Rachel McLish was the very first Ms. Olympia winner way back in 1980. Her symmetrical physique, not to mention her head-turning beauty, catapulted her into the public eye and established women’s bodybuilding as a brand-new sport. [Read more…]
Q: You’ve talked about doing different things on the last set of a 4X sequence, like rest/pause. Are there ways to change the other sets in the sequence for variety? I’m a big fan of “change to gain,” so I like as much variation as I can get. By the way, 4X training is incredible—I’ve gained almost 10 pounds in six weeks using it with POF. Thank you!
A: Yes, change to gain—if your workouts are the same, your results will be lame. (Maybe we should’ve been rappers—Nah.)
We’ve experimented in the past with a unique approach to 4X—but it’s not for the meek. Remember, for 4X you use a weight with which you can get about 15 reps, but you only do 10; rest 40 seconds between sets then do it again. Here’s the hybrid drill:
Set 1: Raise the weight in one second and lower in six, getting around eight reps. That’s what we call an X-centric, or negative-accentuated, set. (Note: That’s almost a minute of time under tension.)
Sets 2 and 3: Use a normal cadence—one-second positives and three-second negatives, going for 10 reps. (40 seconds TUT)
Set 4: Use a speed cadence—about one second for the positive and one second for the negative.Get as many as you can—probably around eight to 10, depending on the exercise. We call this a speed set.
The late Olympic coach and muscle-building expert Charles Poliquin said that the most underused mass stimulus is rep cadence—and the above gives your muscle three different ones to deal with as well as unique tension times—and you use the same weight on all sets…
The X-centric reps on the first set act as an excellent warmup, pushing a lot of blood into the target muscle with a tension time of almost a minute and providing a good stimulus to the nervous system with slow negatives.
They also provide muscle-building benefits right off the bat—you get myofibrillar stimulation with the slow negatives and sarcoplasmic expansion with the long tension time. That’s the double-dose of muscle growth we’re always harping on.
Next you do sets 2 and 3 with a standard cadence—one up and three down. Tension time is around 40 seconds.
Then, on the last set, you do more explosive-style reps, but you still control the weight. The 2-second-reps tempo is speed style and has been shown in studies to activate dormant 2B power fibers, so be prepared for some major fiber churn and burn. Good luck getting 10 reps on this set.
We recommend trying it on just the big midrange movement of a Positions-of-Flexion workout because it can be so traumatic. If you try it on all 3 POF exercises for a muscle, do a 3X sequence for the stretch- and contracted-position moves—only one standard set instead of two. It’s another mass tactic to get you huge.
If you don’t have the 4X Mass Workout yet, you can pick it up for just $9 HERE.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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Q: After reading some of your previous newsletters, I’ve been thinking about trying your 10×10 method. It sounds good, except I can’t get myself to accept using such a light weight. Will that really build muscle? I bench 300 pounds for a single, so that means I should use 180 pounds for 10×10. Man, how can that work?
A: You’re falling for the old the-heavier-you-go-the-more-you-grow myth. It’s been ingrained in all of us, but once you understand how muscle mass is created, you’ll know that you can build a lot of size with more moderate poundages and short rests—like with 10×10 or 4X… [Read more…]
Q: I’m a big fan of your workouts and have purchased most of your e-books. Thanks for all the advice and keep up the inspiring work! I have a 15-year-old son who’s starting to get serious about lifting. He wants to play football, so he’s looking to improve his overall size and strength. Would you recommend your 4X Mass Workout for him? I’m trying to figure out which of your programs would be best for someone his age.
A: For football, your son will want to concentrate on building strength and power with size as an after-effect. The 4X Mass Workout is primarily for muscle mass with less of a strength emphasis… [Read more…]
Q: I’m using the Power-Density Mass Workout, the first program with only the Ultimate Exercise for each bodypart. I like the simplicity of it and quick workouts, but I’m having trouble feeling the first power sets when I pyramid the weight. I really don’t feel the muscle working till the ending density sets [the faster 4×10 series]. Any suggestions?
A: Too often, trainees jump right into their heavy work sets with only a haphazard warmup—usually talking to their partner during that lighter preliminary work. In other words, maybe you aren’t doing FOCUSED warmup sets… [Read more…]
Sergio Oliva’s monster mass, wasp waist, and incredible proportions are legendary—and his physique is still shocking, even by today’s over-drugged standards…
With the crappy weather outside, we thought a jolt of beach-body motivation was in order. [Read more…]
A few Zens back, we mentioned that our friend and colleague Doug Brignole recently won the 2019 Drug-Free Mr. Universe Open division at age 59.
He’s not a mass monster, but rather cut from the aesthetic-physique mold. Nevertheless, even in a T-shirt, his physique is very impressive, as you can see from this flexing pic [photo courtesy of Doug Brignole]… [Read more…]
There was a period in competitive bodybuilding when art and aesthetics ruled. The gargoyles were not winning, and Frank Zane, pictured below was more than okay with that… [Read more…]
In our Zen 3 newsletter, we talked about Arnold’s biceps peak and his full-range workout (POF: standing curls, incline curls, concentration curls).
But Arnold’s secret to eye-popping bi’s: He trained his brachialis muscles directly. Those lengthy muscles snake under the biceps and connect down on the forearm. When the brachialis are beefed up underneath, they push the biceps higher when flexed—sky-high peaks. [Read more…]