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Thread: New Take on Leg Training - "High Reps for Growth"

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    Strongman Tom Mutaffis's Avatar
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    New Take on Leg Training - "High Reps for Growth"

    I came across this article and it raises some interesting points. Has anyone else done similar things with their training?

    High Reps for Growth
    by Chris Cormier

    Most bodybuilders will tell you that you can't get big without getting strong. If you've been at this sport for any length of time,, you've probably already learned that to get stronger and make your muscles grow, you need to lift within a rep range of 6-10. Most training articles advise you to stick with these low-rep parameters.

    I'm here to tell you that the low-rep system is only second best -- at least as far as leg training is concerned. You may already be using high-rep sets to train your calves, which is an endurance muscle group that actually receives a stimulus each time you take a step. Such endurance muscles respond will to high-rep training because you're training them in a way that they were meant to be trained.

    The fact is, you can train legs very heavy at low-rep ranges and make considerable progress. I did for a long time during my days as an amateur. When I was 19, I put six wheels on each side of the squat bar. In what must have been a twist of fate, I suffered an injury that changed the way I trained legs - in the long run, for the better.

    One day while squatting with a relatively light weight (315 pounds), I turned just slightly to talk to someone with the bar across my shoulders; the next thing I knew, I was on my back. I felt a jolt - a pinched nerve. Instinctively, I re-racked the weight before falling to the floor, but I was unable to get up for about two hours. Though the injury was never diagnosed, it left a permanent mark: I could no longer squat in the manner I was used to without severe repercussions.

    Though squatting had been my bread-and-butter leg exercise, I was forced to find an alternative that was equally effective. The movement I chose was the leg press.

    The leg press may not be quite as effective as the squat in terms of overall quad development, but I can't argue with he results I've experienced from using it. More important the movement itself was how I combined dong the exercise with a new training style - which brings me back to my injury.

    The simple answer to my injury was to use high reps in my leg training - much higher than most people traditionally use for muscle building. No longer did I do sets of 4 to 10 reps, but rather, I pushed through 20 reps! Even though my ego occasionally craved super heavy weights, I actually found that I was growing at a far faster rate on higher reps -- so much so that legs are now my number-one bodypart.

    While some people might cut the weight stack in half in order to complete twice the reps, I pushed myself -- enduring both physical and mental torture -- to get my weights high too. How high? Turn the page if you can blow out 20 reps with 1,350 pounds. That type of training will definitely breathe fire into your quads.

    How can you achieve your own heavy-weight, high-rep sets? First, attend to the physical component by warming up. With leg extensions, for instance, warm up by doing 15 reps with about 50 pounds (or whatever your warm-up weight is) for five sets. Then move on to the leg press. Start off with a couple of plates on each side of the machine for 20 reps, and add another plate on each side for every set (about five to seven total) thereafter. If you can do 15 reps with a weight, then you can do 20, but it's best to have a spotter there to keep you moving. Add just a little more weight every workout while keeping the reps high.

    Getting the muscles to do the work is hard enough, but the most difficult aspect is actually mental: the attitude that it takes to get those last few reps. That's a champion's greatest skill, not devising some special combination of movements but perfecting mental toughness. A champion knows what he wants, knows what he needs to do and what it takes to get it. He wants it bad enough to work through the pain.

    Work on your mental approach. Keep at it. Train with others who understand its importance. A good training partner will keep you focused when you want to quit.

    One last point on the leg press: I often see people doing the movement with their legs way out on the platform or alternating foot positions (ditto for calf exercises). I prefer to keep my feet shoulder-width apart, pointing directly forward or just slightly outward. I don't think legs ware meant to do exercises with an exaggerated stance. Use a screwy stance while moving a ton of weight, and you're just begging for an injury.

    There you have it: a leg-training formula that abandons the traditional school of thought on using heavy weights and low reps to build muscle. I discovered the routine quite literally by accident -- but you don't need to, because here it is.
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    Senior Member cphafner's Avatar
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    I don't have good legs, so maybe I shouldn't talk, but I agree with Chris when it comes to leg press type machines. I prefer to push higher reps. Squats are a different story. I don't like going high rep there. The problem for me is that high rep stuff thrashes my legs and makes it harder to recover.
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    The Flyfisher rbtrout's Avatar
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    I've done both in the past - high rep squats and high rep leg press - with decent results. I'm more focused on strength now, but if I went to more size oriented routines, I'd probably do something like this.
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    Interesting...

