Q: What’s your opinion of rest/pause training, the way Mike Mentzer used to do it? I’ve read that he did heavy singles with six to 10 seconds between sets, and he did only four of those rest/pause singles for each exercise.
Q: I was on your newsletter list back when you guys were kicking butt at Iron Man and released the Size Surge program as an e-book, but life caught up with me and I unsubscribed for a while. You guys used to be all high about the Size Surge Workout, but since I rejoined your X team a while back, it seems like you rarely mention it anymore. What’s the deal—what happened to Size Surge? I was thinking about getting on it, but if it’s off your radar, maybe it’s no longer a good option?
A: What happened to Size Surge, you ask? Nothing… It’s still a great for most trainees during their winter mass-building phases. The 10-week program is built around big, basic exercises with plenty of power sets, muscle trauma, and lots of recovery time. That style of training works optimally when you’re not restricting calories—bad-ass bulk building at its best. [See Jonathan’s before and after photos from the first Size Surge experiment on the Size Surge page.] [Read more…]
Q: I just started the Size Surge program for some new size this year, and it feels great so far. I love the workouts. One problem I’m having is that on some exercises that I’m supposed to pyramid the weight up, I don’t get enough reps on the second heaviest set. For example, on dumbbell presses, my reps go 9 and then 4 or 5 after I add weight. Should I just keep doing that, use the same weight on both sets or what?
A: We’ve answered a similar question concerning barbell curls before, and we suggested using the same weight on both sets; however, that’s a single-joint move. It sounds as if you’re having problems pyramiding on the big compound, or multi-joint, exercises, which is common for thin guys looking for muscle size… [Read more…]
Q: I always have a problem making gains in the winter. It starts around Halloween, when the weather starts getting cooler and the bowls of candy start taunting me. Then it’s Thanksgiving, pumpkin pie, and it’s even colder outside. I lose the motivation to hit the gym, and my muscles usually shrink and get shrouded with a layer of fat. Is this just something I should accept, or do you have any solutions?
A: Definitely do not accept it—at least not completely—because if you regress in the winter and then start training hard in the spring, you waste a lot of workouts just getting back to where you were the previous year. (We speak from experience—it’s happened to us on more than one occasion). [Read more…]
Q: Your Pre-Ex 3X Mass Workout is just what I needed. It boosted my mass considerably (about five pounds so far), and my joints feel great. One question, though: Is there a way to intensify it without adding more rounds? Going from three to four might wipe me out too much and cause overtraining.
A: We often suggest altering the LAST set in a Pre-Ex cycle. For example, if you’re doing cable crossovers (isolation) supersetted with bench presses (compound), you could add a rest/pause set to one or both exercises on the last round… [Read more…]
Q: Thank you for clearing up the muscle-growth mystery for me. I always believed in going heavier and heavier to get bigger. Now I know that’s only a small part of the puzzle. Working in the 4X method, X Reps, drop sets, and even some of your high-rep TORQ sets has already gotten me bigger in just a few weeks. My question is, Do you think some people get a better size response from power training and others get more size from density [endurance] work?
A: Absolutely. As we mentioned in a previous newsletter, the BIGGEST powerlifters don’t train for sarcoplasmic (endurance fluid) expansion yet have good muscle size. That’s because they were big dudes in the first place, which may signify more myofibril-building capacity. That would explain their extraordinary strength. The myofibrils are the actin-myosin strands inside the muscle fiber that generate force, but for most trainees that’s not the key to ULTIMATE SIZE… [Read more…]
Q: I’ve read a lot of Mike Mentzer’s high-intensity info, and he said that the pump didn’t matter as far as muscle growth is concerned. He said a lot of the biggest powerlifters never get a pump yet carry a lot of mass. So shouldn’t heavy sets be the core of a mass-building routine?
A: Mentzer was partially right—but leaning more toward being mostly wrong. You don’t need a pump IF you’re only after primarily myofibrillar growth (strength). The myofibrils are the strands of actin and myosin inside the muscle fiber. Those grab onto each other to generate force. Training heavy increases their size and your strength—but science is finding that they are more about producing strength with less-than-stellar effects on muscle size… [Read more…]
Q: I have the Stretch-Overload Workout ebook, so I know how important stretch-position exercises are for mass.I’m training in a home gym with only free weights, and overhead triceps extensions are irritating my elbows. Should I just skip triceps stretch altogether to avoid injury?
A: We’ve been there, so we feel your pain. In a commercial gym, we recommend cable pushouts instead, which is facing away from an overhead cable, lunging forward and performing behind-the-head extensions. [Read more…]
This most-muscular variation by Ray Mentzer on the beach may be his best condition ever. The photo is by Wayne Gallasch of GMV Productions out of Australia. [Read more…]