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’ve been hitting it heavy for a few months, so I’m planning to switch to your 10×10 Mass Workout for a few weeks. I’ve done two workouts so far with 10X, and it feels great so far, and the pump is awesome. One problem I have is chins—there’s just no way I can do 10 sets of 10 reps with only 30 seconds of rest between. I know I can do pulldowns instead, but I believe chins are the superior back builder. Any suggestions?
A: You have a few choices. Famous Hollywood trainer, Vince “Iron Guru” Gironda, favored 8×8. You could try that instead of 10×10. Vince called that his “honest” muscle-building workout, and his trainees’ muscles got bigger, fuller shapes with 8×8.
One of the most famous proponents of the 10×10 method was our colleague, Olympic coach, and muscle-size-and-strength expert the late Charles Poliquin. Here was his advice to those who couldn’t manage 10×10 on chins…
The law of repeated efforts will enable you to develop the work capacity to perform all 10 sets… Start at 10 sets of 5 reps as your first goal so that you can accumulate volume. Then progress to 10 sets of 6, and so on.
So once you get all 10 sets—or almost all—for 5 reps, add a rep at our next workout so you attempt 10×6. Keep striving to bump up your rep count…
Also, there’s no hard-and-fast rule that 30 seconds is the ideal between-sets rest. You can use 45 seconds or even one minute. For sarcoplasmic-expansion stress—building the energy fluid in the fibers—which is what 10×10 is all about, one minute should be the limit…
As for your comment that chins are better than pulldowns, maybe not better—just different. Pulldowns allow you to angle your torso for a unique lat-fiber hit. There’s really no way to angle your torso on chins to vary the stress on your back…
To get a best-of-both worlds double hit, you could start a 10×10 sequence on chins, and when you can no longer get 10, move to pulldowns. You’ll have to experiment with the poundage so that your first set of pulldowns isn’t too easy but also not close to failure…
Say your chins go something like 10, 10, 10, 9. That’s four sets. Rest 30 seconds, then move to pulldowns. Your reps should go something like 10, 10, 10, 9, 9, 8. And your lats will be thoroughly pumped from hitting two slightly different angles of pull. It’s a great double attack to get your back jacked…
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
Mass-Building Lessons From the Master Trainer
Vince Gironda was the Iron Guru, a bodybuilding legend ahead of his time. His most famous pupil in the bodybuilding world was the very first Mr. Olympia Larry Scott, and he also trained many Hollywood stars back in the day, like Clint Eastwood, and even Arnold consulted with him and was a fan (even though Vince told Arnold that he was a “fat f**k” when he first arrived in the U.S.).
Many of Vince’s mass-building tricks and methods have been forgotten, buried by information and misinformation overload on the Internet, but now you can find them all, his true methods, in this must-have, 330-page Vince Gironda e-book anthology…
You get everything from “Train 21 Rest 7” to 10-8-6-15 to Vince’s Stone Age Nutrition, the 8×8 method and program and much, much more (remember, it’s 330 pages). And it’s on sale at a discount for a limited time: Simply use the code GIRONDA20 at checkout for an extra 20 percent off.
Vince Gironda: Legend & Myth (300-page anthology + many bonus gifts and programs) HERE
Q: I’m ready to start the Mass F/X Program in 3D Muscle Building. I like it because it’s your updated version of the Size Surge Phase 1 program, training only three days a week, with sarcoplasmic work, not just all heavy. But can I use the X-centric method in that program? I really like that tactic. I used it to reshape my physique, building 10 pounds of muscle while losing fat at the same time. Where should I put the X-centric work?
A: For the uninitiated, X-centric work is lifting in one second and lowering in six seconds. That means if you do eight reps, you get almost a full minute of hypertrophic tension time, something most bodybuilders never do… [Read more…]
Q: I pound away at my workouts, but I’ve only gained about three pounds of muscle in nine months. I’ve gotten stronger, but where’s the size?! I don’t know what to do. I add weight to my exercises whenever I can, but that doesn’t seem to help. I want big, full muscles that will fill out my T-shirts.
A: Are you doing your work sets in the eight-to-10 rep range? Are you resting about 2 minutes between sets? Are your sets lasting about 25 seconds? Are you doing that on all of your exercises? If so, THAT’S WHY YOU’RE NOT GROWING. [Read more…]
Q: I got The 4X Mass Workout e-book, and it’s fantastic! I tried it on arms for a few weeks, and they blew up at every workout. I measured, and I gained a quarter-inch in only three weeks. Thank you! They’d been stuck for over a year at just under 17″. I’m convinced and ready to use 4X on all bodyparts. I want to do your full-range Positions of Flexion method for each muscle, 4X on all exercises, but the POF routine in the 4X e-book is a 2-way split. I don’t think I can work legs and chest on the same day. Is there an alternative?
A: Don’t be a wuss! That’s the Phase 2 Size Surge program Jonathan used to pack on 20 pounds of muscle in 10 weeks, so suck it up and just do it…
Kidding! That 2-way split is too taxing for some trainees (not just wusses), which is one reason Jonathan provides a 3-way POF split in his Size Surge e-book (pages 55-57). Here’s how that less-taxing mass plan pans out… [Read more…]
Q: A friend of mine used to compete in bodybuilding contests, and he swears that practicing his posing improved his muscle size and shape. I think it was all in his mind. There’s no resistance when you flex, so it couldn’t build more muscle. I think he believes it did because he just happened to be getting more and more ripped from dieting and training, which made him look better every time he practiced posing. What do you think?
A: Yes, as you get more and more ripped, you’ll definitely look bigger, even as your bodyweight drops. A fat-free physique creates the illusion of mass, as you can see from the photos below of Jonathan from our X-treme Lean e-book. Nevertheless, you’re friend is also right… [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: 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 just want to thank you for another killer variation of 4X, “downward-progression.” I’ve only been using it for a couple of weeks on the big exercises, but a guy at the gym came up to me today and said, “You’re looking seriously bigger, bro.” It’s working great and is perfect with regular 4X and TORQ (tension-overload repetition quantity). I’m using DP 4X on the heavy power exercises in The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout 2.0, with 4X and TORQ on the others. I’m very impressed, and apparently growing more impressive. Lol. Thank you.
A: Interesting you say that because both of us received similar compliments in the gym when we started rotating in downward-progression 4X. One guy told Jonathan his arms were looking huge, and Steve got, “If you’re trying to get bigger, it’s working.” They both left off the “bro.” [Read more…]