    I always failed on texas method because doing squats for volume monday and squats for intensity friday was always too much for me to recover from, but I always liked the idea of the workout. I may alter it to put leg press on volume day and squats on the heavy day. I would assume leg press is a lot easier to recover from than squats.

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    Senior Member David Trantham's Avatar
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    High Reps for Growth-i think that high reps are the key for muscle growth, i have been training my legs that way most of my life. i just don't see as much results fron the 6-10 rep range. also i beleive you can and should do higher reps with any exercise such as squats,hacks,ludges,etc2007wnbfpronaturalmen1161197315252.jpghere is a pic of my legs in condition.
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    I don't agree with Chris Cormier's 'why' (slow twitch vs fast twitch, ie calves etc that just isn't consistent with the science) but I do agree with higher reps being good for growth (not just for legs either) but ONLY when there is a decent level of strength. Big difference benching/squatting 20+ reps with 100lbs vs 300lbs+.

    When the weight is heavy in absolute terms, the 'train in the 70%-90% 1RM' rule goes out the window ie if you're strong/very strong high reps is better for growth and easier on the connective tissue.

    Or even simpler , lifting heavy stuff lots of times makes you huge!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Roberts View Post
    I don't agree with Chris Cormier's 'why' (slow twitch vs fast twitch, ie calves etc that just isn't consistent with the science) but I do agree with higher reps being good for growth (not just for legs either) but ONLY when there is a decent level of strength. Big difference benching/squatting 20+ reps with 100lbs vs 300lbs+.

    When the weight is heavy in absolute terms, the 'train in the 70%-90% 1RM' rule goes out the window ie if you're strong/very strong high reps is better for growth and easier on the connective tissue.

    Or even simpler , lifting heavy stuff lots of times makes you huge!
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    A gallon a day, everyday! ThomasG's Avatar
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    Ummmm, this is not new news, to me at least. He makes it sound like he found a new revolutionary way to train legs. Ever heard of 20 rep squats? I'm sure most people have. Hypertrophy for legs is different than the norm of 8-12.
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    Rep range is secondary to consistency with your efforts in the gym and at the food table for the majority of the people posting on here. Personally I have seen results training in both high rep and low rep fashion. What happens with these bodybuilders is they hurt themselves going too heavy or by doing something stupid like twisting to talk to someone with 315 lbs on their back. They then can't train as heavy with low reps to be effective, so they turn to higher reps. Tom Platz built his legs doing reps. Ronnie Coleman built his legs moving weight. I like the DC method of training in both ranges.

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    I have been doing some high rep (20-50 rep) lat exercises and noticed some size gains for sure.
    Squat briefs only 625 @ 210
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    You want a good example... Look at Tom Platz. The guy was a Freak of Nature with those legs of his and he implemented High reps like they were going out of style! That guy used to do sets of 50+ reps for some exercises. Insane!

    *Edit* I didn't read ALL the posts, so I didn't notice that Joey had already referenced Platz.

    However, Joey is right about the comparison to Ronnie and Tom. They both had significantly different training styles, yet have seen extraordinary results. I think it all comes down to finding what works for you. If one thing isn't working, you try something new until you find out what you need to do FOR YOU. Not for everyone else. I know some guys who have to hit their legs twice a week just to see any results whatsoever. Legs can be a bi*tch sometimes but you have to do what you have to do to get those wheels moving!
    Last edited by JayAllen; 12-21-2009 at 05:21 PM.

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    Senior Member soclydeza's Avatar
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    articles and books always told me lift heavy for size, but jacked guys that i personally know all say the high reps give size

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    So is the most important thing numbers of reps in a set or total reps performed for a movement?

    For instance with Squats is there a difference between 5x8, 4x10, and 2x20?

    Also generally when people do high rep stuff (>10 reps per set) do they generally do only 1-2 sets or do they still do a typical 3-4 sets for that exercise?
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    Senior Member Allen Cress's Avatar
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    Strength is only mildly related to hypertrophy and muscular development. The ability to build strength has a lot to do with tendon length and thickness genetic traits that a person can do little about. Once you let go of the idea that "getting stronger" is synonymous with "getting bigger," your physique will improve, especially legs.

