My previous post, Keys to Thunder Thighs, Cracked Skin and a Flat Ass, serves as the prologue (or instigation) of the following article.
“Sigh“, I hear you protest.
“The last thing we need is another article telling us how important it is to squat.”
I know. In fact, squats aren’t even included in the full upper leg and glute program (calves are for another day) Iv’e outlined below.
I’d even go so far as saying most of you know exactly what you need to be doing to get where you so desperately yearn to go.
In an effort to provide you with actionable, practical and sound advice that you’ll actually welcome, Iv’e gathered two women who are doing things right, where so many are embarrassingly wrong. Perhaps “wrong” is too sharp a word, suggesting inadequacy of some sort.
Such is not the case.
The reality of “fitness”, as perpetuated by the watered-down media, is that it has a few distinguishing elements:
2)Context holds no value
3)Fantastical claims (ludicrous, at times)
4)Poor representation of “health”
5)Most representatives have the “chutzpa” equivalent to a soggy Frosted Flake.
Now, this is not to say the industry is devoid of strong female figures and intelligent role models. Far from it. I could list for days the fantastic content-dropping, myth-busting, jean-ripping, eye-popping, powerful women of the fitness industry. Some Iv’e been lucky enough to meet, such as Neghar Fonooni at NegharFonooni.com and Mary-Pier Gaudet. Others, I aim to meet in the very near future. Names like Rachel Guy, Kelly Dessington, Jen Sinkler and MANY others come to mind.
John Romaniello profiled a handful on his blog some time ago, called: Smart, Strong, and Sexy.
You don’t need to be lectured. You simply need something actionable and enjoyable, while exhibiting some examples of what hard work and a little discipline can do. The following two women (whom I am lucky enough to call friends), are examples of everything mentioned above, and walking billboards for the effectiveness of programs like the one I’ve provided.
Vixens Of Iron
The first time I saw this woman, I was in complete awe. Starstruck, some might say.
30 seconds after entering the gym I was to start at in downtown Toronto, this 5’3” UNIT of a girl came bouncing up, hand extended, gave me her number and offered help for whatever I might have needed.
Jaw. To. The. Floor.
Not every day does a Top 4 2012 Arnold Classic Bikini competitor approaches you out of the blue.
Needless to say, I was fucking pumped on my new place of work. Now, we have become quite close, a brother/sister kind of relationship where ideas, opinions and training sessions are shared.
Now, if you saw this woman on the street or gym floor, the first thing you’d notice are her legs and glutes. Mind boggling development. Products of hard work, a high-level athletic background (Skiing and Soccer, some of the best leg dominant sports), and a superior ability to connect with her lower half.
She’s prepping for the 2013 Arnold Classic, and beyond that throughout the rest of the year. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, AND her website – www.MidoriMoves.com for meal plan examples and progression posts.
A few months after I moved to downtown Toronto, this loud, spunky, strong and confident girl was sitting in the PT Office at 6am..
At first, I didn’t take to her. The big (awesome) glasses and initial social wall were distracting. Then, I saw her lift. And lift the shit out of that gym she did.
All was not lost. Focus, power, no nonsense, and a vibe that radiated aggression. As in, “don’t talk to me when my headphones are in. I’ll rip your heart out”.
Over the months, we’ve become closer, and I now consider her one of my favorite people. In the time I’ve known her, the glute and hamstring development (along with the rest of her body) has been astronomical. Her ability to change her body is nothing short of impressive.
Always off on photo shoots, Instagram-ing, and prepping for her first Bikini show this spring, I consider Emily to be a go-to person when it comes to building a voluptuous backside.
(Note: The amount this woman posts on Instagram is obscene, and makes me want to either give up now, or severely enhance my social photography game.)
And so, I’ve asked these two a few questions for your benefit. Remember, if you’re after the ass-less, fit-into-anything, deflated look, simply do the opposite of what these ladies do:
JOSH:How difficult is it for you to find jeans that are comfortable, flattering, and free to move in?
EMILY: The jean company that figures out that `fit is the new skinny` will have me for life. Shape under a layer of denim is better than two sticks anyday :)
MIDORI: Almost impossible, unless you want to spend at least $300. Once I find a brand that works, I tend to stick to it. Lately, some top choices have been Citizens (stretchy and feel like Lulu’s) or J Brand.
