Q: Holy crap! I just bought your Pre-Ex 3X e-book, and Jonathan’s back on the cover looks like Arnold’s. How did he build all that muscle? Did he use pre-ex? I want a back like that. What do I need to do?
A: Jonathan used pre-ex, X Reps, drop sets, and more. We’ve experimented a lot over the years—and of course we subscribe to the change-to-gain mantra: Do something different to trigger new adaptations and extra growth.
So, if you do that, will you get a back like Jonathan’s? Maybe, maybe not. There’s a genetic factor involved—and it’s a big governor. Keep in mind that the two of us trained together for 20 years, doing pretty much the same programs. Did Steve’s back look like Jonathan’s? Nope. It got a helluva lot better, but never to that caliber.
That’s not to say yours won’t. You never know till you try and give it some time. The chance is higher if your a mesomorph—a muscular athletic type that can put on muscle fairly easily. Jonathan is a mesomorph with endomorphic tendencies (heavier, huskier types).
So Jonathan has more difficulty getting ripped than Steve—because Steve is a thin ectomorph with only slight mesomorphic tendencies. He has trouble adding mass, but he can get ripped more easily—faster metabolism (although age is slowing that down considerably).
One constant in both of our training over the years has been full-range work—that is Positions-of-Flexion mass training. We almost always train the midrange, stretch, and contracted positions for each muscle. We consider that a minimum for complete target-muscle development. Here’s a good example…
Lat & Midback Midrange: Pulldowns, 2 x 9, 7 + X Reps
Stretch: DB pullovers, 2 x 9, 7 + static hold
Lat Contracted & Midback Stretch: V-handle cable rows, 2 x 9, 7
Midback Contracted: Bent-arm bent-over laterals, 3 x 15
Upper Traps Stretch & Contracted: DB shrugs, 2 x 9, 7 + X Reps
That’s just one example of a full-range POF routine for lats and mid back (all of our e-books contain POF workouts with various exercises and techniques, but 3D Muscle Building is the POF “manual”). Note that the work sets in the above program are heavy to failure…
These days, Steve uses mostly moderate-weight 4X-style training for each exercise. That’s picking a 15RM weight, but doing only 10; rest 35 seconds, then do it again. And so on for four sets. Go to failure on the last set. If you get 10, up the weight at your next workout.
It’s cumulative fatigue that produces growth in the myofibrils strands as well as the sarcoplasmic energy fluid—without stressing joints. Perfect for older bodybuilders.
Jonathan does occasional heavy phases like the above routine, but his version of “heavy” has evolved. He’ll sometimes do the big midrange exercise as a pyramid but with a 4X slant for lactic acid pooling and to use reasonable weights that don’t cause joint pain.
As we said, you have to mix it up–change to gain. And that includes high reps, which hit the high-end hypertrophic tension time, such as TORQ—tension overload repetition quantity…
On a 3X sequence you do 30-20-15, same weight all the way through, resting 45 seconds between high-rep sets.
Those higher-rep ranges have you hitting the muscle in the high-end hypertrophic tension time—60 to 90 seconds. Most bodybuilders never go there, so give TORQ a try to pack on NEW SIZE.
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…
That’s not only dangerous for your joints, but it also sets you up for high injury risk every time you exercise…
It used to be believed that training with your own bodyweight couldn’t get you the same results as training with your 70-90% one rep max… Until NOW.