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Training Partners, Taking a Rest, and Leg Workouts - Part 5

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My Weight Training Routine and Exercises

Before I get into this, let me reiterate this: go hard, go heavy, or go home. Please keep this in mind throughout reading these guides. ;-) It's quite simple, if you don't provide enough stress to stimulate muscle growth, there won't be any - and the only way to achieve this, is by lifting heavy.

Weight Training Partners

If you don't already have a training partner, get one. I can't stress the importance of having a dedicated training partner, who will push you beyond your limits, and also give you great spots. Having a good training buddy can make all the difference in the world between a fantastic workout and a mediocre workout.

Having a good training partner will help you get beyond your mental blocks - you will have someone there who can help you get past plateaus. Just think, if you've been dumbbell pressing 95's for the past few weeks, do you think it's easier to push yourself to try the 100's or have a training partner who can push you to try the 100's?

I've been fortunate to have had 2 very, very motivating training partners in the cities where I lived previously - of course, I pushed them as much if not more. I train with my gf now, although she doesn't push me quite as much, she does give a good spot, and I have learnt with my past training buddies to push myself hard, and try to push more weights all the time. But I do miss having another nut like myself who can fire me up and make me attempt heavier lifts.

So what if you don't have a training partner? Then find one. Well, it's really tough to find a training partner who's schedule can fit in with yours, and who can be as dedicated as you are. But if all else fails, then don't be shy, and ask for a spot in the gym! I know it can be intimidating to ask other guys in the gym for a spot, especially if they're a lot bigger than you. But do what you gotta do! Depending on the atmosphere of the gym you attend, most guys are there to lift hard and get bigger, and they'll be happy to give a spot - like myself! Just make sure to return the favor when they need it.

With that said, let's get on with my daily workouts.

Weight Training and Resting

The rest you take in between sets is very important. Typically, I rest between 2 to 3 minutes in between sets. Many will probably say that's too long to rest, but for me, this works well, because I go all out every set, and resting up to 3 minutes allows me to continue lifting the heavy weights with high intensity.

From an article I read awhile back, it said that about 75 to 80% of your energy recovery takes place during the 1st minute of rest, and it tapers off greatly after that. Which is why you'll hear resting 1 to 2 minutes quite often. I'm not saying that resting 2 to 3 minutes like me is the "right" way to do things. It may, or may not be for different individuals.

This is something you'll have to get a feel for with experience, and see what length of resting works best for you! For example, resting 1minute is a little short for me, but for someone else, resting 3 minutes might be too long, and they cool down too much from the rest. So it really depends on you, and your recovery rate. Just test around, and see what works best for you.

Daily Weight Training Routines

This is how this section will be structured, I will talk in some details about my workout routine for each day of the week in detail from start to finish, including the warmups I do for each day, and I will start with monday, obviously. You'll know from previous parts, that I'm on a 5 on, 2 off schedule. Just to recap, here's what I do each day:

  • Monday: Legs
  • Tuesday: Chest
  • Wednesday: Back
  • Thursday: Shoulders
  • Friday: Arms (Biceps and Triceps)

Monday Weight Training Routine - Legs

I work my legs on mondays - first day of the week - for several reasons:

  1. Legs are the largest muscle groups to work (your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves)
  2. Legs make up half of your body
  3. Performing heavy lifts like squats and leg presses will stimulate GH (growth hormone) release
  4. I don't want a built upper body and only to have chicken legs
  5. Your body likes to grow in proportion (strength and size), by having a big squat, your other lifts are likely to be impressive as well

After all, you do want a well proportioned and developed body right? Or would you rather have a built upper body, and have to wear long pants to hide those chicken legs? Too often, beginners will almost always start off with 2 exercises: bench press, and barbell curls - and they wonder why they aren't growing. ;-) Heck, who doesn't want an impressive chest with big biceps? But bodybuilding starts with 'body', and its not called chestbuilding, or bicepbuilding for a very good reason.

Because I work all my leg muscles on mondays, its usually the longest workout of the week, and also the most physically demanding. Here's what I do on a typical monday:

Exercise Week 1 Week 5
3 X 6 (335lbs) 3 X 5, 5, 4 (385)
Leg press
3 X 6 (595) 2 X 5 (645)
Straight (Stiff) Leg Deadlift
2 X 6 (225) 2 X 6 (245)
Leg curls
2 X 8 (90) 2 X 6 (110)
Standing calf raises
3 X 10 (230) 3 X 12 (250)
Seated calf raises
3 X 10 (125) 3 X 12 (145)


Roughly, 2 exercises are performed for each of the leg muscle groups: quads, hams, and calves for a total of 6 different exercises. For the quads, 6 total sets are done, 4 sets for hamstrings, and 6 for calves. Again, I follow the rule of thumb that larger muscles are always done before smaller muscles. Hence: Quads > Hams > Calves.

