In the last training newsletter, there was a list of the reasons why contracted-position exercises, like triceps pushdowns and leg extensions, can be just as important as stretch loading for mass in some cases… [Read more…]
Q: You include both stretch- and contracted-position exercises in the Old Man, Young Muscle workout. I get why that can build more mass. But since so many studies are showing that stretch loading builds the most muscle, should I rely more on the stretch moves, or maybe even eliminate the contracted exercises most of the time?
A: The jury is still out on whether stretch exercises are “superior” to contracted-position moves. How is that possible since studies clearly show that—for example, overhead extensions beat pushdowns hands down—or in this case, hands up—for triceps mass? [Read more…]
You’ve no doubt seen all the studies showing that stretch-loading builds muscle mass significantly faster than contraction emphasis… [Read more…]
Not many know that Arnold was offered the role of Robin Hood in a feature film, but he turned it down because the director said he couldn’t wear Speedos while robbing from the rich. [Read more…]
Calves can be a bitch to build for many of us. But a new study gives the chicken-legged hope… [Read more…]
Yesterday’s newsletter contained an overview of a new study…
“Partial Range of Motion Training Elicits Favorable Improvements In Muscular Adaptations When Carried Out at Long Muscle Lengths.” [Eur J Sports Sci. Pedrosa, et al. 2022] [Read more…]
Yesterday I went over the negatives of too many “garbage negatives.” The negative stroke on every rep of a standard set is lighter/easier than the positive; however, it’s the negative that causes the majority of the damage—and without a lot of hypertrophy return…
Q: Your discussion on Speed Sets has me experimenting. Should I do the second set of each exercise with those 1.5-second reps? That would give me half my sets in regular 1/3 tempo and the other half Speed. It seems like that would help reduce damage overall from negative-stroke work.
A: That will be an interesting experiment to see if you start to add mass faster due to reduced damage from fewer so-called “garbage negatives”…
They’ve been called that because even on sets to failure, at the end the negative stroke is still fairly easy—not enough resistance to tax the muscle much but still doing damage as the actin-myosin pairings drag over one another causing “friction.”
Speed Sets eliminate those garbage negatives as the eccentric stroke is quick—less than a second; however…
One type of exercise I don’t recommend Speed Sets for is most stretch-position moves, like incline curls, dumbbell flyes, etc. (For a complete list of stretch exercises, see the Positions-of-Flexion Exercise Matrix on pages 42 and 43 of Old Man, Young Muscle.)
The reason is that putting the target muscle in a fully elongated state makes it more vulnerable to injury, as in tendon tears, etc. But…
You can do the stretch moves slightly faster than 1/3—for example 1/2 or even 1/1.
Just stay in complete control of the weight—no heaving, jerking or throwing. Remember, 1/1 means lift in “one-thousand one” and lower in “one-thousand one.” That’s still a controlled tempo…
Use your best judgement as to which stretch exercises you feel are the safest for a faster rep speed. For me and my bum shoulder, for example, doing dumbbell pullovers faster than 1/3 is a no-no.
While 1.5-second reps are my ideal choice for Speed Sets, any increase in negative-stroke tempo should produce a reduction in muscle damage with more recovery substrates left for mass accumulation. At least that’s the theory.
Sculpt your perfect physique: Get the ideal exercise for each muscle, the best stretch and contracted add-on moves for ultimate mass, complete 35-minute workouts, exercise start/finish photos, and details on building muscle fast and efficiently in Old Man, Young Muscle.
Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.
Former Editor in Chief, Iron Man Magazine
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Q: Should I flex and squeeze the target muscle at the top of each rep? I don’t like wasting time in the gym. I want to get the most out of each set.
A: Only on specific exercises should you squeeze at the top of each rep… [Read more…]
Q: Your analysis of stretch and stretch exercises has been interesting to say the least. You’ve said that you often include an ideal-exercise set on which you pause for a count in the stretch position on every rep. Do you think stretch-pause sets cause more damage than regular sets? [Read more…]