Q: What’s your opinion of rest/pause training, the way Mike Mentzer used to do it? I’ve read that he did heavy singles with six to 10 seconds between sets, and he did only four of those rest/pause singles for each exercise.
A: We discuss Mike Mentzer and his rest/pause training in Beyond X-Rep Muscle Building (starting on page 38). His technique was as follows…
Mentzer would do a heavy single, rest six seconds, do another heavy single, rest six seconds, do another heavy single—usually with help (forced), rest six seconds, then do one final heavy single with a reduced poundage and/or help from a partner. So it was four singles separated by six-second rests…
We’ve tried that scenario and found it to be excellent at building strength; however, due to doing singles you get primarily myofibrillar size increases. Those are the actin and myosin pairings in muscle fibers that generate force. The sarcoplasm, the energy fluid, isn’t stressed all that much, even with the short rests, so you leave a lot of mass-building potential on the table…
We took Mentzer’s method and developed what we call X/Pause. For an X/Pause set, you do a standard set to nervous system exhaustion, hitting failure around rep 8—and tacking on three to four X-Rep partials in the semi-stretch position. Rack the weight and rest for six seconds, then take the same weight and do an X-only set—that is, do as many additional 10-inch partials through the semi-stretch position as you can.
So you get a standard 8-rep set to failure for mostly myofibrillar-size stimulation, X Reps for dormant-fiber activation, and an X-Only set after minimal rest which further stresses all of the fibers activated for sarcoplasmic expansion. It’s a very efficient set for an overall muscle-fiber mass burst.
Note that either Rest/Pause or X/Pause is very intense and traumatic. That’s why we recommend Split-Positions training if you are going to use these on multiple bodyparts. Split Positions means you use full-range Positions-of-Flexion training for each muscle, but you don’t do all positions at each workout. Here’s the biceps routine from the Split-Positions workout included in Beyond X-Rep Muscle Building (pages 67-74)…
Midrange: Cable curls (X/Pause), 2 x 8-10
Contracted: Concentraction curls (X Fade), 2 x 8-10
Midrange: Preacher curls (Staged sets), 2 x 8-10
Stretch: Incline curls (Double-X Overload), 2 x 8-10
The variety of using different exercises and unique intensity techniques makes this style of training very efficient and effective. Each bodypart workout is fast but provides big blasts of mass every session.
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: