Q: I’ve been reading a lot about DC [DoggCrapp, or multirep rest/pause] training. It sounds like a great size and strength builder, so I want to use it in your Basic X-traordinary X-Rep Workout from your latest e-program. I was thinking about using the DC method first for each muscle instead of the power pyramid. I would follow it with the normal density drop set that’s listed in the workout. What do you think?
A: DC, or multirep rest/pause, is a great technique. I’ve used it within Positions-of-Flexion programs with good results; however, you should realize that it doesn’t let the target muscle generate maximum force on all sets the way a power pyramid does.
Before I get to the reason, let me explain DC for the uninitiated. It’s taking a weight with which you can get about nine reps, and when you hit exhaustion, you rest for 15 to 20 seconds, then do a second set to exhaustion with the same weight—usually reaching failure around rep six. Take another 20-second rest and do a third set to failure with the same weight, getting around four or five reps.
While your intensity is high, the rest periods aren’t long enough to allow fatigue by-products to clear from the target muscles. That means you generate max force on the first set when you’re fresh, but the second and third are somewhat compromised. So multi-rep rest/pause is really a little power and a little density—but it doesn’t really emphasize either.
Not that it’s a bad technique; in fact, I really like it when applied correctly. If you want to use DC training, I suggest you do it last for density, after your power pyramid and instead of a drop set. For example, in the Basic XX Workout you use barbell curls for biceps. Here’s how you could incorporate DC:
Barbell curls (pyramid) 2 x 9, 7
Barbell curls (multirep rest/pause) 3 x 9, 6, 4
Remember, for the pyramid you add weight on each set, and you rest about three minutes between so that the target muscles can generate max force. The multi-rep rest/pause sets, on the other hand, have only 20 seconds between them, which is why they’re more density-oriented.
Incidentally, to get a better density effect from this biceps program, I suggest that you use cable curls, if possible, for your DC density work. Cable exercises enable you to keep more tension on the target muscle, as the resistance varies less throughout the stroke—and that will heighten the density effect.
Note: The Basic XX Workout appears in the e-book The X-traordinary X-Rep Workout, available at www.X-Workouts.com.
Q: I just want to say that The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout and The X-traordinary X-Rep Workout have the best bodybuilding info I’ve ever read. I am stoked, and I’m already much bigger and stronger after only a month. I’m using the Basic X-Rep Workout as it’s listed [three different workouts], but I’m working out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In the X-Rep e-book you say to train four days a week—Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, repeating the Monday workout on Friday. Is working each bodypart once a week with the three-way split okay?
A: You’ve answered your own question. If you’re getting bigger and stronger, you’re onto something that works well for you. Stick with what you’re doing:
Monday, Workout 1: Chest, delts, triceps abs
Wednesday, Workout 2: Quads, hamstrings, calves
Friday, Workout 3: Back, biceps
Simple, with lots of recovery time for muscle growth—and each workout takes less than an hour.
Our workouts are not etched in stone; you should adapt them to your situation. From what we’ve seen and heard, your way may be better for many, especially hardgainer, or recovery-challenged, types.
In fact, our colleague Dave Goodin, a 50-year-old drug-free bodybuilder who just earned his IFBB pro card, trains three days per week in the off-season, and it works for him.
Here’s what he had to say about his training: “About 15 years ago I cut my off-season workouts from five days per week to three. I started gaining size and strength so fast that people were asking my training partner if I was using steroids. In nine months I gained more muscle than I had in the previous four years.”
Dave is much bigger now thanks to training fewer days per week and hitting each bodypart once a week with a three-day program like the Basic X X-Rep Workout. Sounds as if you’ve discovered the same mass-building thing.
Q: Maybe I missed it, but what is the ultimate exercise for shoulders—wide-grip dumbbell upright rows or dumbbell presses?
A: Jonathan Lawson and I first identified the ultimate exercise for every major bodypart—like V-handle chins for lats—in our original e-book, The Ultimate Mass Workout. There’s a comprehensive chapter on each one, why it’s best and also a few complete programs with just those moves.
In our latest e-programs, like The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout, we’ve gone back to those critical exercises and constructed streamlined basic programs that include the latest mass-building findings.
For example, with the basic Power-Density workout you do the ultimate exercise for a three-set pyramid (power—add weight on each set); then you reduce the poundage and do a quick four sets of 10 reps, all with the same lighter weight and 30 seconds of rest between sets, which is 10x10 style (density—the first set is fairly easy, the last is brutal, the pump is immense).
That fast two-way blast builds both components of the key type 2A fibers. New and surprising research shows that the 2As—fast-twitch fibers that have an endurance component as well as a power component—are the fiber type most prevalent in the biggest, freakiest bodybuilders. They’re the fibers that produce extreme muscle mass, and by building both side of them, you stimulate the most growth possible.
Now, getting back to your question, I consider the ultimate exercise for shoulders to be dumbbell upright rows or rack pulls. Rack pulls are done in a power rack and are similar to wide-grip barbell upright rows, but with a somewhat explosive start. Also, you pull the bar only to your upper abs so you can use heavy weight and overload your medial-delt heads.
You should also do a pressing movement, as that trains the rotator cuff muscles as well as the overhead-extended position of the shoulders, with front-head emphasis. In the Basic Power-Density Mass Workout you do dumbbell presses for a pyramid—9, 7, 5—followed by dumbbell upright rows, 4x10 in quick 10x10 style.
You can reverse the order as well. For example, in my current program I use rack pulls for a power pyramid and Smith-machine presses for density—fast and efficient. Back-to-basics Power-Density is mass-phase magic.
Q: I have about 15 years of lifting experience, and I’m a certified personal trainer. I’ve worked out with high intensity for all of my years, but I’ve never done the type of training I’m now using with your routines [from the e-book The X-traordinary Muscle-Building Workouts]. I’ve completed the Volume/Intensity Fusion routine and am currently at week three in the 3D Power Pyramid. Great gains so far. I run each routine for six weeks, and once I finish the Power Pyramid, I want to go to the X-Rep Reload. Then I’ll move to The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout. I love each program so far, and I push myself at each and every workout. Is it okay if I go from workout to workout, or should I do something less intense between them? So far I do not feel overtrained.
A: Thanks for the question and your confidence. Overtraining is cumulative, so I suggest that you use the first week of each new program as a break-in period.
For example, after you finish the Power Pyramid Program you’re on now, move into the X-Rep Reload workout, but don’t go to all-out failure on any exercise. Use the first week to let your muscle glycogen stores fully replenish and your nervous system heal. Meanwhile, figure out your work weights for the second week, when you’ll start pushing hard again.
Log the poundage you think you can use for the required rep ranges listed in the new routine based on your back-off work weights. Simple, and you’ll be rarin’ to go the following week after holding back, ready to make mass increases right out of the blocks!
If you don’t pull back every four to six weeks, you’ll eventually crash. And it’s very hard to recover once you go over the overtraining edge. Even if you feel great at the end of five weeks with a program, force yourself to back off for at least a few workouts, and watch as that downshift week packs new mass on your physique.
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 videos and Size Surge programs, see the ad sections beginning on pages 176 and 264, respectively. Also visit www.X-Rep.com for information on X-Rep and 3D POF methods and e-books. IM