Q: I am already growing with your TORQ [tension-overload repetition quantity]. You’ve talked about Mr. America Doug Brignole and his version. He does higher reps, more sets and a series of drop sets on the last set. You don’t mention that with your version [30-20-15 reps]. Should I do drops on the last round of TORQ?
A: Doug has been at this bodybuilding thing for decades—and even he is still learning and experimenting. There’s a complete overview of his method, his workout routine and variations in The Power-Density Mass Workout 2.0, but let me hit the highlights to help answer your question.
Doug currently does only one exercise per target muscle. Yes, one. If you want to do more exercises, as you would with three-way POF, use TORQ, which is only three sets—30, 20 and 15 reps, all done with the same weight, 45 seconds’ rest between sets and each set to failure or very close.
Doug, as I mentioned, performs only one exercise for each target muscle. For example, his only chest exercise is decline dumbbell presses. He does 50 reps on the first set, going all the way down to 10 on his last—50, 40, 30, 20, 10. And he does drops sets after those last 10 reps. His final set may look like this: 10(10)(7)(5).
Drops can be difficult to do in a crowded gym. You have to be able to grab lighter dumbbells for the drops—or reduce the poundage on a bar. If it’s a weight stack, as on pulldowns or leg extensions, that’s not a problem; however, other exercises can be difficult to drop on.
In those cases I prefer rest/pause. So TORQ is 30 reps to failure; rest 45 seconds, then do 20 reps to failure; rest 45 seconds, then do 15 reps to failure. On that last set, after you hit failure, count to 10, then rep out again. That should give you another six or so. Rest 10 seconds one last time, then rep out, hitting failure around rep four. So your last set is 15(6)(4).
Another option is to emphasize the important semistretch point, the point on the exercise’s stroke at which you’re able to activate the most fibers.
For example, when you hit failure at rep 15 on the last set, lower the weight to the semistretch point, such as near the bottom of a decline press, and continue repping in the bottom eight-inch range only. Those familiar with my mass-training suggestions will recognize the end-of-set partials as X Reps. Very productive.
Incidentally, I’ve dubbed Doug’s method “Super TORQ.” I like using it every so often, doing only one exercise per bodypart—but it’s tough. Doing 50 reps causes significant burn and pain—if you pick the right weight. It feels very light at first, but toward the end it takes a lot of focus.
The reason TORQ and Super TORQ work is that they both include sets in the high end of hypertrophic tension time, 60 to 90 seconds. The length of a set for optimal size stimulation is 40 to 90 seconds. With the high-end hyperpertrophy methods you reach 60 to 90 seconds of time under tension, something most bodybuilders never get.
While the TORQ methods, along with 4X, are perfect for older bodybuilders who want to continue building muscle without stressing their joints with heavy weights, younger bodybuilders should use them too. Despite popular belief, high reps and longer tension times do great things for both muscle growth and fat burning.
Keep in mind that sets lasting around 20 seconds are optimal for strength development, not size. Time your sets. If yours are like most bodybuilders’, they aren’t lasting long enough for optimal size stimulation—and that may be the biggest reason mass gains are so slow for most. TORQ up your workouts for guaranteed growth.
Editor’s note: Steve Holman is the author of many bodybuilding best-sellers and the creator of Positions-of-Flexion muscle training. For information on POF as well as many other mass-training methods and workout programs visit www.X-Rep.com and