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Q: I'm using the four-day version of The X-traordinary 4X Mass Workout. Will that help me stay as lean as possible over the winter? In the past, I've had trouble in that area. I tend to blow up to a smooth fat boy over the holidays. Is 4X the way to go so I don't chub up?

A: First, understand that no workout program will prevent you from becoming president of the Chub Club if you eat like crap all the time. We're not saying you can't enjoy some fattening foods and desserts every so often, but it sounds like you lose control. Moderation is the key. Stay on a healthy diet most days during the week, but allow one or two for splurges. Do NOT make junk meals an everyday occurrence. Imagine YOU in this picture to stay on track...

Lean guy on the beach with two bikini-clad women - Lean-and-Muscular Winter-Workout Tips

That said, yes, 4X can help you be more of a lean machine. The reason is that it bolsters the mitochondria, where fat is burned, in muscle cells. Remember, 4X is taking a weight with which you can get 15 reps, but you only do 10, rest 30 seconds, then do 10 more, and so on until you complete four sets of 10 reps. The last set should be an all-out effort.

Sounds a little like interval cardio, doesn't it? A good example of that highly effective fat-burning method is on a running track—you sprint the straight-aways for intensity and walk the turns for active rest. As respected muscle-building researcher Jerry Brainum said:

"Subjects doing interval cardio show heightened activity in the portion of the cells where fat is burned and oxygen is used, the mitochondria."

Athlete running - Lean-and-Muscular Winter-Workout Tips

But you don't have to go to a running track. You get that same turbo-charged fat-burning effect in the gym with 4X training for every bodypart—each set is like a sprint and the 30-second rests are like walking the curves as the target muscles regroup...

PLUS, research suggests that heightened BLOOD FLOW can help you burn fat from selective areas. You read that right—scientists have discovered that blood flow to specific areas can enhance spot reduction of bodyfat, something that was previously thought to be a myth. (Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 292(2):E934-9) In other words, 4X sequences on crunches and leg raises can help you burn off more bellyfat.

Another way to enhance your fat-to-muscle results is using negative-accentuated sets. Slowing down the negative, or lowering stroke, of each repetition can cause more muscle trauma—and your body will burn bodyfat during the recovery process between workouts to repair those microtears. Back to researcher Jerry Brainum:

"The repair of damaged fibers leads to biochemical changes that result in a higher resting metabolic rate."

So with a little extra emphasis on muscle trauma with negative-accentuated sets (NA), you can burn bodyfat 24/7—even when you're sitting still. Think of NA sets as a bodyfat smart bomb.

Okay, you're using the 4X Mass Workout, that is a 4X sequence for every exercise, so how can you incorporate NA sets? On most exercises, you can simply do the fourth set in NA style—that is one second up and six seconds down. You're using the same moderate poundage all the way through, so that should allow you six or seven NA reps...

If you’re so fatigued that you only get four or five NA reps on that last set, have your partner help you get the weight up so you can continue with a few more slow negatives to total about 7 NA reps. Remember, fight to lower each rep in six seconds...

If you train alone, reducing the weight on the fourth set of your 4X sequence is another way to go and almost as effective. Decrease it enough during your 30-second rest to allow you to complete seven NA reps on your own. We like to do that on rack pulls, turning the last set into more of a wide-grip upright row...

Jonathan Lawson wide-grip rack pulls - Lean-and-Muscular Winter-Workout Tips

Does it work? We've used an NA set for each major bodypart and maintained a much harder, leaner look over winters in the past—allowing us to keep our abs, which amazed us considering our higher calorie intakes. Here's a shot of Steve taken in the gym right after New Years a few years ago—even though he's pasty winter white, his abs are defined enough to show up in this pic...

Steve Holman post-New Year's abs in winter - Lean-and-Muscular Winter-Workout Tips

NA training works, and with the additional blood flow of 4X it will work even better to get you bigger and keep you leaner...

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

—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson
www.X-Rep.com


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Note: This is NOT traditional HIIT or boring steady-state cardio

 
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