Q: I get more fatigued than most people. I tried the 4X method, and 30 seconds between sets just doesn’t seem like enough. Can I use more time, like 45 seconds or even a minute? Would longer rests make 4X not work as well for building mass?
A: First, we’re all individuals, so tweaks are allowed. Second, I always encourage frequent experimentation. In other words, try it.
First try bumping up your rests to 45 seconds—see how that feels. Otherwise, the protocol stays the same: You pick a weight with which you can get 15 reps but do only 10; rest 45 seconds, and then do 10 more. Rest 45 seconds, and then do 10 more; rest 45 seconds one more time, and go to failure. If you get 10 on that last set, add weight to that exercise at your next workout.
Keep in mind that the more rest you take between sets, the more you stress the myofibrils, or force-generating actin and myosin strands, and the less you tax the sarcoplasm, the muscle-fiber energy fluid. The reason for the short rests in standard 4X sequences is to pump up the sarcoplasm quickly, reaching the growth threshold—max muscle fatigue. Here’s former pro bodybuilder Lee Labrada’s explanation of the growth threshold:
“The growth threshold is the point at which the level of fatigue in the muscle is high enough that a growth response is elicited. Your goal during a workout should be to fatigue the target muscles you are training more and more with each succeeding set…. I do not let my muscles regain all of their strength before starting the next set. My goal is to fatigue my muscles more and more with each succeeding set until they hit the growth threshold.”
For example, a good full-range Positions-of-Flexion lat routine would be the following:
Midrange: Pulldowns 4 x 10
Stretch: Pullovers 3 x 10
pulldowns 3 x 12
Perform them all in 4X style—with short rests between sets—so you reach the critical growth threshold without overtaxing your body’s recovery systems. With 45 seconds or even a minute between sets, you’ll still get this lat workout done in 15 to 20 minutes—and build ultimate muscle mass with a myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic blast.
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, visit www.Home-Gym.com. Also visit www.X-Rep.com and X-Workouts.com for info on X-Rep, 4X and 3D POF methods and e-books. IM