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Massive Muscle Gains Without Joint Pain

7307-prime4Q: I am loving the 4X Mass program. When I am done with it, should I, at my young age of 50, just keep doing it and increase weight when possible, or should I try your new Super-Size Crash Course? I’m thinking there’s some serious weight involved—LOL. My joints probably won’t stand for it.

A: The Super-Size Crash Course is not about lifting ultra-heavy weight. Bodybuilding protégé 18-year-old Jordon Williamson did use some heavy pyramid training in his 12-week plan that netted him 18 pounds of muscle, but I outlines variations for older trainees in the SSCC.

For example, you can use Downward-Progression 4X: You start with your 15 rep max but do only 12 reps; add weight to each subsequent set so the rep sequence goes 12, 10, eight, six. Resting just 45 seconds between sets will prevent excessive joint-smashing poundages. I usually add only five to 10 pounds per set, depending on the exercise.

You’re a middle-age bodybuilder, so if you want to follow Jordon’s mass-building plan as listed in that e-book, simply use DP 4X instead of the heavy pyramid training he used on certain exercises.

As I said, however, Jordon’s workouts were far from all-heavy training. In fact, they was mostly 4X, modified preexhaustion and TORQ—tension-overload repetition quantity, in which you use the same weight for three sets of 30, 20 and 15 reps. You go to failure on each set and rest 45 seconds between them. The higher reps ensure a massive pump and encourage new vascularity and capillarization as well as growth hormone release.

Now, to answer your question about a total standard 4X program, yes, try to increase weight whenever possible. But you also want to mix it up for some more frequent change to gain. For example, every so often try 3X sequences with only 25 seconds of rest between them (use the same poundage as you use for 4X).

Also, work in some DP 4X or some of the other mass tactics outlined in The Super-Size Crash Course, such as Progressive-Speed 4X.

Standard 4X is fine most of the time, but you need variation for more mass creation.

—Steve Holman


Editor’s note: For more on moderate-weight growth-threshold 4X mass training, see The 4X Mass Workout 2.0 and The Ultimate Super-Size Crash Course, available at X-Work For e-books on X Reps, fat-loss nutrition and bodypart specialization, visit the X-Shop at

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