Q: I just got your X-traordinary Arms e-book. Killer information, and I’m ready to use it to build mine into 19-inchers like Jonathan’s. My question is about the 3D HIT program in which you incorporate the arm-specialization routines. One work set for each exercise? You list a few more sets for arms, but I just can’t comprehend how one set could be enough for the other bodyparts. Can I add sets?
A: You can do anything you want, but be careful and monitor your progress. Building muscular size is all about experimentation. In fact, the 3D HIT program is our experiment into one-set-per-exercise intensity training. We’ve seen lots of research validating one-set training for building strength; however, as we explain in our e-books, packing on extreme muscle size is a different animal than merely building strength and a few fast-twitch fibers. There are different layers to attack when size is the goal.
The solution in that e-book is one work set per exercise, but also doing one exercise for each position of flexion. That means three exercises for each bodypart so that you train the target muscle through its full range of contractibility. Most HIT routines have one exercise, if that, for each muscle, which is fine if you’re just looking for some strength. We’re looking for muscle size, with a strength side effect, so with 3D HIT you train every muscle through its full range, attacking all of the layers of growth stimulation, albeit with one work set for each. Here’s the Max-Mass Hierarchy that shows how the different positions of flexion affect every layer of muscle growth (the 3D HIT program hits each of these with one intense work set)…
Midrange Exercise: Max Force
Stretch-Position Exercise: More Max Force Plus Stretch Overload
Contracted-Position Exercise: Continuous Tension/Occlusion/Super Saturation
For the uninitiated, here are the standard 3D biceps positions (the arm-specialization routines in the X Arms e-book use different exercises in each position and unique X Spots for specific size effects—width, peak, sweep, etc.—this is a more general 3D POF biceps workout)…
We also add some form of X Reps to the end of almost every exercises in our that 3D HIT program—to get past nervous system failure and activate more growth fibers. And we recommend higher reps on the finishing move, which is the contracted-position exercise (for example, concentration curls for biceps). That provides a final occlusion-induced pump that super saturates the muscle with nutrients and also develops the endurance components of the muscle cells (one of the key layers of muscle size).
Is one set in each position enough? A lot of research says yes—if those work sets are as close to perfect as possible. Here’s a checklist…
1) Do sufficient warmup sets. A warm muscle contracts much more effectively than a cold one. During the winter you might need three progressively heavier warmup sets for the first exercise (big midrange move) just to make sure all systems are go for the first all-out work set (don’t waste it by limiting fast-twitch activation with insufficient warmup).
2) Keep your rep cadence at about three seconds—1.5 seconds up, 1.5 seconds down. Stay in control at all times to keep tension on the target muscle, but move fast enough to engage the growth fibers.
3) Get at least nine reps on most sets. Why nine? Three seconds per rep times nine reps equals 27 seconds of tension time. Around 30 seconds has been shown as the lower limit for optimal hypertrophic stimulation. (When you’re down in the 10-to-20-second range your in the strength-training zone.)
4) Add X-Rep partials or a Static X at the semistretch position when you can’t get anymore full reps. That extends the tension time on the target muscle (past the critical 30-second mark), activates more fast-twitch growth fibers, and makes the set three to five times more effective. (See Chapter 2 in X Arms for more on X Reps and why they work.)
5) Rest 2 1/2 to three minutes, then attack the next exercise. That’s long enough so the muscle recovers to generate maximum force, but isn’t so long that the muscle cools down.
That type of precision is mandatory to get the most out of the 3D HIT program—one-set-per-exercise training. Will one set for each position (3 work sets per muscle) build more size for you? After researching it, we believe it’s worth a try. You’ll feel one benefit right off the bat: being able to totally focus on one all-out blast per exercise, with no holding back for additional sets.
The 3D HIT program is also the perfect workout for rotating in specialization routines for one or two bodyparts, as with the biceps and triceps width routines and biceps and triceps peak/sweep routines in the X-traordinary Arms e-book. Fast-but-precise training for the other bodyparts leaves more energy to attack and rebuild the arms, so they grow faster. That’s what muscle specialization is all about!
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
No Weights? Build MASS Anyway!
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.