Q: Doing one high-rep set first before heavy sets is your MMX method for more fast-twitch fiber activation and growth. Isn’t that first high-rep set just a glorified warmup set?
A more accurate word is “focused” or “targeted.” Why? Because you get the benefits of multiple lighter warmup sets with that one slow-twitch-exhaustion (STX) set, using 20-plus reps to failure…
1) You get blood to the target muscle
2) You lube the joints
3) You prime fast-twitch activation
4) You get lactic acid pooling (a key anabolic mechanism, according to recent studies)
And let’s not forget that the high-rep set can trigger slow-twitch fiber growth, which scientists now say have much more size potential than previously believed. Here’s what researcher Jerry Brainum, a trusted bodybuilding authority for more than 40 years, said recently:
“Some emerging evidence shows that the muscle fibers most affected when training with lighter loads and higher reps are the type-1 muscle fibers. These fibers are often referred to as ‘endurance fibers,’ since they are slower to fatigue compared to the type-2 muscle fibers. In the past, it was thought that most muscular growth resulted from a hypertrophy of type-2 muscle fibers, and while this is still true, it’s now known that type-1 fibers are also capable of showing a significant level of muscular hypertrophy.”
That’s no doubt one of the BIG reasons MMX and 4X are so effective at building mass so quickly—they optimize growth in BOTH the fast-twitch and slow-twitch fibers, not to mention triggering lactic. Exciting stuff…
It may be one reason Mr. Heavy Duty Mike Mentzer achieved his unreal level of muscle mass with so few sets…
John Balik photo
As we explain in the MMX e-book, while Mentzer did only one or two heavy work sets per exercise, he preceded those work sets with multiple higher-rep “warm-up” sets, often to failure or very close—and those multiple lighter sets fatigued and helped the slow-twitch fibers become more massive. There’s more on that as well as observations from one of Mike’s former training partners in the MMX e-book.
It appears Mentzer was facilitating slow-twitch growth with preliminary lighter sets; then by doing only a few “supercharged” heavy sets due to slow-twitch exhaustion, he didn’t overwork the fast-twitch fibers or his nervous system and his muscle size soared….
Do you need more than one high-rep STX set before your heavy work? That’s hard to say without more research. Mentzer thought he needed more, BUT he was also resting a lot longer between sets. In the Brazilian study subjects used just one high-rep set to failure with only a 45-second rest before heavy work. If you missed our discussion on that study…
Researchers had one group do a preliminary set of leg extensions with 20 percent of their one-rep-max before moving to heavier sets. The other group did only standard sets with 75 percent of their 1RM. Rests between sets for both groups were 30 seconds to one minute. Results…
“The men who started their workout with the light set built up more muscle strength than the men who trained their legs in the traditional way. The scans also showed that doing a set to failure with light weights resulted in a bigger increase in MUSCLE MASS.” [European Journal of Applied Physiology]
So when it comes to muscle fibers, train both your fast and slow for ultimate growth.
Ultimate Muscle Size e-books
> MMX Fast Mega-Mass Workouts is available HERE.
> 4X Mass Workout 2.0 is available HERE.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson