Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Roger Estep Q & A, Part Four (1985)

 Thank You to Robert Wildes. 
Thanks, Bob! 

Q: I have lifted weights for about four years. I work out six days a week, three days on my upper body and three days on the lower part. I have these questions: 

1) Why can't I develop my legs? Right now they measure 24 inches and I would like to get them to measure 27 or 28 inches. I want them to be massive more than muscular. The upper part of my body measurements are - 50 inch chest, 17 inch arm, but I only have a 24 inch thigh. I am 43 years old, 5-9, so you can see how small my legs must look.

2) Are three days a week doing squats and leg curls enough? I do 3 sets of leg curls with 100 pounds, one leg at a time. And I do 5-7 sets of squats, 5 reps with 250-300 pounds.

3) Why can't I seem to get big veins in the upper part of my arms, like most powerlifters and weightlifters do. What exercises would you suggest to accomplish this? 

A: To increase your leg size you must realize that you will probably have to increase your body weight by 7-15 pounds. The simple reason for the increased weight, is you can't gain size in any muscle group without an increase in tissue and living tissue has weight and takes up space. The legs being the largest muscle group in the body will require a large increase in weight. Don't plan on being on  low calorie diet while you are trying to bulk your legs, because it just can't be done.

If you wish to shift some of your upper body size to your lower body, you might consider specializing on your legs and keep your upper body work to a minimum, but even if you specialize you are still going to have to have an increase in weight. You would have to follow a specialized program for a period of at least 3 months. Three months should give you a noticeable increase in size. A specialized program should consist of 3 days of leg training, two heavy days and one light day. 

Before you try a specialized program you might want to alter your present program. I would recommend training your legs two days a week, one day heavy and one day medium to light.


Squats warmup then move to squats, 3 x 5 x 260.
Leg curls, 3-4 x 10.
Leg extensions, 3-4 x 10.
Calf work, 6-8 x 15-20

Squats warmup, then
1 x 5 x 50 lbs. less than the Monday program, 210 for 5. 
Leg curls, 3-4 x 10.
Leg extension, 3-4 x 10.
Calf work, 6-8 x 15-20.

The key to this workout is each week try to increase the weight in the squat by 5-10 pounds. You have got to move your squat above 300 pounds for 5 reps to stimulate growth in the legs. If you only stress your legs as much as you stress your arms then your legs are going to equal your arms in size.

Your second question, about increasing the vascularity, has a two part answer. The major veins of the body are very large and travel fairly close to the surface of the skin. Superheavyweights even show vascularity in these veins. The reason they can show vascularity is due to their intensive training. Maybe one of your problems is that your training lacks high intensity.

The smaller veins that are easily seen on bodybuilders comes from a decrease in bodyfat and an increase in repetition work. 

Q: I was wondering what type of assistance exercises you use. Would you please tell me what you do in terms of assistance exercises for each of the three powerlifts and describe the set-rep scheme you use. Also, how do you train in the off season. Could you give me a good program for both the squat and bench press plus auxiliary lifts, and how to do them in the off season and in season. Your time and effort will be greatly appreciated. I am 18, 250 pounds, 5'11" and lifting for three years. 

A: As I have said in a few articles that I have previously written I am not a hardcore believer in on and off season training. I believe that the off season of a lifter is just after he has completed in a major meet. The changes that you make in your program are minor. You basically shift from high gear training by cutting back some of the heavy weights you have been using which will allow your body to repair itself. 

I would recommend taking a couple of weeks of second gear workouts then a  couple of weeks of third gear workouts. This would give you four weeks of light to medium work. I would then start jumping right into the heavy weights again. Now I don't mean to try and lift something you have never lifted before, but instead try and get consistent with weights you could do prior to the contest.

The assistance work that I do for the powerlifts are very simple and don't really take up a lot of time. The muscle groups I concentrate on are biceps, lats, calves, with only minimal triceps work done. I would recommend for your assistance to work the following exercises. 

Standing DB curl, 3 x 6-10 reps
Preacher curl, 3 x 6-10

Bentover row, 4 x 10

Leg curls, 3 x 10

Calf raise, 4 x 15-25

Pushdowns, 3 x 10

As you can see the only muscle I work fairly hard is the biceps because they don't get much work during the powerlifts and also overtraining the biceps will not cause any drop in strength in your competitive lifts. The other assistance exercises should be done to the point of mild fatigue. 

As I have said many times before that if you overtrain your assistance work, you won't have the energy to make progress in the powerlifts. 

Q: Here's my problem. For the last two years I've both powerlifted and done some bodybuilding. I really want a powerful and massive physique without the standard powerlifting belly so apparent these days.

I am so confused with all the books and articles I've read that I no longer know which direction to turn, and my workouts are suffering. Please help me outline a routine that will help me achieve my goals of mass and power without extra bulk.

I am 6', 195 pounds, Bench 275, Deadlift 425, Squat (the lift that needs the most improvement) 320. I attempt to keep my reps in the 4-10 area with singles done in the three lifts. I have put on 20 pounds since I started lifting, but I still have mostly "cuts" and not size. 

A: I always stress the use of heavy weights as the primary tool for muscular development. I don't thin you are even an athlete unless you are using heavy weights and low to medium reps. So, it appears to me that your program has a good foundation and you should continue to use the heavy and low rep approach. You are a big man and the only way to keep piling on the mass is to keep increasing the weights.

