Q: After my 20-rep set with a 1/3 tempo on the ideal exercise, I rest 20 seconds, then do a Speed Set (1.5-second reps) on that exercise. You say that you get 10 or fewer Speed Set reps, but I get 13, sometimes more. Should I cut my rest down to 10 seconds so I get fewer reps on my Speed Set? [Read more…]
Q: I’ve always thought that lower reps were for mass. Do I need high reps at all? Don’t they just deplete recovery and inject inefficiency and fatigue into hypertrophy workouts?
A: Just the opposite for most trainees. I say “most” because there are a few fast-twitch-dominant people on one end of the Bell Curve who thrive on low reps. But consider this study (Mitchell, et al. 2012)…
Trainees did three sets of leg extensions to failure three times a week for 10 weeks. And each leg was trained differently…
One leg used 80 percent 1RM (lower reps), while the other was trained with 30 percent 1RM (higher reps)…
Quad growth was excellent but not different between legs. The interesting part was…
It appeared that the heavy-load training grew primarily the fast-twitch fibers, while the light-load training increased type-1, or slow-twitch, fiber size. Remember, there was no difference in hypertrophy response…
No doubt all fiber types grew in both legs; however, heavy leans fast-twitch and lighter leans slow-twitch—because of so many preliminary reps…
Would a mix of high and low reps yield even better results? My guess would be yes…
It’s only one study, so more research is needed; however, it appears to confirm that using a variety of rep ranges can produce hypertrophy in multiple fiber types for more overall mass.
And that’s one of the key reasons I include rep ranges from 20 down to 8 in Old Man, Young Muscle over three to four sets per muscle. It works…
As I mention in OMYM (page 44), respected researcher Jerry Brainum recently said that “It’s now known that type-1 [slow-twitch] fibers are capable of showing a significant level of hypertrophy, more than previously believed.”
So including a higher-rep set or two can provide another layer of mass. And let’s not forget that a high-rep set first can trigger more fast-twitch activation on the sets after due to slow-twitch exhaustion (STX).
Sculpt your perfect physique: Get the ideal exercise for each muscle, the best add-on moves for ultimate mass, complete 35-minute workouts, exercise start/finish photos, and details on building muscle fast and efficiently in Old Man, Young Muscle.
Former Editor in Chief, Iron Man Magazine
Specialize for Massive Size
Specialization training is when you devote your time and attention to building up a particular lagging muscle group or set of muscle groups.
Most guys in the gym use specialization to build bigger “visible” muscles like arms, forearms, or calves, but little do they know that they’re wasting countless sets and reps…
Plus, they initiate no growth hormone response—meaning all their specialized sets are basically worthless!
Instead of wasting effort, you can pack on slabs of muscle mass FAST while skyrocketing your testosterone levels to pave the way for even FASTER muscle growth through Alpha-3 Specialization.A
But instant results aren’t the only perk of Alpha-3 Specialization…
I’ve talked about these top-five change-to-gain methods over the past few newsletters…
1) Exercise switch
2) Altered rep speed
3) Stretch overload
4) More or less rest between sets
5) Exercise shuffle
The last one on my list is… [Read more…]
Q: I read that researcher Chris Beardsley says that high reps are more damaging than lower reps. I’m more ectomorphic and can’t grow with lower reps. Why do you think he says that? [Read more…]
Q: After being involved in weight training for many years, and after working with many people as their instructor at home and at gyms, I think the main reason, and by far the most important one, that lifters get big and strong is because of their own personal genetics. How they train doesn’t make much difference. High reps, low reps, whatever. If they put even a little amount of effort in, they get big. Of course, drugs help immensely, but the actual type of training system they use is of little consequence, as long as it’s reasonably sound. I built 22-inch arms without drugs, and I performed a standing press with 400 pounds. I honestly do not believe it was because I trained scientifically. I did train hard, but it was because of my genetics that I gained so well and got so strong.
A: You are correct, but most trainees who are genetically gifted probably aren’t reading this. That’s too bad because by experimenting with science-based training, most of them could be so much better; however, because they gain easily, they think they’re doing things right and they keep plugging away with mediocre methods and never reach their full potential. [Read more…]
Q: I’ve always gotten pretty good size and strength gains from
A: Great question! For new readers, the myofibrils are the force-generating actin and myosin strands in the muscle fibers. If you have more of those than usual, you would be considered myofibrillar dominant. A good example of that is Mike Mentzer, who was squatting over 500 pounds at age 16…[Read more…]
Q: My calves suck. No size or veins whatsoever. Should I be hitting them with lower reps or high reps? Some people tell me up to 30 reps, others say I should go 10 to 12 reps with heavier weight. It’s so confusing… Please help!
A: Yes, the right calf-building recipe is tough for many people—but we have a good high-low method that could be just the trick to give you more calf mass, but let’s start with the science…[Read more…]
We get the stronger = bigger question a lot—and there’s no question that getting stronger will build some size—note that we said “some.” To clarify, here’s an excerpt from our best-selling e-book The Super-Size Crash Course…
“One of the biggest reasons muscle growth is so slow in most cases is the simplistic myth that strength equals superior size. There’s more to it than that. Trying to move big weights for a few reps does very little for ultimate muscle size. Are you shaking your head? Check this out…[Read more…]
We’re not going to beat around the bush. The dumbest thing you can do if you want extreme mass is to believe there’s only one way to build muscle. You know, a stubborn narrow mind that is set on “this way is the only way.” For example…
Do you train each muscle group with a number of sets once a week? It’s a popular trend in bodybuilding—chest on Monday, legs on Tuesday, arms on Wednesday and so on. That can work—for a while. Then you adapt… [Read more…]
A: Heavier weights and lower reps will produce more growth—in a couple of fast-twitch fiber types. Scientists believe there are at least five (some even say nine) different fast-twitch fiber types, some being slightly more endurance oriented than others. So a set with four to six reps plus X Reps may do great things for one or two of those; but to get at the others you’d want to include slightly higher-rep sets (or include drop sets and supersets in combination with X Reps, as outlined in The Ultimate Mass Workout e-book). That will help you hit as many fast-twitch types as possible.
Technically speaking, fiber makeup dictates which rep range should dominate for an individual. For example, if you have more pure fast-twitch fibers, lower reps should dominate in your routine, but you shouldn’t neglect other rep ranges because you want to hit as many fiber types as possible to max out growth. In other words, the more fibers you get to grow, the bigger your muscles will be.
In our cases, Jonathan, being more mesomorphic (muscular/athletic), responds to lower reps, but he also includes drop sets and supersets to hit a variety of fiber types as well (those techniques bring in an endurance component). Steve, on the other hand, responds better to higher reps, as he’s an ectomorph (hardgainer/skinny) with more endurance-oriented fast-twitch fibers as well as lots of slow-twitch fibers. Heavy straight sets don’t do much for him, so he relies more on drop sets and supersets, while still keeping the reps in the six-to-12 range. That means if he does a drop set of 8(6) reps—eight reps, reduce the weight and immediately do six reps—he’s doing 14 reps. That’s two lower-rep sets back to back, giving him the best of both worlds. Add X Reps to one of those sets and he gets even more time under tension, overloading a number of fiber types. It’s a very efficient way to train for more muscle mass.
Remember, it’s not about just hitting fast-twitch fibers with low reps. There are a number of different fast-twitch fibers that vary in work capacity. We attack that problem by doing heavy work but also getting more endurance-oriented anaerobic work by using supersets and drop sets along with X Reps.