JEFF: Jesse, what the hell are you doing? JESSE: I’m trying to take a selfie, man. But this lighting sucks. JEFF: Really? JESSE: Yeah! JEFF: Can I give it a try? JESSE: Yeah, go ahead. JEFF: It’s not the lighting. You’ve got to get in the gym and train. It’s leg day today, buddy. See you in there. What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, ATHLEANX.com.
I stand here today with Freddy Mercury… JESSE: Bicycle, bicycle. JEFF: Actually, it’s Jesse. It’s Jesse. See, if you notice with that mustache – remember I said I’d put him in every video here in November – here’s the deal though. He’s actually with me, not because of that, but because we’re going to talk leg training today, and we’re going to talk hard gainer legs.
Jesse knows those pains, but more importantly, so do I. you see, my whole life, even as I started to build muscle, my legs always trailed behind. There are four major lessons I think any hard gainer could benefit from that I want to cover here, today. So before we get started I do think it’s important to look at the progress that Jesse has made to date, following the very same pieces of advice I’m giving you today. You can see the legs, yes, they still need some work, but they’ve come a long way. They’re a lot bigger than they were before and we’re going to continue to use the things that I show you. But I want to get right to it because I know you’re going to benefit from the things I have to share with you today.
So the first thing you’re going to have to do if you want to build bigger legs is, you’re going to have to squat. In doing so, you’re going to have to leave your ego at the door. I promise you, you’re going to see better results because of it. I know it can be self-conscious for people to approach a squat rack, and not even have at least a 45 on the other end of the bar. But if you have to start with just the 25s, then that’s where you have to start.
Remember: everybody had to start somewhere. The key to bigger gains is taking that and going through a full range of motion because a lot of people will do this. They’ll load up the bar because they don’t want to look self-conscious in the gym, they don’t want to be self-conscious while they’re squatting, so they’ll put that on, and you’ll see them do this. This is something you should probably be self-conscious about because these quarter reps are not really doing anything to help you build bigger legs.
What you want to do instead is, go through a full range of motion – your full allowable range of motion. Jesse actually has the ability to go really low here, and maintain proper form, and I even make him do some pause squats at the bottom to assert that, yes, it’s his muscles that are in command of this weight, and they’re being subjected to all of the squat. Doing quarter reps with heavier weight isn’t going to cut it. Here is the equalizer. If you’re going to do this, go through a grueling 20 rep set. Do higher rep sets. That means, not where the 20th rep is hard, but where 15 makes you feel like you want to quit.
Then figure out a way to do 16, 17, 18, 19, and 20. Even if you have to rest pause in the top of the squat, allow the intensity of the set in the higher reps be the thing that stimulates growth while you’re working on building up better form, and then progressively adding more weights to the end of the bar. The next crucial skill you’re going to have to learn – if you want to start doing the squat better – is to learn how to push through your feet better. Guess where we learn to do that? The deadlift. We actually use the deadlift as the cornerstone of our lifts here, as I’m helping Jesse to transition away from being the hard gainer, by learning how to push more. Think about it. If you don’t know how to exert force into the ground during a squat, how are you going to push all that force that’s down on your shoulders, back up? You have to learn how to actively push.
This is not a passive process. So with the deadlift, we actually use our feet to drive through that first half of the range of motion. Instead of thinking about it as a pull exercise, we think about it as a push to the level of the knee, and then at that point we pull through the rest of the rep. You can see here, Jesse has been handling some pretty good weight for his bodyweight. He’s actually almost touching 300lbs, and he’s getting better at doing that, and that’s been transferring over to his squat. Now, if you look here at the deadlift again, the reason why this thing works is because in that first range of motion here, to the level of the knee, all Jesse is doing here is using the push of his legs. It’s a vertical leg press. And down. And then push through the legs again to the knees. There, and down. Then of course, he’s doing his full reps on the deadlift as well. All the way up. He drives through.
So what I want you to do is, get better at the deadlift. Learn how to push through there, and I promise you, your squat is going to improve as well. You’re going to start adding those weights to the end of the bar while still maintaining the proper form, and range of motion that we’ve already covered. The next thing we don’t do enough of is training in planes other than the sagittal plane. If you think about it, guys will do leg extensions. It’s in the sagittal plane. We’ll do squats; in the sagittal plane. We’ll do lunges, even, in the sagittal plane. But we can do lunges in a different way. The benefit here is relying on the fact that there are more muscles than just your quads in your legs. You have a lot of muscle son the inside of your leg.
The adductors, you have abductors on the outside of your leg, and we can hit all of them, all capable of building muscle, all capable of growing, by doing more 3-dimensional work. What we do is the 3-dimensional lunge. So Jesse will grab the dumbbells, and he’ll come forward. We’ve seen that before, but then he’ll go into a side lunge. If you’re not side lunging you’re simply not building your legs as big as you possibly can because you’re not working all the muscles of your leg. Then you go back into a drop step lunge. Then you come back again and go through the sequence. Sagittal plane, frontal plane here, and then drop step transverse plane. So doing lunges, and doing exercises in more than just the sagittal plane is going to give you another opportunity to start building bigger legs. Not to mention the fact, a little bit more athletically in the process.
Finally, if I want to give Jesse a chance to load up those legs in a safer way, or at least a less biomechanically demanding way, I can do that while he’s working on building up his legs through the squat, and while he’s working on his ability to push to the ground. That is with a Bulgarian split squat. You might be thinking to yourself “But that seems like a technically challenging exercise.” It really isn’t when you compare it to the squat. You actually have a lot of factors that are eliminated here. The movement itself puts you in the right position. If you’ve never felt what it feels like to properly load your quads, do a Bulgarian split squat. You stay upright as much as you can, you drop the leg straight down, and you can see proper, and perfect quad loading right here at the bottom of the exercise.
Not to mention the fact that if Jesse needs to fail because he’s using heavier weight here, he simply just has to drop them. He has another benefit here, too. He can continue to rep out, and push through failure to really, really push for a stimulus for more growth. So the fact of the matter is, you have options that allow you to use heavier weights, and build your strength in a really direct way while you transition to getting stronger in those other two exercises because we do know that ultimately, the squat, and the deadlift are going to be the cornerstones of you being able to build, and add more mass to those legs. So there you have it, guys. Our hard gainer leg edition in the books. If nothing else, you’ve got four tips now – or at least a change of mindset – as you approach your workouts. Remember, everybody starts somewhere. I started somewhere. My legs have definitely improved. Jesse’s are improving as we watch. We all get a chance to watch it. I think you can do the same. In the meantime guys, if you’re looking for a program that covers all the bases, and brings you from wherever you are right now, and takes you to where you want to be; I’ll take you there step by step.
Head to ATHLEANX.com and get our ATHLEANX training program. If you liked the video, leave your comments and thumbs up below. Let me know what else you want me to cover here, and let me know what else you want me to put Jesse in, and I’ll do my best. But I will tell you this: too many calls from the FBI. He’s instantly been on the most wanted list. I don’t know what’s going on, but this mustache is really getting us in trouble. So it’s going. No more mustache. Again, thanks for being a good sport, Jesse. All right, guys. I’ll see you soon. .
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