An In Depth Look: X-Reps

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This is one of my favourite, Go-To Protocols! Popularised by Steve Holman & Jonathan Lawson (Both Pictured Below) many moons ago, with a whole website & program developed to this method to increase Muscle Mass. This was actually the first ever Program I purchased online when I was at University back in 2005.

The Premise is simple: Complete a set to Failure & then Extend (Hence the ‘X’ in X-Reps) the Time Under xrep16hTension.

I like to utilise it as a full program as laid out below, or included in an assistance part of a strength program/phase. In fact I’ve had great success in using it in the penultimate phase before peaking specific lifts.

Steve & Jonathan write about each lift having a sweet spot where the X-Reps should be performed, which is based off the strength curve of the movement. I like to divide the movement into thirds and then indicate where I would like the X-Reps performed. For example ‘X-Reps: Mid’ would indicate the pulses should be performed in the middle third of the movement.

The key with the pulses is they must be controlled. The goal is time under tension, with tension being the operative word. Bouncing reps & losing tension makes the protocol completely ineffective. Tension equals hypertrophy of the recruited muscle fibres.

The Protocol

  • A1) 3-5 sets x 4-6 reps, 50X0, 120s rest
  • A2) Same & paired antagonistically
  • B1) 2-3 sets x 6-8 reps, 4010, 90s rest
  • B2) Same & paired antagonistically

Students who have attended my Seminars will very often be put through this session to ensure they understand proper execution of the method. It’s certainly my clients are used to doing!

Here’s an example on an Incline Press:

Check out the Program Design Templates for more examples & a Supra-Maximal X-Reps routine!

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