In my previous blog I whined about heading into my 50s and not being able to train with ultra-heavy poundages anymore. But once I stepped away from my mistaken belief that it takes heavy weight to build mass, I realized that having to leave joint-jarring poundages behind is a blessing not a curse. It’s led me to discover multiple ways to build mass with moderate poundages–tension overload repetition quantity (TORQ) being the most recent….
As I’ve mentioned, research has shown that the optimal tension time for muscle size is 40 to 90 seconds per set. Less than 20 seconds is the strength-building TUT. A lot of bodybuilders “think” they’re training for size when they do 9 reps–but if each rep lasts only two seconds, that’s only 18 seconds per set. You’re still training mostly for strength!
Actually, a recent study showed that the optimal rep speed for hypertrophy was one second to lift and three seconds to lower. That’s four seconds per rep. Look around. How many gym rats do you see using that semi-explosive concentric and slow eccentric? Not many…
But consider this: If you do your 9 reps with that 1/3 tempo, you’ll get 36 seconds of tension time. Much better size stimulations because you’re now very close to the 40-second growth-threshold. Add a five-second static hold on that last rep at the sticking point and–boom!–you’re there.
Now getting to the HIGH-end hypertrophic tension time of 60 to 90 seconds takes a bit more concentration–and pain tolerance on many exercises. Mr. America Doug Brignole starts with 50 reps on his first set–and does multiple high-rep sets after with weight increases.
Doug is the one who led me to my own TORQ version, and I don’t know whether to thank him or punch him. It freaking hurts! Ah, but it does work, as it’s nothing your muscles have experienced.
My version is 30-20-15. You take a weight that has you reach failure, or very close, at 30 reps; rest 45 seconds, then take that same weight and try to get 20; rest 45 seconds, then try to get 15. Even if your rep speed is 1/2, you still get into the high-end size-building tension time on the first two sets–90 and 60 seconds, respectively. And the third, at 15 reps, is 45 seconds….
You can use TORQ on any exercise. I usually suggest using it on the last one you do for a bodypart to finish with a major bloodbath; however, I’ve recently found it to be incredible in a modified pre-ex scenario….
Modified pre-ex does NOT involve supersets. Instead, you do all of your isolation-exercise sets first, then you go to the compound, or multi-joint, move for a series of sets….
Do you see where I’m going with this? If you use TORQ on the initial exercise, the isolation move, you will get an amped pre-ex effect. Here’s an example for medial delts…
Seated laterals (TORQ), 3 x 30, 20, 15
Upright rows (4X), 4 x 10
If you want to use heavier weights on the second exercise instead of moderate-poundage 4X, use a pyramid. Add weight on every set so your reps go something like 9-8-6-5….
Me? I’m old and no longer interested in max strength, so I prefer 4X: Pick a weight with which you can get 15 reps, but only do 10; rest 35 seconds, then do it again–and so on for 4 sets. Go to failure on the last, and if you get 10, you can add a bit of weight at your next workout. That’s moderate-weight growth-threshold training for mass.
Give the Iso-TORQ method a try on an upfront isolation exercise–and prepare for new size!
Stay tuned, train smart and be Built for Life.
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