WHY: I never think of any specific muscle operating independently of any others. Each muscle has to accommodate stress vectors from every direction, in order to balance moving weight and apply variable power. This is especially true for legs. For those reasons, squats produce the greatest overall and naturally proportioned development, because all of the thigh muscles — quads and hamstrings alike — must coordinate their support, stability and strength duties throughout the everchanging dynamics of each repetition. You’re putting more into it, so you get more out of it.
HOW: Use a comfortable stance; not so wide that you’ll shear your hips, but wide enough for stability. Maintain an upright position, so the weight is directed through your hips and thighs, not into your lower back. Keep your head up, flex your traps and abs, tighten your glutes and then squeeze all the way down to “hams on calves.”
Halfway down, start thinking “up,” so that your squat movement becomes not “down and up,” but one continuous loop. Never shift gears at the bottom; you should be on your way up before you reach the bottom.
Warm up thoroughly, so your knees are well lubricated. For my counted sets, I pyramid the weight upward through five or six sets, starting with 12 reps and going all the way down to two.
SUGGESTED LEG WORKOUT
- WARM-UP SETS | SETS: 2-3 | REPS: 15
- SQUATS | SETS: 5-6* | REPS: 12-2
- LEG PRESSES | SETS: 4 | REPS: 8-10
- HACK SQUATS | SETS: 3 | REPS: 10
*Note: Pyramid up through weights while decreasing reps.
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