Q: I’m in my late 30s and don’t have any real joint problems—just slight shoulder pain from too much benching. I know that when I get into my 40s I will want to go to an all-4X program. But right now I want to train heavy in combination with 4X. Is it better to do 4X and heavy training on the same day or do 4X at one workout and heavy training at the next?
A: I recommend doing both heavy training and 4X at each workout. When most bodybuilders do an all-heavy workout, they overstress their nervous system, joints and connective tissues. Yes, believe it or not, bodybuilders have a tendency to overdo things. Who would’ve guessed?
Plus, with an all-heavy workout you get only a limited pump—a sign that there wasn’t much stress put on the sarcoplasmic energy fluid. And sarcoplasmic expansion is the key to extreme size increases.
Here’s an example of combining methods: a full-range Positions-of-Flexion chest routine from the direct/indirect program in the e-book The X-centric Mass Workout:
Midrange: Bench presses 3 x 9, 7, 7NA
Stretch: Flat-bench flyes 1-2 x 8
Contracted: Cable crossovers (4X) 4 x 10
You do a heavy pyramid on the big exercise, bench presses, and you can add another heavy set if you like—9, 7, 5-6, 7NA. A pyramid means you add weight on each of the first three sets. On the last set you back off for negative-accentuated work—one second to lift and six to lower on every rep. That provides additional trauma to the myofibrils with the slow negatives while also stressing the sarcoplasm for expansion with almost a minute of tension time.
After that you do a heavy set or two of the stretch-position exercise, like flyes for chest. That’s very important, as it provides a unique overload—remember the animal study that produced a 300 percent mass increase with one month of stretch-overload workouts. If you’re interested in maximum muscle size, don’t neglect stretch-position work.
Then you finish with a 4X sequence on the contracted-position move, like crossovers, to really blow up your pecs. For the uninitiated, with 4X you pick a weight with which you can get 15 reps, but you only do 10. Rest 35 seconds, and then do it again. Repeat for four sets, and on the last set go all out—to failure.
With that routine you’re getting hypertrophic stimulation along multiple pathways—poundages are both high and low, so you get unstoppable muscle growth.
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 DVD and Size Surge programs, see the ad sections in this issue. Also visit www.X-Rep.com and X-Workouts.com for info on X-Rep, 4X and 3D POF methods and e-books. IM