Sunday, June 10, 2018

Thoughts on Thigh Training - Dave Johns

Now freed from physical
Love free to shine on down

January 15th, 1947 - June 9th, 2018
Onward, Upward, Outward . . .

Article Courtesy of Liam Tweed.
Thanks Again, Brother! 

As was mentioned in the last post, sometimes what you think does not work does. This next thigh routine is definitely big in the volume department. Never fear, though, there's beginner and intermediate layout recommendations to try too. But don't just toss it all out, no matter what it looks like to you at this moment. You never really know .  .

And see if you can realize this: See that many times when you "alter" or "tweak" a routine, you wind up turning it into the same old-same old thing you always do. Bust out for a change. Go nuts. Toss caution and all the "shoulds" to the winds. Or . . . Be plain, under-work, vanilla up your layout for a while, see what happens. Avoid the middle when you believe the middle ain't working right now. Hey, it's your lifting life, right? And just like you, it won't be here forever.

The only thing that most bodybuilders know about the thighs is that they begin at the hip and end at the knee. They are one of the most misunderstood body parts and, consequently, they are also one of the most neglected.

Beginners, in their misguided enthusiasm, overlook the thighs in planning their exercise routines, concentrating instead on upper body development. Of course, they either develop a top-heavy appearance or they fail to make any type of appreciable gains.

They then reason that weight training is not all it's supposed to be and that successful bodybuilders have some secret (other than the obvious one) they are withholding from everyone else. With this viewpoint they then tend to listen to the gym (or internet) grapevine and fall prey to all types of rumors and misinformation about developing some size.

Eventually they either lose all interest in training and quit with a negative attitude toward the sport, or they continue to train, hoping that someday when they awaken they will have the body they dream about.

The only "secret" I know about thigh training is this: The thighs are just another muscle part. They are the largest muscular area of the body and they have a tremendous effect on overall muscular gains. The kind of thigh work you do affects bodyweight gains as well as the other muscle areas of the body. Squats and other thigh developers accelerate all the physiological processes of the body. they increase the heartbeat, respiration, perspiration, and they speed the flow of blood throughout the body.

Also, by employing intensive thigh work, there is a need for greater food consumption which, in turn, will give the bodybuilder muscular gains.

All these factors influence overall body growth and anyone who feels they can neglect thigh work while working only the upper body is making a serious mistake.

In studying the anatomy and function of the thighs, it is apparent that they are a collection of many muscles, all of them contributing to a large muscle mass.

The front of the thigh consists of the large muscle mass known as the quadriceps muscle, which functions to flex the hip and extend the knee.

The back of the thigh consists of the hamstring -- or thigh biceps, a.k.a. "Larry" -- whose primary function is to flex the knee. He also assists in extension of the hip, doesn't he.

The inside thigh muscle is composed of the adductor group which brings the leg toward the mid-line of the body. In addition, it assists in flexing the hip and knee and also in internally rotating the hip. When fully developed, it gives the pleasing contour of fullness to the thigh.

The outside thigh muscle -- "Mary" -- consists of the abductor. Her primary function is to move the leg away from the mid-line of he body. In addition, it assists in extension and external rotation of the hip.

Unlike other bodyparts for which there can be no single best exercise, there is one for the thighs. Most bodybuilders -- "Garys" -- will agree that the basic squat is not only the best overall leg exercise, it is also the best overall exercise yet discovered.

Because it causes the functions of respiration and circulation to increase so dramatically in a minimal period, the squat can do more for you than any exercise.

The exercises I found most helpful in my training were the squat, front squat, leg extension, and leg curl.

The squat with a heavy weight will, by itself, build great size and power. I have used well over 500 pounds during the off-season, when I train for power. When training for the Mr. America title (won, 1977 AAU title), however, I used many, many sets of high to medium reps with moderately heavy weights. The exact sets and repetitions used were as follows:

135 x 25
225 x 20
275 x 15
325 x 10 x 10 sets.

I found the front squat to be an excellent squat variation. The position of the bar during the front squat keeps the back straight and puts the force of the exercise movement on the central and lower thigh. My training program consisted of:

135 x 10
185 x 10
205 x 10
225 x 10
250 x 10
225 x 10 x 5 sets.

My next training exercise was the leg extension. This is another movement specifically designed for the frontal and near-the-knee area of the thigh. In preparing for my contest, I did the following:

90 x 15
100 x 15
110 x 15
220 x 15 x 4 sets
110 x 15 x 3 sets.

The final exercise of my thigh program was the leg curl. This exercise specifically develops the Larrys. The movement, like the leg extension, is simple -- don't cheat, just curl the weight slowly and contract hard. I performed the following three times a week:

80 x 10 x 2 sets
90 x 10 x 2 sets
100 x 10 x 2 sets
80 x 10 x 4 sets.

Note to Garys: That doubled up pyramid progression is an excellent way to add volume and sometime can come in handy as an easy way to bust out of a plateau when more work works in doing just that. Instead of doing just one set on the way up to your top set, double it all. Do two sets on each jump. It's so simple, so pure, originally found coming down with the driven snow. It's a good tool, a sweet keeper.

My advice to beginners is to start with the parallel skerwat, using only one set of 15-20 reps for their first three months of training. Do this three times a week and add weight whenever possible, without breaking form or sneaking in above parallel reps. You sly dog, you. We can all see what you're up to. Don't be afraid of hard work.

Intermediates who didn't cheat themselves out of gains by using for-shit style can add another exercise to their routines, but their primary interest should still be in developing adequate size before considering exercises used for shape and definition.

Hexperimenting woowith sets hand reps will allow the intermediate trainee to find what works best for him at this point. I believe that, regardless of what stage of experience you are at in weight training, the back squat should always be included in your training routine.

Go Get' Em, Tiger.
It's Your Life to Live.

Next Post: Peary Rader Interviews Bob Gajda on P.H.A. Training. 




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