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When it comes to building a better body, every guy is looking for an edge.
And while some men might opt for a trip to an underground pharmacy, the rest of us want a safer, smarter short cut to more muscle. And I’ve found your advantage: fast-twitch muscle training. It’s the X factor that’ll help you pack on new muscle, add strength and even burn more fat. Let’s make one thing clear: nothing can help you increase the quantity of your fast-twitch fibres. That was determined at birth. This leaves you with a choice: pray that you won the genetic lottery, or find the best way to make your fast-twitch fibres bigger. Follow this two-step approach and you’ll build more muscle than you ever thought possible.
Test Your Fast-Twitch Fibres
You can activate your fast-twitch fibres two ways – by lifting heavier weights or by lifting lighter weights very quickly. Take this test to determine your fast-twitch ratio. The result will tell you how you need to lift in order to see the fastest improvement.
Test your 1-rep max on the bench press (see “How to test your 1-rep max,” right). Then rest 5 minutes.
Select a weight that’s 45% of your 1-rep max. (So if your max is 100kg, you’ll start with about 45kg.) Try to perform 5 reps in 5 seconds.
If you succeed, rest 1 to 2 minutes and then repeat the test, this time using 5 to 10% more weight. Keep adding 5 to 10% until you can no longer complete 5 reps in 5 seconds.
Calculate your fast-twitch ratio: simply divide the heaviest weight you could lift in 5 seconds by your 1-rep max. If you lifted 60kg in 5 seconds and your max is 100, your ratio would be 60%.
Now that you’ve determined your fast-twitch ratio, select one of the workouts below to do as your upper-body routine at least twice a week, making sure you never do an upper-body routine two days in a row. Alternate between exercises that share the same number (1A and 1B, for example) until you complete all exercises in the pairing. Then move on to the next exercise. Select a weight that allows you to perform at least the minimum number of reps listed.
Arbell bench press
Lying face up on a bench, grab a barbell using an overhand grip that’s just beyond shoulder width and hold it above your sternum with your arms straight. Lower the bar, pause and press the bar in a straight line back to the starting position.
Sit in a lat pull-down machine and grab the bar using a shoulder-width, underhand grip. Lean back until your body forms a 30-degree angle with the floor. Hold this position for the entire exercise. With-out moving your torso, pull the bar down to your chest. Pause and slowly return to the starting position.
Dumbbell incline-bench press
Set an adjustable bench to an incline of 15 to 30 degrees. Lie face up on the bench and hold the dumbbells above your shoulders with your arms straight. Lower the dumbbells to your chest. Pause and then press the weights back up to the starting position.
Hold a pair of dumbbells, bend at your hips and knees and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor. Let the dumbbells hang at arm’s length from your shoulders, your palms facing behind you. Bend your elbows and pull the dumbbells to the sides of your torso. Pause and slowly lower them.
Attach a rope to the high pulley of a cable station and hold an end in each hand. Back a few steps away from the stack until your arms are straight in front of you. Flare your elbows, bend your arms and pull the middle of the rope towards your eyes so your hands end up in line with your ears. Pause and reverse the move to the starting position.
Dynamic effort bench press
Perform a barbell bench press. On the first set, use the heaviest weight that allows you to do 5 reps in 5 seconds. Then add 5 to 10% more weight and try for 5 reps in 6 seconds. Rest and then keep adding 5 to 10% more weight until you can no longer complete the 5 reps in 6 seconds. Then move to the next exercise.
Dynamic effort inverted row
Grab a barbell secured at shoulder height, using an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Hang with your arms straight and your feet elevated on a bench. Pull your shoulder blades back and lift your chest to the bar. Pause and slowly lower your body to the starting position. Do 5 reps in 5 seconds. If that’s too hard, place your feet on the floor. Do as many sets as you did on the dynamic effort bench press, then move on to the next exercise.
Stand holding a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length next to your sides, your palms facing each other and elbows slightly bent. Without changing the bend in your elbows, raise your arms at a 30-degree angle to your body (so they form a Y) until they’re at shoulder level. Pause and slowly lower the weight back to the starting position.