Building amazing legs!

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    Jun 13, 2010 4:45 AM GMT
    First, let me just start by saying that I am an IFPA Certified Fitness Trainer and also simultaneously through undergrad worked at GNC so I am familiar with the physical as well as nutritional aspects of resistance training.

    For all of you interested in my legs:
    Everyone keeps asking, (and a guy even stopped me in the gym this evening) "Justin, how do you get your calves so big?" -- Part of my answer, and the part no one wants to hear, is that they are genetic (again, thanks to my dad) HOWEVER; the second part of my answer is there ARE things that guys whose lagging body part happen to be the entire lower portion of their body --

    1. SQUATS -- I can't emphasize squats enough; low reps and high weight are best. Take a paper with you in the gym EVERY TIME YOU GO and keep a log of the weight you use. You can keep the first couple of sets similar from week to week, but try to ADD WEIGHT to your last set EVERY WEEK. This provides new resistance and forces new muscle fiber growth and recruits existing muscle fibers causing an expansion of the leg muscles (translation: "your legs will get bigger" Period. :shockicon_smile.gif

    2. FORM -- When you are doing ANY kind of calf exercise; seated calf-raises, standing calf-raises, etc. the tendency is to do two things:
    1.) use too much weight
    2.) recruit other muscle groups which help out your calves and cheat you of a complete workout
    As you can imagine the two are interrelated: the use of too much weight essentially CAUSES you to use other muscle groups (typically your quads and hamstrings) -- they can also be exclusive in that you can recruit other muscle groups even with low, manageable weight which is just a result of poor form and/or not concentrating.

    THE SOLUTION: get the weight to one that is MANAGEABLE so that you can complete a FULL RANGE OF MOTION and the entire motion is done from your toes (do NOT turn the standing calf-raise into a SQUAT : D ) ...

    All this takes CONCENTRATION on your form and not just bobbing your head away to Britney or a Rihanna House Remix on your iPod (trust me, I do it too sometimes) -- What helps with CONCENTRATION in the gym?
    Not going during peak hours for starters
    Secondly, get you a good Nitric Oxide Pre-Workout drink because they are typically LOADED with Caffeine. The caffeine helps to give you energy but also the adrenal response in your body helps you to concentrate and specifically you will be able to concentrate on your form.


    Peace icon_smile.gif
    Justin
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    Jun 13, 2010 5:40 AM GMT
    Wow. Looking at your photos, your routine is certainly working for you. Great legs, man!
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    Jun 13, 2010 5:51 AM GMT
    legaljock said Secondly, get you a good Nitric Oxide Pre-Workout drink because they are typically LOADED with Caffeine. The caffeine helps to give you energy but also the adrenal response in your body helps you to concentrate and specifically you will be able to concentrate on your form.
    Peace icon_smile.gif
    Justin

    There is a metric fuck ton of us certified trainers with experience, I am a little shocked (hell not a little, really a lot) that you would promote the caffeinated aspects of any supplement. You just claimed caffeine improves concentrationicon_eek.gif

    Other than that, you really seem to be promoting proper form and concentration during that actual motion of any workout. This I agree with completely; however this is the HARDEST part of any workout; but it is also what we are paid for. We have to push the client to "feel" the proper muscle contraction.

    I do disagree with high weight, low-rep for ectomorphs whose legs won't respond as you claim.

    Thanks for sharing your love of legs. It makes me soooo happy to see proper muscle balance. DOWN WITH CHICKEN LEGS.
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    Jun 13, 2010 5:54 AM GMT
    OP, tell me about you, your decision to join RJ, and your hopes and expectations for this place.
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    Jun 13, 2010 6:11 AM GMT
    do not forget the virtues of the straight-leg deadlift. remember, there is the entire posterior chain to consider (not just the gastrocnemius and soleus); we are not one-dimensional entities after all (okay, well, maybe a few of us are... okay, well maybe i am... LOOK! A SQUIRREL!!).
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    Jun 13, 2010 8:44 AM GMT
    Pinny said
    legaljock said Secondly, get you a good Nitric Oxide Pre-Workout drink because they are typically LOADED with Caffeine. The caffeine helps to give you energy but also the adrenal response in your body helps you to concentrate and specifically you will be able to concentrate on your form.
    Peace icon_smile.gif
    Justin


    There is a metric fuck ton of us certified trainers with experience, I am a little shocked (hell not a little, really a lot) that you would promote the caffeinated aspects of any supplement. You just claimed caffeine improves concentrationicon_eek.gif



    Errr.... but it does

    Caffiene improves your concentration and makes you more alert... that's one of the most universally accepted pharmacological facts in existence
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    Jun 13, 2010 9:58 AM GMT
    Agree that the squat is one of the best exercises, along with the deadlift and bench press for other body parts.

