Bill Pearl is a four-time professional Mr. Universe winner (1956, ’61, ’67 and ’71). He retired after that last win and achieved that victory at the age of 41. [Read more…]
Q: Your 4X training is fantastic. It has me growing again, and it’s perfect with 3-way POF. My question is about muscle feel. How important is it for size increases? I ask because I have trouble feeling some major body parts, like shoulders and chest.
A: We think it’s EXTREMELY important to feel the target muscle working; if you don’t, you may be using other muscle groups to move the weight or simply not innervating enough muscle fibers for a big anabolic response. [Read more…]
Q: I love 4X training. It’s gotten me bigger than I’ve ever been, but my gains have leveled off. I’m thinking about doing the last set in stage style for more intensity. Do you think that will work? Any tips if I try it?
A: We love experimentation. It can make good gains great, so we say try it on for SIZE…
Let’s start by explaining the 4X method for our new readers who aren’t familiar: You pick a weight with which you can get 15 reps, but you only do 10; rest 30 to 45 seconds, then do 10 more—and so on until you complete four sets. If you get 10 reps on your last set, you add weight to that exercise at your next workout…. [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: A friend of mine used to compete in bodybuilding contests, and he swears that practicing his posing improved his muscle size and shape. I think it was all in his mind. There’s no resistance when you flex, so it couldn’t build more muscle. I think he believes it did because he just happened to be getting more and more ripped from dieting and training, which made him look better every time he practiced posing. What do you think?
A: Yes, as you get more and more ripped, you’ll definitely look bigger, even as your bodyweight drops. A fat-free physique creates the illusion of mass, as you can see from the photos below of Jonathan from our X-treme Lean e-book. Nevertheless, you’re friend is also right… [Read more…]
Q: I’ve made some of the best gains ever with your 4X training, but I may be going stale. I can’t seem to go up in weight any longer. Don’t I need to get stronger to get bigger?
A: If you get stronger, you MAY get bigger—but you can get bigger WITHOUT getting stronger. In other words, size and strength are NOT directly intertwined. Check out this quote from Peary Rader, founder of IRON MAN magazine, who was doing size and strength research more than 50 years ago… [Read more…]
Q: In the Size Surge 2.0 e-book, Phase 1 is all heavy sets. I don’t have any joint problems, but I love moderate-weight 4X training. I’ve gained over 5 pounds of muscle in 6 weeks with it. I don’t want to give it up completely now, but I do want to go on the 10-week Size Surge program. Can I use the same combination approach in Phase 1 that you outline in the new Phase 2 chapters; that is, heavy work on the big exercises and 4X on the more isolated ones?
A: We understand your concern about all-heavy training all the time. Lots of trainees (including us) have suddenly packed on more mass with a dose of moderate-weight, growth-threshold 4X—or even 10×10. That’s because training all-heavy for too long NEGLECTS sarcoplasmic expansion… [Read more…]
Q: Your 4X training is fantastic. It has me growing again, and it’s perfect with 3-way POF. My question is about muscle feel. How important is it to feel your muscles working for size increases? I ask because I have trouble feeling some body parts, like shoulders and chest.
A: We believe it’s EXTREMELY important to feel your muscles working; if you don’t, you may be using other muscle groups to move the weight or simply not innervating enough muscle fibers for a big anabolic response. [Read more…]
Danny Padilla was known for his classic, no-flaws physique. His nickname was “the Giant Killer” because at only 5’2” his perfect mass-symmetry combo allowed him to beat bodybuilders who were much taller and larger than he was. [Read more…]
Q: I want to thank you for the great programs and excellent tips, like X-Reps. My background is in Olympic
A: You didn’t really ask a question, but we just wanted to commend you on being brave enough to give all-4X training—every other week—a try.
So many trainees are stuck in the must-always-train-heavy-to-grow mentality that they miss out on significant muscle-size stimulation. It’s probably the key reason most complain about such slow gains. Plus, they get injured much more often.[Read more…]