Coach Rambod stresses the importance of eating light before his FST-7 leg workout to prevent vomiting.
Developing strong leg muscles is vital for achieving optimal fitness levels. The strength of your legs directly impacts your speed, stability, and overall bodily strength. Engaging in leg-focused exercises not only stimulates the release of testosterone and growth hormones but also plays a crucial role in facilitating muscle growth. For this post, we’ll follow Derek Lunsford and Hadi Choopan’s leg workout. Hadi Choopan and Derek Lunsford worked alongside their coach, Hany Rambod, at Evogen Nutrition. We previously saw a back workout that these two joined forces for still under the watchful eye of Coach Rambod.
Hadi Choopan skyrocketed to the top position in the Mr. Olympia Men’s Open last year. Coming close behind him was Derek Lunsford, who was on a special invitation after winning the Men’s 212 category the year before. Their coach, Hany Rambod, also has many other big bodybuilding names in his repertoire, including the current reigning Classic Physique champion, Chris Bumstead.
In this leg workout, both professionals do multiple leg-building routines coached by Hany Rambod. Rambod also shares advice on proper form and how to maximize gains. Read on to see what exercises they did and important bodybuilding tips ahead of the 2023 Olympia.
Choopan’s & Lunsford’s Leg Workout
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To get started, we see Derek Lunsford take a pre-workout supplement and discuss the importance of taking one. Both athletes also use the FST-7 training technique, crafted by Hany Rambod. It includes using high reps and high intensity to stretch your fascia, which gives your muscles more room to expand, leading to a bigger size.
In this training, which takes place three weeks out from Mr. Olympia, Hany Rambod shares that both athletes will be using serious weight and increased intensity but are not trying to hit PRs. Coach Rambod also shares that it might not be a good idea to eat immediately before exercises for leg day because you could see the food come up. He says,
“We’re doing leg day. One major component is making sure you eat properly. Make sure you’re not eating right before legs because you’re going to end up seeing that meal come up. Because of the fact that you end up really, really creating a lot of tension. A lot of people throw up, especially when you eat close to the workout. Eat a little bit lighter.”
To get started with exercising, the men do some leg warmups and a bit of cardio with a stationary bike. They then do five routines using a mix of machines and free weights. Below are the exercises that Hadi Choopan and Derek Lunsford did for this leg workout with Coach Rambod.
|Single Leg Extensions||4||8-15|
|Vertical Leg Presses||4||8-12|
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The single-leg extension is an isolation exercise for your quads. This routine is a great way to get bigger-looking thighs and, while not as brutal as the squat, builds strength in your lower body. Plus, doing it unilaterally helps to find and fix any muscle imbalances between your legs.
Coach Rambod says your knees have to be in line with your joint center, not too far in front and not too far behind when doing single leg extensions. This will let you feel the exercise in your muscles, not your knees. He also shares that when using heavier weights, you should keep your hips back, or you won’t get a full range of motion or correctly hit your quads.
The front squat is a compound exercise that targets your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. This exercise is also healthier for your back as it puts more emphasis on your anterior leg muscles, like the quads (1). Front squats are also more challenging to do than back squats.
For their front squats, both athletes did a cross between the cross-arm front squat and zombie squats. In this variation, they balanced the barbell on their shoulders without gripping it entirely, just with a finger or two. This increases the intensity of the exercise as you have to stabilize the barbell while squatting.
The pendulum squat is a lower-body exercise that targets the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. This exercise doesn’t recruit your lower back and core as much as the barbell squat, thus putting most of the work on these three muscles, leading to more hypertrophy. To do pendulum squats, athletes use the pendulum squat machine.
Hadi Choopan and Derek Lunsford used the pendulum squat to hit their leg muscles differently. Coach Hany Rambod also shares that when working your outer sweep, you should keep your foot parallel for this exercise. He says,
“So many athletes will start to move their foot inwards or turn their ankle inwards. Sometimes, it has to do with their structure when it comes to leg length, and that’s why it’s really good to get chiropractic adjustments when you can. Because sometimes you’ll just be a little bit shorter in one leg than the other, and then you’ll get a little bit of foot travel. You always have to be mindful of that and try to keep your feet in a similar parallel path, especially when you’re turning around; you’re trying to work on that outer sweep.”
Vertical Leg Presses
The vertical leg press allows you to isolate your quad muscles properly by supporting your back. It builds your quad, hamstring, and glute muscles. The mechanics of this exercise also reduce undue pressure on your legs as you don’t work directly against gravity when doing it.
Coach Rambod shares that the key to the vertical leg press is to get a full range of motion to put constant tension on the muscle, leading to more muscle growth and hypertrophy (2). Rambod says that you should also exhale as you go down, as this reduces the volume of your midsection, allowing you to deepen your drop.
“Another good tip is to make sure that you almost exhale on the way down. Doesn’t feel natural, doesn’t feel normal, but what it gives you is less volume through your midsection. So you get a little deeper into that range of motion so the quads can get just a tiny bit more range of motion, and you get even more.“
Hadi Choopan and Derek Lunsford wrapped up their leg workout by doing walking lunges. They did multiple sets of the weighted variation of this exercise using barbells.
The walking lunge is a functional exercise that targets your quads, hips, glutes, calves, hamstrings, and abs. It’s excellent for your lower body range of motion as it helps to loosen your hips and hamstrings (3).
You can watch Derek Lunsford’s and Hadi Choopan’s full FST-7 leg workout below:
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- Mang, Z. A., Ducharme, J. B., Mermier, C., Kravitz, L., de Castro Magalhaes, F., & Amorim, F. (2022). Aerobic Adaptations to Resistance Training: The Role of Time under Tension. International journal of sports medicine, 43(10), 829–839. https://doi.org/10.1055/a-1664-8701
- Jönhagen, S., Halvorsen, K., & Benoit, D. L. (2009). Muscle activation and length changes during two lunge exercises: implications for rehabilitation. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 19(4), 561–568. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0838.2007.00692.x