Legs how to get them
If you want bigger legs, plain and simple, YOU HAVE TO SQUAT. Sure we’ve all had our grueling workouts with leg-extensions and leg-presses; but squats are the king, and will always be the king of all leg exercises. Besides their potential for building leg size and strength, squats produce an overall anabolic effect by increasing muscle mass throughout the entire body. Squats improve coordination, motor skills, and increase metabolic rate. Anyway you look at it- SQUATS RULE!!!
Some people avoid the squat altogether because they have a misconception that it’s a dangerous exercise. A popular excuse for not squatting is, “it’s hard on the knees.” The truth of the matter is there is no greater exercise for the rehabilitation of the knees than the squat, which, when properly done, is extremely safe and very productive. Go light on the poundages if you have to. Keep the bend of the knees shallow at first, if you must, but avoiding the exercise altogether would be completely stupid. So now, hopefully, I’ve established that squats are the superior leg exercise.
Let’s take a look at some of the mechanics involved in squatting. Squatting with and overly wide stance, leaning forward on the descent, and buckling the knees all contribute to bad form and injury. To squat correctly and safely, you must keep everything loose, this includes the shoulders. Work on developing flexibility through the back and hamstrings, and you’ll be surprised how much your squat can improve. The wrong squat stance is a common fault. To do the squat correctly, the feet should be spaced at the width of your shoulders, flare your toes outward just a little, keep your back straight and slightly arched, and your head upright. As you descend, concentrate on keeping your chest high. Keep a steady tempo on the way down and on the way up. Don’t pause or bounce from the bottom position. Go down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, NO SISSY SQUATS! Come back up in one smooth motion. As you return upward, think of your shoulders pulling slightly backward. This mental image will avoid the tendency to slump forward. This is your perfect squat.
The next topic we will discuss is squatting myths. What one expert swears to, another rejects. A lot of experts will give their opinion with no facts. I just received my PRO CARD, and not too many people can say that. I will give you my opinion. There is a lot of misconception between the front squat vs. the back squat. Some insist that the front squat will encourage more growth within the quads, but I don’t think there is any evidence as to why this would be so. The legs are still straining in the same direction regardless of where the bar is placed. Front squats do produce more pain, but not in the legs! Forearms, clavicles and the rotator cuffs all take a beating when the bar is placed in front of the body. The next misconception to discuss is on the matter of knee wraps. Unless you’re planning to do a one-rep max, leave the wraps at home. They allow you to lift heavier, but in doing so, they put excessive pressure on the knees, causing abrasion and erosion between the vastus medialis and the patella. DO NOT USE KNEE WRAPS!!!
Some enthusiasts believe elevating the heels on a plate may produce greater growth in the lower front quads. It will to a degree, alleviate some of the stress from the glutes, and less glute recruitment equals more quad activity. Elevating the heels will stress the knees and compromise balance. For the nominal benefits the practice produces, the drawbacks make it seem hardly worthwhile.
I would estimate that lifting belts could be seen on 75% of the lifters in the gyms throughout the U.S. I believe that they may do more harm than good, in that the belt can dig into the ribs, causing a tear in the pleura membrane. A lifting belt can also restrict breathing. I would advise to only use a lifting belt if you have or have had a back injury, or if you are going heavy, otherwise, a belt may weaken your back.
The final topic I will discuss is the Smith Machine squat. This exercise is inferior to a free-style squat because the machine balances the weight for you, removing many of the assisting stabilizer muscles from the equation. One advantage of using the Smith Machine is you can use much heavier weight with relative safety. Much the same can be said for the leg-press and the hack squat machine. Both can help your overall leg development, but we’re talking raw leg power, not supplementary leg exercises.
I personally think legs are the toughest and most grueling body part to train, and there is no tougher exercise than the squat. Use the wrong form, and squats can result in too much pain for too little result. Done correctly, people might just be calling you “Quadzilla” with time.