Iron Man February 2010 Excerpt
Arnold's Get-Bigger Trigger!
Imagine discovering that you've only been training half your muscles' growth capacity, and with one small tweak you could transform your physique—maybe doubling your size results! Exciting new muscle-building research suggests that's entirely possible: You can boost your size gains exponentially with one training twist, and it's something Arnold was doing instinctively in his prime to build his ultimate mass and dominate bodybuilding.
First—and you probably know this part already—if you're looking for mass, you want to train the anaerobic muscle fibers, the fast-twitch type 2s. What you may not know is that there are many fast-twitch subtypes. So which should you emphasize for extreme muscle size?
Science has been telling us that the key to building maximum muscle is the pure-power type 2B fibers. That's why bodybuilders typically grind with heavy weights for about eight reps—over and over—with most trainees getting slow-to-no growth. New research, however, reveals why for most of them hypertrophy has been, well, not so hyper. According to bodybuilding researcher Jerry Brainum:
"A study examined single muscle fibers in large bodybuilders.1 Since the type 2B fibers are the muscle fibers most likely to grow, it stands to reason that the bodybuilders in the study would have an abundance of such fibers, or at least more of them than the other kinds of muscle fibers. The reality was that they showed a higher portion of types 1 and 2A fibers, with a complete absence of type 2Bs."
Did you get that? The bodybuilders had almost zero 2B pure-power fibers! Therefore, optimal training for bodybuilders interested in maximum size should emphasize the 2As, which are dual capacity—they have both a power and an endurance component.
That means if you only train with straight lower-rep sets, you're working only half of those key bodybuilding fibers' abilities—and your gains will be about as fast as a two-legged turtle. As we mentioned, Arnold knew that instinctively.
Arnold often used a typical power protocol, pyramiding up in weight over a number of sets on compound moves like bench presses. Then, when he reached his heaviest weight for around six reps, he would reduce the poundage for two "burnout" sets, 12 to 15 reps each. He also often used double-drop, or strip sets, which are three progressively lighter sets done back to back to finish off an exercise. More on that in a moment.
So he got an immense pump with those lighter, high-rep chaser sets as he attacked the 2As' endurance component. And that worked incredibly well for Arnold.
Get the rest of the article in the February 2010 Issue of Iron Man Magazine.