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IRON MAN E-Zine: Issue #441: Low-Rep Muscle-Mass Lowdown

RON MAN E-Zine: Issue #441:
Low-Rep Muscle-Mass Lowdown


Low-Rep Muscle-Mass Lowdown

Q: What’s your opinion of low-rep sets, like singles, doubles and triples? Will they help me build more muscle?

A: Low reps are more for developing strength, but indirectly they can help you add size. We say indirectly because low-rep sets help you develop neuromuscular efficiency, or better nerve force. Eventually, that can help you activate more muscle fibers on your higher-rep muscle-building sets…

However, there are safer ways to build neuromuscular efficiency—like end-of-set X Reps and/or end-of-set static holds (StatX)…

For example, on decline bench presses say you hit full-range exhaustion at around rep nine. Lower to the semi-stretch point near the bottom of the stroke and pulse with eight-inch partial reps. If you can’t do any on your own, have your partner help you with three to five normal-speed X Reps…

If you don’t have a partner, slowly lower your last rep, using a six-second negative, and stop at the semistretch point, just above the turnaround, and hold for as long as possible. Obviously, you need a Smith machine for declines so you can rack the bar in the low position after your StatX. For squats, be sure you’re in a power rack.

We’re not big fans of low-rep sets because we’re not powerlifters; we try to leave our egos at the gym door. A few years ago our egos got the best of us, and we just had to squat 500 pounds. We both finally did it for a couple of reps—but our legs didn’t look bigger or better. That’s not the worst of it. We accrued so much spine-compression damage that to this day both of us have back problems. We feel like dumb-asses for that lack of common sense..

Remember, you need to be injury free to train consistently and intensely to make the best muscle gains possible. That’s why we suggest you use X Reps and/or StatX instead of dangerous low-rep sets. Five reps on a set is as low as we go—and that’s rare. You don’t need low reps to build maximum muscle, as Jonathan’s results show…

[For more on X Reps and StatX training, see The X-traordinary X-Rep Workout e-book.]

Q: I’m back to a basic Positions-of-Flexion program, the POF Power Pyramid [from X-traordinary Muscle-Building Workouts]. I gained almost 10 pounds with it a year ago, so I figure it’s always good to return so something that works. My question is that I’m thinking about using Forced X Reps after reading X Update #1. Should I add a set with those or do my last set in the pyramid as my forced set?

A: Forced X-Reps are one of the most brutal forms of overload–but incredibly effective in the mass-building department if you do them correctly and safely–with complete control, no jerking or heaving. For the uninitiated, here’s the brutality explained from X-Rep Update #1:

“With FX-Overload you pick a poundage that’s about 20 to 30 percent heavier than your normal [9-rep] work-set weight, and you do only X Reps in the semi-stretch position—with help from your partner on most of those partials, which should total 12 or more.”

The semi-stretch point near the turnaround—like close to the bottom of a chin or incline press—is where the muscle can generate the most force and fiber activation. That’s why X-Rep Overload can do incredible things for your mass quickly; however, you don’t want to abuse it…

That’s why we suggest you do NOT add a set of FXO; rather, do your third set in the power pyramid using heavy partner-assisted X-Reps. That will keep you at three sets, still adding weight on each, but your reps will look something like this: 9, 6, 12(FXO).

After that midrange-exercise pyramid—with severe X-overload on the last set—you move to a stretch-position exercise and then a contracted-position exercise to complete the full-range POF chain.

So for FXO you use a weight with which you can get about five X-REPS on your own, then have your partner help you power out six to eight more, staying in the X zone. A good place to start is with the same weight you used on your six-rep set in the pyramid. That should give you a good size-building tension time of more than 20 seconds on your FXO set. You’ll feel these working big time, believe us! [For more on Forced-X Overload and the study that verifies it’s mass-building power, see X-Rep Update #1.]

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

—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson

You can subscribe to this e-zine free at


1) X-Rep Mass Workout Offer: Our 2 BIG best-selling X-Rep e-books–The new X-traordinary X-Rep Workout and Beyond X-Rep Muscle Building. You save $20. For more info, click here.

2) Triple-Shred Discount Fat-Loss Offer: Get our rip-up-for-summer fat-to-muscle e-books, X-treme Lean, X-traordinary Abs and The Fat-to-Muscle Workout. You save up to $35. For more info, click here.


X-SHOP: Find our original X-Rep e-book, as well as X Updates and Positions-of-Flexion mass-training guides…

X-WORKOUTS: Find specialized e-workout programs, including Power-Density, 10×10 and Eric Broser’s Power/Rep Range/Shock….

NEW: The X-traordinary SIZE SURGE Workout, Jonathan Lawson’s legendary two-phase mass program that packed 20 pounds of muscle on his frame in only 10 weeks. See all the changes he made to the original workouts, transcribed from his training journal. In printable templates so you can duplicate his incredible gains. You also get his eat-to-grow diet and streamlined no-frills supplement schedule, anabolic acceleration methods and loads of tips and tricks. Plus, an interview with a top-level bodybuilder who trains Size Surge style for incredible growth.

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.

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.


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