Mohammed Makkawy is one of the greatest short bodybuilders of all time. At only 5’3” the Egyptian-born physique sculptor defeated men much taller with his proportioned, no-weak-points physique. [Read more…]
Q: You’ve mentioned the Growth Threshold a few times. What is that? What does it mean and how do I use it to get bigger?
A: Growth Threshold is a term we borrowed from champion pro bodybuilder Lee Labrada, pictured below. Here’s Lee’s explanation, from our 4X Mass Workout e-book:
The growth threshold is the point at which the level of fatigue in the muscle is high enough that a growth response is elicited. Your goal during a workout should be to fatigue the target muscles you are training more and more with each succeeding set. In other words, you want the muscles to progressively get more and more tired out, until you reach a point where the muscles are functionally ‘worn out.’ Signals are sent to the brain that set up the compensation, or growth, process during the postworkout period, so that in future workouts you can handle it.
Because you use the same weight on every set of a 4X sequence, and the first two sets are fairly easy, you gradually approach the growth threshold. The short 30-to-40-second rests between sets ensure that fatigue accumulates to a size-triggering climax at set 4.
For those not familiar with 4X, you take a weight with which you can get 15 reps, but you only do 10 deliberate reps; rest 30 to 40 seconds, then do 10 more. Rest 30 to 40 seconds again, then do 10 more. Rest 30 to 40 seconds one last time, then go to failure. If you get 10 on that fourth set, add weight to that exercise at your next workout…
As Labrada says,
I do not let my muscles regain all of their strength before starting the next set. After all, my goal is to fatigue my muscles more and more with each succeeding set until they hit the growth threshold.
And that’s what 4X sequences are all about—reaching the critical growth threshold without overtaxing the body’s recovery systems so you continue to ignite new, dramatic muscle growth at every workout. 4X training will give you size increases in both the myofibrils, the actin-myosin strands that produce force, and the sarcoplasmic endurance fluid in the muscle fibers.
And if you use a 4X sequence on the full-range 3-way Positions-of-Flexion programs for each muscle—midrange, stretch, and contracted, you reach the growth threshold for each and get a triple dose of muscle growth.
NOTE: If you’ve been training with standard myofibrillar-dominant heavy sets—tension times of 20 seconds and rests of 2 minutes or more—you may want to increase your sarcoplasmic mass with a few weeks of PURE density training. For that, give 10×10 training a spin. You take a weight with which you can get 20 reps, but you only do 10. Rest 30 seconds, then do 10 more—and so on until you complete 10 sets. The last few rounds will be brutal, but the pump and sarcoplasmic size you ignite will be unreal. Use it on only one exercise per bodypart—10 minutes for each—for two weeks and watch the amazing changes in your physique.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
Build MASS with bodyweight training
One way you’re guaranteed to pack on stacks of muscle is through a process called muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which more than doubles 24 hours after an intense workout…
Until recently, MPS was only elevated when trainees would lift 70-90% of their one-rep max…
That’s not only dangerous for your joints, but it also sets you up for high injury risk every time you exercise…
It used to be believed that training with your own bodyweight couldn’t get you the same results as training with your 70-90% one rep max… Until NOW.
Q: I tried your 4×10 method on every exercise, and I’m amazed. The pump was incredible and my nervous system didn’t feel so hammered at the end of my workout as it has in the past. My question is, shouldn’t I do at least one warmup set on the more dangerous exercises, like squats?
A: In theory the first set or two in a 4×10 sequence should be a sufficient warmup. That’s because you use a weight you could get 15 reps with, but you only do 10. And you use that same poundage all the way through… [Read more…]
The photo of Lee Haney below was taken by our friend and former Iron Man owner/photographer Michael Neveux. It’s iconic to say the least, and Mike was one of the best bodybuilding photographers of all time. But back to Haney… [Read more…]
This classic shot of Vince Gironda, the legendary Iron Guru, was taken way back in the 1950s. His aesthetic physique, with its symmetry, lines, and rippedness, holds up today. Yep, even now most guys would kill to walk down the beach looking like Vince… [Read more…]
Q: I’ve been super motivated the past few months and really hitting it hard in the gym using a version of a Heavy/Light program you guys have talked about before. I couldn’t stand to do a back-off week, though, so I think I’m overtrained. Do you think reducing to two exercises per muscle is a good idea? Should I still do heavy/light?
A: Your nervous system is probably hammered. We know, we know—you don’t want to lose any muscle or strength. So here’s what we suggest…[Read more…]
Q: Okay, I’m moving into my late 40s, and I’m tired of all the joint pain from training heavy—shoulders, knees, hips. You name it! I’m from the lift-heavier-to-build-mass philosophy. But from all the research I’ve been seeing, it appears I don’t have to train very heavy at all to add plenty of muscle. I’m excited to try it, and I know you guys have been preaching about how these methods pack on mass for a while, but how should I start my transition?
A: No transition necessary. If you’re hurting that much, you should go right to the easy-to-follow 4X-style workouts. The relief—and new muscle gains—will amaze you (even younger guys should try a four-week all-4X phase for new growth)…[Read more…]
Q: You guys have so many different programs and mass tactics. Should I just pick a routine I like, do it for five weeks, then pick another? For example, I’m thinking about using 4X Mass Workout. Then I could go to Power-Density. Thoughts?
A: That can work very well. As we always say, change to gain. But when we say that, we are primarily talking about tactics, not exercises…[Read more…]
Q: I just started using the 30-20-15 [TORQ] method on one exercise for each muscle. I do the other exercises as regular sets or 4X. The higher reps really feel incredible. What a great pump and deep fiber hit. My question is, Which exercise is best for 30-20-15—midrange, stretch or contracted?
A: As we’ve mentioned before, the angle of pull is different on each of midrange, stretch, and contracted exercises, so fiber activation can be unique as well.[Read more…]
Q: I’ve always gotten pretty good size and strength gains from
A: Great question! For new readers, the myofibrils are the force-generating actin and myosin strands in the muscle fibers. If you have more of those than usual, you would be considered myofibrillar dominant. A good example of that is Mike Mentzer, who was squatting over 500 pounds at age 16…[Read more…]