If you're looking to pack on mass, the article below is a sample of the type of information you'll get from my upcoming e-book, Weapons for Mass Construction: Secrets for Muscular Explosion, available for pre-sales on December 1, 2005.
The book is loaded with detailed nutrition and training information - the exact principles and guidelines you need to become a moving freight train, loaded with size, strength, and power.
Let's get started.
[ Q ] When you start building a house, what is the most important part?
- The foundation.
[ Q ] How about when you build your body - what's the most important part?
- Again, the answer doesn't change - it's the foundation, AKA, your
- . Without an adequate base, you'll be hard pressed to get the strength and power needed throughout the rest of your body; many great exercises require powerful legs.
Try deadlifting with weak legs - it just doesn't work. How about a standing military press? Again, powerful exercise, yet your legs can be limiting. There is one common theme here; if your legs are weak, your upper body won't be able to reach its potential either.
My Training Background
Many of you probably have similar experiences to my early days of training. When I first started training I worked two body parts, my chest and my arms, because that's all I could see in the mirror.
My chest and biceps were strong and had some size, but the back of my body resembled that of Olive Oil from Popeye. This not only sets you up for future injury, but it looks rather silly and is not functional.
Once I started some powerful leg training, the rest of my body followed suit since many leg exercises use your entire body for stabilization during leg training.
Leg power and strength are also imperative if you're involved with any type of sport; your legs are responsible for pushing, sprinting, running, or jumping.
If you're a football player, your strength doesn't come from your upper body; it comes from the power of your legs. Hockey and soccer players need powerful legs for quick bursts of energy. The list can go on.
The Moral Of The Story:
- Don't Neglect Your Legs.
Forget The "Beach Workout"
It's time to get away from the "beach workout" and make those legs into tree trunks. Three crucial points before we start:
- If you're not doing some variation of squats, you're missing out on arguably the greatest overall body movement (and that's a debate for another article).
- The back of your legs add to overall thigh size; you can't just focus on what you can see.
- If your calves resemble those of an ostrich, you might want to focus on those for a bit.
Remember, too, that it's physically impossible to pack on slabs of beef if you're not eating enough calories and consuming adequate protein. You should know how many calories you're eating; how else are you able to track your progress if you don't know what you're consuming?
If you're not tracking your food intake, start. If you are, add 500 calories through high energy foods, like nuts, dried fruit, yogurt, protein shakes with fruit, etc. to whatever your current total. The nutrition component of the book discusses this at length along with providing exact menus to follow along.
Quick Anatomy Lesson
Legs are the largest muscle group of your entire body. I'll briefly review the "main movers" of knee extension and knee flexion - they are more than just the quadriceps and hamstrings.
Understanding the primary function of each will help you reach your goals. (I know there are others, so don't send me hate mail, please).
Quadriceps: Make up the front of the thigh.
- Vastus medialis: important for knee stability. Many of you may know this as the "tear drop" muscle on the inside of the thigh.
- Vastus lateralis: muscle on the outermost part of the thigh that gives bodybuilders that outer "sweep" of the thigh.
- Rectus femoris: important for flexion of the hip (think of the marching motion with the legs) and knee extension. It is the center muscle that's seen on the thigh of a lean athlete.
Hamstrings: Make up the back of the thigh.
- Biceps femoris: the "main" muscle seen in the back of the leg. Used primarily for extension of the hip, flexion of the knee and external rotation of the hip and knee.
- Semitendinosus: extension of the hip and flexion of the knee and internal rotation of the hip and knee.
- Semimembranosus: extension of the hip and flexion of the knee and internal rotation of the hip and knee.
Calves: Make up the back of the lower portion of the leg.
- Gastrocnemius: the most visible muscle on the back of the leg. It is responsible for plantar flexion of the ankle (pointing toes down) and flexion of the knee, since its origin is above the knee.
- Soleus: this muscle sits underneath the 'gastroc' described above. It's also required for plantar flexion of the ankle.
Weapons For Mass Construction
Now that is out of the way, let's get down to it. After an adequate warm-up to get those muscles loose, the synovial fluid flowing, and the body warm, we're ready to hit those legs hard.
By the way, for any single leg exercise recommended, always start with the non-dominant leg and only do as many as your limiting leg allows.
- 5 sets of 5 reps; taking 3 seconds to lower, 1 second to pause, and 3 seconds to raise the weight.
Load the bar in a squat rack with bar at shoulder height. Grasp the bar as if you are going to complete an overhead press and lift the bar into this position (so you're standing with the bar in the top position of an overhead press).
This is your squatting position. Lower your body as if doing a normal squat, keeping your knees under the bar, and going as low as possible*.
* Your range of motion will be determined by your flexibility; if you can go below parallel and keep your form perfect, do so. Holding the bar overhead will help maintain form without flattening the back too much.
Bulgarian Split Squats:
- 3 sets of 10 reps*; taking 4 seconds to lower, 1 second to pause, and 4 seconds to raise the weight.
Place a bench behind you. Facing away from the bench, place one foot on the bench and the other in front, as if doing a lunge. Bend your front knee until the thigh is below parallel and the back knee is just grazing the floor.
Keep your body as upright as possible (90 degrees to the floor)-if you start to come forward, place your hands behind your head.
* Start this exercise without any weight at all; you'll be surprised how "fun" it really is.
- 2 sets of 8 reps (each leg); taking 3 seconds to lower, 1 second to pause, 3 seconds to raise the weight.
Stand facing a bench or platform that is high enough so your knee is bent more than 90 degrees when foot is on top of the box. Grasp barbell and place high on shoulders as if doing a squat.
Place your non-dominant leg on the box, and begin stepping up by pushing through the heel. Do not use your trailing leg to push off; only use your leg that is on the box as your "lifting" leg.
- 2 sets of 12 reps; taking 5 seconds to lower, 1 to pause and 5 to raise the weight.
Grasp a barbell in front of body, keeping it as close to the thighs as possible. With a very slight bend in the knees, lower the weight, keeping your back flat and stick your butt out.
The range of motion is rather limited in this movement; when keeping the back flat, most people are unable to lower all the way to the floor as many often incorrectly do.
Walking Lunges On Toes:
- 2 sets of 10 rep (each leg); taking 1 second to lower and 4 seconds to rise up.
These are done like a normal walking lunge, except you will remain on your toes for the entire set.
Standing Calf Raises:
- 5 sets of 5 reps; taking 10 seconds between each set before starting the next.
Use a standing calf machine for this exercise.
Standing Calf Raise Drop Sets To Failure:
- 1 set, however many reps it takes to completely fail.
Using a standing machine, select a weight where you can complete 10 repetitions. Immediately take 20% off the weight stack and continue until you can no longer lift that weight.
Take another 20% off that stack and continue until the stack is almost nonexistent (to the eye, but not to your calves).
Stretch, cool down, and relax. You're all done. Go home, make sure you consume a recovery drink or meal, and prepare for battle tomorrow.