Saturday, September 15, 2018

My Special Leg Routine - Roger Quinn

An especially big THANK YOU to Liam Tweed for making this hard to find article available!

Volume 1, No. 3.
March 1974

The sport of Olympic weightlifting has become so very complex and diversified that it's almost impossible to keep up with all the fresh news on training methods and technique refinements. It's a hard job because of the fact that in the past there just haven't been enough good weightlifting publications around, and the important information we need travels ever so slowly by word of mouth along the grapevine, changing in substance and content from speaker to speaker. Hopefully, International Olympic Lifter will change this. I've been part of the weightlifting scene long enough to be aware of the competitive weightlifter's thirst for information like this that will give him fresh ideas or a new approach to the old problem of maximizing athletic performance.

It's a common occurrence for weightlifters in the United States to begin their careers as novice athletes with poor coaching, or even worse, no coaching at all. With no one around who is qualified to point them in the direction toward attaining an ultimate goal that may be as far as 10 or 15 years away, they commence by learning the bad habits that will impede their progress for sure and assure them of acquiring bothersome injuries that will hasten the tempo toward retirement from lifting.

I was a victim of this kind of roundabout way of learning how to lift weights correctly, and consequently I've managed to sustain some pretty respectable injuries for being under 25 years of age. Although I was lucky enough to receive some good coaching from highly qualified individuals, Homer Brannum and Bob Hise, on a personal basis during certain periods of my lifting career, it was the first five years of playing it by ear in the gym that formed the foundation for the healthy set of injuries that follow me to the gym these days.

I've been able to cope, as have most intent weightlifters, with the sore shoulders, eroding spinal discs, strained trapezius muscles, and minor skin tears; but the knees have presented me with a problem. I developed bruised tendons near the patella bones of the knees (tendonitis) and it became impossible to continue to practice the Olympic lifts for form and speed, and at the same time to squat to get strong in the legs. Well, to make a long story short, through the advice of Bob Hise, weightlifting mentor of the L.A. YMCA, I've been able to develop a very different kind of leg strengthening program that has worked well for me.

To date, I've been using this program as a supplement to my Olympic lifts program for about five months. In the complete absence of heavy squats, my Clean and Jerk has increased by ten pounds and I'm optimistic about another ten by June. 

Since I began using this routine for my legs, the word seems to have spread all over the West Coast area, and I've heard of a few other lifters who are getting favorable results and are making substantial gains. I would assume that the people who are experimenting with this program are going by what they had heard about it. That by itself is one main reason why I decided to get it down on paper and try to make it clear and understandable for anyone to read. 

It is too early to tell whether any of my ailing friends who are using this program will continue to make gains. But, like all other new or different ideas in the realm of athletics, it must first experience the test of time before it can be accepted as another good way to develop a part of whatever it takes to excel in weightlifting.

The ideal behind this sort of program centers around working as many of the muscles in the leg and hip area as possible with the emphasis on being careful not to injure the knees and not to aggravate any knee injuries that may be already present. Squats are still done in this program, but with much less weight than is normally used when following a standard strength gaining program for the legs. 

In this program squats should only be used as a warmup exercise to flush the knee area with blood. You can think of this part of the workout as being the "bodybuilding" part and use it to give the legs a good pump. Use a weight that's just heavy enough create a pumped feeling (no more than 40% of your best) and do 2 sets of 8 repetitions. Besides using the familiar squat rack to step away from and squat with the barbell held on the back across the shoulders, there are other ways of squatting that prove to be helpful. Hack squats on the machine should be done for 2 x 8 reps, and free hand sissy squats should be the final warmup exercise, done for 1 x 8. 

With the warmup portion of the program completed, I will begin to explain the theory behind a "squatless" exercise and how these exercises are done. For a better understanding of what muscles the following exercises are going to work, a good idea would be to look at a fully illustrated anatomy chart clearly showing all the muscles in the area of the legs and hips. 

