You can get an incredible mass-building workout using only the best, or ultimate, exercises for each bodypart, especially if you use X Reps. But ising the best mass building exercises is only part of the anabolic solution. Remember, every set you do, even if you push it as hard as you can, lacks much hypertophic punch because of nervous system failure. It's the very reason bodybuilders do set after set and get only small increases in muscle.
The solution is X Reps, which allow you to override nervous system failure and make each set two to five times more effective than conventional sets at stimulating those highly anabolic fast-twitch fibers. That's because X Reps, or extended repetitions, extend the tension time on those key fibers in the optimal position of an exercise at the end of a set for a dramatic anabolic surge -- the fast-growing fibers keep firing.
X Reps are basically short pulses at the optimal position of any exercise -- and you do these pulses at the end of a set when your nervous system cries, "Uncle!" For example . . .
when you can't get another rep on squats, you lower yourself about a third of the way down and do three-to-six-inch partial reps in that position to extend the tension time on the quads' fast-twitch fibers -- and those pulse reps can drastically reduce your time in the gym and provide some of the best raw muscle gains of your life.
You'll train the target bodypart with muscle teamwork, just the way Mother Nature intended, which can give you an intense overload for maximum growth. It's a very efficient training program, one you can come back to no matter how advanced you are. Or you can stick to it for as long as you like, altering the number of reps you do for variation.
For most people, a Monday/Wednesday/Friday regimen is best, but two days a week training can produce great gains as well. Do what suits your schedule and try to keep your enthusiasm bridled somewhat -- too much too soon and you end up quitting. You gotta stay motivated.
If you try Workout 1 (below) and it's just too taxing -- or it just looks too intimidating, not a problem. There are solutions. And don't feel like you're copping out. Everyone's energy level is different. Some people prefer fewer days per week with long workouts, while others thrive on shorter workouts and going to the gym more often. Basic Workout 2 is an alternative, with each session taking around 35 minutes or so -- if you hustle.
You split up the Basic Ultimate Workout over two days, Monday and Wednesday. Then Friday you do the entire Basic Ultimate Workout with only one set per exercise -- and you skip deadlifts, as you did those on Wednesday (remember, you should train deadlifts only once a week). Because you spend less time in the gym at each session, you can bump up the sets on weak bodyparts to three or four.
For example, if you think your chest needs something extra, do three sets of decline presses and three sets of incline presses on Wednesday. You could even do two sets for those two exercises on Friday. Just don't do that for too many bodyparts, or you'll overstress your system. Adding sets for two bodyparts per workout is plenty.
Okay, you really don't like doing only one set for each exercise on Friday, not to mention that you're not a big fan of full body workouts (just looking at that long list of exercises makes you want to head for the couch instead of the gym). No problem. The solution is the tried and true four-day workout, or Workout 3: Split Version.
You use the same split as in the previous program, but you do the workouts on Monday and Tuesday. You rest on Wednesday and then go back to the gym on Thursday and Friday, repeating the two workouts from earlier in the week.
Once again, you do deadlifts only once a week, and the optimal day to do them is Friday so you get two days off after that more brutal workout. The coming weekend will make deadlifts much easier to stomach at Friday's workout, and leaving them out of Tuesday's workout will make that earlier in the week session less ominious.
Yes, you can add sets to a few exercises if you feel the bodypart needs more work; however, don't get carried away. Remember, you're training foru days a week, not two or three, so there's more possibility for overtraining, a real gain stopper.
We like this last choice (above - Workout 3), as it's very flexible -- if you can't make one of your workouts at the end of the week, you can do the full body day from Workout 2 -- and you train each bodypart twice a week hard with the optimal volume at each workout.
As for X Reps, most trainees will want to add something X-tra only to one set of each exercise. Most exercises have two sets listed, so it's best to do X Reps on the second set -- to really finish off the fast-twitch fibers. If you do them on the first set, you may compromise your performance on the second set, and some trainees may even hold back on the first set because they know they have to do a second. You should go all out on both sets -- don't hold back.
Trainees with good recovery ability may be able to do X Reps on all sets. Just be careful -- overtraining is always looming in the shadows.
Ultimate Direct/Indirect Workout
Direct/indirect training is working each bodypart with at least one exercise that provides residual, or indirect, work for another bodypart. For example, you use undergrip chins as part of your biceps routinem, which provides work for your lats. Then, when you work lats at a different workout, you do undergrip pulldowns or chins again to provide residual work for the biceps. That makes biceps day your indirect lat day and lat day your indirect biceps day.
How can the same exercise be direct lat work one day and indirect lat work on another? It's simply a matter of which muscle you're focusing on when you do it -- you concentrate on pulling with your biceps on biceps day and your back on lat day.
So the trick is to choose the right exercises for every bodypart and to devise a split that doesn't have you training a bodypart two days in a row. In the above example, for instance, you wouldn't work lats the day after you train biceps -- you'd want your lat workout to fall at least two days after your biceps day. Complicated? Somewhat. But there are some excellent models that are definitely in the ultimate category. Here's one for those who prefer to train three days per week:
MONDAY: Quads (indirect hamstring hit), calves (indirect soleus hit), chest (indirect triceps hit), back (indirect biceps and delt hit), abs.
WEDNESDAY: Hamstrings (indirect quad hit), delts (indirect traps hit), triceps (indirect chest hit), biceps (indirect lats hit), abs.
FRIDAY: Full body.
That routine is set up to train each muscle more often and with more exercises for each bodypart in order to train every muscle through its full range of motion. More on that in a moment. First, let's look at the program.
