The turnaround’where the weight changes directions’is the key spot for most compound, or multijoint, exercises. It’s where the target muscles generate maximum force. Take overhead presses. The bar comes down to your chin and your front delts are in a semistretched position. If you explode out of that position (don’t do it; there’s a better, safer way), you get extreme overload right where the front delts need it most. In fact, force-plate studies connected to an oscilloscope show that a 60-pound barbell suddenly jerked from that position can exert a force of several hundred pounds. Think of the overload a pro bodybuilder gets when he explodes with 200 pounds out of that semistretched position. Of course, his joints, tendons and ligaments may explode, too, which is why the champs’ way is not the best way to overload that key sweet spot. In fact, it’s downright dangerous. (Remember, a number of pro bodybuilders use growth hormone, which strengthens joints and tendons, so at least they have some protection’although sometimes not enough!)
So what should you do? The X-Rep technique embraces the latest research on isometric contraction, semistretch overload and nervous system activation to give you a powerful, new size-building technique with minimal sets. It’s a twist on partial pulses at the end of a set to failure at or near the precise max-force point in the range of motion (at least that’s where it is on many multijoint exercises). By extending a set with X Reps, you do an end run around nervous system failure and get an exponential increase in growth stimulation, which means you don’t have to do a lot of sets. That’s exciting stuff if you’re after more muscle.
For example, the sweet spot on chins is down close to where your arms almost lock out at the bottom. It’s not at full extension’that’s shoulder-injury territory’but up a little between the very bottom and midpoint of the stroke. Try this: Do your chins fairly slowly and strictly for eight reps. When you can’t get another full rep, lower to about halfway between the midpoint and full stretch and do partials till failure. Feel the tension build in your lats at that max-force point, cranking out as many X Reps as you can. Now you’ve jolted your lats with max-force overload. That should make the set anywhere from two to four times more effective at triggering hypertrophy.
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