Click to ENLARGE

It is important that you keep in mind the fact that this is a complete leg program, put together with the idea of working more muscles harder than other leg programs, with the differences being the type of exercises used and the major emphasis switching from working larger muscle groups to individual muscles and smaller muscle groups.
Let's begin with the muscles of the knee area. The large muscles that sit directly on top of the knee, called by many of us when using lifting jargon, "the quad," can be strengthened by doing Seated Partial Leg Extensions on the machine. It's important, for the purposes of this approach, not to start this exercise with the legs bent at a 90-degree angle, but to begin with the legs halfway extended to avoid total flexing of the knees. This can be done simply by finding something lying around the gym, like a box or a bench, to support the weight at a higher starting position. [Note: The leg extension deal I use allows me to select the range of motion, which is great in certain instances such as this one] There are other muscles running up both sides of the legs that are put to work by doing this exercise. It's easy to feel the muscles that are being worked by feeling them flex with one hand during the movement.

Behind the knee is attached the leg biceps muscle which can be strengthened by using a leg curl machine. Here, it's important to use all the range of motion you can get to take full advantage of the exercise. Begin face down on the leg curl machine with the legs extended and the padded part of the machine resting firmly on your calves. Curl the weight all the way toward you and return to starting position in one slow, rhythmic motion. 3 sets of 6 reps, using a comfortable medium weight for both the partial leg extensions and the leg curls.  

Another movement that works very well on the aforementioned muscles, as well as the buttock muscles (Gluteus Maximus), is the use of the leg press machine. For our purposes here, the knees must be flexed, therefore putting some pressure directly on the knee joint. The leg press somewhat resembles an upside down squat, but because the weight of the bar is pushing downward in a different position, distributing the pressure throughout areas unlike those that the squat is responsible for, it can be worked by using heavy weights while straining the tendons and ligaments of the knees far less than doing ordinary squats. This is the only assistance exercise where the overload principle is used, but don't get carried away and start slapping on plates to see how many the machine will hold. For our purposes here, the exercise should be done slowly and deliberately, as should all the other movements I've suggested thus far. Begin the exercise by lying on our back with the weights positioned so that the knees are almost touching the chest when the feet have been placed in a comfortable pressing position. Push the weight until the knees are locked, then slowly return to the starting position. Use a weight heavy enough on the last two reps to make any more than 8 reps possible, but only do 5 sets of 5 reps with ample rest between sets.

Here it is important to note that we should be aware of the fact that the hips and buttocks are the main power train for a competitive weightlifter. Isn't it typical to see well trained weightlifters with juttering buttock and hip muscles that quiver and then tighten with each step they take. It's obvious that they got that way from performing both the Olympic lifts and assistance work necessary to build leg and hip strength for the lifts. I'm all for squatting for building basic body power, and I have my ideas on what I think are the best ways to get as strong as possible. But if you're reading this article, you don't want to hear that right now, I'm sure. Here, you want to learn how to get the power train strong without squatting.

I'm going to focus on two muscle groups and say that they weigh very heavily in importance. They are the glutes and the major hip muscles. The tensor muscles, which are connected to the hip bone on both sides . . . 

. . . can be effectively isolated by moving the legs individually out to the side in a standing position and in the same fashion with a lying-on-the-side position. The necessary resistance can come from weighted iron boots or from a training partner's manual resistance applied. Using weighted boots seems to be the best way to perform this exercise in a standing position. In the lying side position, having a training partner help by providing the resistance is the best way. When using the help of a training partner to provide the resistance, remember that the more effort you put out, the more results you will see in the form of strength gains.To make it tough, have your training partner push down on your leg while you are slowly fighting to raise it; he should increase pressure at the top to push the leg back down to the starting position. This should prove to be a very valuable exercise.   

In addition to working the tensor fascia muscles one side at a time, they should be worked simultaneously by raising and lowering both legs at the same time while in a seated position. Keep the legs straight and use a table or a bench to sit on for the height necessary to get a full range of movement with the legs. Once again using weighted boots or a dumbbell cradled between the feet, bring the legs toward you and back down holding onto the table or bench with your hands for means of counter support. Do 5 sets and try for a weight that says "no more" after 6-8 reps.

Now it's time to talk about the largest muscle in our body, the Gluteus Maximus, and how to make it very strong without doing squats. I have two exercises to mention, which when used in conjunction with each other, will provide a tremendous amount of work for the glutes. The first one is the leg press movement that I've already mentioned, and the other can be called Reverse Hyperextensions. 

