With spring right around the corner, it’s time for a lot of us to start thinking about easing into a fat-to-muscle plan—so you’re sure to have an eye-popping look that first warm day you peel off your shirt (you want jaws to hit the dirt)…[Read more…]
Q: I need to get leaner, and I think I’d better start now if I want abs by springtime. I know I need to diet, but I don’t want to lose muscle. What’s the best way to build muscle and burn fat?
A: Many will say that you will lose muscle if you reduce your calories enough to burn fat, but we disagree…[Read more…]
Q: I got your three fat-loss e-books [Triple-Shred Offer], and I’ve read them all. Great information, and I’m soooo ready to start. I like the X-treme Lean High-Definition Workout, but I’d want to incorporate a negative-accentuated set for each muscle [as you discuss and include in The Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout]. Where should I put the NA set in the X-treme Lean Workout? I want to be ripped this summer while I still have time!
A: Excellent question, and we’re glad you’re tailoring the workouts to your needs—to rip up faster. You’re right. Using a negative-accentuated set for each bodypart should make the X-treme Lean High-Def Workout even better, just don’t get carried away (of course, you’ll also need to stick to the diets and eating info in that e-book as well)… [Read more…]
Q: I read that you guys got super ripped without doing any cardio. I also saw that Arnold had incredible fat loss with no cardio, relying on weight training only. Is that true?
A: According to John Balik, Publisher of IRON MAN magazine and Arnold’s friend and one-time training partner, the only thing close to real cardio that Arnold did was occasional walking or running on the beach… [Read more…]
Q: I’m using the four-day version of The X-traordinary 4X Mass Workout. Will that help me stay as lean as possible over the winter? In the past, I’ve had trouble in that area. I tend to blow up to a smooth fat boy over the holidays. Is 4X the way to go so I don’t chub up?
A: First, understand that no workout program will prevent you from becoming president of the Chub Club if you eat like crap all the time. We’re not saying you can’t enjoy some fattening foods and desserts every so often, but it sounds like you lose control. Moderation is the key. Stay on a healthy diet most days during the week, but allow one or two for splurges. Do NOT make junk meals an everyday occurrence. Imagine YOU in this picture to stay on track… [Read more…]
Q: I’m now a believer in negative-accentuated sets for fat loss. I started using a version of your Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout and got leaner and more muscular after only one month. I admit that I did a few more NA [negative-accentuated] sets for areas I really needed to reduce fat. I’ve heard that spot reduction isn’t possible, but I could swear I lost more fat in those areas like my midsection and thighs that I hit with more NA work. I’m seeing abs! So do you think spot reduction is a myth? I’m starting to think not.
A: For those unfamiliar with it, an NA set is one second up on the positive and six seconds down on the negative. For example, on a curl, you would curl the weight at normal speed, then lower slowly to a count of six. The slow negative emphasis increases blood flow to the muscle and also triggers more muscle trauma. Both of those factors are critical to fast fat-to-muscle results… [Read more…]
Q: I have most of your e-books, and every one of them is great. I’ve learned so much from them, and I’m gaining faster than ever. My question is that in The Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout you use power sets, negative-accentuated sets, and then end with high-rep sets to finish off a muscle. But in the X-centric Mass Workout, you have a similar program, but you end each bodypart with 4X instead of high reps. When it comes to the finisher sets, which way is better?
A: Neither is better—just different. Arnold used to use high-rep burnout finisher sets. Those were a good complement to his many heavy power sets. He’d either use them on the last exercise for a muscle or do a high-rep set as the last finisher for almost every exercise. Either way, you end up with a skin-stretching pump… [Read more…]
Q: What is the best rep speed for muscle growth? I want to look like a bodybuilder/physique athlete, so I’m not that concerned with strength. I just want more muscle mass.
A: In The X-traordinary X-Rep Workout e-book we cite a study that attempted to determine the optimal rep speed for building muscle. It compared doing sets with a two-to-three-second positive and a two-to-three-second negative—about three up, three down—with sets using a power cadence, which is one second up and three seconds down. The power cadence produced the most mass in this study. [Int J Sports Med. 30(3):200-204; 2009.]
Muscle biopsies suggest that the power cadence causes more damage to more muscle fibers than traditional reps, leading to a greater degree of protein remodeling in the trained muscle. You may know from our Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout and the X-centric Mass Workout e-books that slow lowering, or the eccentric stroke, causes more muscle damage. But notice that BOTH groups lowered the weight in three seconds. So what gives?…
The key is that the power-training group used a more forceful turnaround for the one-second positive compared to the slower tempo of the other group. That explosive jolt right at the semi-stretch point of the target muscle activates significantly more fast-twitch muscle fibers, so more growth fibers are engaged on every rep and for each traumatic negative.