The warmup

I usually spend a good 5 to 10 minutes warming up on leg days, with some stretching done first, and the some light weight lifting. I really have no idea what the stretching exercises are called, so I'll just describe them, but its pretty straight forward.

Stretching the quads: curl one of your legs back, so it's completely bent backwards, and hold on to your foot with an arm, then pull upwards with your arm. You'll feel the quads getting stretched. Or, you could kneel down on the floor, with your feet extended, then slowly lean backwards, but support yourself with your arms - you'll feel your quads getting stretched. personally, I don't like this 2nd method, since it feels awkward for me. But whatever works. ;-) Just test it out and see.

Stretching the hams:this is pretty easy, just lift up one of your legs, and place your heel on a platform about waist level high, or higher. Then slowly lean toward your toe and hold it for 15 to 20 seconds. Do this a few times with both legs. You can also try this: with your feet together, leg straight, bend down, and try to grab your toes with your hands, and hold that position for 15 to 20 seconds.

Stretching the calves: stand about 2 to 3 feet from a wall, extend one of your legs back, with the front leg slightly bent. Keep the back foot completely flat on the ground, and extend it back as far as you can, without your heel leaving the ground. Hold it for 15 to 20 seconds. Do this with both legs a few times. (4 to 6 times each side)

Weight Training Exercise - Squats

Squats is the first exercise I do. It's the best compound lift you can do to work your lower body, not to mention all the other muscles which gets involved.

I like to stand with my feet at shoulder width, or just a little wider than shoulder width. When squatting, if you use a wide stance, more of the load is shifted to your upper thighs and glutes, and if you use a narrower stance, more of the load is shifted on to your quads. If you look, you'll notice that power lifters use a wider stance, which allows them to hoist heavier weights. But we're bodybuilding here, and symmetry matters, meaning you don't want your upper thighs over powering, but in good proportion with your quads. So I would suggest using a narrower stance.

Working your way up: before loading up the bar with plates, I work my way up. I was squatting 385 for 3 sets for 4 to 5 reps per set by week 6. Here's how I work my way up to it: (this is done after the stretching)

  1. I do a set with just the bar (45lbs) for 10 to 12 reps, just to get the "feel" of things
  2. Load up the bar with 1 plate each side (135lbs) and do 8 reps
  3. Load another plate each side (225lbs), and do 4 to 6 reps
  4. Load another plate each side (315lbs), and do just 2 reps
  5. Finally load the remaining weight (385lbs), and do my regular sets of 4 to 6 reps per set.

Weight Training Exercise - Leg Press

Unlike the squats, you can go allot heavier, partly because you're pushing the weight at an angle. After the squats, you do not need to warmup again to perform leg presses - your legs should be plenty ready to push the heavy weights.

I usually perform 2 to 3 sets on the leg press, depending on how I feel that day. While leg pressing, go all the way down so that your legs almost touch your chest - you want to get the full range of motion. It's not necessary to have a spot for this, however, having one will be a great help. Especially when you need help getting past the sticking point near the bottom of a rep.

Do not place your hands on your knees to help push the weights up. I see some people in the gym do this, which is pretty stupid. They're using too much weight and should lighten up a bit. Keep your hands firm on the handles on the side.

Straight (Stiff) Leg Deadlift

Some call it straight leg, others call it stiff leg deadlifts. Makes no difference to me. This is one of the best mass builders for the hamstrings. Done with a barbell, keeping your legs straight (stiff), bend forward, then lift the weight back up, and straighten out your back. I usually do 2 sets of 6 reps.

Don't confuse this with deadlifts, which is completely different, and works different muscle groups.

If you feel that using 45lb plates doesn't let your stretch down far enough, try using 25lbs plates (but more of them). You'll get a better stretch and workout on your hams. I have to admit, its a bit more of a pain to load and unload all these 25lb plates.

Leg Curls

There's 2 main type of leg curls you can do: 1) lying leg curls done with both legs, or 2) standing leg curls performed with one leg at a time. They achieve the same effect, but you can use heavier weights with the lying leg curls. During my 6 week workout, I alternated them week by week.

Standing and Seated Calf Raises

Calf raises are pretty straight forward, so I don't have much to say here. During week 1, I worked my calves on leg days (monday). During week 2 to 6, I felt I needed to focus on my calves some more, so I added another calf workout on thursdays, which are shoulder days. Thursdays are quite short, so it was a good choice for me to add in another calf workout.

Calves are unlike any other muscle - you're pounding on them everyday with your body weight just by standing up and walking. So they recover a lot faster, and can handle stress a lot better than the other muscle groups.

>> Continue to part 6 (chest muscle)

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