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Big and Ripped Quick: X-centric-Only Workouts

Q: I’ve gotten new growth recently by using X-centric sets for arms. I started getting good soreness after every workout, and then when I measured my arms after three weeks, they’d grown a quarter inch. I’m thinking about trying a total-X-centric workout for every muscle, using it on all work sets of every exercise. Do you think that will build mass?

A: That sounds like an exciting experiment, especially if you want to get big and ripped at the same time. The reason it’s an excellent mass-building plan is that X-centric, or negative-accentuated, sets grow both the myofibrils (the actin and myosin strands that produce force) and the sarcoplasm (the energy fluid in the fast-twitch muscle fibers).

For the uninitiated, an NA set is raising the weight in one second, the positive part of the rep, and lowering it—the negative—in six seconds. You do that on every rep, hitting exhaustion around rep seven. Seven seconds per rep gives you almost 50 seconds of tension time, excellent for serious sarcoplasmic size increases—something most bodybuilders never get.

Plus, the slow negatives cause cumulative trauma in the myofibrils—that’s why you got new soreness training arms. And, yes, you’ll be getting even more sore with an all-X-centric program. For example, if you were going to use X-centric training on a full-range Positions-of-Flexion leg routine, here’s how it might look:


Midrange: Squats (NA) 2 x 7

Stretch: Sissy squats (NA) 2 x 7

Contracted: Leg extensions (NA) 2 x 7


As I said, that type of workout should make you very sore. In fact, you might want to break in with only one set per exercise for the first few workouts so you can walk the day after.

Another big plus of all-NA workouts: Because you’re using moderate weights, your tendons, ligaments and joints get a chance finally to recover more completely. If you have any nagging injuries, exclusive X-centric training can also help heal them while still providing excellent mass stimulation.

What about getting you ripped? NA sets will help you get leaner outside the gym because of the extra muscle trauma caused by the slow, eccentric reps. Those microtears take energy to repair—and much of that comes from bodyfat. Your metabolism is revved for days after your workout, so you’re burning fat all day long as your muscles rebuild.

The only problem I see with an all-NA workout is boredom. You may get tired of the slow speed on every negative of every exercise. Nevetheless, you sound motivated, so you’ll no doubt do great with it. Try exclusive X-centric workouts for one, two or three weeks. Then you may want to return to some heavy training.

A good program with POF for each bodypart that you can plug all-X-centric sets into is in Jonathan Lawson’s e-book, X-traordinary Size Surge Workout, pages 55-57 (that’s the Phase 2 workout). It’s available at www.SizeSurge Another option is the direct/indirect X-centric Mass Workout on pages 28-30 of the X-centric e-book. It’s available at Both are three-way splits that allow for sufficient recovery, and I’m confident that whichever one you pick, you’re bound to get big and ripped.



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, go to Also visit and for info on X-Rep, 4X and 3D POF methods and e-books.  IM



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