If you want to pack on the most mass with efficiency of effort, the Size Principle of Muscle Fiber Recruitment is key…
The principle says that with any set, the earlier easy reps fire a majority of slow-twitch fibers. As the reps get harder, more and more fast-twitch fibers are brought into play. At failure, the majority of fibers firing are fast-twitch.
A method we’ve used in the past is 4X, which is an offshoot of Vince Gironda’s Density Training. Here’s a shot of Vince in his prime…
With 4X you pick a weight you can get 15 reps with, but you only do 10 (easy, slow-twitch emphasis). Rest 35 seconds, then do 10 more (still fairly easy slow-twitch emphasis). And so on. Set 4 you go to failure (hard, fast-twitch). If you get more than 10, use a heavier weight next workout…
The Size Principle says that on the first few easy sets, you exhaust the slow-twitch fibers. The fast-twitch then fire with a vengeance on the last set or two when the reps are much more difficult, especially on the last set to failure.
We now favor the slow-twitch exhaustion method, or STX. Here you do one high-rep set first (20) to failure, which exhausts the slow-twitch fibers. After a 20-second rest, you take the same weight weight to failure, usually around 10 reps.
You can move to another exercise or follow that last set with a 10-second rest and rep out a third time for 6-8 reps.
After the high-rep set, the ones that follow after the short rests trigger significant fast-twitch high-growth fibers to fire to unleash hypertrophy.
Both are efficient ways to get the same result; however, with 4X you use more volume but no high-rep sets.
With STX you get the size-building benefits of a longer-tension-time set—and it takes less time.
Incidentally, Gironda had his trainees gradually reduce their rests between sets from 35 seconds down to 20. He believed that doing the work in less time created intensity for more muscle immensity. We agree.
Is 4X better than STX? Hard to say. Steve re-sculpted his physique using only 35-minute workouts 3 times a week, starting each muscle routine with STX on the biomechanically ideal exercise (see his pic on the ebook below)…
For Steve’s complete workouts, exercise start/finish photos, and details on building muscle fast and efficiently, see Old Man, Young Muscle.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
The Smart Path to Jacked Mass—No Matter What Your Age
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