Excellerated Reps for Increase Size
by Bruce Page (1984)
Bodybuilding is a game of searching.
We are always looking for new and better, if not faster, methods of increasing gains. We tend to look to the big names in bodybuilding in an effort to find out if they have the inside track on the knowledge of how to get greater size and development.
But looking to the stars of the game is not really the answer. If I train like Larry Scott, there is no way that I am going to wind up with a physique like his. And if you train as Bertil Fox does, chances are you are not going to look like Bertil Fox. There are many reasons for this and one of them is in the genes. There are certain metabolic and anatomical factors that Larry Scott and Bertil Fox have that I don't have and that is probably the greatest reason why no matter how hard and heavy I trained, how much protein I ingested [or drugs I inserted], I could not have a body resembling theirs.
No, we cannot simply attempt to eat and train like one of the greats an expect to develop a physique that will approach his. However, this is not to say that you couldn't gain on such a program, but your results would probably fall far short of your expectations.
Actually, each one of us has to find out for himself just what will work best. It is a matter of trial and error to a great extent and each individual must find what works best for him and stick with that particular method for as long as it continues to work. If you can get results with moderate weights, why would you want to push heavy poundages all the time, taking a chance on joint injuries later in life? If, of course, the only way you can gain is via the heavy route, then obviously this is the way you must go.
1933 - 2015
A number of years ago when on a visit to New York City I visited Leroy Colbert at his health food store. I had remembered an article I read shortly before my visit and it described a method of training that Leroy and Arthur Harris had used to make some great gains in their arm development. My visit to see Leroy was to discuss this method.
At that time most bodybuilders would perform, let's say a barbell curl, in the regular manner, but the bar always came to rest against the thighs. Leroy and Arthur decided not to allow the barbell to stop at all until all the reps had been completed for that set. They increased the speed of the reps. When this happened they found that they could handle more weight, resulting in more muscle size. The weights were not increased to the point where good performance was impeded, though. Within a short period of time both of these men made substantial gains in the muscular size of their arms.
In an adjoining room Leroy had some dumbbells, so we went back there and he demonstrated for me just how the reps were performed, using a pair of dumbbells. I asked Leroy if they handled heavy weights and he replied that they didn't try to use too much as they wanted to use at least good form and make the muscles really work. I think, if memory serves me right, that his arms measured about 20" at that time and that was when 18.5 was considered a large arm . . . and it still is. I often wonder how many of the twenty-inchers on some of our present day champs are really that large.
This preamble brings me to the nitty-gritty of this article. Since it is also beneficial to perform some slower, deeply concentrated movements in order to stimulate deep muscle fibers, perhaps a system that caters to both types of reps would be a real success. So, why not give such a system a try, particularly if at the present time you are in a bit of a rut and can't seem to stimulate any muscle growth?
Taking the barbell curl for example purposes, and because it is still just about the best biceps builder there is, load the bar to where you feel you can get 10 reps without too much trouble. Now, begin curling at a rate slightly slower than you might normally curl. After the 4th rep slowly begin to speed up the reps and continue to perform each rep a little faster until you have completed your set. Now, after a brief rest, no more than a half minute, commence the second set. If you feel that the first set went a little too easy, increase the weight on the second set. Perform it as you did the first set. Again, take a short rest and begin your 3rd set with another increase IF you can handle it in reasonably good form. You do not want to load weight onto the bar and throw it up in a semi-clean fashion [Rigert Curls?]. Use as much weight as you can IN GOOD FORM. You want the muscles to work and some body motion is acceptable but total heaving is out, otherwise you lose the value of the exercise.
If you practice this movement properly and your diet is fine, you will feel a great pump in the biceps and you will also have worked some of the deeper muscle fibers which must be activated in order to derive full activity of the muscle and hence increased growth.
1938 - 2014
I spoke of Larry Scott at the outset of this article and I just wanted to mention that Larry's biceps training is, in a way, similar to this system. When Larry performs his preacher bench curls, he make 6 reps. These are heavy, hard reps and so they are performed rather slowly. But at the completion of these reps he tries to get 4 or 5 'burns' for added pump. These are short, fast curls to top off the set. [see links above for description and application]. Obviously what Larry does is not the same as what I have just recommended to you, but there is a similarity.
As to weights, sets or reps, I leave this to the individual simply because we all differ and what works for one may not be beneficial to others. So choose the weights, reps and sets that suit your current purpose best.
When it comes to weight selection, a word to the wise. The object here is to feel the muscle work. If you must concentrate on getting the weight up to the shoulders, then you've lost the concentration on the muscles being targeted and this could lead to failure rather than success. It would be better to use a little less and be able to place the concentration where it should be.
This method of training will work very well on triceps muscles so you could set up a routine for the complete arm if you wish. As far as other muscle groups are concerned, owing to lack of personal experience I don't know, but there is no harm in trying it out on any area of the body.