That study actually proves why end-of-set X-Rep partials are so incredibly effective—you force the muscle to continue firing, activating the MYOTATIC REFLEX and getting more dormant fast-twitch fibers into the action. In the above study, the controlled explosion occurs on every rep of a power set. Ending with X Reps would make the set even more anabolic.
Our recommendation is to use one second up and three seconds down for your big multi-joint, or midrange, exercises—like bench presses, squats, rows, pulldowns and so on.
Isolation moves are more dangerous, especially stretch-position exercises like flyes and pullovers, so slow down the positive somewhat for less joint stress. We like a two-up/three-down tempo to grow for those.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
Regain Your Youthful, Sexual, Mental & Physical Vigor and Vitality
One of the most interesting read-me pages on Testosterone and other muscle-building hormones we’ve seen is The Truth About Testosterone.
It even talks about a fruit, a specific part, that can up your T naturally. Cranking up your testosterone will not only get you jacked in the gym, but in the bedroom too—not to mention help rip up your midsection as it ignites fat burning. If that interests you, there’s more from our colleague and registered dietician, HERE.
Q: I have been using [end-of-set] X-Rep partials and making the best gains of my life. I consider it one of the top muscle-building breakthroughs. You guys always seem to be at the cutting edge of mass techniques. Any other secrets you can recommend to boost my gains?
A: Thanks for the kind words regarding X Reps. They’ve done great things for hundreds of trainees—and we made the best gains of our lives that first X-Rep year—in only five weeks with them (no steroids, no trick photography—although the lighting is different and we have tans in the afters)… [Read more…]
Q: I’m using The Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout and making great progress. I’m bigger, with veins, and my abs are coming in. I just picked up The Ultimate 10×10 Mass Workout for something different, so I want to go to that program next. My question concerns muscle damage. Getting trauma from slow negative-accentuated sets is what makes the Fat-to-Muscle Workout work so well, so when I switch to the 10×10 Workout, won’t I be getting less muscle damage and therefore less fat burning? I still need to get leaner, so should I add NA sets somewhere when I go to the 10×10 Workout?
A: You could add an NA set for each bodypart. We discuss how and where to do that in the 10×10 Q&A section; however, it’s not necessary for trainees who are doing 10×10 at every workout. Believe us, you’ll realize that fact after you try the 10-sets-of-10 method. The muscle soreness you get will tell you that your microtrauma goal has been met.
For example, we had been training hard for many months using an NA set for every bodypart, and soreness was a common occurrence because of those negative-accentuated sets—1.5 seconds up and six seconds down on every rep. Yet when we first tried 10×10 on decline extensions, our triceps were sore for four days—yes, four whole days, and that’s after doing only one exercise. Amazing.
Here’s something else to consider: Back in Arnold’s competitive years he did little, if any, cardio work, yet when he shifted into contest prep, he got ripped quickly. No, he didn’t do negative-accentuated sets, but he did get significant muscle-fiber damage due to the sheer volume of his in-season workouts. He would build up to 20 sets per bodypart, with fairly short rests, and you can bet that the extraordinary number of normal-speed negatives after each positive rep triggered a lot of microtrauma for a fat-to-muscle effect.
Remember, you’re getting a high number of standard-speed negatives every time you use 10×10—100 total negatives, to be exact, along with 100 positives. You may be thinking that because you use the same weight on all sets, the first few sets feel light and don’t do much. Not true; you’re still doing work and resisting on the negative stroke. Then as the sets get harder, you’ll have to fight to resist the weight on the negative stroke. The last few sets will be brutal. All of that compounds the fat-to-muscle microtrauma…
The brief rests also amplify the effect. Taking 30 seconds between sets ignites a fierce burn and pump. The result is an intensified growth hormone surge. Remember, GH is a potent fat burner that works in tandem with muscle damage for a heightened fat-to-muscle effect…
In fact, as we recently stated, Olympic strength coach Charles Poliquin says,
Pioneering research by a Romanian exercise scientist [showed] that the lactic acid pathway is better for fat loss than the commonly accepted aerobic pathway. He found that high blood lactic levels decrease blood pH levels, which in turn sends a message to the brain to accelerate its production of growth hormone. Higher growth hormone levels increase fat loss.
Recent Canadian research substantiated the lactic acid (muscle burn)-GH link. As you’ll find out, you trigger loads of lactic acid with 10×10…
We’ve found that 10×10 is a lot like HIIT (interval training)—intense work alternated with short rests. As all the recent research shows, that’s the best way to burn significant amounts of bodyfat. With 10×10, you integrate progressive weight training into the interval mix—and you get a big-time muscle builder on top of an incredible fat burner.
Down the road, when you need something new, you can experiment by adding NA sets. For now, you can be sure that 10×10 will keep the fat-to-muscle effects rolling.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson