It was summer 1975, and Arnold was Mr. Olympia, bodybuilding’s top dog. The muscle world was captivated by the awesome Austrian, and for good reason…[Read more…]
Q: I read your last e-zine on fat-to-muscle tips with great interest. I added your recommendations to my training immediately. My question is, What about X Reps? Do they help? Should I add those in as well?
A: Yes, X Reps are excellent for a faster fat-to-muscle hustle. For the uninitiated, X Reps are eight-inch partials that you add onto a set after you hit exhaustion. You do those end-of-set partials at the point on the stroke at which the target muscle is somewhat stretched—for example, near the bottom of an incline press, bench press, or chinup…[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…]
Most of us struggle to add even a few pounds of muscle mass in a year. That’s after the beginner stage, of course…
But legendary pro bodybuilder Lee Labrada says it should NOT be that tough. Hear him… [Read more…]
Q: I get it. Using a high-rep set to failure in order to fatigue the slow-twitch fibers first gets more fast-twitch fibers to fire on the heavy sets after. I also like the fact the the slow-twitchers get growth stimulation too. I get bigger faster, but I hate that high-rep set. It hurts and it’s boring. I tend to speed it up to get it over with. Is there another way to get freaky growth?
A: Yes, there are two ways. Before we get to those, we want to explain why it works via the Size Principle of Muscle Fiber Recruitment. [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…]
Q: I’ve been a dedicated lifter and eating healthy for over 20 years, and if Jonathan Lawson achieved the huge ripped size he had in those photos at the X-Rep.com Web site drug-free, I’ll eat my shorts. 🙂 Steve Holman maybe would be believable as drug-free, but I’m skeptical there too.
A: We’re not sure which photos you’re referring to, but on the left below are our afters from our first X-Rep year (program we used is in The Ultimate Mass Workout) and on the right is the following year using many X-hybrid techniques (our program and methods are in Beyond X-Rep Muscle Building). We get the steroid accusation a lot—Jonathan especially because of his better bodybuilding genetics—but we’re both drug-free in all of our photos. Get out those shorts and start chewing… [Read more…]
Q: I just saw an interview with a top pro bodybuilder, and he said one of the keys to building mass is to explode at the bottom of every rep and attempt to move the positive rep as fast as possible. Are explosive reps a good idea? I’m afraid of getting injured.
A: The big pros are the genetic elite with superhuman muscle-fiber density, as well as ironclad tendons and ligaments. And don’t forget that many use growth hormone, which fortifies cartilage, tendons, and ligaments even more (that’s why many athletes use it—to quickly rehab soft-tissue injuries and prevent others from occurring in the gym and on the field.)
That being said, the pro bodybuilder you mention does make a good mass-building a point. The myotatic reflex is a phenomenon that gets more muscle fibers into the action. When you explode with a weight out of the turnaround, it elicits an emergency response from the nervous system, and more fibers are called into action. And the more fibers you activate, the more size you stimulate.
But, yes, using explosive reps can be a dangerous way to train. So are they a necessary evil in the attainment of extreme mass? NO!
Those of us who are drug-free and without the luxury of super genetics should use a controlled explosion at the turnaround on each rep. In the X-traordinary X-Rep Workout e-book, we discuss a study that showed a one-second-up, three-seconds-down cadence as a superior mass-building tempo. You should use that on most sets…
Slowing the negative to three seconds not only stimulates more muscle via fast-twitch fiber tension and eccentric emphasis, but also better guards against an injury-provoking jerk at the turnaround. You get that safer, controlled explosion when you shift from the positive to the negative stroke.
Nevertheless, we do believe that the turnaround is the key spot for fiber activation and you should be emphasizing it. That’s one reason we developed END-OF-SET X-Rep partials. Here’s a quote from the X-traordinary X-Rep Workout e-book—Chapter 1: You Gotta Try This…How the Pros Pack On Mass—that hammers that point home:
[X Reps] extend a set at the sweet spot of all the key growth exercises. You get extreme anabolic overload at the end of a strict set, no jerking or heaving necessary. You keep your reps strict and safe, and when you can’t get another full rep, you use short X-Rep partials to extend the set and overload the fast-twitch fibers at the precise sweet spot—anabolic overload right where the muscle needs it most.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
If you want to build muscle (of course you do!) and ramp up your testosterone levels while burning a ton of fat at the same time, you need to try this workout if you haven’t already…
–> Use this cutting-edge cardio trick to boost testosterone and muscle growth
Note: This is NOT traditional HIIT or boring steady-state cardio