Throughout my training career, it’s always bothered me that so many top bodybuilders talk about the importance of slow rep speed—especially on the negative or lowering stroke, yet most don’t follow that protocol… [Read more…]
Here’s a quote I used in Old Man, Young Muscle from Brad Schoenfeld, Ph.D.: [Read more…]
This week’s quote comes from an Olympic coach and hypertrophy expert, the late Charles Poliquin—who had a damn good physique for an older guy, by the way… [Read more…]
I like puzzles—but most people would give up on one that lasts 50 years and is constantly changing…
Building muscle is a moving target because the body adapts, is subjected to various life stresses, plus it’s always aging. Those factors make finding the perfect long-term mass-building routine difficult, if not impossible. [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…]
I want to revisit something I called attention to in a past newsletter: the volume threshold for muscle growth. To review…
According to Richard Winett, Ph.D., a recent joining together of experts from multiple countries looked at empirical studies and systematic reviews on muscle hypertrophy… [Read more…]
If you’ve been a bodybuilder for decades like us, you may remember Nautilus-machine creator Arthur Jones say this about muscle-building repetitions… [Read more…]
Q: I’ve been hitting it heavy for a few months, so I’m planning to switch to your 10×10 Mass Workout for a few weeks. I’ve done two workouts so far with 10X, and it feels great so far, and the pump is awesome. One problem I have is chins—there’s just no way I can do 10 sets of 10 reps with only 30 seconds of rest between. I know I can do pulldowns instead, but I believe chins are the superior back builder. Any suggestions?
A: You have a few choices. Famous Hollywood trainer, Vince “Iron Guru” Gironda, favored 8×8. You could try that instead of 10×10. Vince called that his “honest” muscle-building workout, and his trainees’ muscles got bigger, fuller shapes with 8×8.
One of the most famous proponents of the 10×10 method was our colleague, Olympic coach, and muscle-size-and-strength expert the late Charles Poliquin. Here was his advice to those who couldn’t manage 10×10 on chins…
The law of repeated efforts will enable you to develop the work capacity to perform all 10 sets… Start at 10 sets of 5 reps as your first goal so that you can accumulate volume. Then progress to 10 sets of 6, and so on.
So once you get all 10 sets—or almost all—for 5 reps, add a rep at our next workout so you attempt 10×6. Keep striving to bump up your rep count…
Also, there’s no hard-and-fast rule that 30 seconds is the ideal between-sets rest. You can use 45 seconds or even one minute. For sarcoplasmic-expansion stress—building the energy fluid in the fibers—which is what 10×10 is all about, one minute should be the limit…
As for your comment that chins are better than pulldowns, maybe not better—just different. Pulldowns allow you to angle your torso for a unique lat-fiber hit. There’s really no way to angle your torso on chins to vary the stress on your back…
To get a best-of-both worlds double hit, you could start a 10×10 sequence on chins, and when you can no longer get 10, move to pulldowns. You’ll have to experiment with the poundage so that your first set of pulldowns isn’t too easy but also not close to failure…
Say your chins go something like 10, 10, 10, 9. That’s four sets. Rest 30 seconds, then move to pulldowns. Your reps should go something like 10, 10, 10, 9, 9, 8. And your lats will be thoroughly pumped from hitting two slightly different angles of pull. It’s a great double attack to get your back jacked…
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
Mass-Building Lessons From the Master Trainer
Vince Gironda was the Iron Guru, a bodybuilding legend ahead of his time. His most famous pupil in the bodybuilding world was the very first Mr. Olympia Larry Scott, and he also trained many Hollywood stars back in the day, like Clint Eastwood, and even Arnold consulted with him and was a fan (even though Vince told Arnold that he was a “fat f**k” when he first arrived in the U.S.).
Many of Vince’s mass-building tricks and methods have been forgotten, buried by information and misinformation overload on the Internet, but now you can find them all, his true methods, in this must-have, 330-page Vince Gironda e-book anthology…
You get everything from “Train 21 Rest 7” to 10-8-6-15 to Vince’s Stone Age Nutrition, the 8×8 method and program and much, much more (remember, it’s 330 pages). And it’s on sale at a discount for a limited time: Simply use the code GIRONDA20 at checkout for an extra 20 percent off.
Vince Gironda: Legend & Myth (300-page anthology + many bonus gifts and programs) HERE
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…]
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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