I trained this past weekend with a friend of mine, Jim Brown. Jim is a former competitive bodybuilder, and at 6’3, 260, he is a very large and very “jacked” individual.
Jim is in his 40s, and has been lifting since he was a teen. He’s got some years on me, and certainly has the edge in training experience. Myself, Ive trained clients for 8 years, so while I certainly dont ”time” on my side, but after 8 years of working with hundreds of clients, Id like to think Ive got a fairly good handle on what “works” for training, and what does not.
Our workout was lower body workout, and it went like this
We started with calves because:
a) Neither of us are genetically gifted in calf development and,
b) An effective training strategy is to always target your weakness first.
So we did 6 total sets of calves, alternating between seated calf raises and toe presses on a calf machine. On our set we emphasized:
A full range of motion
Actively flexing and extending the muscle
Performing moderate to high reps for each movement
Increasing intensity when appropriate by taking a set to positive failure
Progressively adding weight
The above formula, that is largely the “secret” to long-term progress. If you applied the above strategy to every muscle group and exercise you did, you’d reasonably make progress for over the course of a lifetime of training for practically any movement.
Following the Calve raises, we did seated and lying leg curls for hamstrings, this was about 3 working sets each, and the last set we took to positive failure.
3. Leg Press
Following hamstrings, we went to the angled leg press. Leg Presses are WAY too often loaded up with a ton of weight, and people pump out barely there partial reps with far too much weight. We started with a plate a side, worked up to 5 plates a side, and the last set we did something of a rest pause set, hitting 20-30 reps
We Selected a “machine squat”, which was on a pendulum style lever. This machine felt pretty good, but was also heavy just by itself, so we only put on a plate a side. We performed 3 sets, and took the last set to failure (noticing a pattern hopefully)
5. DB Deficit Squats
This is a favorite movement of mine. I used a 100lb DB, and did three fast sets of 20 reps each. These sets I stopped just short of failure. This movement works the glutes and inner thighs very well, and does not stress the low back at all
6. Bulgarian Split Squats
By this point, we’d accrued about 20 or so working sets, so I finished off my quads with only 2 sets each, taking each one to failure around 20-30 reps
That completed the leg workout, which left my legs thoroughly thrashed.
Some points to highlight which I think are relevant
In light of our collective training knowledge, we train with very TRADITIONAL movements. While some movements may be novel, there are no “weird” exercises, or anything odd. We did two kinds of squats, leg curls, leg presses, and calf raises. These are tried and proven movements many times over
We used a full range of motion, added weight each set, stuck with higher reps-this is the formula for successful bodybuilding. Nothing we did in our workout was hardcore, underground, or secret. We performed all our sets with effort, used reasonable amounts of load, and took sets to failure at the end to emphasize the muscle damage
We didn’t rush the rest periods, nor excessively rest—the above workout took about 1 hour and 10 minutes. That 10 minutes came from being unfamiliar with the gym and having to figure out where equipment was. We trained at a brisk pace, didn’t talk or chit chat, and our only interaction was pointers given to each other on each movement
What does all this equal out to?
Effective training is SIMPLE. There is nothing we could mythologize or sell about our training that would make it seem magical.
Most subjects are not so complicated, especially with health. The “secrets” most people look for are complicated hacks to simple problems.
You’re overweight because you overeat
You’re deconditioned because you barely walk
You’re not strong because you don’t lift
Your body is soft because you lack muscle
These statements are highly reductionist, but that does not make them any less truthful.
People desire complicated answers, methods, and tactics because it is DIVERSION from having to take factual responsibility for reality.
Don’t make things complicated when they don’t need to be.