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IRON MAN E-Zine: Issue #359: Cut Back to Grow Muscle

IRON MAN E-Zine: Issue #359: Cut Back to Grow Muscle


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Cut Back to Grow Muscle

Q: Before the start of my summer job a month ago, my muscle development was progressing nicely. I was using your Positions of Flexion and X-Rep techniques on my three-days-a-week split: chest/bi’s, legs, and back/tri’s. My strength-and-size gains were steadily increasing. Then I started my summer job, and I was a lot sorer after my workouts, I take longer to recover, and I’m rapidly losing the size I once had in my arms. The job is 40 hours a week of outdoor physical labor. I thought that by eating frequently with adequate protein and eight hours of sleep each night, I would be fine, but that prediction has not proven to be accurate. Do you have any suggestions to help get me back on the muscle-building track, especially in the arm department?

A: A demanding physical-labor job can make it more difficult to grow, but not impossible. Even a high-pressure office job presents a similar problem: too much stress. It’s similar to being a hardgainer with low recovery ability and high cortisol output: You have to find the right balance and workload so you don’t overtrain.

As for your situation, we notice that while it appears you’re training each bodypart once a week on your split, that’s not really the case with arms…

When you do chest and biceps, you’re also training triceps during chest work–bench presses, etc. Then at the end of the week when you train back and triceps, you are also training biceps during back work (chins, pulldowns, etc.).

So you’re actually training arms hard and heavy twice a week, in addition to whatever you do at work, which may be why they are shrinking. Your arms are being hammered continuously with no time to recover.

First try altering your split: Day 1: back, biceps; Day 2: legs; Day 3: chest, triceps. If you don’t see results after a few weeks, cut back on your arm work. You may not need a full POF program for biceps and triceps, only the big midrange move plus one isolation exercise. So your anchor exercise for biceps would be barbell curls…

Do that for two sets, then follow up with one or two sets of the stretch-position exercise, incline curls.

The following week do two sets of the big midrange exercise again, but follow with one or two sets of a contracted-position exercise for biceps, like concentration curls…

That’s Split-Positions training–you still hit all three Positions of Flexion but over two workouts instead of all at one session. Here’s how your arm programs would look:

Biceps 1
Midrange: Barbell curls 2 x 9
Stretch: Incline curls 1 x 12

Biceps 2
Midrange: Barbell curls 2 x 9
Contracted: Concentration curls 1 x 12

Triceps 1
Midrange: Decline extensions 2 x 9
Stretch: Overhead extensions 1 x 12

Triceps 2
Midrange: Decline extensions 2 x 9
Contracted: Kickbacks or pushdowns 1 x 12

Feel free to substitute exercises and/or manipulate the set totals. For example, you may be able to handle two sets on the second exercises or maybe a drop set. You’ll have to experiment and monitor your recovery and hypertrophic adaptations to get the right mix, but the above is a good place to start to get your growth into gear.

Note: There’s more on Split-Positions training in Chapter 10 of the Beyond X-Rep Muscle Building e-book, including a complete Split-Positions mass workout program.

Q: I’ve read in some magazines that getting a lot of protein, as bodybuilders do, makes the system very acidic, which is detrimental to health. If I’m trying to get lean, my carbs are low and protein is high. Do I just have to come to grips with being in an unhealthy acidic state during that leaning out period?

A: We have the same concerns. With our calories lower, carbs at only around 130 grams a day and protein intake high, we’re not getting the vegetable servings we should. That can create an acidic environment that’s NOT conducive to health–and can actually slow down muscle growth. We had info on that in our X-Rep Update #1 (page 60):

“According to European researcher Michael Gündill, bodybuilders are very acidic–they eat a lot of protein, made of amino ACIDS, they train hard and produce lactic ACID, and when they burn fat, they release fatty ACIDS. All of that acid lowers blood pH, which has been shown in research studies to derail muscle growth and even blunt fat burning.”
To help our bodies become more alkaline–and build more muscle while getting leaner–we’ve started adding a scoop of Macro Greens to our protein drinks once or twice a day.

If you’re not getting enough vegetables, this supplement can help immensely because it’s a concentrated form of many vegetables you wouldn’t normally get. It’s like five big servings, which will help de-acidify your system and speed muscle growth and fat loss.

Till next time, train hard–and smart–for BIG results.

—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson

Latest e-book release:
•Eric Broser’s Power/Rep Range/Shock Workout gives you all the everything you need to apply his max-mass system for incredible new gains–including all 12 printable workouts and a big Q&A section.

The Ultimate 10×10 Mass Workout contains a four-days-per-week,
one-ultimate-exercise-per-bodypart program and also a heavy/light version, with heavy POF alternated with a one-exercise 10×10 routine. More details.

The Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout is based on the latest metabolic research so you can get bigger and leaner fast without long, mind-numbing cardio–you’ll burn fat and build muscle 24/7 with customized mass-building weight workouts.

Click on the e-books for more information:

Newbies: If you’re a beginning bodybuilder, coming back from a layoff or a trainer who trains beginners, our new e-book, Quick-Start Muscle-Building Guide, is for you.

For any questions or comments regarding the IRON MAN Magazine Online Newsletter, please email [email protected]. To unsubscribe, please see the instructions at the bottom of this email.

To follow the ITRC training program in “Train, Eat, Grow,” get a copy of the latest issue of IRON MAN.


This Special Report was submitted by Jonathan Lawson and Steve Holman.
The IRON MAN Training & Research Team

The ITRC Training Newsletter is not intended as training advice for everyone. You must consult your physician before beginning any diet or training program. You may forward this email to as many friends as you want, but do not photocopy or reprint this report in any format without the written permission of the copyright holder.


The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout includes the latest eye-opening data on the key muscle fibers that have the most potential for growth (it’s rewriting physiology textbooks). You’ll learn how to hit them fast and efficiently for new attention-grabbing size and detail. See how one legendary Austrian bodybuilder used Power-Density to build dominant, dramatic muscle mass, his combo-to-grow methods included. You also get four complete, printable workouts–one that takes only about 30 minutes per session. You must give Power-Density a try to pack on more size. For more information visit


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