Q: In The X-traordinary Size Surge Workout, Jonathan mentions that he used forced reps to gain 20 pounds of muscle [in 10 weeks—see his before and after photos on the Size Surge cover at the end of this newsletter]. Did he just do them randomly, whenever he felt like it, or was there a specific set he used them on?
A: Gradual progression is a BIG key to continuous new muscle growth, so he did more forced reps as phase 1 progressed…
At the beginning of phase 1 of the Size Surge program, Jonathan usually did a forced rep or two on only the SECOND heaviest set of a pyramid when his reps were lowest. For example, on pulldowns he would do his first set for 9, rest 2 1/2 minutes, add weight, then do his second set for around six—PLUS one or two forced reps on that second set.
However, he didn’t start doing forced reps right off the bat; he actually used week 1 to figure out his weights, so he took each work set to positive failure only.
At week 2, he started using forced reps on a few selected exercises—once again, usually on only the heaviest set of a pyramid. But not on all exercises…
He stepped it up at week 3, doing forced reps on the second set of EVERY pyramid—except for certain exercises like bent-over rows and squats. Forced reps on squats are dangerous, so he usually stopped when he thought he couldn’t get another rep on his own. Same with bent-over rows.
On most exercises, forced reps were a given from week 3 on. For example, on dumbbell presses he would take his first weight and crank out as many as possible—9 or 10. After a 2 1/2-minute rest, he would take heavier dumbbells and crank out around 6, getting help on the 7th and 8th reps. (He says he could almost feel those forced reps triggering new muscle growth!)
Toward the end of phase 1, he was doing forced reps on most of his work sets. So on the first, set he would do 9 reps plus one forced rep. Looking back, we can put some order to his strategy—basic progressive overload to coax more new muscle growth—like this…
- Weeks 1 and 2: Go to positive failure only (figure out and write down your poundages for each exercise)
- Weeks 3 and 4: Add a forced rep or two to your heaviest sets (set 2 on pyramids)
- Week 5: Do one forced rep on set 1 and two forced reps on set 2
- Week 6: Downshift—stop all sets two reps short of failure for full muscle supercompensation and recovery
- Week 7: Begin new Positions-of-Flexion full-range mass routine—with stretch-shock overload included (which is enough at first to give you a size-surge overload; you will get sore, even without forced reps at this point)
Remember, one small change creates big-muscle gains. That means you should add weight whenever and wherever possible, but also use the above forced-rep steps or any of our other intensity techniques.
That continuous intensity progression will ensure that you are subjecting the muscles to a bit more intensity every few weeks—so you pack new size on your physique!
NOTE: On positive-failure sets—no forced reps—or when he had to train alone without a partner, Jonathan would drive the last rep as high as possible and hold for a static contraction for a few seconds. That’s very important and explained in the Size Surge e-book.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
ELIMINATE SHOULDER PAIN
Shoulder pain can affect your workouts forever. That’s not good!
That’s why we’re recommending advice from injury specialist Rick Kaselj, MS. His tips can help make your shoulders nearly bullet-proof.
Here are a few general tips from Rick (he goes into more detail in his program)…
Top 5 Tips To Bullet-Proof Your Shoulders
- Build Tension in Your Lats. When doing shoulder exercises, activate your lats and keep your shoulders happy.
- Prime Up Your Muscles. Most people do a warm-up that just lubricates the joint, but you need to activate and turn on all the muscles in your upper body.
- Technique, Technique, Technique. This is the number one reason why people injure their shoulders. You can’t go to the gym every day and work on your max lift.
- Watch Out for Fatigue. Cooking your smaller muscles in your shoulder complex, and that increases the risk of shoulder injury and pain.
- Work on Your Shoulder Blade Muscles. Many strength coaches will say you’re wasting your time on this, but if you want to have bullet-proof shoulders, you need to work on them.
Get all of Rick’s tips and tricks for pain-free workouts below: