Let’s Revive This Forgotten Way of Building Monster Legs
Remember when legs were everyone’s favorite muscle to train? We neither. Training legs, if done right, can be taxing. One big reason for exhaustion while hitting your wheels is that your legs are half of your body, and most of your blood and oxygen are pumped into them while training, leaving your brain and lungs running on fumes.
With the introduction of fancy training equipment like the seated hamstring curls, abductor, and adductor machines we have seen a big change in the leg workout routines. Make no mistake, we are not implying that people these days don’t have great legs.
Heck, pro bodybuilders on stage these days are arguably the freakiest since the advent of bodybuilding and we don’t mean this negatively. Most people attend bodybuilding shows to watch the freaks of nature in action and the guys on stage deliver on those expectations.
This article is not a comparison between the golden day and today’s bodybuilders. It’s aimed at pointing out the change in the leg training style over the years and to see if going back to the old ways can improve leg development.
Building Monster Legs The Old School Way
Our old-school quadzilla idol is none other than Tom Platz. If you’ve ever seen videos of Platz training legs, you’d realize it’s nothing like what we see in today’s YouTube leg training motivational videos.
Tom Platz’s leg workouts were so brutal that people attended his leg training sessions to learn his techniques and most people looked in awe when he got under the bar or sat on the leg-extension machine.
If you’ve ever watched the critically-acclaimed movie, Pumping Iron, how many bodybuilders did you spot using the abductor or hip-thrust machines? Could you complain about the wheels of any of the bodybuilders shown in the documentary?
Going Old School – Higher Reps
Coming back to Tom Platz. One of Tom’s biggest pieces of advice is, “the quads need higher reps than other muscle groups, like 15-20 or more to grow.” When was the last time you performed 15-20 reps of something while training legs?
These day’s we see a complicated system where people use a percentage of 1RM to determine how much weight they’d be lifting in a set. Don’t get us started on how to calculate a one-rep-max.
Most people deliberately underperform on a 1RM to set the bar low so that they can post fancy numbers on social media. Calculating 1RM can be complicated, and if you don’t want to open an excel sheet or a graph chart, you’d be better off doing what Platz did, perform higher reps.
Benefits of Higher Reps
Some people think that higher reps translate to lighter weights. This isn’t exactly true. Many lifters on a gaining program think that lifting light for higher reps is for people on a ‘cutting’ schedule.
On the contrary, lifters on a shredding routine think that lifting heavy for a lesser number of reps will make them bulky. Both these approaches are as far away from the truth as they can be.
Time under tensions (TuT) is one of the most important factors in adding muscle mass as it leads to the breaking of muscle fibers while training. With proper rest and diet, these broken muscle cells grow out to be bigger and stronger. The shorter your sets are, the lesser will be the tension on your muscle fibers.
Lifting Heavy is IN!
In today’s internet age, squatting 405lbs for 2 reps is way sexier than lifting 225lbs for 20 reps. Don’t believe us? Open your Instagram and look for an internet fitness celebrity who lifts moderate weights for higher reps.
Most of the content creators these days are chasing strength while undermining the importance of endurance. It maybe has something to do with the “go heavy or go home” mindset, which has its place but kills the benefits of time under tension.
Lifting super-heavy is undoubtedly hard but bearing the pain of high-rep quad exercises is not for the weak-hearted. 20 repetitions of squats will introduce you to soul-grinding, hypertrophy-inducing pain.
The Golden Age Leg Building Technique
Enough with the chatter, let’s get down to the business of building monster legs. Although we have spoken a lot about squats in this article, leg press, hack squat, leg extensions, and leg curls machines are great leg-building tools.
Quad Focussing Leg Press Workout:
1. Place your feet close to the bottom of the sled. Use a close-feet stance and push mainly through your toes rather than your heels to focus on your quads and limit the involvement of the hamstrings.
2. Close your eyes, shut your mind and go for 25 reps. Make sure you follow a full range of motion. Partial reps are going to do you no good. If you fail at around 15-20 reps, lighten the load and complete 30 reps. Getting the weights right for 25 reps is going to take 2-3 trial runs.
3. Perform three sets of these “sissy” sets. But it doesn’t end here. Put on some plates on the sled and do one final set of 8-10 reps. We’re here to get the best of both worlds, remember?
You can follow this same technique for all your leg exercises like squats, leg curls, extensions, and hack squats.
Leave Your Brains at Home Technique
There is another Tom Platz technique for building monster legs that are hidden away since the Instagram fitness models took over – the ten-minute sets. Tom Platz once put 225lbs on the bar and performed squats for 10 minutes straight – without stopping.
Before you lose your shit, we’ll be the first to admit that this technique needs some tweaking. How about we turn the ten-minute sets into two-minute sets? We knew you’d like that.
P.S – you don’t have to stick with the lighter weights for higher reps philosophy. You are free to test your mettle by squatting heavier weights for higher reps.
P.S.S – by higher reps, we mean up to 50 reps.
P.S.S.S – maybe it’s time to change the conversation from “how much can you squat?” to “for how long can you squat?”