    One very important point to make regarding the squat in particular is proper form is required not only to get best results, but most importantly to avoid injury, especially knee injury. This is one place a competent trainer is useful. I say competent because I know of many trainers who have their clients focus only on machines and are not expert with the squat.

    An excellent book that covers the front and back barbell squats - 40 pages just on squats - is "The Insider's Tell-All Handbook on Weight-Training Technique" 3rd edition by Stuart McRobert. He has other excellent books, especially Brawn and Beyond Brawn. (Noticed the 3rd edition does not have any comments on Amazon, but look at the comments for the previous edition.)

    My general suggestion is to get familiar with the technique and have a good trainer make sure you are following it. Keep the weights low until you have mastered excellent form.

    Also, in terms of supplements, consider protein such as Muscle Milk.
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    Jun 13, 2010 10:51 AM GMT
    socalfitness saidAgree that the squat is one of the best exercises, along with the deadlift.

    One very important point to make regarding the squat in particular is proper form is required not only to get best results, but most importantly to avoid injury, especially knee injury. This is one place a competent trainer is useful. I say competent because I know of many trainers who have their clients focus only on machines and are not expert with the squat.

    An excellent book that covers the front and back barbell squats - 40 pages just on squats - is "The Insider's Tell-All Handbook on Weight-Training Technique" 3rd edition by Stuart McRobert. He has other excellent books, especially Brawn and Beyond Brawn.

    My general suggestion is to get familiar with the technique and have a good trainer make sure you are following it. Keep the weights low until you have mastered excellent form.

    Also, in terms of supplements, consider protein such as Muscle Milk.


    Quite true.

    The get benefits, instead of injuries, out of heavy squats, there aresome pre requisite :

    Proper form. you need a good trainer to teach it to you, then you need a lot work with low weight to memorise the form in your brain. If you are not sure about your form, don't do it.

    Strong abs/lower back. Once you know the form, you still should not put heavy weight for squat if you don't have rock solid abs and lower back. I don't know the proper term in english, but in french we call it 'gainage', the ability to maintain firmly your spine in the position you decide. Side note : abs work to get a six pack is not what you need to get a steel like gainage.

    Strong tendons. Your tendons get stronger at a lower pace than your muscles, and the pure strength gain can be very fast with squats, you need to increase weight slower than what you could actually do, just to give your tendons the time to catch up. And the older you are, the more carefull you need to be about that.

    Squats are a great workout, with strong benefit. They are also one of the most dangerous exercice, because once your vertebral disks are damaged, it's done, they don't heal.

    IF you wanna go squat, first build your abs (specialy obliques), then learn the form, then something like 6*12*empty bar (44 pounds) would make a good typical workout to memorise the form and reinforce your tendons. Do that once a week for 6 weeks, and you'll be able to explore adding weigth.




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    Jun 13, 2010 11:13 AM GMT
    Minox - all excellent points. Everything I neglected to say, you did.
  • B71115

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    Jun 13, 2010 12:24 PM GMT
    How about more specifics on proper form? For example, pointing your toes in or out during calves. Thoughts?
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    Jun 13, 2010 12:40 PM GMT
    What about guys who have naturally big glutes and big quads? I haven't done much leg work, because my glutes and quads are huge, making shopping for denim and dress pants difficult.

    I just want tone and definition in my legs. Can I achieve tone and definition without doing lots of squats? Just looking the squat rack makes my legs grow.
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    Jun 13, 2010 1:03 PM GMT
    BlkMuscleGent saidWhat about guys who have naturally big glutes and big quads? I haven't done much leg work, because my glutes and quads are huge, making shopping for denim and dress pants difficult.

    I just want tone and definition in my legs. Can I achieve tone and definition without doing lots of squats? Just looking the squat rack makes my legs grow.


    Definition is about body fat%, and about the areas where you body store fat.
    You have impressive genetic ;-) But it's possible that your skin is more fatty on lower body than on your abs. I'm not sure any muscular work would give you more leg definition.

