Q: X-Reps are giving me some wicked-awesome mass gains. The extra pump and burn I get from [those end-of-set partials] is hot! But I was thinking that since they work so well, how about using only the short X-Rep range for all of my sets, without any full-range reps? Wouldn’t that give me some giant mass gains?
A: We first addressed X-Only sets in the X-Rep Update #1 e-book and even included a chapter on former Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler’s workout, which includes a lot of X-Only sets. Check out his X-Only Hammer Strength machine inclines (photos courtesy of Mitsuru Okabe)…
Because the low semi-stretch point is the key spot for fiber activation, it seems logical to stress that segment of the stroke as much as possible. That’s not quite all the way to the bottom of the stroke and moving to about the halfway mark.
Then again, if you watch, say, your quads fire as you do leg extensions, it appears as if different fibers twitch all the way through to the top contracted position (you have to be lean to see it happening). That could mean different fibers fire at different spots along the stroke. That’s why we suggest doing some sets at least close to full range if you’re going to incorporate X-Only sets.
One excellent option is to use the last set of a power pyramid as your X-Only set. For example, after a few progressively heavier warmup sets of incline presses, you do set 1 full-range set with a weight that allows 9 reps; rest, add weight, then do set 2 full-range sets for around 7 reps. Add a bit more weight and do your third set in X-Only style—that is, doing only the bottom third of the stroke for max-fiber activation. Talk about pain to gain!
Cutler keeps his reps up around 10 or higher for most of his X-O sets–and that’s a key point. You need a double-digit rep range to keep tension on the target muscle long enough for best hypertrophic stimulation.
For an even larger leap in growth-jolting intensity, you can opt for Forced-X Overload. With that tactic, you get extreme overload, ratcheting up growth fiber activation. We’ll have more on that in a future newsletter, and there’s an exciting research study discussed in X Update #1 that verifies Forced-X Overload’s “X-treme” mass-building power.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
NO MORE SHOULDER PAIN
Shoulder pain can affect your workouts forever. That’s not good!
That’s why we’re recommending advice from injury specialist Rick Kaselj, MS. His tips can help make your shoulders nearly bullet-proof.
Here are a few general tips from Rick (he goes into more detail in his program)…
Top 5 Tips To Bullet-Proof Your Shoulders
- Build Tension in Your Lats. When doing shoulder exercises, activate your lats and keep your shoulders happy.
- Prime Up Your Muscles. Most people do a warm-up that just lubricates the joint, but you need to activate and turn on all the muscles in your upper body.
- Technique, Technique, Technique. This is the number one reason why people injure their shoulders. You can’t go to the gym every day and work on your max lift.
- Watch Out for Fatigue. Cooking your smaller muscles in your shoulder complex, and that increases the risk of shoulder injury and pain.
- Work on Your Shoulder Blade Muscles. Many strength coaches will say you’re wasting your time on this, but if you want to have bullet-proof shoulders, you need to work on them.
Get all of Rick’s tips and tricks for pain-free workouts below: