Q: You’ve really opened my eyes to new ways to grow muscle. Your explanation of the myofibrils (force generation) and sarcoplasm (energy fluid) and how they both contribute to size is excellent. I want to build both of them fast, so I need a no-bells-and-whistles heavy/light program. What would you suggest?
A: Ah, the no-frills approach. It’s always good to go back to basics every so often, focusing on the force-generating myofibrils with a heavy workout and sarcoplasmic expansion with lighter, density training at the next.
That works incredibly well because, as recent research from Burd, et al., found [PLoS One, 5(8). 2010], a low-load (light) higher-volume workout produces greater levels of a unique type of muscle protein synthesis than high-load, or heavy, training.
In other words, you stimulate different hypertrophic pathways with each type of training—like myofibrillar size vs. sarcoplasmic expansion, as you mentioned. Also, new research shows that lighter-load training with volume boosts anabolic hormones, like testosterone, significantly due to fatigue-product pooling in the target muscle.
One of the best ways to get all of those mass-building benefits is heavy/light. Use a standard heavy workout, and then a few days later follow with the 10×10 density-for-immensity method on light day. I say “light,” but the last few sets will not feel light—trust me.
For 10×10 you pick a weight with which you can get 20 reps—about 60 percent of your one-rep max—but you only do 10 reps. Rest 30 to 40 seconds, then do 10 more—and so on for 10 sets.
The first few sets will be easy—almost too easy—but don’t be fooled. The last few sets will be brutal, and the target muscle will be full and pumped to the max as you crash through the growth threshold.
More good news: You only do one exercise for each muscle, so the 10×10 blast only lasts about 10 minutes max. (Plenty of time left to admire your huge throbbing muscles in the mirror.)
So your “light” workout is 10×10 on one exercise. What about heavy day?
For your heavy workout you use simple three-way Positions of Flexion with a pyramid on the big, midrange exercise—three sets. You follow that with a heavy set or two on the stretch move and one or two on the contracted move. Simple.
Shameless plug: A complete four-days-per-week heavy/light program with those parameters is outlined in The Ultimate 10×10 Mass Workout [available at www.X-Workouts
To clarify, here are your two biceps workouts:
Midrange: Barbell curls
(pyramid) 3 x 9, 6, 3-4
Stretch: Incline curls 1-2 x 8-10
curls 1-2 x 8-10
Barbell curls 10 x 10
That’s a great way to grow because with the heavy/light scheme you avoid overtraining and overstraining. It’s a simple size solution. 10×10 hurts, but it works, giving you a huge mass burst.
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 in 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