For those unfamiliar with it, the Size Surge program is a 10-week, two-phase mass-building routine that I designed and that my training partner, Jonathan Lawson, used in the mid-’90s to gain 20 pounds of muscle—and renew his motivation for bodybuilding. Phase 1 is a five-week anabolic primer consisting of three workouts a week, as outlined in the first question below. Phase 2 is a full-range Positions-of-Flexion program—a two-way split performed every other day, although a three-way-split variation is also listed in the e-book The X-traordinary Size Surge Workout. (It’s available at www.SizeSurgeWorkout.com at a special discount price for a limited time). The complete Size Surge program is a great fall-winter mass-building regimen that’s easily tailored to most situations and body types, as you’ll see.
Q: I’m a thin body type, and I want to try Jonathan’s 10-week Size Surge Workout to add some mass quickly. I’ve been training for a few years without much success, so I know that genetics play a big role in gains. My genetics aren’t in Jonathan’s category, so are there any changes I should make to his Size Surge program that would help me be more successful? I was thinking about doing his workouts with the 4X technique, only the last set to failure, to make it less stressful. What do you think?
A: That’s a good observation about genetics. Even though Jonathan is lifetime drug-free, he gained 20 pounds of muscle in 2 1/2 months using the Size Surge program. To be fair, he was regaining some of that mass—he’d been a bit more muscular a few years earlier, before he lost his motivation. Nevertheless, he gained more than 10 pounds of new muscle with the Size Surge program, not to mention loads of motivation—and his waist got smaller as his bodyfat went down. [His before and after photos and story are at www.SizeSurgeWorkout.com.]
Jonathan does have a genetic predisposition for bodybuilding—small joints, good structure, small waist, long muscle bellies. Considering all of that, his Size Surge routines might be somewhat taxing for more genetically challenged trainees like you.
So would merging the 4X method with Size Surge be more conducive to giving genetically challenged trainees like yourself better muscle gains? Yes, but I think pulling it back to 3X will build mass faster for your body type. To explain, let’s start with the Phase 1 split:
Monday: Quads, hams, chest, back, delts, calves
Wednesday: Deadlifts, calves, biceps, triceps, forearms, abs
Friday: Quads, hams, calves, chest, back, delts
You do only one or two key exercises for every bodypart, so the workouts each contain only about 10 exercises total. (If you don’t have the e-book Size Surge, you could simply plug in your favorite two exercises for each bodypart in the above split.) Doing 3X instead of 4X for every exercise will enable you to use a bit more weight—plus you’ll save recovery ability by doing one fewer set per exercise.
For the uninitiated, 3X is taking a weight with which you could get about 14 reps but doing only 10. Then you rest 30 seconds and do 10 more; rest 30 seconds and do a final all-out third set of 10. Simple and quick. The last set should be to muscular exhaustion. In fact, you shouldn’t be able to get 10 reps; if you do, keep going till you can’t do another—then add weight to that exercise at your next workout.
Because you use the same moderately heavy weight all the way through a 3X sequence, the first set is not all out and acts as a warmup. That means you won’t need any other warmup sets on most exercises. (I do, however, recommend one lighter set before the 3X sequence on the more demanding moves like squats and bench presses.)
Using 3X on every exercise, you’ll fly through the workout and get a full skin-stretching pump along with a deep growth ache afterward. It works! Remember, only the last set of a 3X sequence is to failure, so you’ll have more recovery ability left without getting an overdose of the stress hormone cortisol. Being a thin ectomorph, you can produce too much of that muscle-eating hormone in the first place. You must control it to grow—that’s very important—and 3X will help.
You also get a day off after each anabolic assault, so even though you’re working a lot of bodyparts, you should recover completely by your next workout day. It’s truly a great mass-building split. (You’ll also find an alternative, less-demanding split in the next answer below.)
Another positive is that you work arms directly only once a week—on Wednesday. That’s ideal because your arms get so much work from the pressing, pulling and rowing on Monday and Friday. Technically your arms are getting hit three days a week, with a day of rest after each—a unique attack—so get ready for a sleeve-stretching growth spurt.
One last big Size Surge plus is that you do the best anabolic-acceleration exercise at the start of each workout—either squats or deadlifts. Studies show that hard work on either of those two major mass moves up front produces a significant testosterone surge that benefits growth in all muscles trained afterward. Monday and Friday you do squats as your first exercise; Wednesday it’s deadlifts. Talk about a serious size surge!
All of the above adds up to a megamass boost for any trainee—whether you’re genetically challenged or not. For those who are more genetically average or above average, you can try 4X on every exercise to pack on more size—see the next Q&A for a split variation—or hit Jonathan’s workout exactly as it’s listed. We’re confident that the Size Surge program can help you grow as never before.
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 videos and Size Surge programs, visit www.X-Rep.com for information on X-Rep and 3D POF methods and e-books. IM