Q: Do you still recommend X Reps, or is it mostly the other X techniques now, like 4X?
A: Well, the 4X mass-building method isn’t an X-Rep tactic, per se; it’s a training protocol, a sequence of multiple sets. With X Reps and X-hybrid techniques you extend one set to either activate more muscle fibers or lengthen the tension time of a set.
For example, you add standard X Reps once you reach positive failure on a set. If it’s incline presses, you continue doing partial reps from just off your chest to right below the halfway mark. The low-end, semi-stretch-point partial reps activate more fast-twitch fibers, as the semi-stretch point is the optimal position for a muscle to fire. So partials done in that elongation range can bring in dormant parts of the muscle for new growth.
Continuing the set also causes an increase in time under tension—and that means more sarcoplasmic stimulation. Expanding the sarcoplasm, the muscle’s “energy fluid,” can produce substantial new size increases. So X Reps are effective at packing new mass on your frame along two different pathways: new fiber activation and fluid expansion.
The “other X techniques” you’re talking about include Double-X Overload, X-Fade, X/Pause, etc. They’re explained in second X-Rep e-book, Beyond X-Rep Muscle Building, but they don’t replace standard X Reps; they are just different ways to incorporate the X-Rep mass-building concepts.
For example, you would use Double-X Overload on a stretch-position exercise like flyes: Lower to the stretch point, raise the dumbbells only about eight inches, lower back to stretch, then do a full rep. You do an X Rep between the full reps to emphasize stretch overload. Muscle stretch is another key factor that triggers hypertrophy. (See the discussion of the animal study that produced a 300 percent muscle mass gain after only one month of stretch overload in Beyond X.)
Now, 4X is a mass method in and of itself. The X doesn’t stand for X Reps. It’s a multiplication sign; so 4X means 4 times 10, as in four sets of 10 reps with the same weight and 35 seconds between. That gives you both myofibrillar growth stimulation and sarcoplasmic expansion. The short rests also produce more fatigue for heightened growth hormone release—and you don’t have to use bone-crushing weights.
You can use end-of-set X Reps on the final set of a 4X sequence—or do X/Pause or X Fade or even Double-X Overload. The 4X method is very flexible. With all of those tactics plus 4X at your command, you’ll get plenty of variation for major mass creation.
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 the POF DVD and Size Surge programs, see the ad sections it this issue. Also visit www.X-Rep.com and X-Workouts.com for info on X-Rep, 4X and 3D POF methods and e-books. IM