Article Courtesy of Liam Tweed
I'm very happy to see this one again after four decades!
How 4 Mr. Universe Champions
BLITZ THEIR LEGS
"by" Joe Weider
To build the biggest arms . . . most massive chest . . . powerful "barn door" lats and huge, cannonball deltoids - as well as legs the Farnese Hercules might have envied - you must blitz your thighs to the limit and beyond!" So say the best built and strongest men in the bodybuilding world . . . men like Larry Scott . . . Dave Draper . . . Harold Poole, and Bill Pearl.
Ask any of these champions, or others of equal renown, and they will tell you the secret of a powerful, massive physique that boasts the ultimate in gigantic measurements, in shape, and in steel-etched definition, is heavy unrelenting work on the legs.
Heavy, intensive leg work will effectuate the building of your physique far more rapidly, and will extend your muscular limits much farther than you have dreamed of.
Why? Other than to build a more massive leg development, what is so intrinsically valuable about leg blitzes?
It's because only leg work . . . heavy, intensive leg work, triggers your body's metabolism so dynamically that every muscle group is the winner, for every muscle group gains in additional power and strength which, in turn, permits you to perform more exercises, use more sophisticated training principles and techniques (such as Giant Sets), and handle heavier exercising poundages, the latter function being the key to bigger muscles.
What is Metabolism?
In simple terms metabolism is the "break down/build up" process within your body by which food is build up into living protoplasm, and by which this protoplasm is then broken down into simple compounds, such as muscle cells, with the exchange of energy. The more rapidly metabolism occurs, and the more completely it acts on food to transform it into protoplasm, the faster your muscles grow, and the greater and more complete muscular development ensues. This is a physiological fact and is not subject to argument.
So, to refute the old adage, your body is not so much what you eat, but how efficiently it transforms what you eat into muscle basics and increased energy.
Thus is explained why a fat man tends to become fatter, while the underweight man can make such a surprising physical transformation in a very short time. There is a dysfunction of the fat man's metabolism which prevents the oxidization of energy carbohydrate and fats, leaving them to "bank up" within the tissues to create even more fat. Until the fat man has a basal metabolism test and is medically treated for a time so that his metabolism normalizes, as he goes on a metered nutrition diet to further assist in the loss of weight, he is somewhat disenfranchised from the muscle world because his considerable body fat robs him of the will and the energy to exercise vigorously.
This man would be well advised to so strictly meter his calorie intake each day, that he substitute . . . supp advert skipped here . . . possibly a liquid, protein drink for breakfast, a predominantly protein lunch and a protein only dinner, so that when he has achieved a normal bodyweight he can exercise very vigorously and soon be on the road to a fine physique.
The very thin individual, conversely, has an overactive metabolism that burns up his carbo-energy foods too rapidly for bodyweight gains. What he needs is more extra-high calorie foods that will not overload his stomach . . . supp advert . . . high nutrient blender drink in addition to his solid food meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner consistently and sipped on during his workouts as well. This will help produce a constantly increasing weight gain, while giving him the needed energy to really go in for a leg blitz. This his metabolism will be corrected to a desired normalcy, and he, too, can look forward to the development of a fine physique.
Thus, to bring the discussion full cycle, the more vigorously you can train, the more effectively your metabolism functions . . . and greater training vigor comes primarily from the tremendous power lift given the body through a massive blitz of the legs . . . all made possible by a well functioning metabolism.
Note: The good training authors of any era have the ability to express their goal of not only imparting a training layout to the reader, but also of making him believe in himself, believe that he CAN improve with applied effort, and enjoy the hobby of lifting as he moves forward. Others, well . . . cut and dried, boring delivery is just plain discourteous and disrespectful, and no, simply sticking in pics or speeding up vocal delivery doesn't change that lack. But! Miraculously, in life we are often afforded the courage to change the things that we can. Throughout the history of lifting there have been and continue to be, no matter the format employed, authors and now creators of videos who express those goals and drive them into the hearts of readers and viewers who are bright enough to realize there are multiple ways to skin that cat in the gym. Ain't it grand to lift these here weights, my friend? I agree!
As your legs grow more powerful you have such a "power base" that any exercise for the muscles of the upper body becomes ridiculously easy in a much shorter time. As an example, if you can squat with no more than 150 pounds, your legs are obviously not going to permit you to do a military press of any great poundage. Oh, you may get a heavier poundage up . . . once . . . but it will be a feat of nerves, not of strength. Likewise you cannot progress in arm development unless you can handle continually heavier dumbbells in relatively strict style. If your leg foundation is not strong, this weakness is transmitted to your arms. Thus you will continue to handle poundages only as heavy as the strength of your legs permits. To continually handle the same poundages builds no new muscle.