    Strength is important, but it's only one training variable. There's no equation that says increased load equals increased muscle development. Focusing too much on it results in diminished returns, limiting your ability to enhance your physique. That's why any good bodybuilder who's been at it more than 6 or 7 years lifts less weight than he used to, not more. It's not strength that leads to development, aesthetics, and thickness. It's density of strength.


    Strength Density

    To say development hinges on strength in terms of load is incorrect. To say it centers on strength endurance is also misleading. The path to real effective muscle development, thickness, fullness, and sweep is a matter of strength density.

    The true test of whether you're progressing isn't how much you're lifting coming out of the gate. A better testament is the load you can handle at the end of a volume approach.

    When you're in a fatigued state (both metabolically and strength wise) and you're able to increase the load, that is the key to productive results. It's your density of strength, and not how much you can lift, that will earn you true hypertrophy and development.

    I have had clients and myself as well do 30 reps on leg presses and squats with excellent results if properly applied to a program. I have also implemented Bodyweight squats of 75-100 reps and lunges of 40-50 reps each leg.

    One of the things i disagree with in the article is using leg extentions as a warm-up. A proper warm up would first consist of variations of leg swings, umloading the knees with tubing, hip rotations, etc... Then you would go into physical rehersal of whatever exercise you are getting ready to do.

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    Senior Member Allen Cress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SMK41 View Post
    So is the most important thing numbers of reps in a set or total reps performed for a movement?

    For instance with Squats is there a difference between 5x8, 4x10, and 2x20?

    Also generally when people do high rep stuff (>10 reps per set) do they generally do only 1-2 sets or do they still do a typical 3-4 sets for that exercise?
    It all depends on the design of the overall program and the workload capacity of the person. I have myself done 3 sets of 20-25 reps on squats after doing 10 sets of other leg exercises. Its all individual.

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    A gallon a day, everyday! ThomasG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joey54 View Post
    Rep range is secondary to consistency with your efforts in the gym and at the food table for the majority of the people posting on here. Personally I have seen results training in both high rep and low rep fashion. What happens with these bodybuilders is they hurt themselves going too heavy or by doing something stupid like twisting to talk to someone with 315 lbs on their back. They then can't train as heavy with low reps to be effective, so they turn to higher reps. Tom Platz built his legs doing reps. Ronnie Coleman built his legs moving weight. I like the DC method of training in both ranges.
    Word, I do triples and singles and my legs are definitely one of my best body parts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Acress View Post
    It all depends on the design of the overall program and the workload capacity of the person. I have myself done 3 sets of 20-25 reps on squats after doing 10 sets of other leg exercises. Its all individual.
    Wow! How long did it take you to get up to that much volume?

    Quote Originally Posted by Acress View Post
    Strength is only mildly related to hypertrophy and muscular development. The ability to build strength has a lot to do with tendon length and thickness genetic traits that a person can do little about. Once you let go of the idea that "getting stronger" is synonymous with "getting bigger," your physique will improve, especially legs.

    I disagree. Seems like your setting aside strength to much. Why are so many bbers so strong? What do you have to say about DC training?
    Last edited by ThomasG; 12-21-2009 at 11:35 PM.
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    You should check out the article on James Pit Bull Searcy on the main site:

    http://www.wannabebig.com/training/p...tting-1003lbs/

    A powerlifter squatting over 1000lbs naturally, yet a major part of his training is 20-30rep sets on the leg press.
    Last edited by J.C.; 12-22-2009 at 04:15 AM.

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    Senior Member Allen Cress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThomasG View Post
    Wow! How long did it take you to get up to that much volume?

    I've been training for 16 years and I just adjusted workouts according to my bio-feedback and increased volume as needed. Its hard to say exactly.




    I disagree. Seems like your setting aside strength to much. Why are so many bbers so strong? What do you have to say about DC training?
    Strength is a part of training but when it comes to hypertrophy "limit strength" which is basically 1 RM type strength is not going to develope a great physique. You are limiting your thinking when you think of strength in this way, there is more than one type of strength and for hypertrophy purposes Strength density is more important.

