Q: I’ve been using the 4X mass method for over a month with good gains–now noticeable muscle. I just tried it with the “downward-progression” style [adding weight each set so the reps drop—12-10-8-6], and it’s fantastic. I feel a new level of stimulation. You suggested using it on the big midrange exercises, but what about on the stretch and contracted ones? Can I use it on those too, or is that not advised?
A: For the uninitiated, downward-progression 4X (DP 4X) could be called “semi-heavy growth-threshold training.” Here’s the DP 4X drill…
You pick a weight with which you could get 15 reps, but you only do 12—fairly easy set. Add weight as you rest only 45 seconds, then do 10 reps—more difficult. Rest 45 seconds as you add weight again and get 8 reps—this should be close to failure. Add weight one last time as you rest 45 seconds and rep out. If you get more than 6, you need to start with a slightly heavier weight next time.
While you don’t get the optimal hypertrophic tension time on every set—more than 40 seconds—you do get a sarcoplasmic size effect from the short rests. In other words, it’s still a good DENSITY training tactic—only the progressively heavier weights provide more myofibrillar stimulation.
So it’s better for thickening the actin and myosin strands in the target muscle AND you also get more neuromuscular activation, so more fibers can get in on the action. It’s a great change-to-gain method to sub in for standard 4X.
Can you use it on more isolated exercises like flyes or cable crossovers? Yes…
But we suggest only three sets because your reps will drop quickly. Adding weight to each may have your reps going 12-9-6. So an all-DP 4X Positions-of-Flexion chest workout might be…
Midrange: Bench presses (DP 4X), 4 x 12, 10, 8, 6-7
Stretch: Low-incline flyes (DP 4X), 3 x 12, 8-9, 6-7
Contracted: Cable crossovers (DP 4X), 3 x 12, 8-9, 6-7
That’s a wicked full-range 10-set chest attack with a short-rest, growth-threshold pyramid on each exercise. At your next chest workout you could go back to standard 4X for a more Density oriented mass attack.
Try that on any 4X-based routine you already have, or get the full DP 4X rundown (as well as progressive-speed and our intermittent-fasting guide) in Super-Size Crash Course—and ignite NEW GROWTH.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
What Would You Do to Protect Your Family?
Mike Westerdal is a renowned personal trainer and national best-selling physical preparedness author, but he’s also a father and a husband… who would do anything to protect his family.
He used to get pushed around when younger and spent years building up his body and becoming stronger, getting mentally and physically tough the hard way. As he got bigger, he learned to handle himself, and working in security, he learned first-hand how violence really plays out.
Some of the other guys online who show off their self-defense videos and books need to get a grip. The level of skill needed to pull off their basic moves is CRAZY for most ordinary people.
If a defense system requires more than a few hours to master, it’s not a program.
The only techniques you will ever use are the simple ones.
They need to work for an ordinary person without prior training, technique, or ability.
So even if you think you don’t have time to learn how to defend yourself…
You don’t need to spend years training to be a martial artist.