How to boost muscle growth? You would think there was a simple answer, but finding a training system that guarantees continued growth is no easy task.
Why? Because once you reach a certain level of development it takes a dying effort to add each centimeter or kilo of new muscle.
Around 60 years ago, bodybuilders at the time would do ten sets of ten repetitions for each muscle group.
And today this system can be just as effective.
Read on to learn about the 10×10 system
If anything is true in the bodybuilding world, it’s that there is not a single training system that will work for everybody or one that will always work.
This is why there are so many training systems developed to stimulate muscular hypertrophy. Even so, it is true that some methods give better and particularly, longer-lasting results than others, and produce size and strength gains in the vast majority of cases.
The trend in recent years has been for systems that push you beyond the threshold of muscle failure but only briefly, i.e doing very few sets and reps.
But a large number of bodybuilders do not respond well to this approach and those who do often plateau sooner rather than later.
In our search for muscular hypotrophy, we’ve decided to shake the dust off the 10×10 system.
What Is The 10×10 System?
Hardcore bodybuilders of old made great progress using methods of training that have all but fallen into disuse today.
Quite a few years have gone by since the original iron guru Vince Gironda popularized the 10×10 training system, which consisted of doing ten sets of ten reps for a single muscle group.
More specifically this was done by choosing a single exercise per body part, preferably a basic compound movement, and completing ten sets of ten repetitions of that exercise and nothing else, without reaching muscle failure at any point.
The intensity of this method comes from the total volume of work that is thrust upon the muscle, rather than from the intensity of individual sets or reps.
Obviously, if you took each set to failure you would never be able to do ten without considerably reducing the poundages or rep counts.
Research has, in fact, shown, that not only is it not necessary to always reach muscle failure in order to stimulate growth but also that for many this actually impedes growth, because the nervous system it creates is so great that very few people can recover from this levels of exertion.
Anyway as we said before, no system works always, or for everybody, or provides consistent unending growth.
But I can assure you, the 10×10 system has been around for more than five decades and has given some excellent results to so many great bodybuilders, the list would easily fill the rest of this page.
Advantages of The 10×10 System
Apart from the fact that training this way gives your muscles a big surprise, it has more than a few advantages in its favor.
For example, many people find it difficult to go all out over just three or four sets, because they need some time to get mentally adjusted to the exercise.
It is quite normal that in going from one exercise to another you might need two or three sets just to adopt a new movement so that it feels natural and comfortable for joints and muscles and nerves it activates. As such with each successive set gets more and more effective.
No Forcing to Failure
The metal aspect is hugely significant in bodybuilding, especially when it comes to high-intensity training.
Each time you ask your body to go all out you hit a mental barrier, as your mind tries to stop you doing something that is not natural or comfortable, and you are fighting a psychological as well as a physical battle.
Overtraining is often a result of nervous rather than physical exhaustion, and pushing your body beyond failure every session really takes it out of you.
Even just the fear of failure when you take on maximum sets makes the approach tough to follow and even harder to maintain.
With the 10×10 system you do not use maximum loads, and each set ends before you reach muscle failure.
So despite the physical exertion that goes into doing ten sets for a muscle group, your mind gets rest because you don’t have to force your body to go beyond failure.
10×10 Allows For Full Recovery of Your Joints
Another advantage is that this system allows for full recovery of your joints, tendons, ligaments and connective tissue, which will suffer frequent inflammation, erosion and micro-tearing when you do heavy-duty work.
Here, while the muscle receives a phenomenal amount of work, the joints, and tendons, etc, can work in relative comfort.
Also, worth mentioning is that unless you are strictly following a heavy-duty training program in which you do only three or four sets per body part, ten sets for one zone is really not all that much.
Many conventional systems recommend three or four sets of two or three exercises for each group, which equals 9-12 sets, and some even go up to 16-20 sets per group.
There is one other thing about doing successive sets of the same exercise that is of enormous value to bodybuilding, which is the perfection of the movement.
Just the act of doing that many repetitions will make you a master of the technique for each exercise you use, so that in the end you will be doing perfect form with your eyes closed.
Who Should Use The 10X10 System?
Evidently this method is not meant for by beginners, who would normally not be ready to do ten consecutive sets of any exercise.
It is, however, perfect for all bodybuilders who at least have a couple of years of training under their belts, including both intermediate and advanced athletes.
Intermediate trainers could resort to the 10×10 system to put a rocket up any group that appears to have hit a sticking point, or now and again could apply it systematically to all body parts for an overall boost of accelerated growth.
Advanced athletes can use the system at their own discretion, being perfectly capable of fully recovering and making progress while doing ten sets of ten for any muscle group, and might also enjoy changing the exercise used for each group from session to session.
The 10×10 system has been around for decades, and although you could call it old school now it is no less effective for it.
In fact, after so many years and with so many ‘new’ and supposedly scientifically proven training methods out there, this old technique still provides a reliable shock treatment to your muscles to unleash renewed and accelerated growth. Try it… you might just like it!
References & Acknowledgments
Excerpts taken from the excellent article ‘The 10×10 System’, Author – Dan Smith, Body Fitness magazine