Nutrition and training expert John Parrillo is an innovator who has been on the cutting edge of bodybuilding for more than two decades. His ideas go against conventional wisdom and have been hailed as revolutionary by some and dismissed by others. Some people think he’s an exercise and nutrition genius who knows more about maximizing muscle growth and losing body fat than just about anyone else around, while others think he doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about. In any case, John was among the first to embrace the idea of Super Hybrid Muscle. In fact, he was really the first one to develop the first hybrid training system.
More than 15 years ago he caught on to the idea of Super Hybrid Muscle and began having his bodybuilders doing really high intensity cardio. John realized that by doing this, his guys were actually altering the composition of their muscle fibers. He called this form a resistance training the “100 rep extended set,” saying that it helped the body to construct more mitochondria-the muscles’ “cellular blast furnaces,” while also increasing muscular growth by developing the circulatory pathways that provide nourishment to the muscles. As the cellular blast furnaces, mitochondria are extremely important to muscle because they’re the energy-supplying systems of the muscle cells.
Every muscle has a certain number of mitochondria-the more mitochondria in the muscle, the greater its potential for growth. So by forcing the body into creating more mitochondria, you’re setting the stage for big increases muscle strength, stamina and endurance. Ordinary muscle fibers are either built for strength or endurance-not really for both. By forcing the body to increase the number of mitochondria in the muscle cells, you’re also causing a metamorphosis that converts ordinary muscle fiber into Super Hybrid Muscle fiber. And not only that, but a human body loaded with mitochondria is far less likely to accumulate body fat than a body with fewer mitochondria.
While researching ways in which to reconfigure the composition of muscle fiber, John realized that the answer could be found in the past. Looking back, he realized that prolonged, intense physical effort causes a working muscle to build additional mitochondria, resulting in big gains in muscle strength and stamina. Part of this realization came from looking at railroad workers from the 1860s. These guys would lay track all day long using a 4-pound sledgehammer developing powerful arms, forearms and shoulders loaded with mitochondria, strength and endurance. But because their legs weren’t being exercised as intensely, they stayed the same.
So basically, John’s 100 Rep Giant Set training routine recreates this kind of super intense, prolonged workout.
Here’s how it works. You start by picking a single muscle group, doing 20 reps of an exercise, then launch right into 20 reps of the next exercise. Immediately after that, you do 20 reps of another exercise, followed by 2 more sets of 20 reps each of two different exercises. There is no rest allowed between the 20-rep sets. At the end of all this, you’ve done a total of 100 reps, almost sequentially. Now you can rest for no more than 1 minute before starting the whole cycle again, repeating it at least 2-3 times total.
That is one hell of a tough workout – especially when you realize that you’ve just done 200-300 reps for a single muscle. In a normal workout, even on a high rep day, most guys aren’t going to even hit 100 for a single muscle. The important thing to remember here is that the workout needs to be intense. You don’t want to be screwing around wasting time by not making it challenging. At the same time though, you don’t want to start out with a weight that’s too heavy because once you start, you need to commit to finishing with the same weight. No drop sets here.
You can do 100 Rep Giant Sets for any body part-you’re not limited to just certain muscle groups. You can also do it whether you use machines or free weights but you’ll always get the best results from free weights because they force each limb to carry its fair share of the total weight, requiring each muscle to perform equally, making free weights far better muscle-building tools than machines. You should do the 100 Rep Giant Sets once or twice a week, rotating body parts for about eight weeks.
If you tell most bodybuilders that you’re going to be doing 100-rep sets to build strength, stamina and size, they’re likely to ask if you’ve gone out of your flipping mind. Most hardcore bodybuilders reject this philosophy entirely because it runs directly contrary to the all-known logic – fewer repeats, bigger weights – equals bigger muscle growth.
Even though the path to getting there is a bit different, the underlying principle and ultimate goals of 100 Rep Giant Sets and Lean Hybrid Muscle training are the same. Both rely on grueling workouts that combine resistance training and cardio activities to force the body to increase the number of mitochondria to build Super Hybrid Muscle.