Q: Your 4X training is fantastic. It has me growing again, and it’s perfect with 3-way POF. My question is about muscle feel. How important is it for size increases? I ask because I have trouble feeling some major body parts, like shoulders and chest.
A: We think it’s EXTREMELY important to feel the target muscle working; if you don’t, you may be using other muscle groups to move the weight or simply not innervating enough muscle fibers for a big anabolic response.
One thing we can’t stress enough is getting adequate size-triggering time under tension. If your sets don’t last long enough, you won’t feel the muscle working, and you’ll be cheating yourself out of significant size increases…
Strength and muscle-building expert Jim Stoppani, Ph.D., explains: “The best TUT [time-under-tension] range for strength is about four to 20 seconds per set and about 40 to 60 seconds per set for muscle growth.”
So you want every set in your 4X sequence for every exercise to last at least 40 seconds…
For 4X, you pick a weight with which you can get 15 reps, but you only do 10; rest 35 seconds, then do it again. Go to failure on the last set, and if you get 10, add weight to the exercise at your next workout or try 4×11. Simple (but the last set or two hurts—especially with a longer TUT).
So you’re doing 10 reps per set, and each rep should last four seconds—four seconds times 10 reps is 40 seconds. We recommend a one-second positive and a three-second negative ON EVERY REP. The semi-explosive positive has been shown to activate more growth fibers—and that means more potential hypertrophy from each rep.
Remember, use that rep tempo on ALL exercise—including lateral raises. You must do the downward stroke slow and controlled; don’t just drop the dumbbells through to the bottom…
You may have to reduce your weights, but so what? You need to feel the muscle working to get it growing. Make a conscious effort to “fight” the weight down, even if it feels light. Ray Mentzer, a Mr. America winner and Mike’s brother, said that he could make a 25-pound dumbbell feel like 60 pounds. That’s the idea…
We also like an X-centric set every so often—like at the beginning or end of a 4X sequence. X-centric is raising the weight in one second, but lowering in SIX SECONDS per rep. If you get eight of those, you’re up around 60 seconds of tension time.
That makes for excellent variation for more mass creation. X-centric training also has fat-loss implications, so it can give you more muscle striations.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
Get Stronger Without Moving a Muscle (say what?!)
Yeah, it sounds ridiculous, but it’s really not. We’ve always said to get the most out of any muscle group, you have to *think* about the muscle you’re training, and the research proves that…
In fact, group of medical experts out of Ohio University found that you can increase strength by up to 212% without moving a muscle.
And studies out of The Cleveland Clinic, The University of Washington, and New York University all confirm the same thing. As stated by one of our often-quoted colleagues…
“The best way to build a bigger and stronger chest is to think about your pecs during the chest exercise.”
— Brad Schoenfeld
Check it out for yourself:
>>> Discover the ‘Imaginary” Exercises guaranteed to build more strength & muscle