IRON MAN E-Zine: Issue #661:
How to Mix Muscle Hits to Get Big and Ripped
TRY THIS AT YOUR NEXT WORKOUT
How to Mix Muscle Hits to Get Big and Ripped
Q: Thanks for the X-centric Mass Workout. Mixing heavy work, negative-accentuated sets and 4X has given me the best gains of my life. My bodyweight increased over 5 pounds, but my abs are sharper with veins in the lower part. I’m stoked, and the babes seem to like it too. Lol. My question is about NA sets vs. negatives at the end of regular sets. After two heavy sets, you say to reduce the weight on the last set for NA set on the big exercise [like bench presses]. Couldn't I just keep the weight heavy and add four to six negatives at the end of that last set? I feel like I need another heavy set. I have a partner, so he could lift and I could lower on the negatives. I think Mike Mentzer recommended this style.
A: In his prime, Mentzer actually recommended a 3-phase set...
1) Go to positive failure
2) Immediately do a few forced reps--your partner helps you only enough to keep the weight moving
3) Immediately launch into negative-only rep--partner lifts the weight, you lower as slowly as possible until you can't control the downward motion.
That triple-threat set was designed to completely exhaust the muscle. Unfortunately, that style of training can also exhaust the nervous system quickly and lead to overtraining—unless you're on steroids, which Mike was…
After Mike stopped competing and started training average drug-free people and athletes, he discovered that his style was overkill. He backed off and recommended the 3-phase set only on very rare occasions.
Nevertheless, your idea of doing only the negatives tacked on to your last heavy set to failure--without the forced reps--is better. It's much less stress. That's because the forced reps are the major culprit in short-circuiting the nervous system...
So doing your last set heavy with pure negatives added to the end is a great idea. Experiment with that instead of the NA set. If you're using the Direct/Indirect X-centric Mass Workout, your lower-middle chest routine would be…
Midrange: Bench presses (pyramid), 3 x 9, 7, 6 + negs
Stretch: Flat-bench flyes, 1-2 x 8-10
Crossovers (4X style), 4 x 10
At every other workout you may want to reduce the weight and do the negative-accentuated set instead of the last heavy + negatives. That's because NA, or X-centric, gives you a long tension time--almost a minute--and seven to eight slow negative reps: One second to lift, six seconds to lower for about 8 reps...
That extended tension time provides a unique sarcoplasmic mass-building stimulus as well as fat-burning via prolonged myofibrillar work; in other words, you get a double dose of muscle growth plus a huge metabolic boost after your workout during the micro tear repair, which explains your new girl-grabbing abs…
Q: I'm using the X-centric Mass Workout, and really like the various styles all in one program [heavy sets, X-centric (NA) and 4X]. You have stretch-position exercises as heavy and contracted as 4X. Can I switch them and do the contracted exercise first heavy and end with the stretch for 4X?
A: By all means. Using the stretch-position exercise as a finisher is a killer change-to-gain strategy. You could do it at every other workout or stick with it for a couple of weeks, then switch back. To clarify, here's your new biceps program, with the contracted and stretch moves flip-flopped…
Midrange: Undergrip pulldowns, 3 x 9, 7, 7NA
Contracted: Spider curls (on the vertical side of preacher bench), 1-2 x 8-10
Stretch: Incline curls (4X style), 4 x 10
For the uninitiated, 4X is picking a weight with which you can get 15 reps, but you only do 10; rest 35 seconds, then do it again. Repeat for 4 sets, and on the fourth go all out. If you get 10, add weight to the exercise at your next workout. It works for stretch- as well as contracted-position exercises.
As we always say, change to gain--or, to put it another way, mix it up for mega mass.
Till next time, train hard--and smart--for BIG results.
--Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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This Special Report was submitted by Jonathan Lawson and Steve Holman.
The IRON MAN Training & Research Team
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