Q: Incredible interview with [Mr. America] Doug Brignole in the Power-Density e-book. So cool that he has studied kinesiology and physiology and determined the number-one best exercise for each muscle. He said decline dumbbell presses are the best chest exercise for overall mass. Does he ever use barbell declines or Hammer-machine decline presses, which bring your hands from a wide stretch to close at the top for a better pec contraction? Or what about dips? [Read more…]
Q: I’ve been on the basic Positions-of Flexion biceps and triceps routines you outline in 3D Muscle Building. I’m getting spectacular pumps, and I think my arms have grown already. I’m ready to go to all the POF routines in 3D for all my bodyparts. My question is on biceps. I don’t really feel concentration curls. Is there another ending [contracted-position] exercise I can do instead to help build 3D arms?
A: For the uninitiated, Positions of Flexion is training each bodypart through its full range. For example, for biceps, it’s barbell curls (midrange), incline curls (stretch), and concentration curls (contracted). [Read more…]
Q: I read in one of your previous articles where you mentioned that you sometimes do Stage Sets. What are Stage Sets, and is that a good mass technique for me?
A: Many years ago, even before we developed X-Rep partials, we noticed that every time we introduced Stage Sets to our workouts, we got sudden muscularity and vascularity increases—and now we know why: The technique is essentially a unique type of X overload—an intense out-of-the-blocks blast right at the max-force point where the target muscle is semi-stretched, like near the bottom of an incline press…
Here’s how a Stage Set works for Smith-machine incline presses. You position yourself on the incline bench, grip slightly wider than your shoulders. Unhook the safety catches and then lower the bar to about an inch above your upper chest. Without pausing, you blast it back up, but only to just slightly higher than the midpoint of the stroke.
When you reach that point, lower back to the semi-stretch position, and so on, doing low-range partials till you can’t stand the burn. Notice that you’re essentially doing piston-like exaggerated X Reps right off the bat through the max-force point, which is how pro bodybuilders and former Mr. Olympia winners like Jay Cutler and Ronnie Coleman would train most of their exercises, but we take it a step further.
When you can’t do another exaggerated X Rep—you should get about 10 of those lowdown partials—get the bar to lockout, with help from your partner. Now you do the top stage of the stroke. First, squeeze your pecs hard, contracting them in the lockout position, then lower through about the top one-third of the movement. Blast back to the top and squeeze your pecs again. Flex at lockout on every one of those top-end reps.
We like to do a Stage Set as the last set for an exercise. They work exceptionally well for most types of squats and any type of press—flat, incline, decline, and even leg presses. You get extended tension time and a division of work that provides unique mass-building stimulation. Try it, and prepare to grow!
Note: For more on Stage Sets as well as many other X-hybrid mass techniques, see the Beyond X-Rep Muscle Building e-book. It also contains our complete post-X-Rep-year program that incorporates many of those fast-mass techniques, taking our physiques to a new level of impressiveness. For photos and more info, see our Beyond X-Rep page.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
NEWEST RELEASE: The Anabolic After-40 Muscle-Size Manual contains new mass-building XRX workouts featuring Pure Positions of Flexion mass training with moderate-weight 3X density sequences plus rest/pause X-Reps. In addition, you’ll get 3 FREE bonuses—“20 Pounds in 10 Weeks Blueprint,” “Anabolic After-40 Bodyweight Edition,” and “X-traordinary Arms.” Add them all to your mass-building library for a limited-time price ($100 value) of ONLY $15 HERE.
“You gotta feel the muscle working if you want it to grow.” So say many of the biggest, freakiest bodybuilders. Trainees in search of big and ripped muscle interpret that to mean that they need to slow down their reps to a snail’s pace. Not true. Once again, it’s a case of watch, don’t ask, or you could go down the wrong road. The champs rarely do slow reps; usually they’re more like the pistons in a car engine. So what the heck do they mean by “feel the muscle?” [Read more…]