There’s a saying in bodybuilding: “Backs and legs win shows.” Don’t believe us? Watch this month’s Mr. Olympia in Las Vegas. Without question, the men who finish in the top three will have some of the most insanely developed lats, quads and hamstrings you have ever seen. When these sinewy gents turn their backs to the stage, the gasps will be audible, as will the scribbling on the judges’ scorecards. Why all the posterior fanfare?
For one, the muscles of your back and legs comprise the majority of your total body mass. So when they are well-built, it gives the illusion of much more size than, say, bigger biceps. But the other reason that these bodyparts get so much attention from gawking onlookers as well as those at the scorers’ table is because these are two of the most grueling muscle groups to train effectively. Leg workouts — which should almost always begin with some version of the squat — can test much more than your strength. They can test your physical — and sometimes, digestive — mettle because of the tremendous energy and determination that they require. And when it comes to the back, the inability to see your muscles working can hinder the crucial mind-muscle connection, leaving many to simply go through the motions week after week.
To remedy this — and in honor of those who will compete for the coveted Sandow later this month — combine the two bodyparts into a single, synergistic session to boost growth. Because intensely training large muscle groups increases the body’s natural production of testosterone and growth hormone, you’ll be rewarded with growth in two areas that will help you add pounds of new mass fast. Keep the protein jugs at the ready — your body’s going to need it after this.
- On the Hammer Strength Iso-Lateral Row, keeping one handle in the back position forces a longer peak contraction on each rep, significantly increasing the intensity of the exercise.
- The lunge serves as a perfect transition into hamstring work. While it works your quads and glutes, recent studies found that it actually increases strength in the hamstrings more than any other muscle group.
- To achieve the proper stretch on the Romanian deadlift, be sure to keep your glutes back and your hands close to your legs throughout.
1 Rest no more than two minutes between sets. If you require more rest, try reducing the weight you’re using.
2 On the first rep, pull both handles back. Hold one handle in the fully contracted position as you alternate sides for reps.
3 Choose a resistance that brings about failure at the listed rep range. Do not rest between sets or exercises.
To maximize growth potential, any lifter looking to build a better overall posterior chain should build in a separate day of training at least 72 hours removed from this one that includes heavy deadlifts.