Progressive Performance: Leg training
How to best-stimulate muscle-growth in your legs muscles while following the Progressive Performance Program.
Francis Benfatto | Benfatto Nutrition
Most bodybuilders including top champions utilize 3 to 4 exercises, 3 to 4 sets per exercise and in between 6 to 12 reps per set during their legs training, they have chosen this type of training in order to progress, I personally have nothing against this traditional approach of training meantime I doubt that this way of training is benefiting the majority trainees and apprentice bodybuilders instead it is my conviction that training this way is counterproductive for the majority of the gym population all over the world. In fact only a few blessed and gifted bodybuilders particularly the professional can benefit from it, those for instance who possess great genetics and plenty of energy resources, only these rare bodybuilders will handle so much volume of sets for one muscle, in the other hand I firmly believe that most bodybuilders can positively progress with a more moderate and suitable type of training that don’t possess great genetic and plenty of resources.
If we train hard especially straight from the beginning we will soon experience some degree of fatigue and if we keep on training hard we will end up training completely exhausted. Most bodybuilders believe that in order to get big they have to train hard and for a long period of time, but this reality as I have said can only be experienced only by a small percentage of bodybuilders, the problem in insisting on training hard even if we are fatigued is that we cannot stimulate muscle growth while training because we don’t have the necessary energy resources therefore we must acknowledge this important fact, that is, we can either train hard or long, but we cannot possibly do both.
By training hard and too soon such as from the beginning of your training you will inevitably decrease your ability to train effectively and then efficiently like for instance with no waist of time and energy, the first thing that happens when you lose your efficiency is a lack of performing your exercise with a correct form of execution, the situation get even worst because when a program comport 3 to 4 exercise per muscle you have to apply a strict form for each exercise for the reason that each one requires a particular and specific form of execution, this condition is crucial to best isolate and work your muscle exercised, also if you don’t execute your movements correctly you then reduce to minimum your training efficiency, knowing that all your training elements such as your resistance, your reps, your resting and your training duration rely exclusively on a correct form of execution you then get my point.
It is a must to exercise with the best possible form of execution particularly if you really want to stimulate growth while training, and then produce muscle growth when resting in between all of your training sessions. Let us see now how to best exercise with an almost perfect form of execution, first and foremost you have to perform each individual rep using full range of motion, that is, exercising from one full extension to one full contraction in a very slow and controlled rate of speed; second, you have to find out the best possible body and body-parts positions to increase training difficulty; third, your muscle must be maintained a few seconds in a contracted and static position in order to recruit maximum muscle fibers, and fourthly, it is of paramount importance to reach muscle failure on each set, when, one more repetition becomes impossible to be performed in correct and strict form despite a maximum of effort on your part, this latest bit of information is vital to succeed with your entire training for the reason that it will help you to best define all your resistances to perfectly match all my recommended number of reps part of your sets and program, and then, all the other elements that I have already aforementioned will be right and accurate.
Training that way will definitely stimulate muscle growth in your legs, but here is another important advice that you have to follow if you really want to develop your thighs to one another level you have to only use one exercise for the total duration of your workout, the very best exercise to utilize is the one that will 100% isolate your quadriceps muscles; but before going any further I would like you to acknowledge that the Progressive Performance name that I have carefully chosen defines its training procedure or if you prefer its training program.
In fact, what is happening from the very beginning until the very end of this very specific training procedure is that you will have to undergo a very slow and progressive increase in difficulty and stress, this slow and progressive process will also permit a slow and progressive adaptation needed and necessary not only for your legs muscles but also for your body and mind; this increase in difficulty and stress will be coming from the more and more demanding and taxing effect caused by this particular type of training, in proceeding in this gentle and soft manner you will be able to keep your focus intact.
You will then be able to better manage to perform with an almost perfect form of execution, here is, the essential training element of all, thereafter, your resistance and your reps will become interdependent, that means, that both will depend on each other, and then, the sum of their combined effects will be far greater than their own separate effect, next, all these 3 training elements, that are, the form, the resistance and the rep will act in total synergy, and because of that, they will together succeed in stimulating your legs muscles in a very efficient way, that is, with no waste of energy and time; here is, the fundamental of the Progressive Performance method: (the time and the energy) and if you are good in managing both, while meantime applying close to perfection all my recommendation, part of the Progressive Performance method, you will then really stimulate muscle growth in your thighs.
