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Try this training cycle if you want really big legs

By Scott Canatsey – Lead trainer at the Parrillo Performance training facility

In the world of fitness, the biggest challenge many of us face is developing balanced and full Legs. Those that are gifted in this department do not give it much thought, but that is certainly the minority. For most of us, it is a bitter reality. We must train legs with ferocious intensity and some moderately heavy weight to get the response our “gifted” contemporaries seem to get. This has been my most constant and hardest battle. The quest for quality and balanced legs has evaded me since my knee reconstruction 35 years ago. I want to share with you what has worked well and what has not.

Every Sunday Vic Simms, Dale Plunkett and I come in at 1 PM for our weekly “Leg Destruction”. We have been at this steadily for over a year. Prior to Vic and Dale joining in, I had been at it for 2 solid years on Sunday, with different partners, seeking the best methods to spark growth in my Legs. This long period of investigation and research yielded a much needed protocol trial to see what worked best over a 3 month period. I used a variety of methods. I tried using mostly high reps with moderate weight (20 plus reps per set. Up to 100 reps.) performing 12-15 total sets, using 3 exercises. I got great endurance and detail in my legs but no significant growth. And I was eating strong. Pushing in around 4500 to 5000 calories daily of quality food and CapTri®, C8 MCT.

trainers-scott-swing-squatI tried training my Legs with heavy weight, squatting most weeks, and going with considerably lower reps. I keep the reps slow and feel the muscle work. This built my strength curve, and did yield a half inch of muscle gain over 3 months. Not bad. My Legs were certainly fuller but lacked the detail I had previously achieved. I was on to something here. Heavier weight yielded muscle gain. My next thought was to combine the two. I was ready to try moderately heavy weight with reps in the 12-20 range. This seemed like the logical course to take. And I needed to up my calories to match this increased work. I went up 500 calories daily. The added calories were mostly coming from carbs and CapTri® C8 MCT. This put me at a solid 5000-5500 calories daily. I was ready to take on a heavier workload.

This program felt better right away. I was sore after that first training session with the new program. I took squats out of the equation, as my hips seemed to be getting most of the stress and my glutes were doing a lot of the work when I performed squats. My butt is big enough. I need quads and hams! I was not the one that made the observation. My new training buddy, Canadian Bodybuilding champion, Eric Tapp, drew from the more intuitive side of the Bodybuilding realm. He was great at observing a person work, and then seeing what they are working and where the stress in occurring. He saw directly that squats were not what I needed to make my Legs grow. That insight was a game changer.

trainers-scott-hack-squatAs I worked with Eric week after week, he was teaching me what I consider, the “mystical” side of Bodybuilding. Really getting in touch with my muscle and how it operates. Feeling the flow of the movement and getting every last drop out of every rep. He would tell me, “If you can do it with less sets, you will save the calories you need to grow. Or eat more food!” That made a lot of sense. Increase the intensity and concentration on every rep, and not as many reps and sets are necessary. It was another moment of realization for me. Let us add this to the mix.

The formula was constructed with all of these new and known variables mixed into a single training session. I chose to warm up with Leg extensions and Leg Curls. 2 sets each. 20-50 reps. Here is the training protocol:

3 Sets Hack Squat

on the Parrillo Performance Genetic Equalizer Hack Squat.
Set 1: Moderately heavy, 15-20 reps
Set 2: Double the weight. 12-15 reps. (20 if you are feeling it.)
Set 3: Add another 50% to the weight. This is the “All Out” set. Failure and then 10 reps, rest for 3 seconds then whatever you can squeeze out with your spotters help. You will likely collapse. Be careful.

3 sets Swing Squat.
Set 1: Moderately heavy, 15-20 reps
Set 2: Double the weight. 12-15 reps (20 if you are feeling it)
Set 3: Add another 50% to the weight. This is the “All Out” set. Failure and then 10 reps, rest for 3 seconds then whatever you can squeeze out with your spotters help.

Parrillo Performance Leg Press with Hydraulic Resistance (0 added inertial mass)
Set 1: Moderately heavy, 15-20 reps
Set 2: Double the weight. 12-15 reps. (20 if you are feeling it.)
Set 3: Add another 50% to the weight. This is the “All Out” set. Failure and then 10 reps, rest for 3 seconds then whatever you can squeeze out with your spotters help.

This is the program that I was just beginning to use, when Vic and Dale began with me about a year ago. We have all made such marked gains from this protocol that we just mix up the exercise order and do the work. We will on occasion add squats on the end and focus on using Legs and not hips and glutes so much. This little added variety helps us feel how our Legs are responding with different movements.

This is the most successful Leg program that I have ever undertaken. I am convinced that the cornerstone of the work is the 3 “ALL-OUT” sets, performed at the end of each exercise. This push into the “beyond your limits” zone, is what forces the body to respond by adapting. If you are always pushing beyond, with enough nutrition, you will experience muscular gain consistently. John Parrillo has insisted upon this as a reality for four decades. Let us finally listen.

Until next month

2019-01-16T22:02:20-04:00 January 16th, 2019|The Press|

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