Q: First, I gotta say that I’m loving the X-centric Mass Workout. I was struggling to get my weight past 195, but now I’m at 203 and still climbing fast. However, my arms aren’t growing as fast as I’d like. I’ve plateaued at 17 1/4 inches, which isn’t symmetrical with the rest of my body. My chest has expanded, my lats are wider, and my legs are thicker, but all those muscle groups are leaving my arms behind. I’ve noticed that the muscle groups that get sore the next day seem to grow the most. My arms never seem to get sore. Is there a relation between muscle soreness and growth? How do I get my arms to 18 inches or beyond?
A: That’s great progress from an overall muscle-gain standpoint. Unfortunately, we all have stubborn bodyparts, and yours happens to be the one that’s most important to almost every trainee—arms, which we all want BIG to stretch the sleeves of our Ts….
You’re using the X-centric Mass Workout, and as we mention in that e-book, negative-style training is very traumatic to the muscles—and your arms are getting double dosed. Remember, your arms are working hard when you train chest, back, and on many delt exercises. You may be doing too much work for bi’s and tri’s, and they could be too damaged to recover completely.
You didn’t mention which program from the X-centric Mass Workout you’re using, but if it’s the Direct/Indirect split, your arms are getting hit three times a week. We suggest that you reduce the workload on direct arm days, but make the exercises more head-specific and shift the negative emphasis…
The best biceps (and triceps) workouts are in the X-traordinary Arms e-book, as they target specific aspects of each upper-arm muscle. It explains the in-for-out/out-for-in rule and the best arm exercises. But before you zero in, you should begin with one big compound set. For biceps that means undergrip chins (or undergrip pulldowns) for 10 reps…
You do those regular style, as opposed to negative accentuated. That’s because you get plenty of negative-style training on chest and back day, using compound moves that also blast the biceps and triceps with that one-second-up/six-seconds-down cadence (NA).
After that one set of undergrip chins—which is also indirect work for your back—you next go to a wide-grip curling exercise, which emphasizes the inner biceps head—for example, wide-grip barbell curls. That’s an “out” exercise for inner head development to thicken the muscle.
A close-grip “in” exercise stresses the outer head, which creates a higher, more jagged peak. The most “in” grip you can get is with concentration curls. So here’s your biceps workout…
Undergrip chins, 1 x 10
Wide-grip curls, 1 x 8-10, 1 x 7 NA
Concentration curls, 1 x 8-10, 1 x 7 NA
For triceps it’s the same protocol: You begin with close-grip bench presses—which indirectly targets the chest as well…
After a warmup set or two, it’s one heavy all-out set of those for 10 reps. Really drive those hard! Then it’s on to lying extensions, which primarily target the long head for sweep from the side.
Your last triceps exercise is elbows-flared pushdowns, which emphasize the lateral head for thickness from the front. That was a Jay Cutler favorite…
Close-grip bench presses, 1 x 10
Lying extensions, 1 x 8-10, 1 x 7 NA
Elbows-flared pushdowns, 1 x 8-10, 1 x 7 NA
That focused, more isolated negative-style training should get your arms sore again—and we believe that’s important…
While there are no studies that equate muscle soreness with muscle growth, it only makes sense that if you can feel damage in a muscle, it will need to rebuild bigger and stronger to supercompensate. So, yes, we do equate MILD soreness with growth—and that’s why the X-centric Mass Workout has added so much muscle to your frame. It’s done great things for many other X-Rep trainees, including us.
We highly recommend the NA technique for both size and leanness (the leanness connection is explained in the Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout, which also includes NA sets in its programs). No doubt about it: Accentuating the negative stroke gets you sore for major muscle-size increases—a bit more pain for mega-mass gains!
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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