    Of course when you lift weights regardless of volume or high and low reps
    you get stimulation and increase size somewhat. Yes bodybuilders are strong but your missing the point. I'm not saying their weak or they don't lift heavy, but its only heavy relative to them and most don't focus on how much they lift they focus on how it feels whether if its 100lbs they're lifting or 300lbs. When it comes to the genetic elite almost anything will work, but thats about 5% of the population, so what are more average genetic people suppose to do? People are too stuck on numbers and focus on it because of their ego. There will always be exceptions to the rule.

    I'm not saying bodybuilders should never do lower reps like 5-7 because I still do and it has its place as every athlete needs to surf the strength curve, but they should spend most of their time on the end of the curve that will produce the results they are after. For bodybuilders its 8-30 reps and powerlifters its 1-8 reps. A lot of people go the lower volume route because menatlly and physically its much harder to do high volume, just as Chris stated in the article.

    As far as DC training its a system and with any system it can be used for a brief period of time with results, but to use it for long periods of time will not yield the best results for someone seeking size, it will end up beating up the joints. Thats why I use a methodology that integrates everything and not one set system because thats very limiting.

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    Senior Member Allen Cress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joey54 View Post
    Rep range is secondary to consistency with your efforts in the gym and at the food table for the majority of the people posting on here. Personally I have seen results training in both high rep and low rep fashion. What happens with these bodybuilders is they hurt themselves going too heavy or by doing something stupid like twisting to talk to someone with 315 lbs on their back. They then can't train as heavy with low reps to be effective, so they turn to higher reps. Tom Platz built his legs doing reps. Ronnie Coleman built his legs moving weight. I like the DC method of training in both ranges.
    Yes, effort (i.e intensity) is one factor that is missing in mosts workouts. As i've said you need to surf the strength curve and occasionally go towards the low end, but still overall volume is still high when thats done.

    I completely disagree that bodybuilders lift with higher reps because they get hurt, not the case at all. i know many amature and pro bodybuilders who have never had a stupid injury due to that.

    Also talking about Tom Platz and Ronnie and comparing them to most lifters is ridiculous, they are the genetic elite. Tom use to say he could run up a hill and his legs would grow and Ronnie does do low rep stuff on basic lfts but if you look at the rest of his routine its higher reps.
    Last edited by Allen Cress; 12-22-2009 at 11:07 AM.

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    So this means that I should do more reps for everything with lighter weight? My back is one of the slowest parts that I have seen grow. Actually, I have been working out for almost 5 months and I haven't see much of my back muscles yet.. I do what I consider "heavy" for me, but I haven't seen any development, only strength. I sometimes get discouraged because I get stronger but I don't seem to get bigger, more muscular, but I have increased a lot in strength, which is also good.

    How can I get more definition on my back, ACRESS?

    I do Dumbell Rows (80lbs) 4 sets, 10 reps
    Isolateral Low-Row Hammer Strength Machine 4 sets, 10 reps, Two 45 plates + 10 plate on each side
    Cable Pulling, 135 lbs, 4 sets, 10 reps, (lower back recovering)
    Wide Grip Pull ups, around 60 reps in 20 minutes or so.
    High Row Hammer Strenth Machine, 4 sets, 10 reps, Two 45 plates + 10 on each side

    Any recommendations, any one?


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    Senior Member Allen Cress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryumexicano View Post
    So this means that I should do more reps for everything with lighter weight? My back is one of the slowest parts that I have seen grow. Actually, I have been working out for almost 5 months and I haven't see much of my back muscles yet.. I do what I consider "heavy" for me, but I haven't seen any development, only strength. I sometimes get discouraged because I get stronger but I don't seem to get bigger, more muscular, but I have increased a lot in strength, which is also good.

    How can I get more definition on my back, ACRESS?

    I do Dumbell Rows (80lbs) 4 sets, 10 reps
    Isolateral Low-Row Hammer Strength Machine 4 sets, 10 reps, Two 45 plates + 10 plate on each side
    Cable Pulling, 135 lbs, 4 sets, 10 reps, (lower back recovering)
    Wide Grip Pull ups, around 60 reps in 20 minutes or so.
    High Row Hammer Strenth Machine, 4 sets, 10 reps, Two 45 plates + 10 on each side

    Any recommendations, any one?


