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DXO to Grow

You pull all the way up to full contraction, lower, do an X-Rep partial at the stretch, then pull all the way up to full contraction again.

Q: Positions of Flexion is working great for me, but I’m having a problem with chest, specifically flyes. I know how important the stretch position is. You often mention the animal study that produced the huge [300 percent] muscle gain in one month with only stretch overload. That’s why I’m using the more focused three-way POF pec routine in Chapter 5 [of the e-book 3D Muscle Building]. I do bench presses as my first [midrange] exercise, then flyes for stretch and cable flyes for the contracted position. I just don’t feel the flyes at all, so I know I’m missing important mass stimulation. Any suggestions?

A: For those of us with below-average nerve force in our pectoral muscles, dumbbell flyes can be difficult to feel. Well, that’s not completely true; they “feel” like a waste of time. That’s because the front delts and arms tend to take over and get the brunt of the size-building stress.

Luckily, there’s a solution that will make your chest routine shorter, not longer, and you’ll actually feel the stretch overload happening. First, get rid of the flyes. For lower and middle chest you’ll now do your usual bench presses to start—two to three sets. Then go to cable flyes.

Yes, I realize that I’ve said in the past that while cable flyes can act as a stretch move, the pull is more out than down. That makes it less stretch-oriented than dumbbell flyes, which pull your arms down toward the ground for better pec-stretch overload. But I’ve got a killer technique for cable flyes that’ll emphasize the stretch for more size: DXO.

Double-X Overload is one of the X-hybrid mass techniques. It’s simply a way to better stress the stretch or semi­stretch position on any exercise. You’ll use it on your first two sets of cable flyes.

Pull up to the contracted position, hands together, lower to full stretch, raise about eight inches, lower to full stretch again, then pull the handles all the way up, hands together. It’s like a 1 1/4 rep, with the quarter occurring at the stretch to emphasize that key mass-trigger point.

Once again: You pull all the way up to full contraction, lower, do an X-Rep partial, then pull all the way up to full contraction again. Do two DXO sets.

While you’ll still be getting the key contracted-position size effects—tension and occlusion—you may want to do one final set of cable flyes in standard two-seconds-up/two-seconds-down cadence. Your middle/lower chest program becomes the following:

Bench presses 3 x 9-12
Cable flyes (DXO style) 2 x 8-10
Cable flyes 1 x 9-12

Once you start better emphasizing stretch overload, will you suddenly get a 300 percent mass increase in your chest as in the animal study? Probably not, but you’ll get much better size in your pecs than if you continue with ineffective dumbbell flyes. If you can’t feel an exercise, ditch it and try something else.

Q: Is there a danger to ligaments and tendons with negative-accentuated sets [from The Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout]? I’ve gotten fantastic results with negative-accentuated sets [normal positives followed by slow, six-second negatives], but I recently shared that with a friend who tore a muscle in his shoulder doing heavy bench presses. He said that his orthopedist discourages the use of eccentric loading, as it places great stress on tendons and ligaments. I’m wondering if negative-accentuated sets are safe, and whether my friend who had prior shoulder injury can ever incorporate them to experience the great results I’ve gotten?

A: What the orthopedist is talking about is heavy pure-negative training—where you overload the muscle with about 20 percent more than what you normally lift. Someone helps you raise the extremely heavy poundage, and you lower slowly, fighting the overload through the negative stroke.

We discourage regular use of pure-negative work, as it can be very damaging to muscles as well as tendons and ligaments. Not so with negative-accentuated sets.

Negative-accentuated sets are actually lighter than your standard two-seconds-up/two-seconds-down eight-rep sets, so negative-accentuated training is much easier on ligaments and tendons. In fact, negative-accentuated sets can work well for injury rehab on certain exercises because of the slow, deliberate muscle, tendon and ligament activation on the negative stroke—just be sure to keep the positive stroke under total control as well. Feel the muscle working for both safety and size increases.
To increase muscle building, I usually use negative-accentuated moves on the last set of a series of standard sets. For example, on squats it’s one or two standard sets, and then on the last set I lighten the load and do a negative-accentuated set. Be aware, however, that even with one NA set you’ll get sore.

