Building Mass With Speed Reps


by Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson Iron Man Magazine

Q: What’s your opinion of loosening exercise form at the end of a set to get a few more reps? On curls I keep the reps strict for the first six or seven, then use some upper-body motion to complete two to three more. I’m using the 4X method, so the weight [throughout the four sets] is only moderate, not heavy. I’m using momentum only to fight the fatigue buildup at the end of the fourth set. Is that okay, or should I keep my reps strict through the entire 4X sequence?

A: Because the poundage is moderate on a 4X sequence, that’s all the more reason to keep it strict all the way through. Momentum will only take the tension off the target muscle. A very slight form alteration is acceptable, but keep it as strict as possible to the end of the fourth set.

We like a recommendation by Casey Viator, a former pro bodybuilder from the ’80s who used to train with Mike Mentzer. He suggested that instead of loosening your form on the last few reps, concentrate on speeding up the movement there:

“The movement hardly speeds up at all, but it seems easier to complete reps by concentrating on the effect. Your brain has fired a volley of impulses to the muscle being worked to recruit more fibers to do the work.”

So if you tell your mind to speed up the rep, that can force the target muscle to fire dormant fibers to get the job done without sacrificing form. That’s a mind/muscle link to get you growing.

—Steve Holman and Jonathan Lawson

Editor’s note: The above is adapted from an issue of the IM e-zine. You can get one delivered to your e-mail box every week free: Visit and provide your e-mail address in the upper-left subscribe box

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