The same is true of every upper body muscle group. You cannot do heavy triceps extensions . . . dumbbell presses . . . deadlifts, or incline dumbbell presses if your underpinnings will not support this heavier activity. Lack of leg strength is detrimental psychologically as well, for in such supine exercises as the bench press and the pullover, your consciousness of inferior leg strength will prevent you from handling the heaviest poundages that the great chest and arm muscles must work against for bomb/blitz growth.
In short, great thigh power helps you both mentally and muscularly to handle ever increasing poundages to the end that, through varying techniques and advanced training principles, the muscles are attacked from every angle, and therefore are made bigger, shapelier, and more defined with razor sharp cuts.
You cannot build a castle on shifting sands. The lack of a firm base will cause it to shift, to tilt, or to collapse. So it is with weak, unmuscular legs. They will not support any of the more advanced exercises for the upper body in which increasing exercising poundages are vital. Obviously then, the first precept of successful bodybuilding is to develop the strongest possible legs . . . and a terrific bomb/blitz is the best way to do it . . . and it should be yours.
Bill Pearl's Heavy Leg Blitz
Bill Pearl, who is one of the most massively constructed men in the world, calls the thighs the "trigger" muscles of bodybuilding and says that he made the mistake of working only his upper body for years until he realized that he was getting next to nowhere. Whereupon he began to work his legs very hard he immediately noticed a heartening weight gain. Today he has one of the most Herculean physiques in the muscle world.
Working his legs extra hard educated Bill's metabolism to the process of building muscle tissue, so that his upper body exercises became just that much more effective.
Bill has followed every advanced exercise principle ever devised, and he has developed a consummate knowledge of just what works best for his own personal muscular and makeup and his individual temperament.
Bill says that to neglect the strongest muscle group of the body, the legs, will deter you from ever attaining your ultimate development and strength.
Here are the exercises that make up one of Bill Pearl's favorite routines.
Hack Squats: For developing the essential lower thigh and giving the overall thigh a terrific pump.
Leg Extensions: Unparalleled for producing the utmost in thigh separation and cutup definition.
Roman Chair Squats: A very special exercise which produces a giant pump and sharp definition at the same time.
Forward Lunges (with bar across shoulders): This movement is excellent for strengthening the thigh muscle insertions just above the knee. The stronger the insertions, the more weight can be handled in regular squats and other strenuous leg exercises.
Bill's Techniques for His Leg Blitz Exercises
Hack Squats: This may be done on the 45 degree hack machine, or with a barbell held behind the buttocks, the feet being on the floor, the head attached at the neck, and the heels raised on a wooden block. Just keep the weight at full downward stretch of the arms behind you, and with the feet 12-18 inches apart, push upward and straighten the legs from a parallel position. 10-12 reps for this.
Leg Extensions: These are performed slowly and with concentration. The weight isn't as important as the correct performance of the exercise. Bill advances the repetitions to 25 for this movement. When you raise your legs so that they are parallel to the floor, hold for a second and tense your thighs strongly before returning to the starting position.
Note: If that hold and contract strongly at the top thing seems to be giving your knee or knees grief, don't do it. The joke about "Doc, it hurts when I do this" comes to mind.
Roman Chair Squats: This requires a special machine [of course you can rig something up] and you'll find . . . exercise equipment plug here . . . Stand with hands clasped behind the head and sink down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, being sure to keep your body upright throughout the descent and ascent. 15 repetitions for this one.
Note: Be careful with thigh exercises that lock your legs in place and exert pressure on the backs of the knees.
Forward lunges: Begin with the barbell held across the back of your shoulders, as if you were preparing for a regular high bar squat. Your feet should be about 12 inches apart. Step forward with one foot as far in front of you as possible. Keep the rear leg locked so that the entire leg is straight and gets a good stretch. Lunge out with the same foot for 15 repetitions, then change position and lunge for 15 reps with the other foot.
Dave Draper, whose upper body is so fantastic as to stun the mind, made the same mistake as Bill Pearl . . . thinking that a massive upper body was the be-all and end-all of bodybuilding. He worked his upper body very hard for years and built himself to the point where he weighed 215 pounds, with 18" arms and a 48" chest. Unfortunately his upper body magnificence was offset by a pair of 22.5" thighs which looked like toothpicks compared to the massiveness of his torso.
Hey, here's a good place to say, Thanks, Dave! For all the workouts you inspired, and all that positive energy you continue to spread throughout the lifting community. Good On Ya! 'Cause really, you've laid a whole lot of Good on a whole lot of people.
Dave realized his mistake and began working his legs like a fiend . . . blasting away with giant sets in such exercises as leg presses, full squats, bench squats . . . using colossal weights for a bodybuilder.
Here is a sample Dave Draper giant set leg routine.
Leg Press: Since this is a supine exercise, the upper body is not required to support a heavy barbell, hence more weight can be used with greater resistance to the thighs. 15 reps for this one.
