A: Absolutely! (Remember, Steve is a hardgainer, and they did excellent things for his size and muscularity in only one month—and that’s after 35 years of training!) Realize that the biggest reasons someone is a hardgainer include low neuromuscular efficiency (below average nerve-to-muscle connections) and endurance-oriented muscle structures (even many of the fast-twitch fibers have more endurance). X Reps can improve both of those deficiencies significantly.
Remember that X Reps extend any set, so in that regard they provide a slight endurance component, which is exactly what hardgainers’ endurance-oriented muscles need. A standard eight-rep set to failure, using a one-second-up/one-second-down rep speed, lasts 16 seconds (8 reps x 2 seconds). That’s not enough tension time to trigger growth in endurance-oriented muscles; however, you can extend that by five to eight seconds with X Reps, taking the total tension time of the set past the important 20-second mark. Twenty seconds is considered by many scientists to be an ideal time for maximum hypertrophic stimulation in any one set. Also—and this is important—the Xs occur at the optimal spot in the exercise’s stroke for fast-twitch fiber overload. Short pulses at that point force the muscle to continue firing, even after nervous system fatigue. So X Reps extend the tension time on your muscles—past the 20-second mark—and gradually build better nerve-force capabilities, or neuromuscular efficiency. You’ve just knocked down two hardgainer roadblocks to more mass with X Reps!
And if you combine drop sets with X Reps you can get an even better hardgainer-specific workout—extending the set up to 40 seconds, without overtaxing recovery ability, something hardgainers tend to have less of than average trainees. We include X-Rep drop sets in many of the programs in The Ultimate Mass Workout for that very reason. It’s just a good, solid muscle-building strategy whether you’re a hardgainer or not.
Scrawny to brawny: X Reps directly target hardgainer deficiencies and can help transform skinny bodies. Steve, with his light bone structure and slow-to-grow muscles, made some of the best gains of his life in the one month he used X Reps—even at the age of 44 and after 30 years of training!