If you've ever wondered why they get so big so fast, while you have trouble building a few measly pounds of muscle a year, you'll soon see that what we've found is a big piece of the puzzle. (No, it's not steroids.)
It's a little-known scientific training principle, and it's an adaptation of what the big men use regularly to force growth-but they can't tell you about it because they don't even know they're using it!
Once you understand the principle and apply it correctly, your workouts will get shorter as your muscle structures grow larger and larger. It's based on real science, and there's solid proof that it works. (My gains with it have me more excited about training than I've been in 10 years, and I'm 45 years old!)
First, understand that many researchers believe that the key to muscle growth is force output. The more force you can get your muscles to generate, the more growth you will stimulate.
That's one reason compound or multijoint, exercises produce more mass gains than isolation movements-you use more weight and you can increase the poundage more easily over time. That's progressive overload.
"Yeah, yeah, more weight on the big, compound exercises. So what else is new?"
Plenty! There's more to it than that, much more. For example, did you know that many researchers believe it's the turnaround on certain exercises, when you move from the negative stroke to the positive, that's the real growth trigger?
Because that's where the most force occurs. At the bottom of an incline press, for example, when the bar shifts directions, there's an extreme force overload as your pecs have to stop the bar and then reverse it. But there's a problem.
Many scientists also say that the pecs can't exert maximal force at the very bottom of the movement when there's too much stretch on the muscles; the key max-force point is below the middle of the stroke, but not all the way at the bottom stretch position.
Therefore, if you can somehow overload that position, you can increase the anabolic power of any set exponentially! In other words, you could get much more growth stimulation from any set.
That's exactly what the biggest bodybuilders do on almost every rep. Watch them do incline presses, and you'll see them reverse the bar before touching their upper pecs, exploding out of that position (Some even bounce it off their chest to get the bar to the more advantageous max-force point).
By not going all the way down, they're hitting the point of max force with more overload. An explosive turnaround makes it that much more effective-although it also makes it more dangerous (more on that in a moment; there's a much better way!).
The Sweet Spots
Every compound exercise has it's own special sweet spot, although not all occur between the middle of the stroke and the lowest point of a full rep (changing leverage is a factor on some, like squats, so the sweet spot is higher).
Not all compound exercises are created equal. For example, take chins vs. pulldowns. Same movement, same results? No. All the huge guys will tell you that the chin is the magic lat builder compared to the pulldown. They just don't know why.
Here's The Answer
While the sweet spot is just out of the arms-extended, or dead-hang, -position for both exercises, at the beginning of a pulldown you rock back, which reduces the overload on your lats at that important position.
A hitch near the bottom of a chin (the sweet spot), on the other hand, can actually amplify lat overload rather than diminish it.
No wonder chins are better for barndoor back development. Watch guys with the biggest backs do chins. They hang weight around their waists and usually explode upward before the full-stretch position.
Shorter Range Of Motion
So while the big men never shy away from the best mass exercises, they also -and this is key- do a lot of their reps with a slightly shorter range of motion and explode out of the turnaround with heavy weight. That's precisely what gives them excessive hypertrophic overload at the sweet spot of key exercises.
Am I saying you should start jerking and heaving giant weights? No! Absolutely not. That's the wrong strategy, despite what the pros do (remember, a lot of them have been seriously injured doing that, from pec tears to biceps tears to vertebrae blowouts to shoulder trauma).
Like I said, there's a better way to overload the sweet spot of the key exercises for incredible leaps in mass-a way that doesn't expose you to injury the way jerking excessive poundages does.
That way is X Reps. They extend a set at the sweet spot of all the key growth exercises. You get extreme anabolic overload at the end of a strict set, no jerking or heaving necessary.
You keep your reps strict and safe, and when you can't get another full rep, you use short X Reps to extend the set and overload the fast-twitch fibers at the precise sweet spot-anabolic overload right where the muscle needs it most.
On Smith machine incline presses, for example, when you can't get another full rep, lower the bar to just below the middle of the stroke and pulse, feeling your upper chest continue to fire fast-twitch fibers.
You'll leapfrog nervous system failure and achieve more growth stimulation from one set than from two to four standard sets (you'll get a better burn too, which can increase growth hormone output).
This technique worked incredibly well for me and my training partner, Jonathan Lawson. We used X Reps on only one set of key exercises-while we were dieting strictly for a photo shoot-and we made the most spectacular gains of our training careers in one month, even after reducing our sets per bodypart by half.
That's correct, with half the amount of work our gains accelerated at an unprecedented rate-and, like I said, I'm 45 years old. Imagine what you can do without calorie restriction using X Reps on the best exercises.
Note: For more on X-Rep training, as well as Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson's before and after photos that were taken about one month apart during their X-Rep experiment, visit www.X-Rep.com (there's a Q&A section there too).