Q: Your Progressive-Speed 4X concept has really helped me get bigger and stronger in only the four weeks I’ve been using it. I’ve been doing mostly compound exercises with X-centric on the first set, two standard sets, and speed on the last one. I notice you’ve been doing two X-centric sets instead of one. Is that better?
A: It’s not necessarily better—it’s just another variation. You can use any of those rhythm method tempos within a 4X or even 3X framework.
For example, we will often end chest with incline dumbbell presses, but our pecs are so hammered that four sets seems like overkill. So we recommend only three…
Set 1: X-centric—lift in one second and lower in six—for about 9 reps
Set 2: X-centric—same tempo again—for about 7.
Set 3: X-celeration—final set with speed, each rep lasting 1.5 seconds—for about 12.
Of course, you could do only the first set as X-centric and the last two as X-celeration sets. Or X-centric, standard, and X-celeration. It’s up to you. The point is to vary the tempo. Why?
According to Olympic coach and muscle-building expert Charles Poliquin,
Slow-speed lifting [like X-centric] brings about more metabolic adaptations than high-speed lifting does. [It’s] also associated with increases in muscle glycogen, CP, ATP, ADP, creatine, phosphorylase, PFK and Krebs cycle enzyme activity. Training at faster speeds does not induce those changes. Also, performing slow reps builds the connection between the mind and muscle.
Faster speed lifting tends to engage more muscle fibers, thickening the myofibrils. But slower-speed lifting can enhance that as well as encourage size gains via the above “metabolic adaptations.”
Back to Poliquin:
Pierre Roy, a national weightlifting coach in Canada, told me that he was using five-second eccentric contractions for sets of six reps in preparatory training periods when he wanted one of his lifters to GAIN SIZE.
[Note: We cover many facets of this type of negative-accentuated training, with sample programs, in The X-centric Mass Workout e-book.]
So there you go. Use sets that are both fast and slow—and you’ll guarantee muscle growth.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson