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Workouts Too Draining?

7309-prime6Q: I’ve been supermotivated the past few months and really hitting it hard in the gym using a full Positions-of-Flexion heavy/light program. I’m in my mid-40s, and I think the heavy weights are taking a toll. My joints are hurting, and I feel very overtrained. Plus, my gains have stopped completely. Do you think reducing to two exercises per muscle is a good idea? Should I still do heavy/light? 

A: Your nervous system is probably hammered. I know, I know—you don’t want to lose any muscle or strength, so I won’t tell you to take a layoff. You wouldn’t lose size and probably would actually gain some, but I’m all too familiar with the bodybuilding psychosis of, “If I’m not training, I’m shrinking.” So here’s what I suggest.

Yes, two exercises per muscle is a good idea—one big midrange move and one isolation contracted. An excellent plan to follow is the Basic 4X Mass Workout on pages 19 through 21 in the e-book of the sane name, or you can just construct your own from what you’re doing now. The concepts are simple.

For each bodypart use Downward-Progression 4X on the compound move and higher-rep TORQ—tension-overload repetition quantity—on the iso exercise. For example, here’s one possible combination for your lower- and middle-pec routine:


Bench presses (DP 4X, add weight to each set), 4 x 12, 10, 8, 6

Cable crossovers (TORQ), 3 x 30, 20, 15


You rest only 40 seconds between sets on both exercises and take only the last one or two sets to failure on the bench presses. On the crossovers it’s all sets to failure.

For your DP 4X bench presses start with your 15-rep-max weight and do 12. Rest 40 seconds, add weight, do 10, and so on, adding weight and reducing reps on each successive set. That’s great for older trainees—sorry, you’re in your 40s, so you qualify—as the short rests will prevent you from going ultra-heavy.

As I mentioned, all the crossovers sets are to failure—and they will be painful. Start with your 30-rep max and do 30. Rest 40 seconds, and try to get 20, rest 40 seconds, and then try to get 15. If you get all of those reps with the same weight, you can add weight on each successive set, but most trainees will need to stick with the same poundage on all three sets.

The reduced volume as well as the more moderate poundages used with these two styles should help your nervous system recover. And don’t be surprised if you get a burst of new size.

You’ll be subjecting your muscles to something completely different and no doubt get some exceptional sarcoplasmic size from each TORQ exercise.

—Steve Holman


Editor’s note: For more on moderate-weight growth-threshold 4X mass training, see the e-book The 4X Mass Workout 2.0 and The Ultimate Super-Size Crash Course, available at For e-books on X Reps, fat-loss nutriton and bodypart specialization, visit the X-Shop at

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