We're still on our 10x10 experimental spin, loosely adhering to Eric Broser's Power/Rep Range/Shock system. [More on that later]. We described our Rep Range workouts last month, so it's time to move into Shock mode -- at least in the workouts to follow. We're also including a bodypart-by-bodypart 10x10 analysis, explaining what we've found to be the best exercises and/or set-and-rep sequences.
But first some review.
To use 10x10, take a weight that you can get 20 reps with and then do only 10; rest 30 seconds, and do 10 more. Continue until you've completed 10 sets of 10 reps. The first few sets will be easy, the last few brutal -- and you may be able to get only 8 or 9 reps on your last 2 sets. In fact, if you get 10 reps on all 10 sets, add weight at your next workout.
As for Power/Rep Range/Shock, that's a weekly change in the workout protocol:
POWER week: Do all or most sets in the 4-6 rep range.
REP RANGE week: Do sets in three rep ranges -
7 to 9; 10-12; and 13-15.
SHOCK week: Do all sets in the 8-10 range, but add intensity techniques like drop sets, supersets, DC training, etc.
Of course, with 10x10 we've bastardized the protocols somewhat. That's because we started getting some amazing progress with the method and so began using it on all bodyparts every week.
For example, during Power week we'd go heavy on our big, midrange-position, or compound, exercise as well as our stretch-position move, but we'd do 10x10 on the more isolated contracted-position exercise to finish with serious muscle engorgement.
For example, we'd end quads with 10x10 on leg extensions -- unbelievably painful and intense.
Rep Range week had us doing 10x10 on our first exercise, the midrange-position move, and we'd follow with various rep ranges on the stretch- and contracted-position exercises.
Shock week, as you'll see, had us all over the map -- whatever we felt was the best 10x10 attack for a particular bodypart, we did it. On the remaining exercises we did drop sets or supersets.
So what are our favorite 10x10 assaults for each bodypart?
Let's go through the muscle groups.
MONDAY: CHEST, CALVES, ABS
It's a stubborn bodypart for both of us so we've tried 10x10 on a number of exercises. Standard flat bench presses got our chest very sore, as did wide grip dips. On the free-bar version we both seem to involve our front delts too much, and on the Smith machine there's a drag on the negative stroke, which lessons the severity of the trauma.
That means we opt for bench presses most of the time as the 10x10 exercise, trying to touch the bar at the mid-pec area to better involve the entire chest. We may try Vince Gironda neck presses, lowering the bar to the base of the neck, to see what kind of soreness we get; however, we've read that shoulder impingement is more probable with that version. Luckily, the poundage is lighter when you use 10x10, so injury is usually out of the picture.
As for isolation exercises, the 10x10 method didn't seem to go well with cable work, even when we tried 8x12. It may be the drag of the stack or simply our lack of neuromuscular efficiency in our pecs. Our favorite way to use cable work is to superset it with wide grip dips -- dips first, then immediately afterward middle or low cable flyes.
We were surprised that we got the most soreness from standing calf raises. After thinking about it, however, we figure that it's probably because of the need for more control on the negative stroke. Stretch moves like leg press calf raises and machine donkey calf raises didn't give us the microtrauma with 10x10. Actually, we do 8x15 for calves, as they're a more endurance-oriented muscle group.
As we mentioned last month, our standard calf routine is one set of leg press calf raises -- 15 reps to failure just to wake up the gastrocs and get the blood flowing. Then it's 8x15 on standing calf raises, which burn like the fires of hell from set three on. We end calves with one high-rep set of seated calf raises, although we're kicking around the idea of moving those to Friday for 8x15. That would give the calves a second hit when they're not already fried.
We get the most muscular trauma -- from rib cage to pelvis -- using 10x10 on incline knee-ups. We follow with a tri-set of Ab Bench crunches full range crunches on the bench press bench and end-of-bench knee-ups.
TUESDAY: BACK, FOREARMS
It's probably no surprise that chins do a better job than pulldowns; however, you may be surprised to learn that the parallel grip version is what produces the most soreness from armpits to obliques. Standard overgrip semi-wide grip chins got us sore more in the upper lat, or teres, area. Interesting.
