"Find what you love and let it kill you.” – Bukowski
My Leg Day is commonly known as Tuesday by mere mortals. It’s the day I love. Also the day I hate. My hardest working day of the week. My brain refuses to let me cut corners. I only know 2 speeds; 0 mph and 100 mph, meaning I either do it 100% or I don’t do it at all. So I know it’ll be a brain versus my body kind of day. I will always strive to outwork my current capacity. I refuse to be beaten. It doesn’t matter who is watching, or if I am training alone. I will always break myself in the process. I will accept the pain, sickness, misery and any other consequences for that 75-90 minutes. Period.
To me, an added benefit of training legs is actual muscle growth. That was the initial reason I started training legs. The dream of thick and full quads, with a huge outer sweep, hamstrings that hung down like chunks of meat when I sat down, and calves so big you could seek shelter under them in a rainstorm, called my name. But along the way, I found a side-effect even better than muscle growth: MENTAL STRENGTH AND MENTAL DISCIPLINE!
Mental strength and mental discipline are traits you develop over time. Just like muscles, they must be built through pain, sacrifice, hard work, discipline and repetition. These traits will always carry over into real life. Moving iron in the gym teaches you everything about life. You just need to listen to what it is telling you. Nothing comes easy. If it does, it’ll never mean the same to you as earning it. There are no shortcuts. Pay your dues and earn it. If you put in the work, you can’t lose. You will become the best you can be. Once you conquer leg day, an 18 hour work day isn’t even considered hard work. It’ll prepare you for the biggest battles in life.
“If we get on a treadmill right now, one of two things is going to happen….either you’re going to get off first or I am going to die.” “Period.” – Will Smith
I can tell everything about who you are as an individual, how far you will go in life (unless you develop more mental strength and discipline) and what your true work ethic is by training legs together. In fact, I don’t even need a full leg workout. I just need the first working set. I am looking for a specific trait in an individual when we train legs, which is the ability to “flip the switch” and go to kill mode. I should see the fire in your eyes and the will in your gut. It’s very distinguishable. Some scream, some curse, some get quiet. They all internalize it differently, but in the end, the work gets done, and that’s all that matters. Hard work matters.
Now do you see how this discipline and strength carries over into life? Anyone with this drive and tenacity understands what hard work is and how they can transfer this work ethic in the gym over to their work ethic in life.
Now, onto the good stuff!
Here is my take on leg training. Again, MY TAKE. What works for me and what I believe. Yes, heavy weights can get your legs big, thick and strong. I won’t argue that point. I spent 16 years of my 23 years training exactly that way. I still mix in heavy when I can. It is necessary. Unfortunately for me, with all that heavy training came IT Band tears and strains, patella tendon ruptures, hamstring strains, hip injuries and low back issues.
I had to find a way to work smarter, harder, and make my body last for the long haul. Hell, maybe abandoning something that has been working good for you and trying something new might even work better. Imagine that? Giving up good in hopes of finding great. That’s called HUNGER, DRIVE, GROWTH and CALCULATED INTELLIGENCE!
Let’s look at the anatomy of a chicken to further understand human leg training. Hang with me, I will prove a good point. Breast meat on a chicken is white. That means explosive power. White hot explosive fiber. It takes large muscle fiber recruitment to flap those big wings. It is exactly why a big chest can be built with repetitions in the 6-8 type range for humans.
Chicken legs are comprised of dark meat. Dark meat means oxygenated blood and a lot of endurance fibers in chicken legs. Anything “anaerobic” means 60 seconds or less exercise duration. Anything “aerobic” means more than 60 seconds of exercise duration. Chickens are built to run around all day. So, if leg muscle fibers are dominantly “aerobic,” wouldn’t it make sense to train them this way more often?
I am not suggesting you exclusively train this way. There are so many ways to train. Heavy and explosive. Heavy, slow and controlled with tempo (time under tension), moderate weight for high reps, etc. Since your legs are comprised of fast twitch and slow twitch fibers, both styles of training are deemed necessary.
THE COMMON THEME IS THE ONLY THING THAT SHOULD BE CONSTANT IN YOUR PROGRAM IS CHANGE!!
Stay tuned for Part 2, coming tomorrow, 9-10-17: Leg Day Preparations and Advanced Rep / Volume Workout.