Other than Jay Cutler and Shawn Ray, who both are at the upper echelon of leg development, clarion-clear cuts, separation, definition and shape, what is going on with the quad and ham development of so many pro bodybuilders these days?
Come on, proportionate to the enormous 24" arms and 46" bloated bellies (which are out of hand), when it comes to rough leg training, going into some gyms today seems like a Sunday ice cream social, sprinkled with 1000 mg. of Anavar. In my opinion, it's not the true gathering of the buffaloes at the water hole, going into the dungeon of muscle torture, as it once was.
Why are there so many guys doing endless Scott preacher curls and benches, ad nauseam? And what's with the frigging fashion show with all the women wrapped in lingerie, hair all fluffed and buffed and breasts bigger than 100-pound plates? When did gyms switch to relying on the credit cards of so many pot-bellied, balding guys with saggy skin, cell phones and pagers? Where did the real stuff go?
When did the 24-Hour-Ballys' ilk pervert our own Gold's, Powerhouse and World's Gym bodybuilding sweet perversion? So, you ask, who the Hell is this guy, some frustrated has been?
Nah, I'm just funning with ya'll, and I appreciate all the iron pumpers getting it on (especially those 100-pound-plate babes) and the huge great pros today, like Cutler, Ray and Coleman!
I really just want to help everybody, but especially the young guys, to show them how to get their legs jammed and rammed, because they just ain't getting it right today. Okay, yes, so I became a pro when my New Jersey cohort "The Boss" Bruce Springsteen was pumping out his biceps in those Glory Days. My first gym, Health and Strength in Highland Park, N.J., was in a dingy basement where the air was a combo of odiferous ammonia and heavy, dingy, hanging dampness, laced with buzzing mosquitoes without the Nile virus.
The equipment was old, blue Nautilus machines, cable machines that you had to plate load, along with a bunch of rickety benches, rusty plates, and barbells and dumbbells thrown all over the floor. The carpet was ripped with holes from flying weights. The equipment upholstery was so ripped and frayed that it looked like that Russian boxer's face a couple of months ago after he fought Lennox Lewis.
And, actually, when I did do my Scott preacher curls, I had to place a towel down over the pad because a couple of loose screws would dig into my triceps. But, I also had a loose screw and this was pain with gain! I also remember the guys really taking their lifting seriously and with such leg intensity, Dante's inferno had nothing on them or me.
When I started training, I was called Mr. Question cause' I annoyed everyone. I was hungry, the annoying man, like Jon Lovitz used to be on Saturday Night Live. As a teenager I already knew that if I wanted to make pro, my abdominals and legs would have to rock, especially if I was to stand next to giants like Iron Warrior Mike Christian and Lee Marvelous Marvin Haney, with their enormous upper bodies.
Even on humid, summer, 95-degree, N.J. days, I made my favorite body part my legs.
Dragonslayer Ripped Thick Legs
I did so many varying forms of squats and so many sets you could not count them on an Abacus. In fact, as a 19 year old, I actually squatted to depth with 780 lbs. I was about 218 pounds and someone told me at that time it was close to a 220-pound class world record.
I could give a shit. I just liked the way it felt to load the weights on a squat bar and see and feel the bar bounce up and down. Later on, when I was in California, I did work out in the same gym as Dr. Squat Hatfield as he was moving in on the 1,000-pound squat and with Cory Everson, along with my partner Lee Haney. I mention Cory because she was one tough cookie, too, and one day on her double split, she actually did 87 sets of legs!
At any rate while still in N.J., my gym owner had to buy special bars because I bent so many of them. Tom Platz was famous for 315 pounds for 50 reps. Well, I did 30 reps once with 495 pounds. I remember fantasizing that I was a Barbarian warrior and that if I could not finish my workout my family and I would be executed.
