Beginning Bodybuilding Legs Training

Building Strong thick Legs & Calves!!

Beginning Bodybuilding Legs Training
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Danny Padilla performing a high bar squat - circa 1978

Beside building a big chest and bench press one of the biggest thing most teenage bodybuilders want more than anything are big powerful legs. as a beginning trainer your priority in your workout is to perfect your basic exercise forms and to commit to increasing your training weights for each and every workout cycle.

The exercises:

High Bar Back Squats: This the one exercise that we here will always insist that every athlete learn how to do and do correctly before proceeding to a low bar more power squat because these squats will produce the most hypertrophy in your thighs and improve core strength as well as your posture.

Exercise performance - First start with the bar at a height 2-3 inches below your shoulders. You never want to be stepping under a bar the you have to raise up on your tip toes to lift out of the catches(holders). Take 1 step back away form the rack keeping your head up and eyes facing straight ahead. With an empty bar on your back we want you to place your hands as close inward as possible pulling your shoulder blades together with your back straight, with eyes looking forward about a six inches above your height on a point on the wall or mirror in front of you. Place your feet about shoulder width apart. With this starting position keeping you head slightly tilted up fixed on that spot on the wall squat down letting your knees travel out over your feet, keeping your back upright and flat.

The Rub - Here is where we make our adjustments: Most trainers we have found under 5'10" don't have as hard a problem as taller trainers (over 6'0") do in going down while remain upright to a position below parallel in their squat. We have seen allot of this as it is basic body mechanics and ankle flexibilities. We work on both of these over time but your main goal is to continue to squat as far down as you can do so with confidence and good form, the flexibility come over time.

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Low Bar Power Squats: These are similar to high bar squats except the bar is placed much lower on the back around the rear delt level. Placing the bar in this position allows us to work hamstrings, glute,and hips more so we don't have to utilize exercise like Leg Presses with allow us to hit these muscle but in a way that doesn't involve the core. We want you to work your core as much as possible during these foundation years as this work pays huge dividends in your years of more specialized training.

Exercise performance - AS with the high bar squat we are going to start with bar height on the rack. Place the bar about mid chest height. Place the bar just below your traps and directly above your rear delts. with as close of an hand placement as possible pushing your shoulder blades together you should form a nice bridge of muscle for the bar to sit in. Stepping out of the rack support one step backwards assume a foot position about 2-3 inches wider than shoulder width on each side.

Unlike the high bar squat which allows for you to place your feet closer together, low bar squat don't usually allow for most to squat with any depth with a close foot stance. Now with your bar in position and your stance line up the bar should be directly over the back 3rd of your foot or directly in front of your ankle. Unlike most people think you do not squat off of your heels. You will develop the most power squatting over the back 3rd of your foot, directly in front of your ankle. Descend down keeping your eye looking straight ahead, squeezing your glute as tight as possible while descending before exploding back to an upright position.

Your glutes, hamstrings, hips and quads will play key roles in driving you out of the low position and back upright. This is the very reason we love this movement for young or beginning trainers over the more use leg press (which are good but don't build as much all around muscle and size). Performed on a irregular basis with high bar squats your leg size and power will increase dramatically.

The Rub - Just like high bar squats taller athletes will have to work a little bit harder due to mechanic but once the mobility is there your progress will be just the same as every one else.

Stiff Legged Deadlifts: The use of this exercise over more direct exercise like leg curls is to build size, length and thickness in the hamstrings before doing such direct movement as lying or seated leg curls. These build the entirety of the muscle from attachment to insertion.

Exercise performance - Grasp a barbell with a comfortable grip about shoulder width or slightly wider. Keeping the weight as close to your body as possible slowly lower the weight downward while keeping your legs straight with knees straight NOT LOCKED back. As the bar travel downward slowly push your hip backward feeling a stretch in the glutes and hamstrings as you descend downward to a point right about the center of your foot. From the bottom position slow return to the upright position squeezing your glutes, pushing your hips forward and contracting your hamstrings at the top before performing another repetition.

The Rub - DO NOT use your lower back to initiate your upright return, this is not a back exercise,if your lower back is sore the next day then you exercise form is off and should be practiced with little to no weight until your feeling the movement in the desired muscles.

Dorian Yates doing standing calf raises in 1993

Standing Calf Raises: The standing calf raise exercise targets your calf muscles, particularly the larger, outermost muscle that is responsible for the most of the size of your calves, the Gastrocnemius. Building the calf muscle is crucial in anyone's quest for calf size.

We prefer the use of a standing calf machine or even a smith machine and block as most of those sit down types of calf machines don't stress the calves sufficient enough to stimulate the kind of growth most people need in their calf training. Most bodybuilders to day don't utilize a standing machine and it shows. Their calves as very weak compared to their predecessors who utilized such machine or apparatus.

Exercise performance - Adjust the pads or bar to fit comfortable on your shoulders. Stepping up onto the edge of a step. Stand tall with your abdominals pulled in, the balls of your feet firmly planted on the platform or step with your heels hanging over the edge. Using just your calves raise your heels a few inches above the edge of the step so that you’re now on your tiptoes. Hold the position for a moment, and then lower your heels below the platform, feeling a full stretch in your calf muscles and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

The Rub - There is NO BOUNCING when doing the movement. Doing so doesn't do anything for muscle gain. Sow and controlled movements work the best when training calves. Your calves are thick muscle and must remain under constant tension to grow, slow methodic movement give them that tension.

Seated Calf Raises: Seated raise are preformed just like power squat on a sparing basis. Seated calf raise add underlying width to the calves as well as a good split between the muscles when flexed.

Exercise performance - Adjust the machine pads so the you calves are fully stretched when your starting. Preform you movement in a controlled manner with a squeeze at the top of each repetition. Unlike standing calf raise seated raises should not be preformed as a heavy exercise because doing so opens you up injury due to the extreme flexion of the ankle and surrounding tendons or ligaments.

The Rub - Even more so than standing raises there is NO BOUNCING when doing the movement.

4 Days a Week Training Split
Beginning Bodybuilding Leg Workouts
Workout One (Done 2 weeks in sucession)
Exercises Sets Reps
High Bar Squats 4 Sets 8-10 Reps
Stiff Legged Deadlifts 3 Sets 8 Reps
Standing Calf Raises 3 Sets 10-12 Reps
Workout Two - (Done ever third week)
Exercises Sets Reps
Low Bar Squats 5 Sets 10,8,6,4,4
Stiff Legged Deadlifts 3 Sets 12 Reps
Seated Calf Raises 2 Sets 12-15 Reps
Workout Schedule:

Conclusion - Building a set of powerful, high quality wheels for the beginning or strating bodybuilder is only a squat, stiff legged deadlift, and standing calf raise away. Don't get caught up in the BS of todays hype style training. Teenage or beginning bodybuilding is about foundation building, Bedrock Bodybuilding is Foundation Bodybuilding!

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