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IRON MAN E-Zine: Issue #366: Muscle-Contraction Methods and Pro-Style Workouts

IRON MAN E-Zine: Issue #366:
Muscle-Contraction Methods and Pro-Style Workouts


Muscle-Contraction Methods and Pro-Style Workouts

Q: What’s your take on John Little’s Max Contraction training? I mean, come on; a 10-second full-body workout once a week? What about eventual adaptation? Or weak point ROM? Or fascia stretching? And he just walked away from the last, latest, greatest thing since sliced bread, Power Factor Training, which he co-wrote. Like Mike Mentzer’s “reason-derived, science-backed” writings, this seems to be another case of something that “looks good on paper, but….” Any thoughts?

A: We think Max Contraction–holding a weight in the contracted position till failure occurs, usually anywhere from 10 to 50 seconds–is a great ancillary method to put in your workouts for variation and new adaptation. In fact we use and highly recommend StatC and StatS, which are end-of-set static holds in the contracted position and stretch position on contracted-position and stretch-position exercises, respectively. Here’s Jonathan doing a StatS on incline flyes. (Find more on those in X-Rep Update #1. It also includes a complete program with static-contraction techniques.)

A lot of the “research results” on static contraction is based on strength increases, which occur rapidly with that method in untrained individuals, primarily because it’s a great neuromuscular efficiency builder–nerve force improves rapidly, as it does with any type of similar isometric-contraction work. You get stronger but not necessarily bigger, although we’re sure some tension-induced hypertrophy occurs in the endurance components of the key 2A fibers due to occlusion, or blood-flow blockage.

Little is a respected colleague, and we think he truly believes in his system because he sees a lot of strength gains occurring in his clients. He probably chalks up lack of muscle mass to bad bodybuilding genetics that the average person supposedly has. He is right in that muscle is very hard to build for most, but…

We think there are ways around many of those genetic roadblocks for those who DO want to build bodybuilder-type physiques. Steve has demonstrated that ability with his transformation from a 120-pound stick figure to a ripped 200-pound bodybuilder. Positions of Flexion and X Reps were the keys…

As with Heavy Duty, Static Contraction simply doesn’t address all of the layers of muscle growth necessary to pack on maximum mass–including total fiber activation, max-force generation, full-range of motion, stretch overload, etc. It takes a lot to get the body to break free from homeostasis, or equilibrium. You essentially have to beat down Mother Nature’s need to keep your body the same.

To be fair, Little’s Static Contraction training is one of the methods we talk about in the X-Rep story at the homepage that led us to the X-Rep partials method. X Reps helped take our physiques to the next level mass development. We have open minds and are big believers in Bruce Lee’s adage, “Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.” We embraced Max Contraction, but adapted it so that it works for us.

So thumbs-up to Little for all the research and effort and for fueling the thought process, but we know it takes more than one 10-second static contraction every few weeks for a muscle to grow to an extraordinary size.

Q: I just want to thank you. I’ve gained five pounds of solid muscle in less than two months, and it’s all because I started using some higher-rep sets. I got X-Rep Update #1 and read the chapter on Jay Culter’s training [“Mr. O’s Wild X-O Workouts”] and realized that even the biggest bodybuilders don’t use heavy low-rep sets all the time. That’s your Power-Density theory, right?

A: As we mention in that chapter, Jay does tend to pyramid the weight up over a number of sets, but his reps rarely fall below 12. And we timed many of his sets. On his last, heaviest set of incline flyes, his time under tension was 31 seconds. That’s a long time. In fact, watch not-so-big bodybuilders train in the gym and see if their sets even make it past the 20-second mark.

On elbows-flared pushdowns, his reps were 17, 13 and 12, ending with Double-X Overload-style hitches before the last few reps on some of those sets. That is, he double pumped at the top semi-stretch point, or X Spot, for extra fiber activation.

Rarely do his reps go below double digits, and his tension times are usually well over 20 seconds per set. That’s important because as we discuss in our new e-program, The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout, the latest research has found that the biggest bodybuilders have muscles dominated by type 2A muscle fibers….

Those fibers have both anaerobic and aerobic capabilities–so you must train with some power and endurance to get maximum, extreme size increases. Jay accomplishes that by pyramiding the weight, using longer tension times, incorporating X-Only sets and using the Double-X Overload technique for max fiber activation. It works. Here’s an off-season shot taken from his DVD “Jay to Z”

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

[Note: For more on static-contraction training, Jay Cutler’s workouts and the X-Only and DXO methods, see the X-Rep Update #1 e-book. For more on new muscle-fiber research and how to apply it, see The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout.]

—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson

Latest e-book release:
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) and the best mass-building rep tempo. 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–plus X Reps, POF and more. More details.
•Eric Broser’s Power/Rep Range/Shock Workout gives you everything you need to apply his max-mass system for incredible new gains–including all 12 printable workouts and a big Q&A section. More details.
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. More details.

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.

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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.

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