    You can become stronger without getting a lot of mass, it's about working heavy (60 to 90% of max), with short reps (8 to 2) and long enough recovery between reps. IT's about avoiding lactate acid production, and storage of carbs (glycogene) in your muscle.
    I was a jumper, spend most my life doing weigth lifting while avoiding as much as possible to take weight.
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    Jun 13, 2010 1:33 PM GMT
    I'm loving everybody's posts and I definitely didn't consider this, but it is apparent now after reading everyone's replies -- I do NOT consider this forum (or any forum for that matter-as there are TONS on the internet) to be a replacement for a good personal trainer to work alongside you in the gym, at least for the outset of your training. There were a number of things that ya'll mentioned, including proper form and proper exercises. In these areas it is not good to go it alone. A personal trainer gives you the sort of objective analysis that you need, and also from week to week can give you some subjective tips for improvement and make sure your form doesn't get sloppy from workout to workout. (socalfitness and Minox said it, improper FORM is a surefire way to cause one of two things -- injury icon_sad.gif or poor (or no) results icon_sad.gif ).
  • Celticmusl

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    Jun 13, 2010 1:51 PM GMT
    Well I "can't emphasize enough" that the weighted squat is probably the most dangerous exercise that goes on at the gym.

    I have big powerful legs and I do not do squats.

    The human body is not made to carry and balance weight behind and on top of our back. It's funny that because of current physiological knowledge about the human body it's accepted knowledge to not lift or pull from behind the neck, such as the "behind the neck pulldown". In the 1980's everyone did pulldowns behind the neck.....now I rarely see anyone do this dangerous exercise.

    Not only are you placing the rotator cuff in an extremely vulnerable position with the squat, you are just asking for trouble if you have any kind of back or neck condition(which most of us do eventually). I've also started hearing about how the squat can mess up your digestive system and intestines. I'm not sure if that is true, but the squat just seems like a very illogical exercise to continue doing in this day and age.
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    Jun 13, 2010 2:44 PM GMT
    Celticmusl saidWell I "can't emphasize enough" that the weighted squat is probably the most dangerous exercise that goes on at the gym.

    I have big powerful legs and I do not do squats.

    The human body is not made to carry and balance weight behind and on top of our back. It's funny that because of current physiological knowledge about the human body it's accepted knowledge to not lift or pull from behind the neck, such as the "behind the neck pulldown". In the 1980's everyone did pulldowns behind the neck.....now I rarely see anyone do this dangerous exercise.

    Not only are you placing the rotator cuff in an extremely vulnerable position with the squat, you are just asking for trouble if you have any kind of back or neck condition(which most of us do eventually). I've also started hearing about how the squat can mess up your digestive system and intestines. I'm not sure if that is true, but the squat just seems like a very illogical exercise to continue doing in this day and age.


    For body building, I don't know. But I can tell you that in many sports perspective, there is no replacement for full squat (the one where you ass touch your ankles).
    Full squats are the more difficult to master, and the more dangerous if improperly done, but the advantage is that you can't charge as heavy in full squat that you can in half squat (thigh horizontal), so in a way, full squat put less strain on your back than the half or quarter ones.
    You can also do front squat, where you can't charge as much, and where it's easier to keep a sane spine alignment :
    thighs-heels-elevated20barbell20front20s

    As for the rotator cuff issues during squat, I was not aware of that. But you are supposed to use your hands on the bar only to keep balance, not to push up, so I'm not sure about how you stress the rotator cuff, even if the position stretch a bit the shoulder. It's passive stretching, not using force on anunatural direction.

    In case of existing spine condition, you are correct : squat should be forbidden. On the same line, while doing squat, if you feel the smalest of pinch or pain on your back, you HAVE TO STOP immediatly, and then wait several days to see if it was nothing or if it's the start of a problem. In any case, it mean either your form is not good, or you spine condition might be incompatible with squats.

    For the digestive issue : again, I'm not aware of that. But the trick about squat is to use your abs to put a lot of pressure on your inside. this way, a part of the weight is supported by your belly and not your spine. Not unlike a ballon (soft) can support weight out the the air pressure inside.
    When you are very strong and the weight is very heavy, it's possible to get hernia out of that, or so I heard, but I don't know if it's urban legend of bragging powerlifter or real. The squat could just a well reveal an hernia condition, instead of creating the condition. I don't know.

    on the context of Realjock, I think you are correct, and that I am biased ;-)
    I come from competitive sport. We are not after the look, but after the performances. High level sport is not healthy, we routinly balance risks and potential benefits in training and too many athletes end up as a collection of injuries.
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    Jun 13, 2010 2:54 PM GMT
    Celticmusl saidWell I "can't emphasize enough" that the weighted squat is probably the most dangerous exercise that goes on at the gym.

    I have big powerful legs and I do not do squats.