Note: there's the usual back-and-forth BS about who in fact 'invented' the reverse hyper. Here's a few links that may prove of use when you're wasting time bickering with each other online: 

The link above is a single page excerpt from the full article you're currently reading.  

These reverse hyperextensions can be performed while lying face down on a table, bench, side horse or any other surface that allows the lower part of the body to bend at the hips while the torso remains stationary. I've found that this exercise becomes a lot easier to perform with the help of two training assistants, one to keep the torso stationary by using his entire body weight, and the other to supple the resistance by pushing down on the legs while you are fighting to raise them toward the ceiling. 

Note: check out that last link above for photos. 

Do this for 5 or 6 sets and for as many reps as can be squeezed out without exceeding 8. this exercise seems to work the buttock muscles in the same fashion that the two-hand curl works the biceps. I feel that this exercise comes close to really isolating the buttocks while at the same time employing the spinal erector muscles of the lower back.

I feel that further explanation of the individual stages of this exercise is important, where the amount of force that can be exerted changes with the angle of the legs. Usually a person will be very strong at the beginning stage when the legs are at right angles to the torso, and become weaker as the legs move farther away from the floor. Realizing that there is this area of weakness at a point close to the completion of the exercise, I would apply the principles of logic and put more emphasis on the weaker stage to eventually alleviate any inefficiencies. In other words, spend more time on the part of the exercise that feels disproportionately weak. 

Normally when we think of the role that the calf muscles play while lifting, we tend to place them somewhat near the bottom of the scale of important areas to work. Well, in this program the calves get to move up the ladder a bit and become an important step to making this program potent in its effectiveness. 

For the Snatch, and Clean & Jerk, the calves should come into play somewhere between the second and third stage of the pull. From watching film of some of the super lifters of our time, I've learned that when utilized as a springboard for continuing the upward motion of the third pull calves are good for supplying an extra four to six inches of height. Since this program specializes in exercising the legs without too much bending of the knees, calf work will supply an important finishing touch.   

I have two suggestions to make for working the calves. Remember now, we're not concerned here with "diamond shaped" calves, just strength. Train the calves on the leg press machine by letting it force the tips of the toes downward while at the same time bending the legs slightly. Then drive upward with the legs and finish with a strong toe extension. To save time, this exercise can be done at the completion of each set of leg presses. Gradually work up to a poundage that's somewhere near your best squat and do 5 sets of 5 with it. Whenever I do them, I keep the thought of heavy jerks in the back of my head. 

The other exercise should be done on the calf raise machine. Let the heels flex downward off a board and bend the knees slightly. The push with the legs and raise on the toes for a completed upward thrusting movement.

There's a lot of work involved with this type of program. Because of the fact that it's supposed to be done mainly instead of other leg routines that are based around squats, it can be inferior to the squat routine if anything less than 100% effort is employed. This routine should be followed for three days out of the week, and if done in its entirety should take about two hours. It's a whole workout, and should be approached with the same mental attitude that one should have toward a heavy workout on the Olympic lifts. The motivating them behind each and every workout is to make progress and to perfect one's self. 

In addition to being used as an alternative to squatting, the program can be used as a supplement to a squat routine for a person who has no knee injuries to speak of and would like to keep it that way. Because of the fact that certain muscle groups are worked more thoroughly then they normally would be, this should have a profound effect on the number of possible injuries through strengthening parts of the body that get neglected. 

In the preceding paragraphs, I've tried to explain to the readers of the publication a new type of training program, or at least some old exercises put together with a new theory in mind. It's not the type of thing that I could keep a secret, or that I would want to keep secret, and I feel good about having the opportunity to write about it in International Olympic Lifter. I feel this way because I have the confidence that this routine will work for others as well as it has worked for me. 

For the guy who is contemplating retirement because of bad knees or monthly visits to the doctor for cortisone treatments, it's a healthy alternative.       

The human body is a marvelous machine, and when the parts start to weaken or wear out, this has to be taken into consideration if the machine is to continue to function properly.

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