Here’s a quote from former bodybuilder and physique coach Scott Abel, who has been in the industry for more than 30 years… [Read more…]
I’ve been discussing the negatives of too many “garbage negatives.” What does that mean?
When you do a set close to failure, the eccentric, or negative, stroke is still not demanding. But that’s not the problem… [Read more…]
I’ve talked about these change-to-gain methods so far…
1) Exercise switch
2) Altered rep speed
Next on my list is… [Read more…]
Q: I’m using the Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout, but my bodyweight is staying the same. It’s been about four weeks, and I’m getting more veins and can see more muscle definition, but the number on the scale hasn’t budged. Should I make a change or start a new workout?
A: If you’re getting more vascular with increased muscularity, you’ve reduced the subcutaneous fat which is the adipose that is just under the skin. Why hasn’t that fat loss resulted in a smaller number on the scale? Probably because you’ve gained muscle at the same time, which balanced out the fat loss… [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 want to thank you for putting together the Freak-Physique e-book. What a blockbuster resource of training information and programs. I’m using the 3D Power Pyramid Program. The quote from the trainee who gained so much muscle and strength in only a few weeks using it got me stoked. My question is, I’m more of a train-each-bodypart-once-a-week guy, so can I use it that way instead of training each bodypart twice a week? If so, how should I adjust it?
A: First, you picked a great program. We get lots of positive feedback on the 3D Power Pyramid because it’s simple Positions-of-Flexion methodology but you add weight over three sets on the big midrange move (pyramid), and do only one set each of the stretch- and contracted-position exercises. It’s basically a POF strength-building workout with a big muscle-size side effect. [Read more…]
Q: I got your Quick-Start Muscle-Building Guide because I haven’t lifted in a few years. Fantastic info and it’s already working for me. On some exercises, you suggest lifting in 3 seconds and lower in 3 to help improve nerve force for strength. I’ve seen in many of your emails that you sometimes lift in 1 second and lower in 6. Should I try that? I think you said it helps burn fat, and I would love to see my abs sooner rather than later.
A: Lifting in 1 second and lowering in 6 is what we call X-centric, or Negative-Accentuated, training. It is a great FAT BURNER as well as MUSCLE BUILDER, but you shouldn’t use it just yet (more on why in a moment).[Read more…]
Q: I’m ready to start the total 4X mass program [moderate-weight, growth threshold training]. How do I know what weight to use on each exercise? Can I base it on my 8-rep max or what?
A: The 4X mass method is density training—so it’s high fatigue. Very different from standard training with longer rests, so we understand the weight confusion, but that’s why for weights you’ll have to guess…[Read more…]
Q: I have a hard time feeling some of my muscles working, especially short-range ones like abs. Should I go heavier, lighter, slower, or what? I know feeling the target muscle working is very important for the fastest results.
A: You can say that again. Getting in touch with the target muscle on every rep is a big key to muscle hypertrophy…[Read more…]