    The human body is not made to carry and balance weight behind and on top of our back. It's funny that because of current physiological knowledge about the human body it's accepted knowledge to not lift or pull from behind the neck, such as the "behind the neck pulldown". In the 1980's everyone did pulldowns behind the neck.....now I rarely see anyone do this dangerous exercise.

    Not only are you placing the rotator cuff in an extremely vulnerable position with the squat, you are just asking for trouble if you have any kind of back or neck condition(which most of us do eventually). I've also started hearing about how the squat can mess up your digestive system and intestines. I'm not sure if that is true, but the squat just seems like a very illogical exercise to continue doing in this day and age.

    It can be the most dangerous exercise if not done correctly AND if the person has specific problems precluding its safe use. Also agree with your point against back of the neck pulldowns. However, back to the squat - I have never seen any literature supporting your general statement against the squat. Not asking you to cite pages and paragraphs, but can you say if you have read from qualified sources anything supporting your general assertion against squats, or is it just your opinion?
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    Jun 13, 2010 3:08 PM GMT
    you can get a great deal of benefit from lighter squats: it´s simply not true that you HAVE to do them HEAVY...

    I have a strange relationship with them: I love doing them, but they don´t really do me much good. Thus I stopped and have to get my endorphin fix elsewhere...
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    Jun 13, 2010 3:25 PM GMT
    MsclDrew said
    Errr.... but it does

    Caffiene improves your concentration and makes you more alert... that's one of the most universally accepted pharmacological facts in existence

    NASSM devotes an entire chapter to supplements and is staunchly against the concept that caffeinated supplements improve concentration. Physical performance measured in exertion factor maybe, but concentration no. At Mid-West mania last year they demo'd non caffeinated pre-post workout drinks to avoid "caffeine crash" mid-workout.
    My only argument is around that. People will misconstrue said "pharmacological" truth and I wanted to stop it.
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    Jun 13, 2010 3:29 PM GMT
    Lostboy said I love doing them, but they don´t really do me much good.

    I stopped doing overly heavy squats when I orgasmed once mid-set. I also can't doing lying over-head tricep extensions with dumbbells more than 30 lbs. or I...

    3onhose.jpg
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    Jun 13, 2010 4:55 PM GMT
    University research (pick one) has indicated that moderate reps leg presses are MUCH more effective for leg hypertrophy. Just the facts, folks. Low reps are NOT what makes for big. Anyone that's studied hypertrophy 101 knows this.

    Caffeine can be reasonable for an increase of around 20% in exercise performance, and is considered very safe. Researchers have found that it changes the way our brains perceive fatigue.

    At 5'5", and only 168, the original poster would be lucky to be a lightweight at almost any bodybuilding competition in the country, and, almost certainly would have to diet down to bantamweight to "be in the hunt." Folks, I may be evil to burst the bubble, but, he's tiny.

    At 26, and about 185 pounds, at 5'5", I had 28" thighs riding my bike (10 speed pedal bike) around town every day.

    Clearly, the original poster, hasn't read any recent research on hypertrophy, and despite his certification, doesn't know what he's talking about.

    Particularly for a neophyte, advising low rep, high weight, is BAD ADVICE. Folks need to develop systems other than just strength. This sort of advice leads to injury by many. DUMB.
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    Jun 13, 2010 5:00 PM GMT
    Food + light weight + high reps + food + multiple sets + coffee + food = HUGE FUCKIN' LEGS

    Only caffeine is optional. I'm just hooked icon_biggrin.gif
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    Jun 13, 2010 8:12 PM GMT
    chuckystud saidUniversity research (pick one) has indicated that moderate reps leg presses are MUCH more effective for leg hypertrophy. Just the facts, folks. Low reps are NOT what makes for big. Anyone that's studied hypertrophy 101 knows this.

    Caffeine can be reasonable for an increase of around 20% in exercise performance, and is considered very safe. Researchers have found that it changes the way our brains perceive fatigue.

    At 5'5", and only 168, the original poster would be lucky to be a lightweight at almost any bodybuilding competition in the country, and, almost certainly would have to diet down to bantamweight to "be in the hunt." Folks, I may be evil to burst the bubble, but, he's tiny.

    At 26, and about 185 pounds, at 5'5", I had 28" thighs riding my bike (10 speed pedal bike) around town every day.

    Clearly, the original poster, hasn't read any recent research on hypertrophy, and despite his certification, doesn't know what he's talking about.

    Particularly for a neophyte, advising low rep, high weight, is BAD ADVICE. Folks need to develop systems other than just strength. This sort of advice leads to injury by many. DUMB.

