Q: The before and after photos at your X-Rep site are pretty unbelievable. I mean, come on, four weeks to get those changes? You must’ve either lied about the time it took or manipulated the photos. You should be ashamed of yourselves. There’s too much of that deceptive crap on the Internet.

A: Ashamed? Actually, we’re very proud. Those photos are 100 percent authentic and accurate—no photo alterations, no steroids, and they were taken about four weeks apart. (The key technique that made it happen and a step-by-step how-to is coming up.)

Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson before and after photos from X Reps - X-Rep Lies: Before and After Photos

One thing to consider is that those afters were taken under studio lighting, which is more dramatic (Steve even got the blue-light special); however, our results were more dramatic as well. We both made faster progress than we ever had in previous years, which brings up another important point…

We were regaining conditioning. We were already getting into ripped shape every year, usually for a photo shoot; however, that X-Rep year our results happened much faster—with less training—and our size and muscularity rocketed to a whole new level. X-Rep partials were the reason.

Since that time we’ve found a lot of research to verify their effectiveness. For example, Jacob Wilson, BSc., MSc. CSCS, one of the top bodybuilding researchers around today, has noted, “Partial-range reps in the lower range of a muscle [a.k.a. X Reps], can actually add sarcomeres to a muscle fiber, which would fill out the area of a muscle where it is inserted.” Interesting, and that makes a lot of sense…

We believe that may be one reason we made such spectacular progress when we integrated X-Rep partials at the end of some of our sets—adding sarcomeres to muscle fibers creates much more muscle size and detail. You can read about how we first started using X Reps at our homepage—the developmental process was a domino effect thanks to information from a number of training experts. 

In fact, when we started using X Reps, we had no intention of writing an e-book—it was just another of our ongoing training experiments. But after our quick progress, we decided to write The Ultimate Mass Workout, which chronicles our development of X Reps, the research behind them and the complete program we used during that one-month transformation (it also has a lot of before and after photos of us taken under the same lighting). Here’s how to do X Reps, from page 18 of UMW

Step 1: Perform a regular full-range (dynamic) set to positive failure, which should occur at rep nine or 10 on most exercises.

Step 2: Move the bar, machine lever arm, dumbbells or foot plate into the appropriate position for X Reps, with help from your training partner if necessary. (Each exercise has a point along its stroke that’s optimal for target-muscle fiber recruitment; for example, just above the lowest point of an incline press where there is elongation in the pectorals and maximum-force potential.)

Step 3: Do four to six up-and-down pulses in the X-Rep position. Those pulses should be in a range of four to eight inches, relatively short strokes. You should feel the target muscle screaming for relief, but grit your teeth and take that as a sign of extreme growth stimulation. [You may need partner assistance on some exercises.]

Step 4: Terminate the set when you can no longer pulse with the resistance. Take a few deep breaths, stretch and contract the target muscle and feel the blood rushing in. You’ll realize that you’ve done more to trigger growth with that one X-Rep set than most trainees get with three to four conventional sets.

We're fascinated with building muscle quickly without spending a lot of time in the gym—efficiency of effort. So the very next year, we continued to research muscle hypertrophy and developed a number of X-hybrid techniques, such as Double-X Overload and X Fade, in an attempt to accelerate our gains.

Results? We added another 10 pounds of muscle. We were ecstatic because we used to train on our lunch break; we didn’t have a lot of time to spend in the gym—efficient muscle building is a top priority, and we’ve found a number of ways to make that happen.

Most of what we’ve found works big time, and we’re very proud of our techniques and results—not ashamed in the least. [Note: For X-hybrid techniques and the program we used that second year after our X-Rep transformation, see the Beyond X-Rep Muscle Building e-book.]

Till next time, train hard—and smart—for BIG results.

—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson

Build MASS with bodyweight training

One way you’re guaranteed to pack on stacks of muscle is through a process called muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which more than doubles 24 hours after an intense workout…

Until recently, MPS was only elevated when trainees would lift 70-90% of their one-rep max…

That's not only dangerous for your joints, but it also sets you up for high injury risk every time you exercise…

It used to be believed that training with your own bodyweight couldn't get you the same results as training with your 70-90% one rep max… Until NOW. 

--> How to build MASS with bodyweight training

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