Massive chests, bulging biceps, v taper torsos…..sounds like the perfect physique, until you get to a pair of chicken legs and tinier calves. Sad and unfortunately very common. What is also common is that these “Adonises” will be seen wearing very revealing vests, yet with a pair of very long pants. I wonder why?

Why should one train their legs as a foundation?

1. Strength.

2. Fat loss.

3. Caloric Burn

4. Mobility.

5. Athleticism.

6. Power

Etc. Etc. Etc.

When you train the larger muscle groups you create more of a overall body stimulus, muscle fiber recruitment, hormonal response and caloric burn which all help with burning fat, getting stronger and gaining muscle. Plus the added benefit of exercises such as the deadlift/squat is that they have an “irradiation effect,” meaning that they make one stronger in other exercises too.

Think of your leg training like building rhe foundation to a house, you wouldn’t want a great roof if you had no structure to support it. So why bother with huge arms and a massive chest if everything else is out of proportion?

It reminds me of the cartoon Johnny Bravo. Where a big muscle-head type of guy runs around with a huge torso and tiny legs, trying to pick up chicks. Dont be a Johnny Bravo!

Beyond a Johnny Bravo syndrome is the Johnny Bravo mindset. This mindset often looks for the easy way out and neglects foundations, principles, hard work and logic. Not to say that all of the above isn’t used in upper body exercising, but a pair of well developed legs reveals a bottoms up approach. What is often most common amongst trainees who forgo their squat day is that these exercises are just “too hard.” Yet they’ll manage an arm day twice a week and so only train what they see in the mirror.

Balance:

A posterior chain (glutes/hammies/erector spinae) is critical to athletic performance and one who only focus on the mirror muscles will neglect his/her power station and possibly increase his/her risk of injury.

Methods:

Although getting strong and lifting a decent weight is important for building muscle, other rep ranges can help vary a routine and build a decent pair of legs.

High Reps:

High reps ranging from 20 plus can work as awesome finishers, involving pain and pant splitting pumps.

Low Reps:

Low reps such as 1 – 3 are effective for developing a nervous system adaptation. This is an important phase to train through. So when you return to lighter weights, you can do a lot more reps than before.

5 – 7 as a rep range can be key for building muscles and recruiting the muscle fibers with the greatest potential for muscle growth.

Medium reps:

Overall 6 – 12 may be the most optimum range to work through over time.

All muscles involve a mixture of muscle fiber types, but the quads tend to involve a higher percentage of your endurance fibers. Meaning that they respond well to higher reps after getting a strong foundation.

Calves involve a higher percentage of your power fibers, so do heavy weights. The soleus involves the endurance types, so lots of reps. Do one day heavy, then another medium, then light etc.

Hamstrings are a mix, but the biceps femoris (involved with bending/flexing the knee) works well with heavier weights.

Compound movements:

Deep squats are a no brainer for the king of legs. However leg presses, deadlifts, lunges and all of their variations are fantastic too. The types involved could easily fit into another article altogether.

Isolation movements:

Leg Extensions, leg curls, abduction/adduction movements etc all work too, also making good finishers and to help with correcting weak points in the body.

Conclusion:

At the end of the day, work your legs just as hard as your biceps and work through a variety of rep ranges and exercises. If you aren’t strong yet, then do movements that revolve around a squat, lunge and a deadlift as the base to your house. The rest follows from there.

Challenge:

So I issue you a challenge! Spend the next 8 weeks doing legs twice a week with 4 – 6 “working sets” per session.

Then watch what a difference this does to your body composition, strength and athleticism! If you’re a beginner then expect to add 10 kilos to your squat. So if you’ve been neglecting your legs, then give this a try!

“Size without shape is grotesque.” ~ Vince Gironda, the Iron Guru. “Trainer of the Stars”

(trainer of Larry Scott, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clint Eastwood etc.)

“Far too many bodybuilders spend too much time exercising the smaller muscle groups such as the biceps at the expense of the larger muscle groups such as the thighs, and then they wonder why it is that they never make gains in overall size and strength.” ~ Reg Park (3 times Mr Universe, idol to Arnold Schwarzenegger)

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