If one exercise and the Progressive Performance method both suffice to stimulate muscle growth in your legs, then you may ask: - which exercise is the most appropriate first to choose and then correctly utilize for our legs training? I will recommend you the Leg extension exercise and for good reasons, that are, the leg extension is an isolation type of exercise, that is, the less-taxing and demanding leg exercise of all particularly for your heart but also for your body and your mind, exercising with the leg extension exercise doesn’t require you to possess unlimited energy resources in order to stimulate muscle growth, also, the Leg extension exercise focuses the stress almost entirely on the frontal thigh muscles and in doing so you don’t utilized unnecessarily muscle groups like adductors on the inside of the thighs and the buttocks therefore the utilization of this exercise preserve you from spending your precious energy resources that you have to carefully used for the purpose of stimulating muscle growth in your thighs muscles. In the opposite if we had chosen the Squat exercise instead the leg-extension to stimulate muscle growth you will have end-up spending too much energy by using the strength of adjacent muscle groups cited just above, not to mention also that the squat works a lot the cardio vascular system, then the risk of stopping a set from cardio vascular failure instead of legs muscles failure will definitely happen especially if you don’t possess the requisite energy resources.
Lets now examine how we can get the best and then the most out of the Progressive Performance method. As I have said earlier in my article it is possible to stimulate muscle growth in your thighs while using only one exercise, if I am convince today and positive about this idea that anyone can stimulate muscle growth and then progress with this type of training, it is because I have verified by myself its validity, this unique way of training give me today far more results than ever before with all the training methods that I have intensively used during my bodybuilding career, and you know what, because the way I was training before was too demanding and too taxing for my whole body organism including my mind, most of the time in and off season I was so exhausting that I wanted to give up training all togethe.
Later on I came to realize that the way I was training didn’t provide me the necessary feedback in order to make some change or modifications about my training intensity, frequency and duration, these important and necessary feed backs could have helped me to reach far sooner my actual level and also my full potential that I haven’t yet reached.
Never the less, today at present time I can maintain my drive and motivation intact, which allow me to steadily and progressively progress at 54 years of age simply but I can also maintain a very good health in order to work on my longevity as a pro bodybuilder as well as a human being. What I have found fascinating with my method of training is that I can still improve the size of my legs to one another level and knowing that my legs have always been my weak muscle body part during my entire bodybuilding career, this for me is quite an achievement so before you give up the idea to try the Progressive Performance I am instead advising you to give it a try and to see by yourself its effectiveness.
How to proceed:
At the beginning of your legs training program you have to spend the necessary time warming-up properly, that is, you have to execute your first warm-up set of 20 reps on the Leg extension machine with a total dedication to be able to handle your first long term duration set that might possibly last as long as 3 minute in length, in fact, you have to perform each repetition very slow and in a very controlled manner, such as, moving slowly your resistance to the top while spending around 5 seconds, then, at the top of the movement maintain a static-position to create a strong muscle contraction in this locked-knee position, for about 2 seconds, next return to your starting position as slow as you did for the concentric movement.
This first full repetition can take as long as (5 + 5 + 2 = 12) to be performed, yes, you have read me correctly - it might take that long, and, even if you think that it is unreal and unnecessary to spend so much time performing one rep, I encourage and recommend you to do so because you have to learn how to perform each movement perfectly in order to know what I mean about using a perfect form as well as to really get the best out of the Progressive Performance and progress; if this procedure takes a lot of time, it is necessary to arm you with plenty of patience and courage.
Using a perfect form of execution will help you to select a perfect resistance to match the recommended number of reps from your first set, then, you just have to apply the same procedure every time you have to select and change your resistance until the end of your legs program, next you will realize that in fact you don’t need to use heavy weight like you have used before when doing the Leg extension, and instead of training with heavy weight your light weight will become very heavy for your muscle and very quickly during the course of the Progressive Performance Program.
I believe that now you may start to understand that my training philosophy is based on applying an almost perfect form of execution, and in fact it is the essence of the Progressive Performance program and method, and you will soon experience what a perfect form really is. After having performed your first 20 reps set warm-up close to perfection you have now to take the necessary time to completely recover before going to your next warm-up set, and the best way to fully recover during your recovery time is to be active in order to relieve your body and your exercised-muscle from lactic acid, tensions and stress caused by your long set, then, walk back and forth to your leg extension machine, next, stretch and contract alternatively your quadriceps and last, drink plenty of cold water, this complete recovery procedure will prepare you to be fully ready and energized for your next warm-up set.
