all started four weeks ago when I addressed the subject of muscularity.
It was my intention to outline a simple exercise routine and nutritional
format to achieve the goal, while underlining the toughness, the
passion, hard work and devotion required. This is the fifth dissertation
on the subject and wanting to wrap it up I had to go back to the
beginning (late August) to recall my simple, easy-to-follow, no-frills
Since I forgot I figured you had as well. I called it the “Secret
14-Day Muscularizing Routine and Eating Plan.” Ring a bell?
I went on to say in my pushy, hot-shot manner, “You eat lots
of protein and train like crazy till the job is done. It's logic,
good old common sense, and persistence. It's resourcefulness and
guts. It's glorious hard work.”
does wrap it up, but it doesn’t make for good reading and
it does lack detail. So I went on and on for four weeks to summarize
a two-week plan. The shortest distance between two points is not
always a straight line, evidently, and I went in arcs, circles and
loops as proof.
you don’t want to go back to your old Atlas Dynamic Tension
course and fast food diet? Doesn’t work, but at least you’d
know where you were goin’ and what you were doin’.
might be wrong (impossible), but I think we’ve covered the
upper body and we’re heading for legs. It’s not necessary
to correct me. What good would it do?
of course, include calves. Now, I’m a big fan of the muscle
group, though there is personally little substantiation of my appreciation.
The poor saplings look half-starved and tortured. How many of you
have found yourself walking across a crowded mall or airport terminal
and there, out of nowhere, is the perfect set of diamond-shaped
calf muscles, striated and flexing beneath a pair of plaid Bermuda
shorts filled to the max by an ordinary fellow with limp shoulders
and a bouncing belly? He’s just bopping along, right? And
how many of you want to tweak his nose, cast curses upon him, stomp
and scream and in other ways make a fool of yourself? Yeah, me too.
Relieves the frustration, but does nothing to solve calf-dystrophy.
what to do? The best single exercise for mass, shape and fullness
is the donkey calf raise. You know the one -- you situate your feet
on a stable block, lean forward with your elbows and forearms resting
on a waist-high platform and execute your up-and-down calf movement.
To make the exercise most effective, increase the resistance upon
the muscles by having your training partner sit upon your lower
back and hip region. He or she can clutch a 25- or 45-pound plate
in hand to augment load. The position is comfortable, the action
is pure, the burn serious and the results are forthcoming. With
a hard-working partner go back and forth until you’ve completed
10 sets of 15 to 25 reps, three days a week. If you’re both
nuts, you can engage in 25-set challenges occasionally to make a
must admit I don’t see many donkeys around these days, and
certainly not in Club Fit or 24 Hour. Not the trend, I guess.
from the mule-team, it’s the standing and seated calf machines
for mixed reps, high (25) and low (8-10), with lots full extensions
-- stretching -- and tight contractions followed by a handful of
burning half movements. Supersetting the two can be entertaining
and effective as well. 8, 10, or 12 sets, three days a week for
the bound and determined, less for the wus. A tearful experience.
Do your calves when you feel like doing them; before or after your
thigh workout, at another time or on another day. Just do them.
I mention squats, yet? I’ll get to them in a few minutes…
like to do a little ab work before I hit the thighs to ready the
torso for the workload ahead. You want to do five minutes on the
bike to warm yourself up, knock yourself out, but no more were I
you. Don’t want tired quads or loose knees before strong leg
work. Save your aerobics for another day. Rest, replenish and rebuild
after your leg work, or else.
suggest you prepare your thighs for your squatting or leg pressing
by doing three moderate sets of 12 reps of leg extensions and leg
curls. Get the knees and various muscles and leg mechanics warmed
up, elastic and bound with supportive blood. Complete your extension
and curl training after your heavy leg work, or do as I do, all
of it with intensity up front. Doesn’t seem to fatigue the
quads or hams or interfere with a good heavy session. Got me.
done and your pain level appropriately stimulated, it’s time
for either squats or leg presses, whichever you’re willing
to do, or, as in my case, squats followed by leg presses.
