A More Efficient GH Response
While research shows that multiple sets of an exercise increase GH more than a single set, using extended-set techniques can cause GH response to happen faster—perhaps after only one or two sets. For example, adding X-Rep partials to a full-range set at exhaustion increases the time under tension as well as the burn, which is lactic acid accumulation, a primary stimulus of GH.
Using extended-set techniques—such as X Reps, supersets and drop sets—is one of the ways I have continued to improve my physique into my 40s and beyond (I’m 49); however, it’s not random application. I use the techniques best suited to an exercise.
IRON MAN readers know that I am a proponent of Positions-of-Flexion training, which is basically training a muscle through its complete range. That usually means three exercises, one each for the midrange, stretch and contracted positions. For example, a POF triceps routine would be close-grip bench presses (midrange), overhead extensions (stretch) and pushdowns (contracted). That trains the triceps muscle at three points along its arc of flexion, which creates full muscular development with minimal waste in the gym. It’s also great for maintaining flexibility as you age, but that’s another story.
Midrange-position exercises. These are the big, basic moves like bench presses and rows. The best tactic for extending midrange sets is X Reps. At exhaustion you move the resistance to a spot at which the target muscle is somewhat stretched, such as near the bottom of incline presses, and continue to do eight-inch partial reps. That increases intensity and fast-twitch-fiber activation, creates some occlusion and muscle burn and encourages GH release.
Stretch-position exercises. These moves put the target muscle into full elongation against resistance, such as overhead extensions for triceps and pullovers for lats. The best tactic for extending stretch-position sets is a static hold in the stretch position at exhaustion. When you can’t do any more full reps, move the resistance into the stretch position and hold for as long as possible. Research suggests that stretch overload triggers anabolic hormone release in muscle tissue, and it’s also been linked to hyperplasia, or fiber splitting.
Contracted-position exercises. These are continuous-tension moves that include the target muscle’s fully flexed position, such as concentration curls for biceps, leg extensions for quads and pushdowns for triceps. Because those exercises don’t allow the muscle to relax during a set, they produce the best occlusion effect, choking off blood flow to the muscle as it works. That heightens muscle burn, which initiates growth hormone release. The best extended-set technique is drop sets—at exhaustion, immediately reduce the weight and continue to do reps to exhaustion.
Training your muscles with POF and adding the optimal extended-set technique to each position is an efficient way to encourage growth hormone release with fewer sets so you can continue building muscle through middle age and beyond.
Editor’s note: For more on 3D POF and X Reps, visit www.X-Rep.com and www.3DMuscleBuilding.com.