The Almost Forgotten (And Most Evil) Leg Exercise
Wednesday, October 19th, 2005. Body Quest Gym. Blauvelt, New York. Leg Day with Richie Smyth (The “Evil Trainer”). Being so close to a competition, I was not planning on doing anything too crazy for legs today, and Richie already warned me weeks ago about my tendency for overtraining close to a show, but that didn’t stop him from pulling out an oldie but goodie from his leg training bag of tricks…I used to do this one all the time, but I haven’t done this sucker in years (the gym I train at most of the time doesn’t have the machine for it)… This is one of the most evil leg exercises and almost no one does it anymore… Even I almost forgot about it!
- A1 45 degree continuous tension leg presses
- 2 light warm up sets
- 1 set X 3 plates (270 lbs) X 15 reps
- 1 set X 4 plates (360 lbs) X 14 reps
- 1 set X 5 plates (450 lbs) X 12 reps, drop to 360 lbs X 8 more reps, drop to 270 X 8 more reps, drop to 180 lbs X 10 more reps
- B1 Leg Extension
- Set 1: 160 lbs X 15 reps
- Set 2: 160 lbs, 180 lbs, 200 lbs X 8, 6, 6 reps (ascending set)
- Set 3: 180 lbs X 10 reps, drop to 140 lbs X 10 more reps (drop set)
- C1 Roman Chair Squats
- Set 1: body weight X 15 reps
- Set 2: 25 lbs X 12 reps
- Set 3: 25 lbs X 11 reps, then drop weight, bodyweight X 8 more reps
- A1 Seated Leg Curl
- Set 1: 140 lbs X 15 reps
- Set 2: 160 lbs X 6 reps, 170 lbs X 6 reps, 180 lbs X 4 reps (ascending set0)
- Set 3: 180 lbs X 6 reps, 140 lbs X 6 reps, 120 lbs X 6 reps (drop set)
- B1 Lying Leg Curl
- 2 Sets X 140 lbs X 10-12 reps
- A1 Calf press on cybex horizontal calf press machine
- 3 sets X 340, 360, 380 lbs X 15-20 reps
- A2 standing calf
- 3 sets X 350 lbs X 15-20 reps
- A3 seated calf
- 3 sets X 115 lbs X 20 reps
- no rest between tri-setted exercises A1, A2, A3, 60 seconds rest between tri sets
This session started on the leg press. I used much lighter weights than normal, but Richie had me do these with strict constant tension reps, so even 4 plates was not easy: These were continuous tension, non locking reps, driving through with the weight on the heel (NOT off the ball of the foot).
Sets of 12-15 reps done with slow tempo and no lockout (constant tension) are difficult even with as little as 50-70% of your normal poundage for the same rep range. The burn kicks in around rep 9 or 10, and getting reps 11 through 15 is simply a matter of grinning and bearing the pain. The slower the tempo and the more reps you do without locking out or stopping, the harder these are to do (and the less weight you need).
Leg extensions were next. Three sets, each set done with a different technique (straight set, ascending set, drop set). Not very heavy, but very intense contractions focusing on that squeeze at the top.
The grand finale for quads was Roman Chair squats! Now this is an oldie but a goodie… so old, I had “almost” forgotten about it. But of course, Richie is never content to give me the same workout twice so he’s always scheming up some evil new exercise variation or in this case, pulling out some old “torture device.” (I didn’t nickname him “The insane trainer”, “the master of pain,” and “the evil trainer” for nuthin!
When I saw him walking over to the corner of the gym and dragging out this evil contraption – The Roman Char Squat – I just I smiled and laughed…. I knew what was coming.
The key on the roman chair squat is the constant tension. By keeping a slight bend in the knees, your quads stay contracted through the entire set and they cannot rest. If you stand all the way up at the top, your quads relax.
Another technique secret is the hip thrust. As you rise out of the bottom of the exercise, you focus on thrusting the hips forward at the same time you stand up, while your upper body is leaning slightly backwards. As you come out of the very bottom from the full squat (below parallel) position, you are recruiting the teardrop shaped inner quadriceps muscle (the vastus medialis). As you drive up and thrust the hips forward, you hit the rest of the quadriceps group including the rectus femoris and you can literally feel this high up on the quad. That’s what makes this such a killer FULL frontal thigh exercise.
My legs were PUMPED after this – there were veins criss crossing my legs from top to bottom after a few sets (wish I would have gotten pictures)
Although we didn’t take pictures of this leg workout, Doug Schneider at seriousaboutfitness.com has a good article about the Roman Chair squat, complete with pictures and I suggest you check it out (Doug was a devout student of Vince Gironda incidentally)