Posts Tagged ‘Muscle Strength’

You’ve probably cottoned on to the fact that I feel really strongly training legs. If you use the analogy of building a house, you wouldn’t have weak foundations with solid brick on top. If you did, the whole thing would come crashing down. The body is the same. Your legs are your foundations so they need to be strong. I’ve been doing a new workout for legs for the last few weeks and it really seems to be working so I thought I’d share it with you guys.

For the last few years I’ve been training alone and have become pretty used to being able to stay motivated and push myself hard. However, I recently started training with an old friend. This is the guy who originally introduced me to weight lifting. Over the last few weeks, the one thing that has become painfully clear, and I mean really painfully clear is that I’ve been training well within in my comfort zone for the last few years. I wouldn’t say I’ve just been going through the motions but I probably haven’t gotten as strong as I possibly could have. Having someone to train with has reintroduced the element of healthy competition and increased motivation. This in turn has helped to crank up the intensity levels of the workouts.

It’s not just me that’s noticing the increased intensity either! The other day, a guy came up to me in the gym and asked, “Are you going to compete?” I was a bit bemused, because I don’t look like a pro bodybuilder or strongman but I assume he meant one of those two things. When I asked why he thought I was competing (in whatever he thought it was) he simply said “because you’ve got a coach”. I found this  amusing but I can see how a training partner giving simple instructions and motivation during a set can look like he’s coach!

Anyway, on to the new leg routine. In the few years that we haven’t trained together, we’ve both developed different approaches to building leg muscle and strength. I tend to favour barbell squats, Bulgarian split squats, and walking lunges for the core exercises. I tend not to use any of the machines such as leg extension. My friend on the other hand, due to an injury a long time ago prefers to avoid heavy squats and prefers more of a bodybuilding routine utilising the pre-exhaustion theory and sticks to the leg press machine. We decided that in order to train together, we would follow his routine for muscle hypertrophy (muscle size growth) one week and my routine strength based routine the next. At first I was sceptical, but having run the program for few weeks, I’m starting to feel the benefits of changing things up a little bit.

A quick word on pre-exhaustion

This is a strength training method that was popularised by bodybuilder Mike Mentzer. The object of any exercise is to reach failure, often times during heavy compound movements like Bench press, your tricep and shoulder muscles may burn out BEFORE the larger chest muscles. This means that you are not quite able to take your chest to complete failure as you are limited by the strength of your Tris/shoulders. So, the idea of pre exhausting is to perform an isolation exercise for the large muscle right before performing the compound movement. What this does is to exhaust the large muscle (the chest) and then when you do the compound movement such as the bench press, it gives the smaller muscles a better opportunity to help your chest reach complete failure. The amount of weight you can lift on the compound movement following pre exhaustion will be lower but failure is much more likely to be achieved and failure is what increases muscle mass and strength.

So, here are the basic two leg routines that we alternate each week.

Leg Routine 1:

Warm up = Cycle or cross trainer for 5 – 10 minutes

Barbell squat = 5 sets (2 warm ups and 3 all out working sets) 5 = 10 reps

Leg press / Walking lunges / Bulgarian split squat = 2 heavy sets of 10 – 15 reps (Just select one of the above exercises)

Romanian deadlift = 3 sets x 10 reps

Standing calf raises = 3 – 5 sets. As many reps as possible on each set.

Abdominal superset: Weighted decline sit ups x 20 reps – Lying leg raises x 2- reps – Hanging leg or knew raises x 20 reps

Leg Routine 2:

Warm up = Cycle or cross trainer for 5 – 10 minutes

Deadlifts = 5 sets (2 warm ups and 3 working sets) 5-6 reps

Superset x 3 sets

Leg extension machine 12 reps + Leg press x 10+ reps.

Standing calf raises = 1 drop set till failure

Abdominal superset: Weighted decline sit ups x 20 reps – Lying leg raises x 2- reps – Hanging leg or knew raises x 20 reps

Note: Every rep on the superset must be performed in a controlled and slow fashion. Really ensure that you pause at the top of every rep for the leg extension. Your quads should be burning by the time to get to the leg press machine. The aim on the leg press is to go as heavy as you can safely manage.

The two routines above don’t look like much on paper, but trust me, you’ll really be gassing at the end and your legs will feel pumped if you push yourself. Give them a go and let me know what you think.

One final note, as always, is to make sure your form is perfect on every exercise. If your form isn’t perfect then lower the weight to that which you can do perfectly.