Here's the five-day-split version:
MONDAY: Delts (indirect midback hit), triceps (indirect chest hit), biceps (indirect lat hit)
TUESDAY: Quads (indirect hamstring hit), gastrocs (indirect soleus hit), upper abs (indirect lower-abs hit), low back
WEDNESDAY: Chest (indirect triceps hit), forearms
THURSDAY: Hamstrings (indirect quad and lower back hit), soleus (indirect calf hit), lower abs (indirect upper abs hit)
FRIDAY: Lats (indirect biceps hit), midback (indirect biceps hit), upper traps (indirect delt hit), brachialis (indirect biceps hit)
Notice that after you train a bodypart directly or indirectly, there's a two to four day period before you hit it again. For example, you train delts on Monday with upright rows, presses and lateral raises, which all hit the midback indirectly. Four days later, on Friday, you train midback, incorporating close grip upright rows for indirect delt work. Monday, three days later, it's delts again with residual midback work and so on.
While it appears that you're working each bodypart only once a week, every muscle is really getting two hits in each seven day period. It's similar to the highly effective heavy/light system -- direct day being heavy and indirect day being light.
With this strategy, of course, you have to incorporate more exercises. While you still use the ultimate exercise for each muscle, you also work in movements that complete the full range chain for that muscle. For example, you use undergrip chins for biceps. That's a great standalone biceps exercise, but you also should train the muscle in its fully stretched and completely contracted positions. That means including incline curls for the stretch position and concentration curls for the contracted position. Full range training is called Positions of Flexion, and it has a number of benefits.
Which program should you choose out of the three? That depends on your experience, motivation and time constraints. If you've been training consistently for more than a year, you'll probably make the best gains with #3, the five day routine; however, you can make very good gains with the other two as well if you can't get to the gym five times every seven days.
The big reason the five day program works best for most is because you only have to focus on two to three bodyparts at each workout. That's a definite advantage. Training with weights five days a week also keeps your metabolism burning hot, which means you keep the fat burning fires stoked.
The advantages of the three day programs include more recovery. Some people need a day off after every training session for the nervous system to regroup and to replenish glycogen stores in the muscles and liver. Once again, it's specific to the individual. Nevertheless, the best choice for you may simply come down to time. Don't commit to the five day program if you know you're going to miss workouts. It's better to be consistent, as regular workouts keep the muscle mass coming.
What if you want to try each one? In that case, start with one of the basic workouts. Stick with it for six weeks, then take four to seven days off from the gym and begin the Ultimate Direct/Indirect Workout 1. Stay with that program for six weeks, then take four to seven days off. From there move to the three day Ultimate Direct/Indirect Workout 2. Once again, stay with it for six weeks, then take four to seven days off. Now go to the five day Ultimate Direct/Indirect Workout 3 and follow the same six weeks on/four to seven days off protocol.
That will give you a good feel for each of the routines and help you decide which one you liked best -- or at least which one worked best for you. There's no denying that you'll have to put out some effort. Just keep reminding yourself that the harder you work, the more new muscle you build, and that's well worth the sweat. T
Ultimate Mass Workout Tips and Reminders
1) Do one to two warmup sets with 50% of your work-set weight on the first and 80% on the second on the exercises that are marked with an asterisk (*). Concentrate and try to get in touch with the target muscle with slow, albeit light, movements.
2) Stop a few reps short of failure during week 1 when you start a new program. After that, push your work sets to positive failure -- until you can't do another rep with good form. Do X Reps on only the last set of any exercise.
3) The ideal rep speed is two seconds up and two seconds down; always keep your form strict.
4) Rest one minute to 90 seconds between sets.
5) When you can get the higher number listed in the rep range of each exercise, increase the weight enough at the next workout to bring your reps down to the lower number.
6) If you're using the five day program, and you forsee only being able to train three days one week, use one of the three day programs that week. That's much better than skipping one of the sessions in the five day program.
7) After six weeks on a routine, take four to seven days off from the gym or reduce your intensity (stop all sets short of failure and eliminate X Reps), and then start a new program.
8) A drop set means to do a set until you can't get another rep, then immediately reduce the weight and continue with another set to failure, striving for the number of reps listed in parenthesis. The drop set technique is another way to increase the tension time on fast twitch fibers for a considerable uptick in hypertrophy.
Ultimate Mass Attitude
You gotta be persistent and patient in the bodybuilding game. Big muscles don't sprout all over your body overnight. It takes time. That means you have to enjoy the ride if you're ever going to stick with weight training and reap its incredible benefits throughout your life. In other words, you gotta do what it takes to keep yourself hitting the gym on a regular basis.
If you prefer short workouts or you simply don't have time for more elaborate routines, try high intensity training -- only a few all-out sets per bodypart. Your training will have to be more precise, but that can be part of thefun. For example, you can make incredible gains with one of the Ultimate Basic Workouts. Two to three days a week in the gym using X Reps can provide all the muscle building stimulation you need to develop an impressive physique. And don't be afraid to experiment.
If you have the motivation and time to make it to the gym five days a week, training becomes a habit and you'll no doubt make spectacular progress with diligence and smart, precise training. If your workouts ever get dull, however, don't hesitate to change things, and if you feel like you're dragging, don't be afraid to take time off to recharge your batteries. Always remember that you must enjoy the journey, or you may get a flat tire on the road to more mass. Keep those tires pumped up and your body tunes up like a Formula One racer, and life will be much more enjoyable.
Enjoy Your Lifting!