The Armageddon Workout – Total Leg Destruction


This weekend’s box office blockbuster, 2012, had me thinking about the workouts that Richie, my “psycho” trainer, has been putting me through lately. If you think all the stuff blowing up, flooding out, crashing down and burning to the ground in that movie was “total destruction,” you should see these workouts…

By the way, for liability protection, my friendly disclaimer: Don’t try this at home kids. This is a workout program for 1% of the bodybuilding population – psychos like us. This blog is for entertainment purposes only. If you want a normal workout, I DO write workouts for normal people:

Ok, for all you psychos left, who have not left for Mens Fitness dot com, here’s how the Doomsday workout went down:

I arrived at the dungeon (one of the gyms where I train with Richie – no one works there, you just get a key to front door), and started warming up while Richie was finishing off his last victim.

After she limped out of the gym, Richie sauntered on over to the squat rack where I was getting loose with some light sets, and all of a sudden it starting getting really dark outside.

I looked out the window and dark clouds started blowing in and looming overhead. I’m talking BLACK! Did you ever see that show, Stormchasers. Yeah. Like that! I swear with god as my witness this is a true story. IT was PITCH BLACK out as I got ready for my first set.

I figured this was a real BAD omen… there was a foreboding feeling, like the end of the world was coming. Truth be told, it would shortly be the end of something: my ability to stand up.

So I warmed up with 135, then again with 185.

We slapped weight on each side of the bar and I cranked out 15 reps with 225. My strength hasn’t been what it used to be, and I’ve had to watch my lower back (ruptured L4 comes back to haunt me sometimes), but it felt pretty easy for 15 reps.

245 for 12. No problem, but I started feeling it because Richie gave me barely a minute rest. less than 60 seconds later, 265 for 10. I felt that one. Still not all that heavy, but I admit it, I was sucking wind because the slave-driver wasn’t letting me get full recovery between sets (that’s always part of his evil, cold, calculated plan by the way).

I figured 285 then 315 was coming, but nope, he got me off guard. Drop set. Actually, I should have known it was coming because he had the bar filled up with 10s – a plate, a quarter and 4 tens on each side: 265, drop weight, 245, drop weight, 225, drop weight, 205 drop weight… then I dropped.

He didn’t let me lie there on the floor for long though. Again, just about 60 seconds, maybe I had 90, but it didn’t feel like any rest at all, and back to the rack. Usually you figure three heavy sets, then a drop set and you’re done. But noooooo. Not the M.O.P.

It was ASCENDING SET time!

If you guys only do DESCENDING SETS (aka drop sets), but not ASCENDING SETS, then be thankful for what you are missing….

225 6 reps, NO REST, slap a ten on each side, 245 for 6 reps, NO REST, slap a ten on each side 265 for 6 reps… BARELY got six and I think he spotted me.. can’t seem to remember. By the way, it’s no coincidence that the reps were 6-6-6. This man is evil.

And by now all HELL broke loose outside. It was a torrential downpour. lighting. thunder. Stormchasers. End of the world stuff.

Richie looks down at me; dark clouds behind his head, and says, “Venuto, you look like a squirrel I ran over with my truck last week.”

“Thanks richie. I feel like one.”

I’m telling you, if this doesn’t look like much on paper, with those admittedly moderate poundages, then bring your ass out here to Jersey and do it with us… at the pace we did it, then yap all you want.

I swear, that would would be enough quads for a lot of people, but that was just the beginning… over to the smith machine for split squats. Just one plate per side – and you know the bar is counterbalanced, so thats not even 135 – couldn’t be so bad eh? Hmpf!

You would hardly notice it unless you have a keen eye for form, but the slightest shift in your upper body position can make a split squat sheer torture. Most people lean forward and that throws a ton of stress on the powerful glutes and lower back. Not in Richie’s world.