Emphasizing the negative stroke creates more muscle damage, a.k.a. triggers more microtrauma. That can heighten the anabolic environment as well as significantly ramp up your metabolism during the recovery process for a number of days following your workout—in other words, you get a heightened fat-to-muscle effect. I was amazed at how lean I was over the winter thanks to negative-accentuated sets—and my diet was pretty loose.

Q: All the info I’ve read on full-range Positions of Flexion makes total sense. It’s a killer concept, and I’m so psyched to use it. My problem is time. Even though your POF [bodypart] routines call for just six sets, I have time only for half that, maybe three sets for each bodypart. I don’t want to be limited to just the ultimate exercises because I see the superiority of training the three positions for total development. Should I try doing just the ultimate exercises and using POF on only certain body­parts?

A: Using the ultimate exercise for each bodypart is one way to go. Your idea of doing full POF on only one or two bodyparts is a good one. Simply add one set each of a stretch- and a contracted-position exercise for those muscle groups.

For example, for quads the ultimate exercise is squats. After that do one set each of sissy squats (stretch) and leg extensions (contracted) to complete the full-range POF chain. Use only the ultimate exercise for all other muscles. After three weeks go back to doing just one key exercise for quads—squats—and use POF on one or two different body­parts.

That’s an excellent mass-building strategy, but it may not excite you—and excitement is very important. When you’re motivated by a training system, you must figure out a way to use it on all bodyparts. The mind is critical when it comes to building exceptional muscle mass—believe to achieve—plus, motivation is fleeting, so you gotta grab it and ride the wave whenever you can. Let’s explore some quick POF-workout options.

One is the 3D HIT Workout in the e-book X-traordinary Arms (pages 35-39). It’s a four-days-a-week program that has you do only one set in each position of flexion for every muscle—except arms. In your case, instead of multiple sets for each exercise in the arm-specialization sections, just use one set of each. That will make each workout brief but still very effective at building new muscle—if you follow the tips coming up. Plus you’ll still get the various arm-specialization effects—peak, width, sweep, etc.—by rotating biceps and triceps workouts.

You can actually take any POF workout and simply do one set in each position, but you have to work every set as if it’s your last—summon the intensity gods.

After you decide on an abbreviated POF program, you may start wondering: Can one set in each position really build appreciable muscle mass? Absolutely—a number of studies verify that. They all, however, point to one fact: The key to big gains is to make sure you perform each set to perfection—not paying attention to the details that follow is the main reason so many trainees fail with abbreviated so-called HIT programs:

1) Since you’re pressed for time, do only one warmup set for the big, midrange, or multijoint, exercises, but make it count. Take a weight that’s about 60 percent of your 10-rep work-set weight, and do 10 controlled reps. You should feel a slight burn at the end of the set, which indicates blood is moving to the target muscle and is priming it to fire optimally.

2) On your work sets, use a deliberate one-second-up/three-seconds-down cadence—fire up the positive, with control, then feel the target muscle working throug the three-second negative stroke. That will keep tension on the target muscle and maximize fiber activation.

3) Don’t lock out on the big exercises—like presses. Stop just short, and then begin the next rep so that you keep tension on the target muscle throughout the set. Also keep the weight moving, no pause at the top or bottom.

4) Do no fewer than 10 reps. That will give you a minimum of 40 seconds of tension time per set—the ideal amount for growth stimulation. (Most trainees rarely get more than 20 seconds per set, which is the main reason they build little, if any, mass.)

5) Keep repping until you reach full-range exhaustion—another full rep is impossible. Then do X-Rep partials at the semistretch point near the bottom of the stroke, where the target muscle is somewhat elongated. If you can’t do X Reps, use a static hold for as long as possible at the semi­stretch point, or X spot—for example, just before the arm’s-extended position on chins.
I’m convinced that most trainees don’t get the mass results that are possible with limited-set training because of haphazard set-and-rep prep and performance. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll be surprised at how much growth you can get with just one set in each Position of Flexion. Fast, efficient full-range mass workouts can build a new you quickly—if you pay attention to details. You’ll feel it working big-time, guaranteed.

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