A guy named David Sinott was my training partner. Today he trains celebrities like Demi Moore. (Now you know who keeps that 40-year-old, Charlie's Angel babe seducing 25 year olds.) I had one goal on leg day and that was to make David lose his stomach contents.
We started the workout with pre-exhaust, direct, thigh leg extensions. I warmed up my quads with 200 lbs. and continuously increased the weights until I got the stack of 350 lbs. with jacked-intensity drop sets, the last two sets.
I would do three drop sets (also called extended sets) and on the last drop set I would go beyond sanity into the world of negatives. When I got to the top of the extension I would hold the weight up and Dave would push on my shins to get the weight down. I would hold it as hard as I could and he would push with all his strength to the bottom. By the end of this, my legs were on fire and severely pumped (and so were his triceps).
Then I went to the 45-degree angle leg press. This was one of my favorites because I could really load on the weights. I did a light set of five, 45-lb. plates on each side for 15 reps. I moved along for sets of 15 reps. On the last set I had 15, 45-lb. plates on EACH side (lots of sets) and Dave was sitting on top of the machine (another 200 pounds). That was 30 x 45 lbs. plus 200 lbs., or 15 reps with 1750 lbs. counting the carriage. After the 15 reps, Dave got off, stripped two plates, and I did another 12 reps. He took two more plates off each time and I'd crank out 12 or more reps.
I couldn't even count the sets. I actually popped blood vessels in my eyes. They were bright, rose red. Dave would try to follow with somewhat less intensity and he would die a dozen deaths and lose his potassium in the garbage can, but at least his blood pressure was not 300/110.
By this time I was solo. I went to Smith machine squats. With this exercise I moved my feet forward to give my quads even more play. Since I was plenty warm I started with three, 45-lb. plates on each side, 15 reps. I increased the weight 45 pounds on each side until I got to six plates each side for 15 reps.
My next exercise was the reverse Smith machine lunge* supersetted with sissy squats. I did three sets of 15 reps on each exercise and I made it as high as two, 45-lb. plates on the lunges. I would hold a 45-lb. plate on my chest for the sissies. My eyes and thighs were even redder and my thighs were like Mount St, Helens, (not the big-breasted girl doing lap dances, but that Volcano in Washington State).
* Shown without smith machine (Smith machine shown to right).
I took a breather for 10 minutes and drank a half gallon of water. I wore skimpy tight Hotskin shorts so I could see my thighs get huge, veiny and ripped to the femur. I was almost capillary comatose!
Now, Dave had regained some cell equilibrium and came back to join me for hamstring hell. I started with lying leg curls. We did five sets and on the last set I used the stack and did three drop sets. From there we did negatives. I would hold my legs straight out and Dave would pull my ankles downward while I tried to prevent him from doing it.
I was about done. At the end, I did stiff-leg deadlifts, super strict and slow four sets of 15 reps with 225 lbs. God that was it. I was totally cooked and felt my legs throbbing.
Those leg days bring back chills. Those leg workouts pushed me to be the second best male bodybuilder in the IFFB pro ranks at the time. I was Lee Haney's training partner, but I never beat him. You can talk to anyone from those days. Relative to those before and his then contemporaries, Lee was the greatest who ever lived. Did I have Lee's genetic size, bone structure and shape? No way, not even close. This guy was an athlete (and gentleman).
But I can say this and Lee would agree - no one, not anyone, ever out-trained me. No one had more gut-busting intensity than I did, especially on legs! I was, after all, the Dragonslayer (Jeff Everson named me that in 1987) and this is the kind of leg workout you must do! Now go get it on!
About The Author
Rich Gaspari has been involved in the bodybuilding / fitness field for the past 20 years. He has excelled as a professional bodybuilder from the mid 80's through the 90's. He has won the Mr. America, Mr. Universe, Professional Mr. World, Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic, three time runner up for "Mr. Olympia", and many others. For tons more information on Rich, go to www.richgaspari.com.
Richard Gaspari, Mr. Universe
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