The real problem with any type of chinup is that we can't manage 10x10. We do Gironda's 8x8 instead, and our reps still tail off on the last few sets -- down to seven or even six. We follow with supersets of dumbbell pullovers and under-grip pulldowns or rope rows.
Because there is so much overlap between lats and mid-back, we finally decided to stop doing 10x10 on mid-back moves. We were doing 8x10 on chest supported dumbbell rows, but it simply didn't feel effective after we'd blown our our lats -- and biceps -- with 8x8 on chins.
So for mid-back we decided on three heavy sets of chest supported dumbbell rows, followed by behind the neck pulldowns supersetted with bentover rows. One superset is all we do because there are stull upper traps to contend with.
For upper traps we always do 10x10 on close grip barbell upright rows. Killer! Then we follow with one heavy set of barbell shrugs. The main reason we always do upright rows is that they hit the upper traps with a compound move, and they also give us residual delt work. Our delts are another problem area, so getting some extra work early in the week is a good strategy.
Since forearms are a lot like calves -- high endurance muscles -- we decided to stick with 8x15 on reverse wrist curls and wrist curls. Before we blow 'em out with that, though, we hit three quick sets of reverse curls with an EZ-curl bar for brachialis work -- which also gives the forearms a great warmup.
WEDNESDAY: QUADS, HAMSTRINGS
This is one bodypart for which we have a hard time choosing our ideal 10x10 assault. We get an incredible burn and ache with old style hack squats -- heels elevated and bar behind the glutes. We get the most severe torching, however, with leg extensions, which we do for 8x12. When we do the old style hacks with 10x10, we follow with one or two supersets of sissy squats and leg extensions. If we're doing the technique on leg extensions, we start quads with three heavy sets of old style hack squats and two heavy sets of sissy squats. Then we move on to 8x12 on the extensions.
The jury is still out on the best hamstring route. Hyperextensions, done with the lower back locked flat throughout the set, provide the most soreness; however, leg curls, done with Vince's 8x8, sear the hams with an ultimate burn. If we do the hypers for 8x10, we usually follow with one slow set of stiff legged deadlifts, then three sets of leg curls. If we end with 8x8 on leg curls, we start with three sets of heavy hypers and one set of slow stiff legged deadlifts.
Why not stiff legged deadlifts for 8x10? We found that we start emphasizing our lower backs too much and our form degrades when the set starts getting tough, pre-disposing us to injury. Hypers are much safer and easier to control, but you must keep your back flat to get the hamstrings working.
We begin every delt routine with a pressing exercise -- and lately it's been standing dumbbell presses; however, we stopped doing it in 10x10 style. As we watched each other do the exercise, we could tell there was no way the medial delts were getting the brunt of the stress. As we've said in the past, overhead pressing is primarily a front delt developer. We do three sets, which warm up the medial heads.
We tried lots of medial head exercises in 10x10 style and finally settled on lean forward laterals. They were a favorite of Larry Scott's when he trained at Vince's Gym under Gironda's watchful and cantankerous eye. We do them a bit differently in that we lean forward on the Ab bench. That prevents any lean back cheating.
So our delt routine remains constant: Dumbbell presses for three sets, incline one arm laterals supersetted with one arm cable laterals for one round. 8x10 on forward lean laterals and two sets of bentover laterals for the rear heads.
Our triceps routine also stays constant: decline extensions for 8x10 and cable pushdowns supersetted with bench dips for two rounds. Keep in mind that our triceps get a lot of work during our chest routine on Monday, so we don't want to overdo the tri torching on arm day.
This routine has stayed constant as well. We do standing dumbbell curls for 8x10, incline dumbbell curls for one drop set and concentration curls for one drop set.
We used to do brachialis work after biceps, but we've decided that the reverse curls at Tuesday's forearm workout gives us enough direct work for the brachs.
Those are our findings up to the moment. With our recent eight-pound gain we're convinced 10x10 is a mega-mass builder worth taking for a spin. It has to do with workout density -- more work in the same or less time. We'll have more on that next month. If you want to explore more about the method, see the new Ultimate 10x10 Mass Workout. [More on that later.]
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