Why do you work out? Or, better yet, who are you working out for? If you look around the gym, it seems as if a lot of trainees are there to “lift” impressive poundages so other people look on in awe. (“Lift” is in quotes because it’s often throwing or heaving instead of lifting.)
Now, I am not talking about competitors. Most of them are lifting for themselves–with winning a meet or contest as their goal. That’s great and keeps motivation high. But if you’re not a competitive athlete, why are you training? Your answer should be: “For myself.”
You should be lifting for your health, well-being and to look and feel great—yes, building bigger muscles is a big part of that. But if you’re being awakened in the middle of the night with aching shoulders and/or sharp back pain, you’re not training for yourself–or you’re doing something terribly wrong.
Keep reminding yourself that you’re not hitting the weights for others–you’re working out for you. If you’ve forgotten that, then it’s time to take your workouts back. How would you train if it were just you alone in the gym? You wouldn’t be going for those heavy singles, would you?
They say we get wiser as we get older–and sometimes it’s not till you hit middle age or later that you start training smarter. Ego falls by the wayside, and you suddenly realize that spine-mushing, joint-crushing poundages are not necessary for your goals–it’s all about being relatively strong, looking very muscular and, most importantly, feeling incredible. That does not require extreme weights…
I honestly now believe that the 4X method or something similar is absolutely the best way for most people to train most of the time. That’s taking a moderate poundage, one with which you could get 15 reps, but you only do 10; rest 35 seconds, then do it again. Go all out on set 4; if you get 10, add some weight to the exercise at your next workout or go for 4×11.
That accomplishes so much in so little time–from training both “sides” of the muscle fibers (myofibrils and sarcoplasm) to getting some aerobic benefits to driving up anabolic hormones (growth hormone and testosterone) to fully pumping up blood flow to even stimulating the metabolism and increasing fat burn. And the best part is, your joints will heal and you’ll feel fantastic (in fact, lately I’ve been calling 4X the Fantastic 4 or F4 training).
And if you use 3-way Positions-of-Flexion mass training—working the midrange, stretch and contracted position—you get full-range work for every muscle and complete development. A good example is triceps: close-grip bench presses for midrange work, overhead extensions for stretch and pushdowns for a contracted-position sequence.
Ron Harris, renowned bodybuilding scribe and competitor, is now experimenting with 4X training. He recently wrote about it in IRON MAN and praised its muscle-building abilities (by the way, it’s not a max-strength building system-—powerlifters absolutely must train heavy). His concluding comment was that he only wishes he would’ve found it earlier—before his shoulder surgery.
Mr. America winner Doug Brignole recently began using a version of 4X—with drop sets on some of the sets in a 4X sequence and NOT going to failure on any sets. He said that when he turned 50, he thought he could no longer build muscle, but he’s ecstatic as he gets bigger and leaner with 4X—and he’s feeling great.
The Built-for-Life bottom line: Take your workouts back—train for your well being and build muscle and health in the process. Don’t wait for age and/or injury to smack some smarts into your brain. Start training for yourself and you’ll be amazed at your gains.
Stay tuned, train smart and be Built for Life.
Note: The 4X Mass Workout is available at X-Workouts.com, as are the two 4X companion e-books, The X-centric Mass Workout and The Power-Density Mass Workout. All contain full-range Positions-of-Flexion programs.