In a recent article, we discussed how inflicting more muscle trauma requires more recovery time. If you do enough damage, you may only need once-a-week training for each muscle. And if you slow down and use the right techniques, your workouts will still be relatively short… [Read more…]
Q: I’ve noticed that you guys don’t recommend hanging leg raises for abs, but you do include incline leg raises in your routines. Why? Aren’t they pretty much the same exercise?
A: We discuss the difference in the X-traordinary Abs e-book, calling them “kneeups.” The inferiority of hanging has to do with optimal fiber activation…[Read more…]
You know our mantra: You can trigger bigger gains with one small change. But let’s multiply that for even more mass. We’ve got 3 simple things to get you growing immediately… [Read more…]
Q: I just got the Size Surge 2.0 e-book (thanks for the great price). It’s excellent, but you don’t mention X Reps much. I know you said when Jonathan got his great results with the original Size Surge program, you hadn’t developed X-es yet. I’ve built a lot of mass with that technique, so should I include X Reps in either phase?
A: For the uninitiated, X Reps are short eight-inch partials at the end of a full-range set. We’ll give you an alternate end-of-set mass move in a moment, but first, here’s a quick explanation of X Reps… [Read more…]
Q: In your early e-books, like The Ultimate Mass Workout, you say that generating maximum force is the key to muscle mass. To me, it doesn’t seem like you ever exert max force with 4X training because you are using moderate weights. Do you still think creating maximum force is the way to build the most mass?
A: Yes, we believe force is one of the big keys to packing on muscle mass—but there’s more than one way to get enough… [Read more…]
Q: What is the best rep speed for muscle growth? I want to look like a bodybuilder/physique athlete, so I’m not that concerned with strength. I just want more muscle mass.
A: In The X-traordinary X-Rep Workout e-book we cite a study that attempted to determine the optimal rep speed for building muscle. It compared doing sets with a two-to-three-second positive and a two-to-three-second negative—about three up, three down—with sets using a power cadence, which is one second up and three seconds down. The power cadence produced the most mass in this study. [Int J Sports Med. 30(3):200-204; 2009.] [Read more…]
Q: I’ve been using X Reps for about a month now, and I’m noticing new muscle in places like my inner chest and lower lats. Even my lower biceps are higher and fuller. Is that normal? I love X Reps!
A: While X Reps—end-of-set partials at the semi-stretch point of an exercise—are excellent at keeping tension on the muscle and activating dormant muscle fibers, they can bring out size and detail with new muscle density at the insertion point, such as the inner pecs… [Read more…]
Q: I read in one of your previous articles where you mentioned that you sometimes do Stage Sets. What are Stage Sets, and is that a good mass technique for me?
A: Many years ago, even before we developed X-Rep partials, we noticed that every time we introduced Stage Sets to our workouts, we got sudden muscularity and vascularity increases—and now we know why: The technique is essentially a unique type of X overload—an intense out-of-the-blocks blast right at the max-force point where the target muscle is semi-stretched, like near the bottom of an incline press… [Read more…]
Q: I recall from some of your previous newsletters that you’ve done something called stage sets. What are those?
A: The stage technique is a great one for jolting new muscle growth because it does two critical things: emphasizes the semi-stretch point of the exercise’s stroke and extends tension time on the target muscle. Let’s look at Smith machine squats as an example…
To apply the stage technique, squat down deep, then come up to just above the halfway point—like an exaggerated X Rep. In other words, do the bottom two-thirds of the stroke for as many of those semi-stretch-emphasizing reps as possible. When you can’t do any more, drive to full lockout. Now squat down about one-third of the way and rep out at the top. You can even flex your quads at lockout on each of those top-end reps to fuel the burn.
Now, it doesn’t work well for all exercises. For example, on upright rows you’d have to do the top range first, which is the contracted position, not the semi-stretch point. And on curls you’d probably have to use cable curls because a barbell has too much of a leverage shift. (If you try it on cable curls, do the bottom two-thirds of the stroke first, then have your partner help you to the top for top-end reps.)
It does work well on most exercises with a lockout, like overhead presses, incline presses, dips, and pushups. On some of those, you may need help to get to the lockout for your top-end partials, but the growth burn you get is well worth it.
Note: For more on stage sets, as well as other X-hybrid techniques, see the Beyond X-Rep Muscle Building e-book.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.