Plateau Busters – The Leg Weightlifting Exercises

October 29, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Welcome back to another episode of Plateau Busters. Today’s Agenda is all about the leg exercises

So far on plateau busters, I haven’t had much to complain about, as I don’t have a problem building muscle fast on those muscles that I have mentioned already. But today is the day where I will share your pain, as building leg muscles is something that I struggle with or have to work the hardest on to gain muscle mass. If that is you, we will together share the methods to overcome the chicken leg syndrome, which is a topic that I covered back in July.

In fact, the chicken leg syndrome may be the reason why you have hit a plateau in your weightlifting workout. The thing is, If you do not train your legs, your upper body mass will stop growing before it even builds into Hulk size muscle. I have seen many classic situations where that has happened, and when it does, it often leads to a situation where people cannot tell if you have muscles when fully clothed.

But for all of you who are including leg exercises into your weightlifting workouts, you would and should be doing the trademark compound exercises such as squats and dead lifts.

But in true plateau buster fashion, you will probably hit a plateau at some point and below you will find some exercises that you can include into your workouts to shake things ups a bit. But before I do, here are some key things to note about these exercises and the benefits that they can bring.

Stabilizing Strength

With many of these exercises you will be working one leg at a time. By working one leg at a time, core and stabilizing muscles will get stronger since they are more involved during these type of exercises. The added benefit here is that when you return to those more trademark exercises, you’ll find that you will be stronger when performing them.

Muscle memory

I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention it again. Your muscles will be in their honeymoon period with the first exercises that you hit them with, but after a few months, they will become accustomed to what you throw at them. Adding these exercises into the mix will shake things up a little, and just like when cheating on a girl friend… things will seem fresh, fun and new again.

Balance

When you do exercises with both legs, you may not notice if one leg is doing more work than the other. Although you’ll have to use less total body weight when you work your legs separately, each leg will actually be working harder since one leg alone will be carrying the weight. This is also a good thing to do if you find that one leg is bigger than the other as it can help expose muscle imbalances and help to correct them.

Cable Step-Up

The muscles

  • Quads
  • Glutes (butt muscles)

How to do them

  • Attach a D-handle to a low pulley.
  • Place a flat bench in front of you so that you can stand with the weight rack of the cable apparatus behind you.
  • Grab the handle with your right hand and place your right foot on top of the bench.
  • Push your right foot through and lift yourself onto the bench.
  • In a controlled manner, slowly lower your body back to the floor by bending your right leg, making sure that your knee doesn’t go beyond your toes.
  • Perform the desired number of reps
  • Repeat with the other leg

Remember the art of building a bigger butt? That is where I taught you to squeeze your butt muscles as hard as you can. Do the same here when you lift your body and hold the contraction at the top for a count.

Alternative

To recruit your inner thigh muscles more, set the bench to your right side. Start with your right foot on the bench while holding the cable in your left hand, and step up in this fashion.

Standing Leg Extension & Hip Flexion

The muscles

  • Hip flexors
  • Quads

How to do them

  • Stand with your back facing the weight stack of a cable apparatus.
  • Hook your right foot inside a D-handle attachment connected to a low pulley.
  • The handle portion of the attachment should be on the top of your foot.
  • Stand on your left leg with your knee slightly bent and your hands on your hips or resting on a handle for balance.
  • Your right leg should be bent about 45 degrees at the hip so that your knee is pointed in front of you and down, while your knee is bent at about 90 degrees with your feet flexed upward.
  • Fully extend your right leg until it’s straight and your foot is in front of you.
  • Complete 15 reps, then immediately go into hip flexion.
  • To do this, maintain a bent knee as you lift your upper leg toward your chest until it’s about parallel with the floor or higher.
  • Switch legs after completing the set.

Note

Maintain the angle in your hip when doing the leg extensions and the angle in your knee when doing the hip flexion.

Alternative

Instead of doing 15 leg extensions and then 15 hip flexions, you can do one leg extension followed by one hip flexion, completing the set in this order.

Standing Leg Press on Assisted Pull-up Machine

The muscles

  • Glutes (butt muscles)
  • Quads

How to do them

  • Stand on an assisted pull-up/dip machine so that your right foot is on the right step of the machine and your left foot is on the middle of the assist platform.
  • Place both hands on your hips (or lightly hold onto the handles to maintain your balance) and keep your back straight.
  • Push down on the platform until your leg is fully extended.
  • Resist the platform back up until your right thigh is past parallel with the ground.
  • Repeat for reps and switch sides.

Note

Push down through your heel, forcefully contracting your quadriceps as you hold the platform down for a second or two in the bottom position.

