Q: I totally agree with your Power-Density mass-building ideas. For density work, you’ve suggested multi-rep rest/pause, but 3 heavy sets with only 15 seconds of rest between them really wipes me out, especially on legs. I’m dead for the rest of my workout. Is there something less taxing I can use for density up front?
A: First, we want to applaud you for realizing the importance of DENSITY, or endurance, work. Missing that get-bigger trigger is why most wanna-be-big bodybuilders grow so slow. They think it’s all about training heavy ONLY to gain more size…
It’s NOT! We’ve all been conditioned—or brainwashed—to think that heavy low-rep sets are the way to get more size quickly. That’s only part of the fast-mass solution. You also need longer tension times—or some type of condensed workload like multi-rep rest/pause to build the endurance mass layer (as you’ll see, getting some density can make you explode with more size)…
For the uninitiated, multi-rep rest/pause is using the same weight on 3 sets, but you rest only 15 to 20 seconds between sets. That makes your reps drop—something like 9, 7, 5.
That condensed overload can pack more size on your frame quickly due to the Power-Density combo effect. Because the first set is performed when the target muscle is fresh, it’s power; the second two sets are density due to the short rests and the fatigue factor…
Why is density work so important? Because you MUST bulk up the endurance side as well as the power side of the dual-capacity 2A fibers. That’s the dominant type in the biggest, freakiest bodybuilders (as we explain in The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout).
Multi-rep rest/pause can be very taxing, as you found out, especially if you do it on quads at the beginning of a workout. We have three less-stressful but power-packed alternatives…
- Back-off set. The simplest solution is to do standard straight sets with 2-minute rests first; then make your very last one a reduced-weight back-off set. Just reduce the weight enough on that back-off set so that you get at least 12 reps. That was an Arnold favorite that he called chasing the pump—and it worked for him BIG TIME (more of his density methods are explained in Power-Density e-book). Imagine looking like this on the beach this summer!…
- NA set. Another density option is to do the last set in negative-accentuated style—that is 1.5 seconds up and six seconds down. That will do two important things (and if you need to lose some bodyfat, you’ll really like the second one):
• You will still get the extended-tension time, or density effect, you’re after because you should get at least six NA reps. That’s about 45 seconds of time under tension. (You will feel it working, believe us!)
• You get more microtrauma due to the slow, six-second negative stroke on every rep. That can produce more size gains and also BURN more fat. As we explain in The Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout, the body is forced to use extra calories for microtear repair, so you melt away bodyfat during your recovery time. (Exciting stuff!)
- Drop set. Okay, one last option: End with a drop set. Say you’re in a heavy mind-set and you only get eight reps on your last set. No problem—quickly reduce the weight and immediately do another set to exhaustion, getting around six reps. While the short break to change the weight does reduce the density effect somewhat, you still get enough to affect the endurance side of the 2A growth fibers. (A double drop gives you an even bigger density blast.)
What about end-of-set X-Rep partials? That’s a phenomenal mass technique—because it has both power and density edges. X-Reps can supercharge a set and make any of the above density tactics significantly more powerful.
Experiment with the above 4 methods for density, and you’ll pack on some incredible muscle immensity. Prepare to grow like an Austrian Oak!
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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