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We've been relying almost exclusively on the 4X mass method in conjunction with Positions of Flexion to get in ripped, muscular

shape over the summer. It's an amazing way to train, as the weights are moderate-no bone-crushing poundages; joints and spine
feel fine-plus, it's very flexible, as you'll see below.
For those not familiar with 4X, you pick a weight with which you can get 15 reps but only do 10; rest 30 to 40 seconds and do 10
more-and so on till you complete four sets. On the fourth set you go all out, and if you get 10 reps, you increase the weight on that
exercise at your next workout.
As we mentioned, the weight is only moderate, so it's safer and you don't get loads of muscle-eating cortisol flooding your
bloodstream. The short rests between sets cause a cumulative buildup of fatigue, so you blast through the growth threshold on set
three or four, and youranabolic hormones soar.
It's an absolutely tremendous mass-training protocol similar to one used by one of the greatest short bodybuilders of all time,
Danny Padilla, as well as one of the greatest training gurus of all time, Vince Gironda. As those men would tell you, yes, it hurts, but it
Nevertheless, as with any training "system," boredom can rear its ugly head. Besides, you need some change to trigger bigger
gains. That means altering the standard 4X attack.
For one thing, you don't have to stick with four sets or 30 seconds of rest. If you want a bit more emphasis on the myofibrils, the
force-generating actin and myosin strands in the muscle fibers, pull it down to 3X and increase your rests between sets to 40 to 50
Fewer sets and slightly longer rests will enable you to use more weight-but still nothing excessive. Holding rests to a minute or
less means that the breaks are short enough to keep your poundages moderate-but slightly heavier than with standard 4X.
So with 3X and longer rests you'd pick a weight with which you can get 12, not 15. That means you'll be moving a slightly heavier
load for a bit more myofibrillar stress. Still, there's another layer to hit if you're looking for extreme muscle size, as in expansion of the
sarcoplasm, or energy fluid, in muscle fibers.
The Other Side of Muscle Size

With everyone trying to push heavier and heavier weights, myofibrillar stress is high; however, the sarcoplasm, which responds to
longer tension times and/or shorter rests, doesn't get much growth stimulation. If you're focusing on heavy weights, you could be
leaving lots of size on the table. In fact, one of the simplest ways to get new muscle growth for most is some direct sarcoplasmic work.
That brings us to 10x10. It's just like 4X only you start with a weight with which you can get 20 reps but only do 10-and you do
only one exercise for each muscle. The major skin-stretching pump you get shows that you're emphasizing expansion of
the sarcoplasm, which houses the mitochondria, glycogen and ATP. With 10x10 you activate new mass in about 10 minutes. Of
course, the total length of a 10X sequence depends on the how long your rests between sets are.
As we outline in the e-book The 10x10 Mass Workout, coach Charles Poliquin suggests 90 seconds of rest between sets along with
lower reps. That's because as a strength-training maven, he's more interested in myofibrillar stress-that is, strength and power.
For example, you pick a weight with which you can do 10 reps, but you only do five-and you do 10 sets of five reps. [Note: Poliquin's
10-set bench press progression is
outlined on page 23 of the 10X ebook. He says the method can boost
your bench by 30 pounds or more in
10 weeks.]
That's in stark contrast to Vince
Gironda, who used 8x8 to whip people
into shape-everyone from
professional bodybuilders to Hollywood
actors. His size-building secret
was shorter rests, as in 20 to 30
seconds between sets, for a
supersaturation of blood volume,
incredible sarcoplasmic expansion
and growth hormone production,
which burns fat and builds muscle.
It worked for almost every trainee who
tried it, including Vince himself.
A current pro bodybuilder who has
gotten great gains with 10x10-style
training is Mark Dugdale. He prefers
eight sets but with 50 to 60 seconds of
rest. He follows his 8X exercise with
two standard all-out sets on another
move for the target muscle.
For example, he'll do 8x10 on incline
presses and 2x8-10 on pec deck flyes,
going all out on the two isolation sets
with two minutes' rest between.
The point we're trying to make is
that you don't have to stick with strict
4X mass training, with its 30 to 40
seconds' between sets. You can do
3x10 with 30 to 40 seconds' rest, 3x12
with 50 to 60 seconds' rest, 10x10
with 30 to 40 seconds' rest, 10x5 with
90 seconds' rest, 8x8 with 60 seconds'
rest and so on. It's the classic changeto-gain scenario we're always harping
We mentioned Danny Padilla. He
used a size-building strategy similar to
4X--5x12 with 45 to 60 seconds
between sets. He said it got him big
and ripped fast. Apparently, it worked
for every bodypart because the man
had no weaknesses and he beat some
of the best bodybuilders of the '70s
and '80s.
Rock 'Em, Shock 'Em Week
So there are lots of ways to use the
4X method to get huge-and some of
them are ideal for one-week shock
phases. It's a great way to break up your standard 4X program.

For example, we recently tried a shock week of 8x10 with 50 seconds of rest between sets. That's similar to Dugdale's hybrid method.
For our shock version we used 8X on the big, mass move, then followed with 3X on the stretch- and contracted-position exercises to
complete the full-range POF chain.
Here's a sample quad workout:
Midrange: Smith-machine squats 8 x 10
Stretch: Sissy squats 3 x 12
Contracted: Leg extensions 3 x 12
The welcome results were big
pumps and heightened, deep muscle
soreness, indicators of new mass
Pre-X With a 4X Twist
Standard preexhaustion involves
supersets. For instance, doing a set
of leg extensions to preexhaust the
quads, and then moving immediately
to squats to bring in the glutes to help
push them further into the growth
zone. Still, you don't have to superset
to get preex size effects.
To preexhaust the target muscle
effectively, simply perform a 4X
sequence on the contracted-position
exercise first. After a brief rest follow
with 3X on the big, midrange move.
For the first isolation exercise we like
4x12 with the standard 30 to 40
seconds of rest between sets.
Here's a sample biceps routine:
Contracted: Concentration curls 4 x 12
Midrange: Undergrip pulldowns 3 x 10
Stretch: Incline curls 3 x 10
The opening isolation move will
innervate and fatigue the target
muscle, and you can be sure that you
will feel the second, compound
exercise much more right where you
want the stress.
Positive Gains from Negative Pain
We've discussed our version of
negative-accentuated, or X-centric,
sets here before. To review, you take
a weight lighter than you use on a
standard eight-to-10-rep set and do
each positive stroke in one second and
each negative stroke in six. The proper
poundage should allow you to
complete at least seven reps, seven
seconds each.
Although the weight is
moderate, you get almost 50 seconds
of tension time. That's excellent
sarcoplasmic-size stimulation. And the
slow lowering on each eccentric stroke
stresses the myofibrils-you will get sore, so be prepared.
You can do an NA set as the last in a 4X sequence-you'll see examples of that in our program on page 50. Or you can do NA all the
way through. If you choose the latter, stick with a 3X sequence and rest 40 to 50 seconds. Remember, NA sets last longer than
standard ones-and can cause more myofibrillar trauma due to the slow eccentric strokes-so you'll need the extra recovery time

between sets.
Here's a sample triceps routine:
Midrange: Close-grip bench presses 3 x 7 NA
Stretch: Overhead extensions (4X style) 3x10
Contracted: Pushdowns (4X style) 3x12
It's all about variation for extra mass creation. Don't get stuck in a rut; change to gain. That will keep your size moving up.
From the IRON MAN Traingin & Research Center
By Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson