep, etc.) with the rotating biceps and triceps workouts.
Or you could use Phase 2 of Jonathan’s 20-pounds-of-muscle-in-10-weeks program [page 15 in the 3D Muscle Building e-book, our POF guide]. That’s an every-other-day split with POF training for each bodypart. Simply do one work set for each exercise.
That’s also known as Jonathan’s size-surge program, and it should really crank up your motivation, as it was the primary stimulus that created his amazing muscular metamorphosis in the ’90s—20 pounds of solid muscle in 10 weeks!
After you decide on an abbreviated POF program, you may start wondering: Can one set in each position really build appreciable muscle mass? Absolutely—there are a number of studies that verify that fact. But they all point to one fact: The key to big gains is to make sure you perform each set to perfection—not paying attention to the following details is the main reason so many trainees fail with abbreviated programs.
Here are 5 tips for more muscle mass
- Since you’re pressed for time, do only one warmup set for the big midrange, or multijoint, exercises, but make it count. Take a weight that’s about 60 percent of your 10-rep work set and do 10 controlled reps. You should feel a slight burn at the end of that warmup set, which indicates blood is moving to the target muscle and it’s primed to fire optimally.
- On your work sets, use a deliberate two-seconds-up/two-seconds-down cadence—feel the target muscle working throughout the entire stroke. That will keep tension on the target muscle and maximize fiber activation.
- Don’t lock out on the big exercises—like presses. Stop just short and then begin the next rep so that you keep tension on the target muscle throughout the set. Also, keep the weight moving, no pause at the top or bottom.
- Do no less than 10 reps. That will give you a minimum of 40 seconds of tension time per set—the ideal amount for hypertrophic (growth) stimulation. (Most trainees rarely get more than 20 seconds per set—which is the main reason they get little, if any, mass-building results).
- Keep repping until you reach full-range exhaustion—when another full rep is impossible—then do X-Rep partials at the semi-stretch point—near the bottom of the stroke where the target muscle is somewhat elongated. If you can’t do X Reps, use a static hold for as long as possible at that semi-stretch point, or X Spot. For example, just before the arm’s-extended position on cable curls.
We’re convinced that most trainees don’t get the mass results that are possible with limited-set training because of haphazard set/rep prep and performance. The above are so important, let’s quickly review. Don’t make these mistakes…
- Half-baked warmup (muscles aren’t set to fire properly on work sets)
- Moving too fast during the work set, which unloads the target muscle (loss of tension)
- Not enough time under tension (sets don’t last long enough)
- Stopping a set before optimal fiber activation occurs—use end-of-set X Reps or a static hold to force more growth fibers to fire.
Follow those guidelines, and you’ll be surprised at how much growth you can get with just one set in each Position of Flexion. Fast, efficient full-range mass workouts can build a new you quickly—if you pay attention to details. You’ll feel it working big time, guaranteed.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
Build MASS with bodyweight training
One way you’re guaranteed to pack on stacks of muscle is through a process called muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which more than doubles 24 hours after an intense workout…
Until recently, MPS was only elevated when trainees would lift 70-90% of their one-rep max…
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