By using the three powerlifts as your measuring sticks for progress you will be able to tell how much assistance work you can do before you overtrain. 

Example: if your squat is moving well for several weeks and then comes to a sudden halt, this could mean you need some rest and I would recommend you back off your assistance work and drop your squats back 10-15%. Even though it slows down your training and it may seem like you are cheating yourself and give you a guilty feeling, I promise you that you will only come back stronger. Use this method to monitor all your lifts and you will progress at a steady rate with less chance of injury.

Your concern about getting too big and bulky from the powerlifts is a needless one. Basically, you will get as big as you want to if you watch your diet and go slowly. Once you see yourself looking too heavy, then all you do is watch your calories. I don't mean you should crash diet, I mean to just cut your caloric intake down for several weeks until you are back to your desired appearance. 

I would like to say something in defense of the powerlifters who think their appearance is secondary to the amount of weight they can lift. These lifters have one thing in mind, and that is being the best they can be at moving weight. Their desire for a world record or world championship comes first, and everything else is second. I'm sure they would all like to look like Mr. America and win the World championships at the same time, but they realize that to attain their number one objective, they might have to add 10, 20, 30 or even 50 pounds of extra weight to their frame. They are marching to the beat of their own drum, and believe me, when I lifted in the World championships and did my world record lifts, I didn't really care what I looked like as long as I got the gold. 

Q: I've been training with weights now for two years. All my workouts have been done at home due to the fact that there wasn't a good quality gym to work out in. Recently, however, a first class gym has opened in the area, and I'm more interested in getting into powerlifting. Up until now, I've done mostly bodybuilding. 

What I would like to know about is a powerlifting program called the Sandusky training method. I've heard that you work out two days per week with this program. If possible could you please explain to me in detail how to train using this approach, the sets that must be used, reps, etc., plus all the assistance exercises that should be used. I understand Dave Waddington uses this program. I must say powerlifting in Ohio is becoming quite popular.

A: The program you are referring to is the program that was developed in the years while I was living in Sandusky and training with Dave Waddington, Steve Wilson and his brothers, Dave Schweinfurth, and Bill Bradford at the famous Olympic Health Club owned by John and Amy Wolfe. 

The program itself has no secrets. It was your basic one heavy and one medium day a week program, but when you train with the people I just mentioned the workouts are highly motivated and your mental attitude toward training is at a peak. 

The program consisted of a Monday and a Friday workout with Monday being the light or medium day. On this day we would do light squats, maybe 60% of max, for a few reps depending on how you felt that day. The bench press was trained in the same manner. Basically, we were just trying to keep a good feel of the weights and keep the muscles facilitated for the Friday workout. 

Our assistance work consisted of 3-4 sets of lat pulls, triceps pushdowns, leg curls and calf raises. 

The Friday workout consisted of a simulated meet starting with squats. Waddington and Wilson liked to use 3 x 3 while I was always a heavy singles fan. 

The bench press was next with the same heavy reps and sets, followed by  the deadlift. 

No assistance work was done on this day because the workouts would take five hours. 

This is a good program which has developed several top level competitors, but remember, the people you train with will have an effect on your progress. 

Q: I am a novice in powerlifting. I wonder if you can send me a good bench press routine to follow. I'd appreciate it. 

A: Every National and World powerlifting champion has a bench program, designed and developed by these individuals, and no two programs are the same. However, all routines have several factors in common . . . such as positive mental approach, proper technique, heavy training using low reps, adequate rest between sessions, and proper nutrition. 

Your mental approach is as important as the physical portion of your training. You have to believe that you can reach the goals you have set for yourself. Set yourself into a good environment, where everyone is a serious lifter and distractions are kept to a minimum. The people you train with should give you positive reinforcement and help build your confidence. 

Proper technique on the bench press may take some experimentation on the lifter's part. Technique includes foot spacing, hand spacing on the bar, proper breathing, correct position of the bar on the chest, just to mention a few factors that are included in technique. Technique is best practiced with light weights and can be performed during your warmup sets. I would recommend that you try to spend a few sessions with a successful powerlifter and get him to watch your technique. I know it might take some extra driving time to get this help, but believe me, it's well worth it.

Your training should consist of one heavy bench day and a light to medium day. On the heavy day you should use as much weight as you can for low reps. The number of reps you use is up to you and how you feel mentally and physically. Sets of 5's or doubles are popular with most of the famous powerlifters, but the main objective is to use heavy weights and low reps and keep pushing yourself each week to try and do more and more weight. 

The light day should be used to develop technique and the muscles used in benching should only be fatigued slightly. By not burning yourself out on the light day, you'll have maximum energy for your heavy reps on the next bench day. 

During your off days you should get as much rest as possible and eat well, because this is the time that your body is adjusting to the stress that you have subjected it to. 

You need a minimum of two days rest between bench sessions. 

Your diet should consist of plenty of protein, to help build muscle tissue, carbohydrates for energy, and vitamins for overall health. You should try to eat six smaller meals a day as opposed to two or three larger meals. This will give your body a constant supply of energy, and nourishment. 

If you apply the basic principles of training outlined for you here, you will surely make progress. If you neglect any of the basics, it will hamper your progress.

Enjoy Your Lifting! 


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