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IRON MAN E-Zine: Issue #651: Slow, Then Explode for Faster Muscle Growth

IRON MAN E-Zine: Issue #651:
Slow, Then Explode for Faster Muscle Growth


Slow, Then Explode for Faster Muscle Growth

Q: The best rep speed for muscle growth is really confusing. I’ve read that slow-mo training can produce good results, like eight seconds up and eight seconds down. But then I see CrossFit trainers moving very fast on the positive and negative of every rep, almost a blur. I’ve also seen some pro bodybuilders, like Jay Cutler, use fairly fast partial-range movements. What’s best for building mass?

A: We discuss a study on ideal rep speed for muscle mass in The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout e-book (which also includes 4X). It compared doing sets with a two-to-three-second positive and a two-to-three-second negative—about three up, three down—with sets using a power cadence, which is one second up and three seconds down. The power cadence produced the most mass in this study. [Int J Sports Med. 30(3):200-204; 2009.]

Why would doing power-type sets build muscle more efficiently? Muscle biopsies suggest that it causes more damage to more muscle fibers than traditional reps, leading to a greater degree of protein remodeling in the trained muscle. In other words, the slow lowering caused more muscle damage. But wait—the three-up, three-down group lowered just as slowly, so what gives?

Answer: The slow lowering produced equal muscle damage in both groups, BUT the power-training group used an explosive turnaround for the one-second positive compared to the slower tempo of the other group. That explosive jolt right at the target muscle’s semi-stretch point–the turnaround from negative to positive. like near the bottom of a bench press–activates significantly more fast-twitch muscle fibers, as we first explained in The Ultimate Mass Workout, the original X-Rep manual (it’s why end-of-set X-Rep partials build mass quickly).

Keep in mind that the turnaround, where the muscle is stretched, is where injury is most likely to occur, so don’t throw the weight. Use a CONTROLLED explosion—no heaving or jerking. The CrossFitters who jerk are asking for trouble. We’ve seen them torquing their shoulders at the bottom of every chinup rep. VERY BAD idea.

As for slow-mo training, it can be good every so often–to trigger new sarcoplasmic growth with longer tension times–but if you do it exclusively, you can miss a lot of key growth fibers. We prefer X-centric, or negative-accentuated–you still use a one-second lift for turnaround fiber activation, but you slow down the lowering to six seconds. That produces unique hypertrophic stimulation (eight X-centric reps would be almost a full minute of tension time).

As for the pros, they use a variety of rep tempos—and even when they move fairly fast, as Jay Cutler often does, he stays in control and does higher reps so the tension time is up around 40 seconds per set. He tends to use partial-range reps to keep tension on the target. Both high reps and partials can produce excellent sarcoplasmic-size increases.

So most of the time we suggest a one-second lift and a three-second lower on most exercises. Some stretch-position moves in the Positions-of-Flexion mass training protocol may require a slightly slower cadence and more controlled turnaround, as the danger in elevated. For example, flyes for chest, overhead extensions for triceps and stiff-legged deadlifts for hamstrings. When in doubt move slower, never faster…

Q: I’m always totally blown away when I see Jonathan’s 10-week Size Surge before and after pics. I want to yell "bullshit," but I’ve been reading your stuff for so long, I trust you guys. So he really didn’t use any steroids?

A: Okay, one more time: No, absolutely no steroids, GH or drugs of any kind. Jonathan is natural for life. But keep in mind that he was REGAINING a lot of mass he’d already had–and it’s much easier to put it on the second time around. That’s one reason he added muscle so quickly–20 pounds in 10 weeks…

However, we estimate about 10 pounds of it was new muscle, while the other he regained. Still, not a bad haul for 10 weeks. And he also added a lot of strength (see his size and strength before and after stats at

Keep in mind that Jonathan has good genetics for bodybuilding, which include small waist, long muscle bellies and small joints. He can look very big at a fairly low bodyweight. This back shot was taken when he weighed just slightly over 200 pounds at 5’10”…

Now that we know what we know about myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic size stimulation, we’re convinced that he could’ve made even better gains using the 4X mass method in conjunction with the heavy training during the Size Surge experiment.

For example, the four-week Phase 1 routine is three days a week with heavy basics. That was a good anabolic primer. When he transitioned into the Positions-of-Flexion Phase 2 routine, however, he could’ve used a pyramid on the big midrange move and 3X and 4X sequences on the stretch- and contracted-position exercises. That no doubt would have packed on even more muscle to his frame. A retooled Size Surge Phase 2 chest program would be…

Middle/Lower Chest
Midrange: Bench presses (pyramid), 3 x 8, 6, 4-5
Stretch & Contracted: Cable crossovers (4X style), 4 x 10

Upper Chest
Midrange: Incline DB presses (pyramid), 3 x 8, 6, 4-5
Stretch & Contracted: High cable flyes (4x style), 4 x 10

Also, instead of the 2-way split he used, we would’ve had him on the alternate 3-way version listed on pages 55-57 in the SS e-book.

We are still learning and experimenting, as you should. Change to gain and live and LEARN, and your mass gains will continue to churn.

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

Note: The 4X Mass Workout is only $19.99, available at the The 4X companion e-books, The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout and The X-centric Mass Workout, are also only $19.99 each.

The 3D Muscle Building e-book is only 19.99 at the X-Shop. It’s the official Positions-of-Flexion mass-building manual, with full-range routines for every muscle and many complete workouts, including Size Surge variations and Power/Rep Range/Shock.

–Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson

LIMITED-TIME $19.99 BEST-SELLERS: We’re offering each of these at their lowest price ever to get you big and ripped by spring. Click on the title you’re interested in for more info…

1) The 4X Mass Workout–fast, simplified supersaturation training for X-treme size

2) The X-traordinary X-Rep Workout–the latest update to our original X e-book

3) The X-centric Mass Workout–the negative-accentuated training manual

4) The Ultimate Fat-to-Muscle Workout–total body transformation training

5) X-traordinary Muscle-Building Workouts–10 complete mass programs

6) X-traordinary Arms–includes the 3D HIT workout system with big-arms routines

7) 3D Muscle Building–the original Positions-of-Flexion mass-training manual

8) X-treme Lean—Fat-Burning and Nutrition Guide (with training too)

9) The Ultimate Power-Density Mass Workout

10) The X-traordinary Size Surge Workout

11) The Ultimate 10×10 Mass Workout

12) Eric Broser’s FD/FS Mass-Shock Workout

Latest release: The 4X Mass Workout—Fast Simplified Supersaturation Training for X-treme Muscle Size. It’s how many pro bodybuilders get big AND ripped as fast as possible for contests and photo shoots. You can use it for a blast of new mass in only a few weeks–and the workouts are quick. Guaranteed or your money back. Limited-time discount offer 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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