Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Leg Specialization - Anthony Ditillo

Note: We'll take a slight hiatus from the Bill Pearl Story with this excellent leg specialization article by Anthony Ditillo, courtesy of Liam Tweed. 

Yes! I am a big fan of Anthony Ditillo's writing on training. This one eluded me for some time, but now we have the opportunity to read, to study, to enjoy it. 

Thanks Again, Brother! 

The quickest way to a massive upper body is to specialize on your lower back and thighs. 
Believe me, there is no other way. 

See a little more here: 

You can pump your arms and shoulders until they feel ready to burst. The chest can be red hot with blood. The size will come alright, but here there will be no deep down strength, no great increase in power. In short, without leg power specialization [you understand the way the word "power" was used then, right?), you may be able to give the APPEARANCE of power with largely inflated tissue, but such will only be a facade. There will be no REAL muscle. 

The seat of all bodily power lies in the thighs, hips and lower back. And since all leg work requires huge amounts of oxygen and this intake catapults the metabolic processes of the body into reawakening at an intense rate, inadvertently leg work will result in an accumulation of bulk over the whole body, with the power developed from such movements overlapping into every muscle group.

Intermediates will likely have already realized the importance of such leg and/or back specialization, but beginners often fail to see that at this stage of their weight training career it is imperative that the proper foundation is built. Heavy and intense leg work will make you bulk up like mad! You can become as big as a house if you want to. It's all a matter of hard work on the right movements and an adequate and appropriate diet. 

If you think that eggs and toast in the morning, a sandwich, piece of fruit and glass of milk for lunch, finishing off the day with baked potato, two tablespoons of vegetables, 3 "massive" ounces of beef and a cocktail for supper is the epitome of healthful eating or even worse, eating for gaining, you are in for a big surprise. 

In order to gain properly you must eat properly. If you prefer eggs and toast for breakfast, fine. Only make it 4-6 eggs with plenty of whole wheat bread flavored with honey. Add a few slices of ham or sausages, throw in a glass or two of whole milk mixed with protein powder, and your breakfast becomes a muscle building one, instead of a teaser that won't allow you to accomplish what you've set out to do.
You must do this with ALL your meals; include large quantities of good food and no junk foods. 

Your type of equipment for such training is most important. Even more so if you train alone. A rack with catchers will be necessary. If I had used a power rack when I began training bench presses I would not have broken my four front teeth and split my lower lip, requiring 15 stitches and dental caps. Believe one who knows: it pays to be careful. 

I would suggest as a bare minimum for power training, the following equipment: 

A) 400 lb. Olympic set
B) Squat rack with safety catchers
C) Flat-incline bench
D) 200 lbs. of additional weight to be used for dumbbells, etc.
E) Overhead pulley affair

You'll be surprised how fast your power comes in all upper body movements after leg and back specialization. Naturally, you man not be able to purchase all such equipment at one time. However, I would advise you to do so as soon as funds permit. Remember, it will last a lifetime.

So, finally we come to the actual movements themselves. The routine I am going to give you is one I and a few of the boys I train with have used with great success. 

The first movement if the Full Squat using all the weight you can handle for 5 sets of 5 repetitions. You should warm up with a few sets of freehand squats and then go to work. Descend slowly and steadily, until you hit rock bottom and then just as steadily ascend. I recommend 3-5 extremely deep breaths between each repetition, holding the last one and descending on filled lungs. Push the air out as you begin to climb and remember: "bouncing squats" are horrible for your knee joints and are not the style we are using here. Do them right or not at all. 

In between each set a rest of 3-5 minutes is adequate. I also, like so many other writers, recommend pullovers between sets of squats. I prefer dumbbells for this as they assure full stretch and light weights. A pair of 15-pounders is enough. 

The second movement will be the Parallel Squat Starting From the Bottom. You can use a power rack here, or a chain setup. I prefer the chains because they allow me to get into proper position much easier. Either way, the bottom start position should be as close as possible to your position in a regular squat at that point in the lift. Starting from the bottom at a dead stop will naturally cut off some of the weight you can use, but it will also help you build an explosive start in all of your squats. I advise you to use a weight you can FULL SQUAT with for 10 repetitions. This should enable you to bottom squat 5 reps a set without undue strain. Again, perform 5 sets of 5 repetitions, taking 3-5 deep breaths between reps. And once again, explode the air from the mouth as you begin each ascent. Between each set rest 3-5 minutes and perform pullovers.

By now your legs should be fairly tired, so we will switch to a movement which is basically for the lower back and hip area. The backs of the thighs are stimulated also. It's called the Stiff Legged Deadlift, and its performance is self-explanatory. You merely deadlift a weight without bending your knees. This movement will work you very hard and too many reps may aggravate lower back injury. So in this movement I recommend 5 sets of 3 repetitions. In a short while the weights will become too heavy for you to grasp and the use of wrist straps will be necessary. Be sure to perform each repetition slowly and steadily and this time I would advise you to begin each ascent on EMPTY lungs, for I have found when using heavy weights straining to stand with full lungs sometimes causes blackouts. A 5 minute rest between sets will help alleviate the tiredness you most assuredly will be feeling by now. 

The last two movements are weightlifting motions, but they surely pack on the muscle and power with lightning fast rapidity. These are: the Power Clean and the Front Squat. In a power clean you simply haul a barbell from in front of your thighs up to the shoulders, with just a slight dip to catch it there, and no splitting of the feet. Begin this exercise with a weight you can easily handle for 5 fast repetitions; add 25 more pounds and perform another set of 5. Add a few more pounds and perform 3 sets of 5-7 reps. Really work on this and your whole physique will take on a more rugged look. Again a 3-5 minute rest between sets will be necessary, for otherwise you will lose the coordination so vitally necessary for proper execution of this tremendous bulk builder.

After a short rest you should be ready to tackle the last movement, the Front Squat. I know that on this agenda the Front Squat will be hard for you. This type of squat is not very easily performed. The bar, at first, will be uncomfortable on your wrists and clavicles and also the balance will require getting used to. In most cases, a block under your heels [or a weightlifting shoe with some heel) is necessary to keep from falling when you go to proper depth. If you persist past these initial discomforts and work up to respectable poundages, you will be amazed at the size of the thighs you will obtain. Particularly above the knee joint will the thighs be massive and cut up. 


And that's about it. You can recline on a flat bench now and bleed a little. Now you're finished. Now you're finally done. 

All in all you have performed 25 sets of what should be some of the hardest work you have ever experienced, providing you have put in the right amount of effort and energy. If you alternate pullovers with each of these sets you will reap their rewards. You can now see that this routine is very exhausting and time consuming. This is why I advise you to perform it twice weekly. Add nothing else to it; nor should you leave any movements out.

Once a week, on a different day, you may perform 5 sets of 5 reps in the bench press, row, and curl, if you wish. These three movements will work your whole upper body quite well and will enable you to equalize the the size effects of the leg program all over your body.

I would say a 10 week intense training period of this routine should give your body a growth receptiveness jolt. Of course, if you're a power man at heart you can stay on it longer. 

Brother . . . You are gonna grow! 

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