Q: You’ve talked about doing different things on the last set of a 4X sequence, like rest/pause. Are there ways to change the other sets in the sequence for variety? I’m a big fan of “change to gain,” so I like as much variation as I can get. By the way, 4X training is incredible—I’ve gained almost 10 pounds in six weeks using it with POF. Thank you!
A: Yes, change to gain—if your workouts are the same, your results will be lame. (Maybe we should’ve been rappers—Nah.)
We’ve experimented in the past with a unique approach to 4X—but it’s not for the meek. Remember, for 4X you use a weight with which you can get about 15 reps, but you only do 10; rest 40 seconds between sets then do it again. Here’s the hybrid drill:
Set 1: Raise the weight in one second and lower in six, getting around eight reps. That’s what we call an X-centric, or negative-accentuated, set. (Note: That’s almost a minute of time under tension.)
Sets 2 and 3: Use a normal cadence—one-second positives and three-second negatives, going for 10 reps. (40 seconds TUT)
Set 4: Use a speed cadence—about one second for the positive and one second for the negative.Get as many as you can—probably around eight to 10, depending on the exercise. We call this a speed set.
The late Olympic coach and muscle-building expert Charles Poliquin said that the most underused mass stimulus is rep cadence—and the above gives your muscle three different ones to deal with as well as unique tension times—and you use the same weight on all sets…
The X-centric reps on the first set act as an excellent warmup, pushing a lot of blood into the target muscle with a tension time of almost a minute and providing a good stimulus to the nervous system with slow negatives.
They also provide muscle-building benefits right off the bat—you get myofibrillar stimulation with the slow negatives and sarcoplasmic expansion with the long tension time. That’s the double-dose of muscle growth we’re always harping on.
Next you do sets 2 and 3 with a standard cadence—one up and three down. Tension time is around 40 seconds.
Then, on the last set, you do more explosive-style reps, but you still control the weight. The 2-second-reps tempo is speed style and has been shown in studies to activate dormant 2B power fibers, so be prepared for some major fiber churn and burn. Good luck getting 10 reps on this set.
We recommend trying it on just the big midrange movement of a Positions-of-Flexion workout because it can be so traumatic. If you try it on all 3 POF exercises for a muscle, do a 3X sequence for the stretch- and contracted-position moves—only one standard set instead of two. It’s another mass tactic to get you huge.
If you don’t have the 4X Mass Workout yet, you can pick it up for just $9 HERE.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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