Alternative

If your gym doesn’t have an assisted pull-up/dip machine, you can do this exercise using a rubber resistance tube. Securely attach one end of the thickest tube you can find to a handle at the cable station. (You may have to readjust it to find the appropriate amount of resistance.) Place your foot in the handle of the free end. Your leg should be bent 90 degrees at both the hip and knee at the start. Maintain your balance as you push downward with your foot.

All you have to do now is get those legs working. Stay tuned for more plateau busters.

See you in the comments.

Incoming search terms:

Please Tell Me Why My Calves Won’t Grow?

September 15, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

If this is you, then I feel your pain, as I too have struggled with building up my calves over the years. Out of all of the guys that I have met who train (Mostly high metabolism types), this is the one muscle over any other that they struggled to build. Although they all had excuses to why it was so hard, I believe there are other factors that contributed to the lack of muscle growth in their calves. Some factors are within their control, while there are some factors that aren’t, and today we will reveal some of the key reasons why your living human pair of drumsticks won’t pump any muscle like the rest of your body.

Calve training is your last exercise

Go on, admit it… you step into the gym, work your upper body to the max, get to the end of your workout and think to yourself ‘ooh, better work the calves… don’t wanna be top heavy now’!

Well if that isn’t you, then good on you, but that has been me and I’m sure it would be the same for many of you. Without a doubt, this mind set is unacceptable and I can guarantee that this is a key reason why your calves are lacking in ‘pump’.

No drive to build them

What you need to do is stop thinking about the raw power that you will use on that bench press and migrate it to your calf raises. But to do that you have to have a real desire to build your calves, and if you don’t, then you won’t succeed and you’ll just have to hit the beach and hurt the crowds eyes with your drumsticks.

But if you do have the desire then there are two things you will have to do.

1) Set a goal and a time frame on when you want to start seeing results (be realistic)

2) In that goal you MUST make calve training a priority in your workout. Even dedicate a whole day just for calve training if you have to!

Alternate, Alternate, and Alternate your exercises

Rubiks_Cube exercise
If you are working your calve muscles religiously, yet still aren’t getting results, then not alternating your exercises could be a key reason why. I’ve definitely fallen into this trap before, and have often gotten wildly frustrated with the lack of results. I would do,

1) 3 sets of calf raises/ 15 reps

2) 3 sets of seated calf raises/ 15 reps

Not realizing that all of this repetition was killing my muscles. Your muscles have a memory and once that sets in, your muscles will get comfortable with the movements, so you have to switch it up.

Here’s the switch

I’ve talked about muscle memory before and your muscles will adapt to most routines that you do and stick to within 3-4 weeks. This is when you will usually start seeing a decrease in strength and this is when you have to change it up.

Standing Calf Raises
1 set 20 reps (warm up) 110kg
2 sets 10-15 reps 130kg
2 sets 10-15 reps 110kg with 5 second hold in top position

Seated Calf Raise
Set 1 – 40kg at 20-25 reps, slow, non-stop, continuous tension
Set 2: 60kg at 15 reps, 3 second hold at top, 3 seconds eccentric, 3 seconds concentric, then drop weight down to 40kg and do 15-20 more fast reps
Set 3: 80kg at 10-15 reps (slight “bounce” at bottom)
Set 4: 20kg as many reps as possible (up to 100)

Changing up your routine like this is when you will start to see the biggest changes in muscle mass growth.

If you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting!

Damn these weak calve giving genetics

Ok, now if you suffer from weak calve muscles that have simply been handed down to you from a previous generation, then there isn’t really much you can do about that. But you are not allowed to use this as an excuse! You must work with what your mother (or father) gave you. Take myself for example. I have high calf muscles like these,

calve muscles
Which leave the bottom of my legs flapping about in the wind. But like the legs in the picture, I build them up with what I’ve got, and when they look strong like this, complaints are a few.

Do more calf exercises

Most of us all know the importance of giving recovery time to our muscles, but this mainly applies to our bigger muscle groups like the chest, back and quad muscles. Because the calves are so small they don’t really need much recovery time and you can work them more often through out the week. Do,

1) 3-4 calve workouts a week

2) Alternate the workouts doing half heavy and half lightweights

3) Heavy workouts = Heavy weights at 8-15 reps

4) Light workouts = Light weights at 20 to 100! reps

These are the main things to consider when you face a decrease or lack of growth when trying to build calve muscles. Follow these tips through when you next hit the gym, and you will start to see some real results. Also, don’t forget to keep a high carb diet, food that is high in carbs is what will give your muscles pump.

See you in the comments

Incoming search terms: