Here’s a rare shot of Joe Weider, Frank Zane, and Arnold running on the beach. Apparently Joe didn’t get the animal-print nut-hugger memo. [Read more…]
Q: I’m using your STX Base Workout from Old Man Young Muscle with great results. I know you say change to gain, but I want to stick to exactly this routine for at least a month. It’s a solid workout. Do you think varying the rests between sets, like 20 seconds at one workout, then 40 at the next with slight weight increases is enough of a change?
A: Well, if you use 40 seconds rest, your workouts will be a bit longer. If you’re okay with that, it’s a decent change-to-gain strategy. I may have a better idea, however… [Read more…]
Q: I haven’t seen you mention Speed Sets in the newsletter. Are you still using them? You have them in Old Man, Young Muscle.
A: In the spirit of change to gain, absolutely. I generally do speed reps on the last set for a body part…
While studies show that the best rep tempo for building mass quickly is lift in one to two seconds, lower in three, using a different cadence can produce unique size effects… [Read more…]
Like a kid screaming “candy” at the grocery checkout over and over, I constantly harp on “change to gain”…
What does that mean? That there has to be something new in your workout for the muscular adaptation of growth to occur… [Read more…]
A colleague recently asked me what I thought about using slow-motion reps on the first set…
“Funny you should ask,” I said. “I experimented with that last year and found that [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: 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: I have the updated Quick Start Muscle 2.0. Thank you! The new home-workout section is just what I needed. One question: I remember you guys talking about an all-stretch-exercise workout a while back. Is that something I should try to increase mass gains while I’m training at home?
A: Yes, absolutely. Doing ONLY stretch-position exercises at a workout for every bodypart can do some great things for muscle growth… [Read more…]
Q: I’ve been using the 4X mass method for over a month with good gains–now noticeable muscle. I just tried it with the “downward-progression” style [adding weight each set so the reps drop—12-10-8-6], and it’s fantastic. I feel a new level of stimulation. You suggested using it on the big midrange exercises, but what about on the stretch and contracted ones? Can I use it on those too, or is that not advised?
Q: I understand that heavy weight isn’t important for maximum muscle growth. Can you tell me what I should include in my workouts to build the most mass possible in the shortest time. I want to get bigger.
A: Well, “heavy” weights are important, but “heavy” is relative to YOU—and dependent on muscle fatigue. You may struggle with 20 pounds in a certain exercise at the END of a bodypart workout. So that 20 pounds is “heavy” for you on that exercise at that moment… [Read more…]