are both terrific movements and both should be done throughout your
training schemes. How you do that is your choice. Squats outshine
leg presses, but the leg press recruits the variety of leg muscles
somewhat differently ‘cuz of the torso-thigh relative positioning,
the no-fear slowness and depth attainable with the controlled movement
and the heavier weights being attempted with the back essentially
out of play. The leg press serves as a nice replacement for squats
when the back and knees are sore or fatigued from redundant bar-on-back
realistic and having worked in a variety of gyms for a bunch of
years and recalling my own early training days, I know squats are
not everyone’s choice of leg developers. The exercise looks
dangerous; it looks an awful lot like hard work, it looks troublesome,
precarious, tricky, stupid, frightening, crushing, painful, death-defying,
old-fashioned and bloodcurdling. You got it, except they are not
dangerous. Wrong and wrong. They are good for you, they are fun
and they are user-friendly. Trust me. You’ve just got to get
to know them is all. They’re like gorillas. Be nice to them
and they’ll be nice to you.
point made (feebly), let’s start with leg presses. Some thoughts:
The effectiveness of the leg press as an exercise depends on the
leg press machine, its mechanics, slope, load-to-resistance translation,
platform size and angle, seating arrangement and comfort, and on
the character seated beneath the loaded platform. Proper foot placement
needs to be individually sought to assure maximum thigh engagement
without excessive burden on the knees. Trial and error, execution
and attention… you’re in the driver’s seat. Usually,
the knees are under unhealthy stress when feet are positioned too
low on the platform or toed out or in (knees out of natural tracking)
to effect specific muscle isolation. Don’t do anything fancy,
recommend at least three sets of any exercise performed to achieve
a worthwhile muscle- and strength-building overload. Four’s
better and, personally, I’m hooked on five. With the leg press,
it’s pure pushing and your ability to push with the legs is
extraordinary. There’s no balancing the bar on the back comfortably
and correctly, stepping backwards into position while regarding
the force on the shoulders and lower back, lowering yourself into
a full squat -- plus returning, again and again -- as the cumbersome
weight is subject to 360 degrees of gravitational pull and finally
you have to replace the bar (after a short stumble) with certain
legs can handle the reps with great mass, strength and muscularity
benefits. Three to five sets of 25, 20, 15, 12 and 10 with increasing
weight as the reps decrease is not a bad scheme, And just when you
think you can’t do another rep, hold the platform in place,
take three deep breaths and push out another two to three reps,
and again, and again. Go as deep as you can without rounding the
lower back (just past 90 degrees or a right angle, thigh bone to
calf bone) to attain a complete range of motion and some serious
thigh biceps and buttock action. Brave and focused repetitions with
no bouncing. Get up and add weight; no loitering.
bodybuilders squat. Some folks cannot ‘cuz they have a real
injury. My heart goes out to them. Others don’t because they
are prudent. I understand. Too many fail to squat because they think
they have an injury or pretend they have an injury. Who’s
to say? A lot of lifters don’t and should and plan to but
never do. They lose. Re-read my notes. They lose -- and I’ll
tell you why. First of all, squats practiced properly are very safe.
They’re the best single exercise for building the body from
head to toe, and that includes the heart and lungs and venal system
and all the muscles in between, as they are interconnected and interacting.
Squats beat bouncing aerobics for lung capacity and leg function
and fat loss and muscularity and energy under labor, to say nothing
of challenge and interest. They stimulate the production of growth
hormone for health and longevity and muscle growth. They keep the
lower back strong and that alone should be enough… to an ailing,
complaining people protecting their back rather than using and building
like five to seven sets of the bloodthirsty exercise, the first
two sets to get the rhythm and groove in good working order. My
scheme goes something like this: 5-7 x 15, 12, 10, 10, 8, 6 and
4, each set increasing with the appropriate weight. Singles and
doubles come once a month. I’ll finish off with four or five
sets of 15 repetitions of close-foot leg presses of a moderate weight
for a special quad effect.
done and I crawl home. That is, after polishing the mirrors and
mopping the floors to cool down and display my ingenious Functional
Aerobic Technique or FAT.
truth: My squatting power has improved considerably and with no
back or knee pain and with more comfort and control and fun since
using the Top Squat. Without the TS I would not be able to squat
at all, my shoulders no longer having the range of motion to support
an Olympic bar.
sky’s the limit, bombers. Let’s get our tails in the