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Try the Rhythm Method for More Muscle Hypertrophy


Q: Your Progressive-Speed 4X concept has really helped me get bigger and stronger in only the four weeks I’ve been using it. I’ve been doing mostly compound exercises, with X-centric on the first set, two standard sets, and speed on the last one. I notice you’ve been doing two X-centric sets instead of one. Is that better?

A: It’s not necessarily better—just another variation. You can use any of those tempos within a 4X or even 3X framework.

For example, I often end my chest work with incline dumbbell presses, but my pecs are so hammered that four sets seems like overkill. So I do only three, like this:

Set 1: X-centric—lift in one second and lower in six for about 9 reps

Set 2: X-centric—the same tempo again for about 7.

Set 3: X-celeration—a final set with speed, with each rep lasting 1.5 seconds, for about 12.

Of course you can do only the first set as X-centric and the last two as X-celeration sets. Or X-centric, standard and X-celeration. It’s up to you. The point is to vary the tempo.

According to Olympic coach, muscle-building expert and IM scribe Charles Poliquin, “Slow-speed lifting [like X-centric] brings about more metabolic adaptations than high-speed lifting does. [It’s] also associated with increases in muscle glycogen, CP, ATP, ADP, creatine, phosporylase, PFK and Krebs cycle enzyme activity. Training at faster speeds does not induce those changes. Also, performing slow reps builds the connection between the mind and muscle.”

Faster-speed lifting tends to engage more muscle fibers, thickening the myofibrils, but slower-speed lifting can enhance that as well as encourage size gains via the above “metabolic adaptations.”

Back to Poliquin: “Pierre Roy, a national weightlifting coach in Canada, told me that he was using five-second eccentric contractions for sets of six reps in preparatory training periods when he wanted one of his lifters to gain size.”

[Note: Many facets of negative-accentuated training, with sample programs, are covered in The X-centric Mass Workout e-book, available at X-Workouts.com.]

—Steve Holman

Editor’s note: For more on X-centric sets and moderate-weight growth-threshold 4X mass training, see The 4X Mass Workout 2.0 and The Ultimate Super-Size Crash Course, e-books available at X-Workouts.com. For e-books on X Reps, fat-loss nutriton and bodypart specialization, visit the X-Shop at X-Rep.com.

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