IRON MAN E-Zine: Issue #485:
The Forgotten Muscle-Size Trick
TRY THIS AT YOUR NEXT WORKOUT
The Forgotten Muscle-Size Trick
Q: You guys don't seem to like training each muscle only once a week like almost all the current pro bodybuilders. How come?
A: More muscle-training frequency is a BIG size stimulator, especially for drug-free trainees--if you do it correctly. The current pros can get away with training each bodypart with excessive volume only once a week because of genetic superiority and, of course, excessive drug use. In fact, if you look back at the best bodybuilders of yesteryear, when steroid use was minimal, training each bodypart THREE times a week was the norm prior to a contest...
Guys like Arnold, Sergio and Frank Zane (pictured below) hit every muscle two if not three times every seven days. In reality, those champs of yesteryear are a lot closer to natural bodybuilders than today's champs...
Personally, we'd rather look like that on the beach than any of today's pros, but that's another story. As far as our experiments with training each bodypart only once a week, we've always wanted it to work. Unfortunately, once-a-week hits have never done much for our muscle size. The only time we saw fairly consistent size increases training bodyparts only once a week was when using negative-accentuated sets--one second up on the positive and six seconds on the negative...
NA training triggers excessive muscle trauma that can require seven days of recovery when combined with other heavy sets (as outlined in the X-centric Mass Workout--where it's also combined with 4X). Nevertheless, once we adapted to X-centric training after about four weeks, growth slowed considerably.
On most other one-hit-per-week programs our muscle growth was always very sporadic to nonexistent. However, strength usually improved nicely. That's because the muscles recovers faster than the nervous system. After a full week the nerve connections to a specific muscle have finally regenerated to a stronger level, but the muscles recovered much earlier and then regressed close to square one.
So when a drug-free trainee hits each muscle only once a week, strength improves due to new neuromuscular efficiency not muscular hypertrophy for the most part. So the muscles gain some size and then regress, gain and then regress. Not much muscle-size improvement happens, only strength due primarily to nervous system enhancement.
Our most recent frequency "trick" is the direct/indirect split. That has you train each muscle two to three times a week, but not with direct hits every time. For example, when you train chest directly, you also train triceps indirectly during all pressing moves. Later in the week when you train triceps, you include close-grip bench presses, which train chest indirectly.
If you're drug-free, we highly recommend that you DON'T follow the current steroid-infused pros; instead, try training each bodypart two or three times a week--and you'll see massive improvements in your physique (see the next question below).
Q: The direct/indirect split is awesome! I think my muscles have always needed more hits per week, but I followed the pros and trained each muscle only once a week. That never worked for me. The direct/indirect split [in The 4X Mass Workout e-book] has already added new muscle to my arms and shoulders and back. My one problem area is upper chest. I have moved upper chest work to the front of my direct pec program. That's helped some. But on indirect day when I train triceps, close-grip bench presses is the indirect chest exercise. That doesn't hit my upper chest. Should I do close-grip incline presses instead on triceps day?
A: Hmm, close-grip incline presses might be a solution, although we've never tried a close grip on inclines. That might be hard on the shoulder joints. Experiment with it using a light poundage to see if you feel your upper chest kick in on those. There is another solution supported by recent research that we have tried...
A new EMG study shows that reverse-grip bench presses, on a flat bench, activate the upper-pec fibers even better than incline presses. Yes, MORE upper-pec activation than inclines. The study reveals that incline presses rely more on the front delts. Interesting...
That means the reverse-grip, or undergrip, bench press is a better pure upper-pec exercise, so you may want to try that to lead off your triceps workout. Your tri's will be heavily involved and your upper chest will get a more direct hit than with standard close-grip bench presses. Plus, your lower chest will still get some residual work as well. By the way, the undergrip bench press takes some getting used to and you should have a spotter. If you don't have a spotter, do it in a Smith machine or power rack. Any way you slice it, it's a great triceps-chest attack.
Till next time, train hard--and smart--for BIG results.
—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
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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.
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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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