Recent studies seem to place stretch-loading and stretch exercises at the top of the mass-building food chain… [Read more…]
The Size Principle of Muscle Fiber Recruitment tells us that on a standard-tempo set of lifting in one second and lowering in three, the slow-twitch fibers dominate on the earlier, easier reps of a set… [Read more…]
Let’s pick up the Speed Set discussion with more from neurophysiologist Chad Waterbury:
To produce more force, the nervous system must recruit more motor units. Think of each motor unit as being a football player, and imagine your car is stuck in a ditch. The more football players you have to pull the car out, the easier the task will be.
The same is true with the nervous system: the more motor units recruited, the greater the force you’ll be able to produce. So to lift the largest load or to lift any load as fast as possible, you must recruit as many motor units as possible.
So again, speed equals force. You can NOT lift a weight faster by recruiting fewer motor units. That means the more motor units you recruit, the faster you’ll move…
Arnold knew that instinctively and did many of his sets with controlled explosive reps…
Of course, you don’t want to start jerking the weight, as that can cause you to get injured. But by doing some of your sets in Speed style, with 1.5-second controlled reps, you will stimulate more muscle mass at each workout…
Back to Waterbury…
Make no mistake about it, speed is the omnipotent ruler. Indeed, the most reputable research has demonstrated time and time again that a faster tempo leads to the greatest hypertrophy and strength gains. And I’m not just talking about the concentric (shortening or lifting) phase of muscle contractions; I’m talking about both phases.
But what about the Size Principle of Muscle Fiber Recruitment? It tells us that the slow-twitch fibers dominate on the earlier, easier reps of a set, gradually giving up and giving way to the fast-twitch fibers toward the end of a set.
At least that’s how it works on standard slower-rep sets: slow-twitch domination early leads to fast-twitch domination late…
But what about a Speed Set, which creates high force early? Could that be key in accelerating hypertrophy? We’ll delve into that tomorrow.
Your Efficient Mass-Building Handbook: For more mass-building tips like the above plus complete workouts that include the ideal exercise for each muscle and the best stretch and contracted add-on moves, get your copy of Old Man, Young Muscle.
People often ask why I use some “inferior” exercises along with the ideals…
“If the ideal exercises are so great, why not just use those and not waste time with less-ideal moves?”
Sounds good on paper, but there’s that variation-in-fiber-recruitment thing that I harp on a lot… [Read more…]
Q: Recently you mentioned using a pause at stretch on every rep of a set. You said you were giving it a try to see if it produced more muscle growth. I’m thinking about giving it a go. What’s your verdict?
A: To clarify, I’ve been using it on the first high-rep set of my ideal exercise—like dumbbell decline extensions for triceps… [Read more…]
Q: I can’t wrap my head around lighter weights getting me as big as heavy weights. Wouldn’t fatigue from high reps cause you to stop a set short before you get enough fibers involved? [Read more…]
A few newsletters back I discussed energy cost and how multi-joint exercises that don’t optimally load the target muscle can take from your hypertrophy gains in exchange for some strength…
However, I also mentioned that you can focus on barbell squats at one leg workout and the ideal quad exercise at the next. Just keep in mind that it’s not the most efficient muscle-building strategy… [Read more…]
We harp on the Size Principle of Muscle Fiber Recruitment a lot. Why? Because it explains how to get the most muscle growth possible—in both the fast-twitch as well as slow-twitch fibers… [Read more…]
Q: The 4X Mass Workout is filling out my muscles faster than anything I’ve ever tried. Thank you! I’m wondering what you think about doing something weird on the last set. Like I’ve been doing a drop set on the last set every so often or a superset with another exercise just on that last set. Is that okay, or should I only stick to straight sets with 4X?
A: If you’ve been reading this newsletter for any length of time, you should know that we encourage any and all types of training experimentation. Always remember that what packs on new mass for one person may not work well for another, so be innovative and open-minded… [Read more…]
Q: I just got The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout and The X-traordinary X-Rep Workout. Tremendous. I’ve already read them both twice. Undoubtedly the best bodybuilding info I’ve ever seen. I noticed that in the programs in both e-books, you rely a lot on pyramiding the weight on the compound exercises. Is that better than just using the same poundage on all work sets and going to exhaustion?
A: With the type of training we list in those e-books, we believe adding weight to each work set so that the rep count decreases—9, 7, 5, for instance—is ideal to build BOTH mega mass and strength for three reasons… [Read more…]