Full Squats: Dave is one of the few bodybuilders who still practice this granddaddy of all extra-heavy leg exercises. He credits it with building the greater mass of his tremendous leg bulk. He does 8-10 reps usually, but often increases the weight for a maximum of only 5-7 repetitions.
Bench Squats: This is a safe way to do parallel squats with a very heavy weight. By using the bench as a gauge, it is possible to be sure of hitting the same depth every rep, and knowing the bench is there gives you a lot of confidence as well. The buttocks do not "sit" on the bench at the bottom of the movement . . . just touch it briefly and the ascent is then made almost immediately in order to keep the tension on the thighs. Note: this is not a box squat. 10 reps in this movement.
Sissy Squats: He performs sissy squats for as many repetitions as his energy will allow. Arch backward somewhat, and maintaining this slightly angular stance, rapidly squat to a below parallel position and just as quickly return to the top. This continuous tension causes a tremendous pump and burns away fatty tissue between the muscles.
Now, here's how Giant Sets are done.
You choose anywhere from four to eight exercises (for the legs or any other body part), different exercises. You then perform just one set of each exercise in rotation, not pausing for a moment between the different exercises. When you have completed one set of each exercise, without a pause between the exercises, this constitutes one giant set. You then rest for three minutes, and continue in the same manner for as many giant sets as your energy will permit. You must not perform a giant set for any other body part during that workout.
Note: That example . . . leg press to full squat to bench squat to sissy squat in those reps. I don't quite understand. What have I done to this author that has made him dislike me so much. To want to bring this kind of pain to poor ole me? That is one KILLER quad workout!
Harold Poole's Leg Blitz Routine
Harold Poole never had a "toothpick leg" problem, as he was a champion athlete in many sports prior to taking up bodybuilding. His leg development has always been excellent, therefore.
Harold has frequently stated that full squats built most of his thigh bulk. But he realized that bulk alone is meaningless, and that he had to have cuts and shape to be a champion, so he went on a leg blasting program, using every exercise in the book, and adding to this he went in for lots of track and wrestling. As a result he developed fantastically defined and shaped thighs.
Harold has never needed to giant set his legs, and so the routines that others follow have not had the same importance to him. Still, he faithfully exercises his legs in his split routines. He works the entire upper body on Mon/Wed/Fri, and his legs and abs on Tues/Thurs/Sat.
His legs are done in supersets as follows.
Parallel Squat, 6 x 12 reps
Leg Extension, 6 x 15.
Leg Curl, 6 x 12
Roman Chair Squat, 6 x 12.
Larry Squat's Thigh Blitz
As a gymnast of note, Larry Scott has never really had a leg problem. Since high school days his legs have always been quite muscular, although, of course they did not have the size and impressiveness that have since won him numerous bodybuilding titles.
So Larry has really only needed to bulk up his thighs and at the same time chisel the fabulous deep cuts which his audiences find breathtaking. His routines use many different training methods and he has used them all. He prefers to work his upper body on three alternate days and do leg work on the intervening days for six workouts per week. He often favors these exercises, done in two supersets:
Leg Press - heaviest possible weight, 12-15 reps
Leg Extension - done in a very concentrated way, slowly, with a definite pause as the legs reach parallel position. Here he makes a strong tension of the thigh muscles at the knees until he sees every cut coming strongly out. [Note: see note above for notable safety note]
Jefferson Lift - Larry blasts his legs with this time-honored movement. It is a strenuous exercise that builds little bulk because of the necessity of clasping the heavy barbell in the hands-hanging position. But it has the virtue of being one of the best tendon/ligament strengtheners. Tension is constant on the thighs from beginning to end of this exercise, and deep lying muscle fibers are attacked as they are in no other leg exercise. By strengthening the tendons and ligaments it is possible to use continually heavier weight in all other leg exercises, thereby assuring a bulking progress that would not be possible in any other way.
Leg Curl - Larry regards this movement as being just as essential for the thigh biceps as curls are for the biceps. Slowly pull the weight upward until the legs are perpendicular to the floor and hold there . . . tense the thigh biceps as much as possible and return to the start position.
Why Heavy Leg Work is for You
If you are in a hurry to gain weight there is no faster way of doing it than with a combination of good nutrition and heavy leg work. Work your legs first in any general program when specializing on them, or use a split routine allowing you to focus on your legs with more intensity.
As a basic leg training program I suggest that you select two or three exercises from the following list and train with them on three alternate days per week. Always do a few sets or warmup bodyweight squats to get the thigh muscles primed for the action to follow. You will find that all of these are effective:
Leg Curl/Leg Extension superset
The metabolic stimulation of heavy leg work has worked wonders in many diverse cases throughout the history of the Iron Game. So you see, a legs first approach bodybuilding can work miracles in developing the muscle you desire. Leg work builds power, size, muscularity and bodyweight . . . so GO TO IT.
Enjoy Your Lifting!