TIP#2.2 How Deep Should I Go? : Legs

Fitness is a very broad subject, it describes everything from performance in sports, athletics, gymnastics, powerlifting, strong man, performance arts, military prowess and much more. However, with the title of this article in mind, today we are strictly talking about bodybuilding. As bodybuilding from a competitor's point of view only requires an aesthetically pleasing and symmetrical proportioned physique, 'performance' is not important or required, as it is not being judged. So with this article we can explore some differences involved in a bodybuilding approach.


Simply speaking, we want to create the maximum amount of adaptations in the muscle without the danger of injury to the joints, tendons or ligaments that comes with traditional performance based approaches that involve very heavy low rep sets that try to build maximum strength or power. This means altering our technique and total approach to weight lifting. Depth of the eccentric (lowering) part of the movement will have to change slightly in order to keep tension on our muscles and reduce pressure on joints, tendons and ligaments. We are no longer interested in the amount of weight on the bar or the explosiveness of the movement. The only thing we require is constant muscular tension through optimal range. Be warned, training this way can have an effect on the ego, as the weight will have to be reduced dramatically if you are used to training for high strength!


Depth choice on leg exercises is extremely important. Correct exercise choice is also vital if we wish for a certain result. The result in 'bodybuilding' being size and shape, nothing else. Different exercises are suited for different body types, but essentially the depth choice for bodybuiilding will be similar for most compound movements. Shorter people may be suited to barbell squats and anyone over 175cm should consider ignoring squats all together if we desire maximum size and shape for our legs. The Squat is not a great isolating movement, it puts plenty of pressure on the lower back and unstable forces through the ankle and knee joints. Leg presses, hack squats, quad extensions, hamstring curl and calf raises are much more effective to build leg shape and size.

Doing any form of leg press (including squat) we must; lower the weight slowly and just beyond 90° at the knee, then rise up slowly but immediately until your knees are only slightly bent - do not fully extend. As soon as your knees reach a slightly bent angle at the top of the moment then the lowering (eccentric) phase must immediately begin, so we maintain a constant tempo approx. 2 seconds up, 2 seconds down. The rep range is 10-15 to positive failure, for 4 sets each exercise (5 total exercises). Only perform forced reps after positive failure has been reached and in the company of an exercise professional. Do not increase weight if you cannot complete the desired rep range with perfect form.

hack squat_edited.jpg

Execution failure of correct form is the first reason why people never get the results they are looking for. With Legs it is very easy to perform an exercise incorrectly and therefore shift tension to other muscles like the lower back, or become glute or quad dominant and prevent other muscles from being stimulated. To prevent this from happening we will have to do three things. 1. Don't worry about the amount of weight, just the reps and depth. 2. Keep the knees in line with the feet, do not drop knees inward or outward. 3. Keep glutes and lower back fermly stable against the seat back, no forward rolling of the lower back and glutes (this shifts tension away from legs and makes it harder to exert force).

Lastly, calf raises are to be performed with a rep range of 12-20. The weight must be lifted as high as possible and the muscle squeezed intensely at the top of the movement. Anything less than this will just create lactic acid build up, nothing else. You must extend right to the very top of each rep and contract your calf muscle as hard as possible. Once you cannot extend to the very top on a rep then you must end the set. Perform quad extensions and hamstring curls in the same manor, focusing on optimal range and slow tempo, no resting at the top or bottom of the movement.

Thanks for reading! More info on depth and rep range for other body parts coming soon!


#legday #reprange #tip22 #training #musclegrowth #expertise #effective


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