Ronnie Coleman won the Mr. Olympia eight times, and his incredible monstrous physique set a new standard in the pro ranks. Check out the back shot on the right—striations on top of striations. Incredible… [Read more…]
This is one of Kevin Horton’s black-and-white gym photos of Dorian Yates that literally shocked the bodybuilding world in 1993. At that time, his sheer mass was astounding… [Read more…]
Q: I always hurt my back when I squat heavy. And now I even hurt it doing moderate-weight 4X, probably because of the damage I’ve incurred over the years. You may call it brainwashing, but I really feel that I need to squat to build more mass. Any suggestions? I don’t want to give up squatting.
A: We’re right there with you on that. After years of heavy squatting—and numerous back injuries–we’re now very cautious when doing that exercise. But the good news is that we’ve figured out how to do it while significantly minimizing the injury potential and still gaining more mass… [Read more…]
This shot of three-time Mr. Olympia Frank Zane shows him in the studio hitting a classic biceps shot. His physique was a true work of art… [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’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: I have almost all of your e-books. They’re all great, and I reread them often for motivation and ideas. Right now I’m on The Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout. Can I Double-X Overload everything stretch-related in that program? It seems like that would produce even more muscle microtrauma similar to the negative-accentuated sets on the big exercises. That should speed up my fat loss and muscle gains, right?
A: If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day; if you teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime. What does that have to do with your question? We’re just glad to see you taking techniques from our other e-books and applying them to your current workout. You’re learning how to “fish”—grasping the mass-building concepts and applying them when and where appropriate… [Read more…]
Even fully clothed, Arnold could throw his arm up into a flex and make jaws drop. What a peak! And it was no accident… [Read more…]
Q: I just got your Triple-Shred 3 e-books [X-treme Lean, Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout and X-traordinary Abs]. Looking over the workouts, I’m wondering which is best for me, The X-treme Lean High-Definition Workout or The Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout? I need to lose fat and also build muscle, so what’s the difference? Is one better than the other?
A: You may have heard the saying that the best program for you is the one you’re NOT currently using. In other words, change ignites gains. So neither the X-treme Lean program nor the Fat-to-Muscle Workout is the best lean-machine workout—only different—and both ignite all of the key fat-off, muscle-on components… [Read more…]
Q: I just got your X-traordinary Arms e-book. Killer information, and I’m ready to use it to build mine into 19-inchers like Jonathan’s. My question is about the 3D HIT program in which you incorporate the arm-specialization routines. One work set for each exercise? You list a few more sets for arms, but I just can’t comprehend how one set could be enough for the other bodyparts. Can I add sets?
A: You can do anything you want, but be careful and monitor your progress. Building muscular size is all about experimentation. In fact, the 3D HIT program is our experiment into one-set-per-exercise intensity training. We’ve seen lots of research validating one-set training for building strength; however, as we explain in our e-books, packing on extreme muscle size is a different animal than merely building strength and a few fast-twitch fibers. There are different layers to attack when size is the goal. [Read more…]