By Steve Holman
Author of Old School, New Body
[editors note: just FYI, you can't actually turn fat DIRECTLY into muscle...this article is about burning fat WHILE building muscle, which makes it SEEM like that's happening!]
So let's not beat around the bush; just what is the F4X system? It's a method of training based on one that has been lost and collecting dust. The reason it's been "lost" is because of the emphasis on intensity, which most trainees equate to heavy, joint-jolting workouts.
Go to any gym, and you'll see that most people are either using very light weights and resting too long or pounding their bodies with heavy weights, eventually getting injured.
Contrary to popular belief, heavy bone-crushing poundages are not necessary for fast results.
In fact, they can be detrimental. Those current heavy-training trends can overstress your body, jar your joints and actually damage your immune system because of excess stress hormone release (cortisol) and free-radical proliferation.
You do need to expend effort, but it should be cumulative. What does that mean?
Here's how it works.
Our F4X system calls for moderate poundages for less joint stress and relies on high muscle fatigue for intensity—which means short rests between sets. That results in growth hormone release. GH triggers a veritable muscle-building, fat-burning (and anti-aging) cascade. That hormone decreases significantly as you get older, but this type of training can provide a real resurgence.
F4X is simple to understand: Say you're doing curls. You pick a weight with which you can get about 15 repetitions, but you only do 10. Simple. Rest 35 seconds, then do 10 more—and so on until you complete the designated number of sets—usually four. You go all out on the last one, until you can't get another in good form.
Sounds easy—and the first couple of sets are—but as you continue, fatigue builds in the target muscles, in this case the biceps. On the last few sets you are struggling, your muscles are aching from lactic acid, and you're breathing is rapid (cardio effect). Blood rushes to your biceps for a full muscle pump—enhanced circulation—after only the first few sets.
The number of exercises we prescribe for each muscle group varies, depending on your experience and goals, but you'll get all the fat-to-muscle benefits in about 10 minutes per body part with total workouts lasting 30 to 45 minutes. That will get muscle growth and GH output churning and ugly bodyfat burning—fast!
With F4X you get at the majority of muscle fibers over four sets as fatigue accumulates.
You also train both "sides" of those fibers for exceptional muscle-building and fat-burning effects—with GH release at full-throttle.
The muscle fibers you want to target have two primary constituents, or “sides”: myofibrils and sarcoplasm. The myofibrils are internal strands that grip onto one another to shorten the fiber and produce muscular contraction—like ropes gripping and pulling across one another.
The sarcoplasm is the fluid surrounding the myofibrils, and that "energy” juice contains mostly mitochondria, where fat is burned (your internal lean machines), glycogen (from the sugar in carb foods) and ATP (an energy source from creatine). Here's the difference:
1) The myofibril strands respond, grow and multiply as a result of intense heavier-weight sets.
2) The sarcoplasm increases with extended tension times on the muscle—keeping the muscle working for almost a minute—and/or short rests between sets. Muscle fatigue within a fast-twitch-fiber endurance threshold causes the energy constituents in the sarcoplasm to eventually adapt and increase, so you get a fat-to-muscle effect.
In simple terms, you target the myofibrils to emphasize strength and the sarcoplasm to emphasize muscle expansion, although both do contribute to making a muscle bigger and stronger.
Also, both contribute to burning bodyfat so you get leaner. That means targeting both is important for fastest results.
As we mentioned above, the sarcoplasmic fluid contains the mitochondria where fat is burned—obviously very important for getting and staying lean. With shorter rests between sets, and each set lasting 40 seconds, you stress that "side" of the fiber and fortify those intra-cellular fat-burning furnaces. You're revving those lean machines!
The 40 seconds of tension time and shorter rests between sets also produce more muscle burn, which is a key to growth hormone release. We've already discussed the miraculous fat-burning, anti-aging effects of GH; remember that muscle burn will get your GH to churn. (Can J Appl Physio. 22:244-255; 1997)
Now as far as the myofibrils are concerned, a weight heavy enough to inflict a bit of trauma on those power-generating strands is key. That trauma is micro tears (soreness), and repair of those small tears requires energy. Your body fixes the slight "damage" over a period of days, and while it does that, your metabolism is stoked and you're burning more calories, even at rest. That's right, as you recover from your workouts, your body continues to burn fat 24/7. How great is that?
It's precisely why F4X training can work so extremely well to build you a new muscular body and burn off fat in record time. It's like turning fat into muscle!
We've found four sets per exercise to be optimal for getting at both the myofibrils and the sarcoplasm. What if you do more than four? The more sets you do, the lighter the weight must be to allow the extra sets—and that's more of a sarcoplasmic stimulator, with less effect on the myofibrils.
Remember, you want a balance of myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic stimulation. Our F4X system gives you about a 50/50 mix of both myofibrillar and sarcoplasmic stimulation, so you get the best fat-to-muscle results....
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