The time you actually need to recover is very personal and therefore will depend entirely on your own ability to recover, also don’t rush, for your next set, the resistance you have to use must be only slightly heavier then don’t make the mistake to add too much weight on top of your first one otherwise you will end-up losing your form, be moderate and humble while selecting your next resistance and instead of losing your form for a sloppy one, concentrate all your effort in executing each rep of your second 15 reps/set with a perfect form of execution, then rest actively and appropriately and move to your last warm-up set of 10 reps after having selected the ideal and precise resistance to be able to yes! Perform with a strict and correct form.
You are now well warmed-up, prepared and ready to move on to your next phase part of your legs training program, this second phase also comports 3 different and complementary sets that are:
- Set 1 = 6 reps
- Set 2 = 7 reps
- Set 3 = 8 reps.
For your first set you have to carefully select a resistance to perfectly match 6 reps in perfect form, and then, you have to actively recover before going to your second set to match 7 reps and next, you proceed the same for your third and finale set part of phase 2, at this point, you should have struggled and endured more from phase 2 than from phase 1, and this observation must be validated by you and you only because it is important that you are making sure that you are moving slowly and progressively to a higher and higher degree of difficulty, of intensity for the reason that if you want to stimulate muscle growth in your thighs muscles something about your training must be improved, and that is exactly what you have been doing so far from the very beginning of your legs workout, and the Progressive Performance method and legs program has been carefully designed to cause this improvement, this increase in difficulty, this effect, this is the sine quoi none condition to progressively force the muscle to reacts and then later on to grow.
At this point of your training program the big dilemma is to figure out by yourself where you have to stop your training, it is now after you have done these two training phases, maybe! But you have to be sure before making a rational decision, because you don’t want to stop your training too early especially if you still have stamina left in you, meantime you don’t want to carry on training if your legs muscle are fully pumped and really fatigued unable to go to the next level of intensity.
Then there is only one solution, that is, through an evaluation test that will define your own ability or not to carry on with your next phase, this new phase will be a test for you in order to verify where you are at with your energy resources, and here is how you have to proceed, first you have to redirect your attention inside your body to get the right answer, and how you do that is quite simple, you have to ask yourself if you still have left in you the necessary energy levels in order to carry on with more training, training that will be uplifted to a higher level of intensity and the effect will be now more demanding and more taxing for your muscle, your body and your mind because as you already know the Progressive Performance method was designed with in my mind a progressive increase in difficulty coming from diverse training elements such as number 1 the form, 2 the resistance and 3 the reps.
Lets now presume that your ability to carry on training at a higher level of intensity is possible because you have evaluated yourself, then, if its your case don’t hesitate and add more sets to your existing training regimen and go to your next training phase; in phase 3 you have to simply duplicate all you have already done in phase 2, because both phases possess the same training program which includes 3 different and complementary sets of 6 reps for set 1, 7 reps for set 2, and 8 reps for set 3, these 3 sets must be all performed with the same resistance but only after having selected an appropriate weight suitable for your first set of 6 reps, you will sense and realize that this new added resistance will definitely become more difficult to move when using a full range of motion, from one full extension to one full contraction, in a very slow and controlled manner, marking 2 seconds a peak-contraction in this locked knees-position all until muscle failure.
Muscle failure that must imperatively occurs at 6 reps for your first set, at 7 reps for your second and finally at 8 reps for your last one, therefore you have to make sure that you are still performing each rep of your sets in perfect form and even though you think that your form is already correct.
You have to try your very best to still improve your form to one another level from one set to your next as well as from one phase to the next, in order to furthermore increase your training difficulty and intensity, all my recommendations and advices cited above will come into play but only if you are applying them to the best of your ability, and then you will for sure experience the best and the strongest muscle contraction possible, and this is the main condition to create muscle growth stimulation. Keep in mind that more training is not better, and if you don’t know yet where to stop your training, you must acknowledge that a precise amount of training is better than more, and remember, that this never ending cycle in difficulty and in intensity that you will be experiencing soon can be productive if you possess the requisite energy resources necessary to carry on furthermore to your next phase.
If in the opposite you don’t possess the requisite energy resources and you insist anyway in doing phase 3 you will inevitably become fatigued or even worst exhausted, having said that you must realize now the importance of gauging and checking your level of energy when proceeding with the Progressive Performance method and program.