Talk about mass, this shot of Mike Mentzer by John Balik at Muscle Rock in Malibu has motivated both of us over the years. His sheer thickness and density in this pose are almost unreal… [Read more…]
The shots of Frank Zane (left) and Mike Mentzer below show a unique contrast of physiques and conditioning. Both were taken at the 1979 Mr. Olympia, with Zane weighing 190 and Mentzer 210.[Read more…]
Q: I’ve been following your newsletters and noticed you guys talking about rest/pause not too long ago. Can you explain the technique a little more and the reasoning behind it?
A: Rest/pause is basically taking a very short break after you hit exhaustion on a set, and then repping out again with the same weight. The brief rest/pause allows the lactic acid to clear somewhat from the muscle and the nervous system and ATP to regenerate to a degree as well.
Our first exposure to rest/pause was through scientific-minded pro bodybuilder Mike Mentzer. He used the technique on a series of heavy singles. He would do around four max singles with 10 to 15 seconds of rest between each. The first two singles he would usually get on his own; then on the third he would need help (forced rep). For the fourth rep, he would either reduce the weight enough so he could get another single by himself or do another forced single.
Mentzer’s is a good variation for big midrange movements every so often. The drawbacks are that singles are very dangerous—especially if you let your ego get involved—and that type of low-rep training is more geared to strength development than muscle size—although trainees with a lot of pure fast-twitch fibers like Mentzer may get an equal amount of size and strength from max-single rest/pause.
Another rendition of rest/pause is DC training. Here you take a weight that allows you to get about nine reps. Then you rest for 20 seconds and do another set with the same weight—getting around six reps. You rest for another 20 seconds and do a third and final set with the same weight, getting around four reps.
That’s geared more toward building size than strength, and it’s an excellent variation for big midrange movements, like presses and rows. [There’s more about DC and other rest/pause styles and how to apply them in the 3D Muscle Building e-book.]
We’ve found that rest/pause is a good shock tactic that adds muscle size quickly during our ripping phase, but we’re not so rigid with the application. For example, we’ll rest/pause for 15 seconds and then rep out for five or more extra reps on any exercise, be it midrange, stretch, or contracted—and we may even add X-Rep partials to that second phase. Another favorite is to use it after a Double-X Overload (DXO) set.
Try this rest/pause technique…
On incline presses, do one straight set of about nine reps. Rest for two to three minutes and reduce the weight by about 20 percent. Now do a DXO set, putting an X-Rep partial at the bottom between each full rep.
That gives you a more explosive-style set that stresses the semi-stretch point at the turnaround for extra fast-twitch activation. When you reach exhaustion, probably around six or seven, rack the weight and count to 15. Then unrack the weight and do standard reps to exhaustion—and, if you’re looking for max-growth effects, add X-Rep partials at the back end of that set.
That’s a very concentrated anabolic stimulus. You get extra force generation, pump, burn and plenty of out-of-control profanities—it’s an all-encompassing technique that can reshape your physique.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
What Would You Do to Protect Your Family?
Mike Westerdal is a renowned personal trainer and national best-selling physical preparedness author, but he’s also a father and a husband… who would do anything to protect his family.
He used to get pushed around when younger and spent years building up his body and becoming stronger, getting mentally and physically tough the hard way. As he got bigger, he learned to handle himself, and working in security, he learned first-hand how violence really plays out.
Some of the other guys online who show off their self-defense videos and books need to get a grip. The level of skill needed to pull off their basic moves is CRAZY for most ordinary people.
If a defense system requires more than a few hours to master, it’s not a program.
The only techniques you will ever use are the simple ones.
They need to work for an ordinary person without prior training, technique, or ability.
So even if you think you don’t have time to learn how to defend yourself…
You don’t need to spend years training to be a martial artist.
Many bodybuilders antagonize over their slow muscle growth, but working out smart, not just hard, will gradually transform your physique…
Still, the determining factor in how your physique will look is genetics, plain and simple—case in point teenage Mike Mentzer. Check out his physique in his late teens (below left) and how he looked at the peak of his bodybuilding career at age 30.[Read more…]
Q: Thanks for the X-centric Mass Workout! Mixing heavy work, negative-accentuated sets, and 4X has given me the best gains of my life. My bodyweight increased over 5 pounds, but my abs are sharper with veins in the lower part. I’m stoked, and the ladies seem to like it too. LOL! My question is about NA sets vs. negatives at the end of regular sets. After two heavy sets, you say to reduce the weight on the last set for an NA set on the big exercise [like bench presses]. Couldn’t I just keep the weight heavy and add four to six negatives at the end of that last set? I feel like I need another heavy set. I have a partner, so he could lift and I could lower on the negatives. I think Mike Mentzer recommended this style.
A: In his prime, Mentzer actually recommended a 3-phase set to get big and ripped…[Read more…]
Q: Broad shoulders get girls’ attention, but mine are narrow. And on top of that, my delts are flat. Should I do more presses to round them out? I notice in 3D Muscle Building that you have presses as more of a front-delt midrange exercise. Aren’t they good for side delts, too? BTW, I love 4X mass method and am using it almost exclusively.
A: Overhead presses primarily train the front-delt heads. Plus, they can impinge the shoulder capsule if performed incorrectly. That’s why we generally suggest doing them at the end of our delt routine. A good Positions-of-Flexion full-range shoulder hit, 4X style on every move, would be…[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: You’ve said a lot of pro bodybuilders have used versions of the 4X mass method and made great gains. But weren’t they on drugs? Don’t steroids make a huge difference? Will this type of training really work for me if I don’t use drugs?
A: Several years ago, Steve interviewed a colleague who trained with many of the legendary pros, including the Mentzer brothers, Danny Padilla, and Rory Leidelmeyer to name a few…[Read more…]
Q: You recently referenced Mike Mentzer, and I’m wondering if you guys have ever trained with his HIT style. One-set-to-failure training seems to work for some people, and I know Mentzer’s training evolved into that after he stopped competing. Have you tried it or something similar?
A: One of Steve’s early influences was Mike Mentzer. He trained with Mike’s Heavy Duty style in his 20s, and even won his first bodybuilding contest using a Positions-of-Flexion version of Heavy Duty that he devised (more on that below)… [Read more…]
Q: What’s your opinion of loosening exercise form at the end of a set to get a few more reps? Like on curls I keep the reps strict for the first six or seven, then I use some upper-body motion to complete two to three more reps. I’m using the 4X method, so the weight [throughout the 4 sets] is only moderate, not heavy. I’m only using momentum to fight the fatigue buildup at the end of the fourth set. Is that okay, or should I keep my reps strict through the entire 4X sequence?
A: Because the poundage is moderate on a 4X sequence, that’s all the more reason to keep it strict all the way through. Momentum will only take the tension off the target muscle. A very SLIGHT form alteration is acceptable, but keep it as strict as possible to the end of the fourth set… [Read more…]