Q: I’ve been using the 4X mass method for five weeks and have gotten noticeably bigger and leaner. Abs are coming in. But lately I’ve been feeling stale, and gains seem to have stopped. Maybe I’ve adapted to this type of training. Should I try a combination heavy-plus-4X routine like you have in The X-centric Mass Workout e-book or all-heavy training like Size Surge? My joints are finally healed thanks to 4X, so I’m not real keen on going too heavy, but I’ll try it if you think it will work.
A: You didn’t say how old you are, but if you’re younger, doing a short all-heavy Size Surge phase 1 for three weeks or heavy-plus-4X routine, like the Direct/Indirect X-centric Mass Workout, are excellent ways to revitalize hypertrophy. Then you can go back to your current 4X program…
On the other hand, if you’re in your 40s or older or have had serious joint problems, we recommend steering clear of ultra-heavy training. The 4X mass method is the perfect size-building strategy for those in this category because only moderate weights are necessary…
For a standard 4X sequence you choose a weight with which you can get 15 reps, but you only do 10; rest 35 seconds, then do it again. Continue for four sets, and on the fourth do as many reps as you can. If you get 10, add weight at your next workout…
Now if you’ve adapted to that standard method, it’s time to shake things up. Here are three 4X moderate-weight, growth-threshold variations you can use to continue to get huge…
1) Rep increase. Instead of 4 x 10, try 3 x 12 or even 3 x 15. You may be surprised at the new size you get from boosting tension time. Standard rep speed is one second to lift and three seconds to lower, so 4 x 10 gives you 40 seconds per set, while 3 x 15 gives you 60. Talk about a sarcoplasmic-size explosion!
2) Speed set. Use the standard tempo–one second to lift, three to lower–for 2 x 12 (slight rep increase), then on your third set go to failure using X-celeration–that is, about 1.5 to 2 seconds for each rep. Don’t throw the weight, but move it as FAST as possible without momentum. It will be a shorter tension time, but studies show that a speed style can activate dormant muscle fibers, particularly power 2Bs, as good as or better than ultra-heavy sets.
3) Pre-Exhaustion. We’ve been raving about Pre-Ex 3X since we incorporated it into our program with blazing new mass success. You can use Pre-Ex at every other workout in your current routine or do total-Pre-Ex training for a three weeks–every muscle group every workout…
For the uninitiated, Pre-Ex is doing an isolated contracted-position exercise, like cable flyes first…
Then immediately moving to a compound midrange move like bench presses. Rest 40 seconds, then do another superset; rest 40 seconds then do one final Pre-Ex superset to failure. You’re getting six sets in less than six minutes–density intensity for muscle immensity…
How exactly does doing an iso exercise first help build your pecs more effectively? Think about it: When you do bench presses first, your triceps crap out before your pecs. Your triceps are smaller, so they are a weak link preventing total-chest stimulation during bench presses. Pre-Ex solves that problem…
When you pre-fatigue your pecs first with cable flyes, your triceps remain fresh so they don’t give out before your chest on bench presses. You temporarily fatigue your chest with the cable flyes so that chest and triceps are closer in strength. Now you can push your chest further into the growth zone with bench presses. Genius. (The late Bob Kennedy came up with the concept–thanks, Bob.)…
Other Pre-Ex 3X combos include lateral raises to overhead presses, leg extensions to squats, stiff-arm pulldowns to pulldowns.
There you go–time to bust your plateau. You now have three variations for more mass creation–WITHOUT joint-jarring poundages.
Till next time, train hard–and smart–for BIG results.
–Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
Latest Release: The Pre-Ex 3X Mass Workout—Plus Drop-Set 4X, Rest/Pause 4X and the Perfect Mass-Building Split. This e-book merges the pre-exhaustion muscle-size method with 4X style mass training. 3 complete programs, including modified Pre-Ex 3X, no supersets required. Also, how Mike Mentzer used pre-ex and how you can alter it to get massive gains without anabolic steroids or overtraining–just BIG-MASS gaining.
NEW: The X-traordinary SIZE SURGE Workout, Jonathan Lawson’s legendary two-phase mass program that packed 20 pounds of muscle on his frame in only 10 weeks. See all the changes he made to the original workouts, transcribed from his training journal. In printable templates so you can duplicate his incredible gains. You also get his eat-to-grow diet and streamlined no-frills supplement schedule, anabolic acceleration methods and loads of tips and tricks. Plus, an interview with a top-level bodybuilder who trains Size Surge style for incredible growth.
Newbies: If you’re a beginning bodybuilder, coming back from a layoff or a trainer who trains beginners, our new e-book, Quick-Start Muscle-Building Guide, is for you.
To follow the ITRC training program in “Train, Eat, Grow,” get a copy of the latest issue of IRON MAN.
This Special Report was submitted by Jonathan Lawson and Steve Holman.
The IRON MAN Training & Research Team
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