    If you could cite some specific recent research, I would be appreciative. I'm always open to new research. From the reading I have done over the past few years, it was my understanding that the squat was more productive than the leg press, but that the leg press could be better for folks who may have challenges because of leverage - i.e. very tall people, or those of average height but proportionally long limbs and short torso, and those who can't effectively squat because of knee or lower-back problems. Never any doubt that the leg press was an excellent exercise though.

    With all due respect, I think you were unnecessarily harsh on the OP. Comparing his size to bodybuilders in competition I think is not relevant to his knowledge. I think it was an unnecessary dig. And while he neglected to point out low weights until the exercise is mastered, I think it is unfair to suggest he intended to say someone just starting out should go with max weight.

    Anyway, not intending to create controversy - but would be interested in the research. Thanks.
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    Jun 13, 2010 8:17 PM GMT
    socalfitness said


    With all due respect, I think you were unnecessarily harsh on the OP.

    lol@newbs.
    Block the mofo, don't waste your breath..err..fingers.
  • Celticmusl

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    Jun 13, 2010 8:31 PM GMT
    socalfitness said
    Celticmusl saidWell I "can't emphasize enough" that the weighted squat is probably the most dangerous exercise that goes on at the gym.

    I have big powerful legs and I do not do squats.

    The human body is not made to carry and balance weight behind and on top of our back. It's funny that because of current physiological knowledge about the human body it's accepted knowledge to not lift or pull from behind the neck, such as the "behind the neck pulldown". In the 1980's everyone did pulldowns behind the neck.....now I rarely see anyone do this dangerous exercise.

    Not only are you placing the rotator cuff in an extremely vulnerable position with the squat, you are just asking for trouble if you have any kind of back or neck condition(which most of us do eventually). I've also started hearing about how the squat can mess up your digestive system and intestines. I'm not sure if that is true, but the squat just seems like a very illogical exercise to continue doing in this day and age.

    It can be the most dangerous exercise if not done correctly AND if the person has specific problems precluding its safe use. Also agree with your point against back of the neck pulldowns. However, back to the squat - I have never seen any literature supporting your general statement against the squat. Not asking you to cite pages and paragraphs, but can you say if you have read from qualified sources anything supporting your general assertion against squats, or is it just your opinion?


    There are tons of articles out there stating what I suggested, and the words that a squat puts the rotator cuff in an "extremely vulnerable position" is a doctor's quote. But all the articles that suggest what I have stated are pro-squat.....meaning they are suggesting to go ahead and squat but just do it correctly and carefully. I personally would rather be cautious and work out my legs in other less problematic exercises. The suggestion that you can't have thick full muscular legs without squats is completely false, however.

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    Jun 13, 2010 8:42 PM GMT
    Celticmusl said
    socalfitness said
    Celticmusl saidWell I "can't emphasize enough" that the weighted squat is probably the most dangerous exercise that goes on at the gym.

    I have big powerful legs and I do not do squats.

    The human body is not made to carry and balance weight behind and on top of our back. It's funny that because of current physiological knowledge about the human body it's accepted knowledge to not lift or pull from behind the neck, such as the "behind the neck pulldown". In the 1980's everyone did pulldowns behind the neck.....now I rarely see anyone do this dangerous exercise.

    Not only are you placing the rotator cuff in an extremely vulnerable position with the squat, you are just asking for trouble if you have any kind of back or neck condition(which most of us do eventually). I've also started hearing about how the squat can mess up your digestive system and intestines. I'm not sure if that is true, but the squat just seems like a very illogical exercise to continue doing in this day and age.

    It can be the most dangerous exercise if not done correctly AND if the person has specific problems precluding its safe use. Also agree with your point against back of the neck pulldowns. However, back to the squat - I have never seen any literature supporting your general statement against the squat. Not asking you to cite pages and paragraphs, but can you say if you have read from qualified sources anything supporting your general assertion against squats, or is it just your opinion?


    There are tons of articles out there stating what I suggested, and the words that a squat puts the rotator cuff in an "extremely vulnerable position" is a doctor's quote. But all the articles that suggest what I have stated are pro-squat.....meaning they are suggesting to go ahead and squat but just do it correctly and carefully. I personally would rather be cautious and work out my legs in other less problematic exercises. The suggestion that you can't have thick full muscular legs without squats is completely false, however.


    OK, thanks for clarifying. I think it's fair to characterize it as a risk versus reward issue, and after becoming informed, you decide what you want to do.