Smyth Split Squats: Chest is up and out, torso is TOTALLY vertical. You have to position yourself properly under the bar to do this and then there is absolutely no forward trunk inclination whatsoever. Hips thrust forward. Up and down – slowly – like a piston, only 3/4 reps, 1/4 of a rep short of lockout. rep to Total failure and stop RIGHT at the point of failure. Three sets on each leg. Very brief rest intervals.

The burn cannot be described, it has to be felt.

I remember watching a Milos Sarcev Video once from Bodybuilding dot com and Milos (a bonafide psycho in his own right – hats off to you Mr. Sarcev), displayed a PUKE-O-METER on the screen. Instead of red mercury rising, there was green vomit rising. When it hit the bulb at the top, the camera man followed Sarcev’s victims out to the parking lot to catch the action.

You should be proud of me. I didn’t lose my breakfast. I’m good about that. Remember: when you’re “bulking” you don’t want the movement of valuable calories in the wrong direction.

But I felt close. I also felt the acid meter rising. I swear that it felt like the lactic acid was rising from my legs all the way up into my face until my face was flushed with acid. the second I racked the bar, it was like the acid drained out and down. Weird.

If I were training by myself, I know at this point I’d be taking like a 5 minute breather. I know myself and I admit it. But nope. No relief. Quickly over to the dumbbell rack.

THIS I wasnt expecting. Sumo squats. I grabbed a 120 pounder. Not a heck of alot for a Sumo squat. But At this point, it might as well have been a ton. About 12 or 15 reps. Then NO REST, I grabbed a pair of 80’s and did dumbbell stiff leg deadlifts.

The puke o meter almost topped out again. CRAP! If you only try one thing from this workout, try this superset – it will hit your quads, glutes, hams in a way that will catch you off guard. It knocks the wind out of you too. NOTE: on the sumo’s again, vertical torso – its all low back and glutes if you lean forward. concentrate on drivin through the heels WITH the quads. Stiff leg deads: very strict, butt out, back arched, head up – to failure with strict form. Three supersets.

I curse richie and all his descendants. Sadist.

But he’s not quite finished.

leg Curl machine.

I’d tell you what we did, but honestly I just can’t remember. All I really remember is that the walk upstairs was just as bad as finishing off the leg curls. SHIT! It dawned on me. I had to walk back down the stairs too.

I curse Richie and all his descendants.

Seriously though, If I dont bring a notebook with me, I sometimes cannot keep track of what he gives me on some exercises. So it was with these leg curls. Every set is different, and there are mini sets within sets. Range of motion changes. Static holds. Tempo changes. Switch from two legs to one leg at a time. Its all a blur.

Finally, we were finished. It’s 8:30 in the morning. I had a long work day ahead of me. too bad I crashed. Slept through most of it.

So that was the Armageddon workout. As I look forward to my next workout, I keep thinking about Armageddon.. .Armagettin my ass kicked.

– Tom V.

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Comments on The Armageddon Workout – Total Leg Destruction Leave a Comment

November 15, 2009

Remco @ 6:33 am #

Great stuff Tom!! Reading this article alone makes me scared to ever think about traveling to New Jerz an do such a routine..
Do you perform these kind of barbaric exercises for each muscle group once in a while or is it mostly for the larger muscle groups?

Marc David @ 1:12 pm #

That is fantastic! And once again, a real gem of a workout if you look between the lines.
Knowing myself and having done many of your workouts pound for pound, this is one that I couldn’t do by myself. You need that crazy guy pushing you and switching the weights so you can get setup again.
These are one of those few workouts where an advanced trainer is critical.
Awesome stuff. True hardcore bodybuilding only trying to survive till the next set.
Your threshold for pain must be off the charts.
Next time hire some college kid to follow you guys around and document this. I found it amazing you could recall so much detail in one of these workouts where ever rep, set and tempo is different. A true feat in itself.

November 16, 2009

Richie Smyth @ 9:40 pm #

Let me introduce myself , im the sick bastard who trains tom and no matter what he says , one thing is for sure , HE LIKES IT!! painful but effective .

Tom Venuto @ 10:08 pm #

Whoa! He’s here! Everybody RUN! 🙂
PS. “he” likes the results… ie, the “after”, not the “during”

November 20, 2009

Haha, thanks Richie. It’s great seeing the candidness of it all. Whatever works…

November 23, 2009

Bodybuilding @ 11:06 pm #

That’s amazing. Great article, Tom!

November 24, 2009

Dylan @ 8:20 am #

Another great post! Just jealous I couldn’t have taken part too.
Was actually looking for another extreme leg workout and think i have just found it, will mix it in with the “unconventional leg training tactis”
2010 I will have segregation that will make people stop and look ^_^

jonathen manek @ 7:21 pm #

I appreciate the workout. My partner and I completed the routine earlier today. I have recovered enough to finally post about it. I like to consider ourselves tough and this put us to the test. we finished in just under 51 minutes(longer than I was hoping). all the weights were used identically except for the sumos were we used 100 and stiff legs were we used 65’s. We finished with 4 sets of leg curls. ALL reps were performed in strict 3-0-3 tempo. I am 6’5″, 245 and 34yrs old. My partner is 5’11” 198 and 42yrs old. this is the hardest workout we have ever done! I cant stress enough how insane this is. please have a complete physical before attempting this! we both puked and I did pass out. I was stuck at the gym for 2 hours because I drove my manual tranny truck like a genius…
….cant wait to pound some turkey the next few days and GROW!!!—thanks again!

December 15, 2009

Donny @ 10:03 am #

Holy hell! I have got to try this. (Key word… try)

January 5, 2010

Ross @ 11:34 pm #

A previously ruptured L4 and you’re doing that crazy stuff with back squats?
With a history of back injury, I’d listen to Mike Boyle’s recommendation and ditch ’em for a unilateral exercise like the barbell Bulgarian split squat.

tom venuto @ 11:47 pm #

In my opinion, bulgarian split squats are no replacement for the back squat in terms of hypertrophy and you wont find many in the bodybuilding community who would disagree. Not everyone agrees with mike boyle.
A good way to look at every exercise is in terms of risks versus benefits NOT in terms of good or bad; do it or dont do it.
There are risks of back squats that go with the benefits even in those without history of back injury. The risks are higher for those with back injury.
I manage the risks, knowing myself and my limitations, and I reap the benefits.
I wouldnt necessarily tell others in my situation to do the same
PS this workout was hardly crazy in terms of the squat poundage, only in terms of the intensity of effort. Ive done 405 lbs for 6 AFTER my back injury. Doing that again would be too much risk. I dont go over 315 these days and often work high reps in 225-275 range instead of heavy work. 265 lbs is hardly an excessive or risky load

February 3, 2011

Bodybuilding @ 1:42 pm #

Excellent post Tom! This sounds like it was a LEGENDARY workout! Leg training is the best.

February 12, 2011

Sam @ 9:59 pm #

Holy Mother. I better stick to the Men’s Fitness work outs. That just sounds totally Psycho! Awesome stuff Tom.

February 13, 2011

Reece @ 12:06 pm #

Hi Tom,
What kind of poundage were you squatting before you had your back injury?
I gather your more of a high rep moderate weight kind of guy anyway but when your bodybuilding you don’t need to go heavy a lot do you?

June 20, 2011

pault @ 4:06 am #

I remember years ago in Flex magazine an article by the ifbb pro Eddie Robinson recommended 10 sets of 10 on the leg press.
THe lad had legs like a small Tom Platz
As i get older i find ligher and more fatigue is the way forward for me.

April 3, 2012

Frank @ 5:11 pm #

Old-school 20-rep squats is all that you need for total leg destruction. Or at least it works for me!

September 11, 2012

Lucas Ebert @ 4:54 pm #

Tom! I don’t know what I’m going to do once I’ve tried all the workouts you’ve posted on this site, but for now I’m seeing changes in my physique literally every day. Can’t thank you enough!,

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