by Steve Holman, Iron Man Magazine
Q: I’m using the Size Surge program for the second time. I tried it last winter and got great gains—about 10 pounds. I’m on phase 1, week 4 and have already seen a three-pound muscle gain. I’ve been reading about your 4X mass training. Could I do that on phase 2? Also, I need help with my supplement stack. Currently I’m just taking some creatine monohydrate and a weight gainer. I’m running out, so is there a specific weight gainer you recommend and when should I take it? I know I need the extra calories because I’m a hardgainer.
A: Have you tried a quality meal replacement instead of a weight gainer? Weight gainers usually contain lots of sugar and tend to pack on more fat than muscle. If you want to try the meal-replacement route, I like Muscle Meals—that’s not just a plug; it’s been a staple in my supplement schedule, as well as my former training partner Jonathan Lawson’s, for years.
One packet gives you a quality protein array—micellar casein, egg and whey—as well as CLA, which was shown in a recent study to help build muscle and burn fat; glutamine peptides and vitamins, minerals and even essential fatty acids, another key fat-to-muscle ingredient. A full packet provides 324 calories. I suggest you take it midmorning and midafternoon—between solid-food meals. That would be two packets a day.
If you’re on a budget, use half a packet of Muscle Meals each time, one a day. Instead of water, blend a packet in two cups of milk for extra calories and an additional 20 grams of protein. Since you’re a hardgainer, you can add fruit—banana, blueberries or whatever you like—to pump up the calorie count and muscle-fueling carbs. Even a tablespoon of peanut butter works. Drink half in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. Depending on what you add, each of those servings can give you up to 400 extra calories—800 a day.
Okay, now for your training question. Yes, you can use the 4X mass-training method in Phase 2 of the Size Surge program. That’s a great choice. During Phase 1 you will have been training three days a week with a few heavy sets per exercise on a unique, albeit basic, program. After five weeks of that myofibrillar-dominant training, you’ll be ready for a more balanced attack and a surge in sarcoplasmic expansion to pack on even more mass.
Remember, the myofibrils are the actin and myosin pairings in the fast-twitch fibers that produce force. Standard heavy training affects that size-building “layer.” The sarcoplasm is the energy fluid in those fibers that contains glycogen, mitochondria, ATP and noncontractile proteins. 4X training will get at both the myofibrils and the sarcoplasm for a double dose of muscle growth.
Once again, for 4X you take a weight with which you can get 15 reps, but you only do 10; rest 30 to 40 seconds, then do 10 more—and so on until you complete four sets. You go all out on set four, and if you get 10 reps, you add weight to the exercise at your next workout.
That moderate-poundage, short-rest method will take your muscle size to the next level—myofibrillar size as well as sarcoplasmic expansion. Every workout will get you revved up because you’ll see your muscles expanding before your eyes. You’ll also give your joints, tendons and ligaments a chance to heal after your five weeks of heavy training in phase 1. Plus, for phase 2 of the Size Surge program you will be moving to full-range Positions of Flexion training.
POF has you train each muscle through its midrange, stretch and contracted positions. That usually takes three different exercises, one for each arc of flexion. For example, for lats it’s pulldowns, pullovers and stiff-arm pulldowns, a three-way attack on each muscle that provides growth via a number of different pathways.
1) Midrange gives you synergy—many muscles working together for a more ergonomic action and maximum fiber activation; you fire the most fast-twitch fibers on these exercises. Examples include squats, bench presses and pulldowns.
2) Stretch produces an emergency response from the muscle, which “wakes up” dormant fibers as well as triggering anabolic hormone release in the target muscle and anabolic receptor proliferation (remember the animal study that produced a 300 percent muscle mass increase with only one month of stretch overload; elongation against resistance is very important for extreme muscle growth). Examples include flyes for chest, overhead extensions for triceps and incline curls for biceps.
3) Contracted hits the muscle with occlusion, or blocked blood flow—which means continuous tension throughout the set. That has been shown to build the mitochondria and heighten the release of growth hormone. Examples include cable or pec deck flyes for chest, pushdowns for triceps, laterals for delts.
If you’re going to use the 4X method in phase 2 of the Size Surge program, I recommend the three-way split that appears on pages 55 to 57 of the e-book The X-traordinary Size Surge. While Jonathan Lawson used a two-way split for his phase 2 in the early ’90s, when he gained 20 pounds of muscle in 10 weeks with the SS program, I believe the three-way split will give you more focus and enhanced recovery for optimal supercompensation—full muscle expansion between workouts. Here’s the split:
Workout 1: Chest, triceps
Workout 2: Legs, abs
Workout 3: Back, delts, biceps
Train four days a week—for example, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday—following the workouts as listed. On the fourth day start with workout 1 again, and pick up with the next workout in the cycle on the following Monday. Simply do a 4X or 3X sequences for each exercise for an exciting new surge in muscle size.
Note: The X-traordinary Size Surge is available at www.SizeSurgeWorkout.com. The e-book includes Lawson’s before and after photos as well as his results list—measurement increases, strength gains—various training protocols, full programs, diets, etc.
Editor’s note: Steve Holman is the author of many bodybuilding best-sellers and the creator of Positions-of-Flexion muscle training. For information on the POF DVD and Size Surge programs, see the ad sections it this issue. Also visit www.X-Rep.com and X-Workouts.com for info on X-Rep, 4X and 3D POF methods and e-books. IM