    Thanks
    Just because the poundage may not be high doesn't mean its light, thats whay I don't like numbers. Whatever rep range you are training in the weight should be very challenging. To get the muscle to grow you have to make sure its doing the work. Back is a trouble area for a lot because they just row the weight from point A to B and don't focus on the back to do the work.

    Also you have to make sure you get a proper strech in the eccentric part. A muscle stretched with resisitance recieves the most overload. This means that leaning into back movements is a good thing, and leaning away is a bad thing.

    Also proper technique is crucial for development and most don't perform the row properly. Proper bent row technique means being bent in a parallel position to the floor, knees slightly bent to remove low back strain, and an elevated position standing on a block, box, or platform. This reduces trunk support and puts the body in a more favorable plane of motion to overload the muscles of the back. The reason you row off a block or a platform is that the bar should actually come close to touching the toes at the bottom of the movement. This is what stretching the fibers with resistance is all about.

    So stand on a block, and get that weight down to the bar touching the toes. You'll also need to shift weight to over the chest instead of back on your haunches. Again, the solution is to create less base support, which is joint stress transfer.

    Keep your elbows slightly bent at all times. If you unlock the arms at the elbow, then your initial pull on the weights will be with the brachioradialis and biceps muscles, negating the all-important pre-stretch of the targeted latissimus.

    Using a reverse grip for rows just exacerbates this problem, and indeed, this is exactly how Dorian tore his biceps. The plane and range of motion of the 45-degree row, combined with unlocking the elbows with a reverse grip, was too much for the biceps in that plane and range of motion with that load.

    We see this in the seated row as well. The starting position of your torso should not be perpendicular to the ground. You need a much more exaggerated forward lean than that. If the foot plates of your seated row machine don't allow for leaning, then throw a box or a set of DB's in front of the foot plates to insure, more effective pre-stretch. You must lean into this movement. Remember, if you unlock the arms at the elbows, then the initial pull of the row will be centered in the arms, negating your targeted back work.
    There are other factors as well that go into how your program should be structured to get the best effect. That takes a proper assesment and why individualized programs are soo important.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Acress View Post
    The ability to build strength has a lot to do with tendon length and thickness .
    Thats because tendon size directly correlates with the size of the muscle.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tendon

    It sounds to me like your stating that strength is mostly genetic and that bodybuilding somehow isnt because you cant change your tendon size? Seems to me that would affect muscle size and strength.

    Hypertrophy happens in higher rep ranges, everyone knows that. CNS training happens in lower. Sometimes improving your cns isnt going to make a damn difference if you have already been activating most of your muscle fibers. I thought it was well established that you should alternate between hypertrophy and cns training for best results regaurdless of whether or not your are a BBer or a PLer?

    As soon as I think I understand something about lifting, it gets complicated again.
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    A couple of people had good points: Notably Mr. joey54's remark about consistency and eating and Mr. Acress's remark about the genetic elite growing from almost anything they do.

    But there is quite a bit of misinformation.

    BOTH high and low reps can stimulate growth (PROVIDED that the caloric intake and rest are there to begin with). Muscle is muscle is muscle. If 8-10 reps makes your chest grow, it will make your legs grow. If you are growing everywhere else but not legs...then you are doing something wrong when it comes to leg training.

    Also I disagree (mostly) with high reps as some cure-all. The original concept of the 20 rep squat was not about growth per se (although it does a good job) but about really pushing yourself and breaking past mental barriers. You'll notice that no one really touts 20 rep bicep curls, bench presses, tricep pressdowns, deadlifts (although a few people do this last one). Why? Because it's not about growing from 20 reps it's about challenging yourself. 20 reps is not some magic number (19 or 21 or even 15 would likely work as well).

    Intensity, consistency (in and outside the gym) and self-discipline are all far more important than any number of reps or sets. When everything is taken into account the volume (for the average natural trainer) just isn't that important.

    When everything else is in order, then the amount of volume (unless you are doing ridiculous extremes either way) is not a huge factor unless you are a highly advanced trainee.
    Last edited by Songsangnim; 12-22-2009 at 06:01 PM.

  25. #25
    Moderator Off Road's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4g64fiero View Post
    As soon as I think I understand something about lifting, it gets complicated again.
    It doesn't have to be complicated. Stick to the basics for as long as you can.
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