Building muscular size is often all about experimentation. In fact, the 3D HIT program was an experiment into one-set-per-exercise intensity training. There had been lots of research validating one-set training for building strength; however, as we explain in our e-books, packing on muscle size is different than just building strength.
Our solution was one work set per exercise, but also doing one exercise for each position of flexion. That means three exercises for each bodypart. Most HIT routines have one exercise for each muscle, and that’s fine if you’re just looking for strength. We’re looking for muscle size, however, with strength as a side effect, so with 3D HIT we train every muscle through its full range, attacking as much growth stimulation as possible. This is the hierarchy that shows how the different positions of flexion affect every layer of muscle growth (the 3D HIT program hits each of these with one intense work set each…
Midrange Exercise: Max Force
Stretch-Position Exercise: More Max Force Plus Stretch Overload
Contracted-Position Exercise: Continuous Tension/Occlusion/Super Saturation
For those who haven’t followed along, these are the standard 3D biceps positions:
We also add some form of X Reps to the end of most exercises in our 3D HIT program, which helps to get past nervous system failure and activate more fibers. We also do higher reps on the finishing, contracted-position move (like concentration curls for biceps). That gives a final occlusion-induced pump which super saturates the muscle and develops the endurance components of the muscle cells.
Can one work set in each position really be enough? A lot of research says yes, but only if those work sets are as close to perfect as possible. Here’s a checklist…
1) Do sufficient warmup sets. A warm muscle contracts much more effectively than a cold one.
2) Keep your rep cadence at around three seconds, or 1.5 seconds up, 1.5 seconds down. Stay in control at all times to keep tension on the target muscle.
3) Get at least nine reps on most sets. Three seconds per rep times nine reps equals 27 seconds of tension time. 30 seconds has been shown as the lower limit for optimal hypertrophic stimulation.
4) Add X-Rep partials or a Static X at the semistretch position when you can’t get anymore full reps. That extends the tension time on the target muscle (past the critical 30-second mark), activating more fast-twitch growth fibers.
That type of precision is mandatory to get the most out of 3D HIT—one-set-per-exercise training. Will one set for each position build more size for you? It’s certainly worth a try. One benefit you’ll feel immediately is being able to totally focus on one all-out blast per exercise, with no holding back.
The 3D HIT program is also the perfect workout for rotating in specialization routines for one or two bodyparts, as with the biceps and triceps width routines and biceps and triceps peak/sweep routines in the X-traordinary Arms e-book.
About the Author
Jonathan Lawson has been working in the health and fitness industry for over 20 years; weight training for 21 years, competed in numerous bodybuilding competitions, worked for IRON MAN Magazine for 17 years, co-owns X-Rep.com where he has co-published over 15 e-books and writes a daily training blog. He has appeared on the covers of, and been featured in, dozens of international magazines, books and e-books.