Recently, one my more advanced training clients approach me and advised that she could not execute any upper body exercises until her tendonitis subsided. Now, the way that she told me, I would have thought that she lost everything in the world that ever mattered to her and then some!
This particular client was never a big fan of working her lower half to say the least. In fact, if the gym took out every one of the machines having anything to do with leg training, she might notice the empty spaces on the gym floor...
On her way to do something much more useful; like bench press! So, after two injections to reduce the inflammation in her tendon, she finally decided that she had to stop aggravating her condition. Concerned that she would lose upper body size and strength, she asked for my advice. So, I told her like it was, "if you want to maintain and actually increase your upper body size and strength, get serious and WORK THOSE LEGS!"
No Other Options
So, with literally no other options, this client embarked on a strict workout regimen consisting of leg training every other day with cardio and abdominal training in between. Because of her condition, this client could not bear the weight of the bar across her traps so squatting with any sort of resistance was not among her choices. In fact, for her condition to completely subside, she had to forgo all exercises that required extraneous resistance.
Considering her restrictions, among this client's choices were ball squats, sissy squats, lunges (without any weight), seated leg curls and quadriceps extensions. Because she could not employ any resistance, now, more than ever, she concentrated on form and relied on the resistance generated by her own muscles to really make her legs work.
For three solid months, this woman worked her legs every other day. We came up with endless giant set combinations to keep her heart rate elevated and thoroughly work her hams, glutes and lower back all without any resistance from weights.
In fact, I never had her do the same series of exercises twice. Two months later, this client of mine, this hard core upper body fanatic, increased in muscularity... all over; including her upper body. Understand that to increase upper body size and strength, you must concentrate on working your legs... HARD!
The truth is, your upper body must be sufficiently strong to sustain and support an intense leg workout. I dare say that your full genetic potential as far as your upper body, depends upon how hard you are willing to work your hams, gluets, and quads. And, if you put your legs through a grueling workout, your upper body must respond by increasing in size and strength.
Every single movement designed to target the hams, gluets and quads necessarily recruits every other muscle in your body as a stabilizer. A prime example is the squat.
Two hundred muscles, either acting as prime movers or stabilizers, must participate for you to perform this exercise properly. Another example is the lunge. For you to wring out every ounce of value from this exercise, the muscles in your upper body must remain contracted throughout all phases of the movement. When the muscles in your legs begin to fatigue, the muscles in your upper body must provide the energy and drive to carry you through the final few reps of the set.
When you perform any exercise designed to target the legs, including quadriceps extensions and hamstring curls, make sure that you lock in your form by contracting every one of the muscles in your upper body. And, when the muscles in your legs begin to seriously fatigue, dig deep into your very core, and rely on the strength generated by the muscles of your upper body to grind through the final few reps.
I Guarantee It
I guarantee that if you learn how to properly blast your legs and strengthen your abdominal region, when you return to working your upper body, you will increase your size and strength.
So, if you're up for the cerebral and physical challenge, for one whole month swear off all upper body exercises and make a commitment to learn more about leg training. Work your legs every other day and on your off days, concentrate on abdominal training and cardio. After one month, slowly work back into training your upper body again and I anticipate that you will be very pleased with the results that you will achieve.