While nobody should have fear come leg day at the gym, many of us bodybuilders simply push the notion of doing squats, heavy leg presses, straight-legged dead lifts and the like aside, and barely eek out a less-than-satisfactory workout, or worse yet, avoid training the lower limbs altogether. Well, the only fear you should have come leg day is knowing that if you don't train your quads and hamstrings like a person possessed, that your upper body may become very large and your lower body will remain unsightly small! Now this is the kind of fear that can make you want to run and hide when summer comes and it's too hot to wear jeans or sweat pants.
Replace Fear With Intensity
It is time to put an end to all the dreading of training quads, hamstrings and calves...and instead it is time to start training those body parts with a new passion. It's time to strip away the fear and replace it with intensity, motivation and mind-power, because this is what you are going to need in order to get those legs growing beyond belief.
Arguably, one of the most difficult, energy expending and most effective exercises for training the legs is THE SQUAT. Almost everyone has heard of this exercise, but very few have really taken the time to reap the benefits of this wonderful movement. With this in mind, I am going to explain what is needed to get better-than-average results from a leg workout. From my experience, the squat is an irreplaceable exercise that provides benefits far beyond the capability of adding awesome mass to skinny legs. This exercise, places a new meaning on intensity, and actually shocks the system into an anabolic state, which helps even your upper body grow.
No matter which exercises you include in your leg training, whether it is squats (which should be your staple exercise), hack squats, leg presses, leg extensions, lying leg curls, stiff-legged dead lifts, standing or seated calf-raises, one thing remains the same with all of these...YOU MUST generate intensity with these exercises far beyond anything you've ever experienced in order to get spectacular results.
When training legs, a special intensity must be brought to the forefront. You must have no fear and continually strive to increase the poundage on each exercise and break through the pain barrier. By pain barrier, I am talking about the moment when you are doing an exercise and you feel like hanging up the weight.
Seperating The Men From The Boys
The point where your body says "you've had enough", as the weight seems to become too hard to move any longer and the burn sets in. It is at this moment where the men are separated from the boys in bodybuilding. You can either hang up the weight at this moment or settle for mediocre results, which may not bring about great improvements since your last leg workout, or you can dig down deep and mentally tell yourself that you CAN AND WILL do at least 3-6 more reps, no matter what! The smart person, the person with NO FEAR will keep going, and push themselves to complete reps and cross over the pain barrier (using good form and technique), where many people would of hung up the weight a while back.
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A good way to implement this pain barrier breaking intensity on each of your leg exercises, is to complete your reps to the point where you would normally stop your set, then when you have the urge to hang up the weight, start mentally counting back at 1, 2, 3 and so on, until you have completed about 6 more agonizing reps. Believe me, this is no easy chore, as your legs will be screaming, heck, you will probably be screaming!
Go ahead and scream if it will help you complete the set or relieve some of the burn after the set is complete. Do whatever is takes to complete the 3-6 more reps needed to initiate new growth, and use your mind to control your body. I would recommend using this intensity on two working sets after one light warm-up set. Training your legs like this will force you to realize the fact that your body was, and is, capable of more than what you previously thought.
My Current "Quad" Routine
Squats - 1 warm-up, 2 work sets - increasing the weight on each set.
Hack Squats - 3 work sets - increasing the weight on each successive set and going past the pain barrier. At this point, my legs are pumped up hard to the point where I can barely walk!
Leg Extensions - 3 working sets - increasing the weight on the first two sets taking them past the pain barrier with heavy weight, then on the third set I work through the pain barrier, then blast through it even more by dropping the weight down a bit, doing as many reps as I can at that weight, then I drop the weight down a little more, completing a few more excruciating reps. I drop the weight down once more and complete a few more reps in agony, then I am done! Literally! My quads are torched, on fire and pumped like crazy. It actually feels like my muscles are about to burst through my skin, and I know I have done all I can do to fatigue them to their fullest.
Note: I will sometimes switch it up and do leg presses in place of the hack squats for variety.
So, if you are one of those guys (among many) who shy away from leg day, I suggest that you start bringing your legs up to par with the rest of your body, before summer comes and you find yourself regretting not having trained them hard! Who knows, after training legs like this for a few months and seeing the results, you may love the pain, the torture and the fact that you now possess the ability to generate an intensity that only few people can or ever will endure in their training.
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Use this newfound intensity by applying it to your other body parts as well. Remember, pushing the envelope and forcing new growth is the name of the game in bodybuilding, train legs with no fear and I guarantee you will have new self-esteem, new intensity, and a new pair of BIG legs!
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