This method Is conceived to take advantage of the four mechanisms of muscle growth, all "layered" into a single brutal set.
It might look kind of an ordinary set to untrained eyes, but there's a lot going on. These four layers, in the optimal sequence, can really stimulate maximum growth.
Bere are the main points of the method.
First step : choose an exercise and the right weight. Make sure it's an exercise in which the target muscle can be stretched under load with maximum tension. Pick a weight that's around 70% of your max (about 12 normal reps to failure)
LAYER ONE – DO 4-6 REPS WITH A 4-SECOND NEGATIVE.
Perform the eccentric/negative phase slowly (about 4 REAL seconds) and use the fullest range of motion possible to really feel a muscle stretch at the bottom of the movement.
Do reps this way until you feel like you only have 1-2 left in the tank. Do not go to failure. That should be around 4-6 reps when done properly.
LAYER TWO – DO 3-5 REGULAR SPEED REPS.
Without rest, switch to regular reps. The eccentric is done under control but not slow. Just as you would normally do.
Push as hard as you can on the concentric/lifting portion. You can even use some SLIGHT momentum when you feel like you can't complete normal reps.
Go to failure. Just make sure you finish on a completed rep instead of failing midway or at the bottom. You'll need to start the next layer from the top. You should get an additional 3-5 reps in this layer.
LAYER THREE – DO A SINGLE 8-10 SECOND NEGATIVE.
Finish the dynamic portion of your set by doing one last super-slow eccentric/negative. Don't worry about not being able to lift it back up; you won't have to. Shoot for an 8-10 second negative.
Not for the faint-hearted!
LAYER FOUR – HOLD THE BOTTOM STRETCH 15-20 SECONDS.
Again without rest, finish your set by holding a loaded stretch at the bottom of the movement. But don't just "hold" the bottom position of the lift. Try to "pull with gravity" to get an even deeper stretch.
Hold that position for as long as tolerable. Most will reach 15-20 seconds. I don't recommend trying to push It further.
Remember, this whole thing is done as a continuous set. There are no pauses or breaks between layers.
One set is enough if done properly, maybe two for the most badass mofos. You can do one or two "normal" sets to prepare yourself for the intense effort to come, but if you feel like you can do more than two work sets, you didn't do it right, this should leave your muscles smashed!
There are several pathways to stimulate muscle growth. That's why people can build bigger muscles using all kinds of different, and often opposite, methods. This method was designer to hit all of those pathways in one set. Let's look closer at those pathways. NERD ALERT!!!
PATHWAY 1 – MUSCLE DAMAGE
After you cause microtrauma to muscle fibers, the body not only repairs the damage but makes the fiber a bit thicker to be more resilient. The main mechanism to cause muscle damage? Lengthening or stretching a muscle fiber while it's tensed or contracting.
Most of the damage occurs during the eccentric/negative portion of the movement (when you're lengthening the muscle fibers). But the muscle fibers must be contracting when you lengthen them to cause muscle damage. Basically, the damage occurs when the muscle attempts to resist the stretch.
You need to use a fairly heavy weight. Lighter weight leads to less muscle tension, which reduces the amount of damage you can cause on each rep.
You also need to control the eccentric. Going too fast during that phase will lead to a release of muscle tension, reducing the potential for damage.
A sufficient number of reps per set is also needed to maximize muscle damage. These reps are actually more important than time under tension for muscle damage. Each time you stretch a muscle fiber under load, you cause damage. If you increase each rep's duration, you don't increase the damage because it's the range of motion of the rep that sets the limit to how much damage you can create. Doing the same range slower doesn't increase the amount of damage.
That's why sets of 6-10 reps are superior to sets of 1-5 reps for maximum muscle growth.
PATHWAY 2 – MTOR ACTIVATION
Basically, mTOR is the "master regulator" of muscle cell protein synthesis. The turnaround point (where you switch from eccentric to concentric when the muscle is lengthened) is the key to get maximum mTOR activation.
If you can feel a stretch in the target muscle at the end of the eccentric phase and create a strong contraction from that position to lift the weight, you'll get a lot of mTOR activation. This Is a key component to trigger maximum anabolism.
PATHWAY 3 – MUSCLE FATIGUE
Muscle fatigue helps stimulate growth in several different ways. First, it increases the recruitment of fast-twitch fibers, which are more prone to growth.
Second, it slows down muscle contractions, which will increase the tension you must produce to keep moving the weight. It will also augment the accumulation of lactate and growth factors via an increase in time under tension.
Third, the depletion of phosphagens, which occurs when you cause local muscle fatigue during intense activity, could, itself, be a stimulus for growth. That's the theory at least.
These are the reasons why some studies show equal muscle growth between heavy (around 80%) and light (as low as 30%) loads, provided the sets are taken to failure.
Why would fatigue increase the recruitment of fast-twitch fibers? After all, aren't fast-twitch fibers those that aren't resistant to fatigue and perform better during higher intensities and shorter duration efforts?
It's because of the way muscle fibers are recruited. Usually, the nervous system will start by recruiting the slow-twitch fibers, which are weaker but more resistant to fatigue. If the weight you have to lift requires more force than the slow-twitch fibers can produce by themselves, the nervous system will start to bring intermediate fibers into play. And if you reach a point where those intermediate fibers aren't strong enough to lift the weight, you'll start to bring the fast-twitch fibers into your set.
Since the load remains the same, but you get weaker from rep to rep, the weight represents a greater proportion of your strength capacity on every repetition. For example, a weight that's 70% of your max on rep one might be closer to 80-85% of what you can lift when you reach rep five.
That's why when fatigue accumulates, you can start to recruit more fast-twitch fibers, even with a fairly light weight.
Still awake? 😂
PATHWAY 4 – LACTATE AND GROWTH FACTORS
These are the metabolic factors involved in stimulating growth. Specifically, when you resistance train, the body will release certain substances that can play a role in triggering protein synthesis or other mechanisms that can positively influence growth. The two main ones are lactate and IGF-1/MGF.
Lactate is interesting because it can facilitate muscle growth itself. Lactate accumulation can increase the release of follistatin. Follistatin is a binding protein that inhibits myostatin.
Myostatin is essentially the governor of muscle growth: the more you have, the less muscle your body will allow you to grow. Follistatin, by inhibiting myostatin, can thus positively impact growth. Lactate is also interesting because it can stimulate the release of IGF-1 and mechanical growth factors, which are two amazingly anabolic hormones.
To get the lactate accumulation necessary for those benefits, you need a long enough time under tension (40-70 seconds) during the set, with a high enough load so that by the time you hit the duration, you're close to your limit.
That's where the final layer is key. Loaded stretching increases the sensitivity of the IGF-1 receptors . By adding a loaded stretch at the end of your set, you'll get more muscle fatigue, lactate, IGF-1, and greater IGF-1 receptor sensitivity.
By the end of the set, you essentially set off a muscle-growth bomb in your body. Now just embrace the pain and go balls to the wall!