JOSH:What are your favorite exercises that you implement to develop a solid derriere?
EMILY: RDL`s, sumo squats, barbell hip raises, cable hip hinges, and kettlebell swings. My most `maximus` success has mainly come from the ability to activate my glutes in ALL my major lifts (even those not isolated for glutes). To get to this point it was a whole lot of postural corrective training and learning my body. Body awareness is key!
MIDORI: By far: Lunges, Step-Ups, and Deadlift variations. Simple.
JOSH:If someone wanted to avoid developing a juicy behind, with a solid pair of legs to boot, what are some things they should they never do?
EMILY: Never squat and most certainly never never wear leggings…
MIDORI: Never do Lunges, Step-Ups, be afraid of Squats, and don’t even look at the weights.
JOSH:How do you feel training your lower-half has impacted your upper body development so far in your training career?
EMILY:Spending time training my lower-half has had a direct “trickle-up” effect. I never had great success in developing my back until my lower body started to gain strength and muscle awareness.
Even when completing movements such as single arm rows and pull-ups, my lower body is critical to making gains.
MIDORI: Even when working your lower body, you have to work your upper body -if you’re using the right exercises. Sometimes, when training legs, I get a wicked shoulder pump.
The leg muscles are the biggest and strongest of the body, allowing you to handle more load. In things like Lunges and Deadlifts for example, the back and shoulders are trashed.
Without training my lower body, my upper body wouldn’t be where it is today.
JOSH:One tip for cultivating the “mind-muscle” connection with the glutes?
EMILY:A tip for cultivating the “mind-muscle” connection is standing in front of the mirror, facing sideways, and practicing. I like to call it the “Steve Urkel”….
Standing and tucking the glutes under by activating my lower abs gives me visual cues necessary to link the “feeling” of glute activation. So, when performing an exercise, and I don’t have a mirror, I can quickly fall into proper positioning.
Especially since I had a significantly lordotic posture, I needed to feel the opposing extreme. Gotta do the Steve Urkel to become the “Stephan Urkelle”! ;)
MIDORI: Before you do anything, be sure you can focus and visualize the muscle you are actually trying to work.
For focus, a technique I use is to count down instead of up when completing my reps. Before each rep, I’m thinking about the muscle I’m trying to stimulate -stretching and squeezing. Until recently, I hadn’t realized how powerful and important this is.
Assuming you’re following the theme of my previous post, the last thing some of you need is nice legs…right?
To arm you with the tools you need to thwart the evils of thigh and gluteal development, Iv’e put together a routine that is sure to send any behind to the sky. Simply ignore everything you’re about to read, and return to the treadmill. With this knowledge, you’ll know the in’s and out’s of what NOT to do in order to find baggy jeans in the blink of an eye.
A1) Walking BB Lunges, Single Side: 4 x 30-20-10-8 (Per Leg), 1010 TEMPO, 60 second rest
Here, it’s all about establishing blood flow and gradually increasing weight. Now, these aren’t your usual commercial magazine lunges. These are PROPER lunges, where the goal is to stimulate the hamstrings and glutes, as well as the quadriceps. The knee is pushed as far over the toe as possible, while keeping the back leg straight with the heel turned out.
No pauses at the top or bottom of the movement. This should be swift, explosive, and efficient. Single Side means you perform all reps for one leg, before turning around and doing the other. This reduces the amount of rest between each leg while removing any momentum you may cary through.
Rest 60 seconds, and move to A2.
A2)Prone Hamstring Curl, Feet Neutral: 3 x (6-8) 1 x (12-15+25), 31×0 TEMPO, 60 second rest
These are done “Arnold style”, propped up on your elbows with hips pressed tightly against the bench. By doing this, and flexing the glutes, you effectively inhibit the hip flexors from taking over the movement. The result is a stronger contraction in the hamstrings, while using less weight. Isometrically contracting your glutes also helps with the mind-muscle connection, forcing you to stimulate the area.
For the first 3 sets, perform sets of 6-8, targeting the higher threshold fibers. On the 4th and final set, back it off and squeeze out 12-15 excruciating reps. Then, perform 25 partials from the bottom position, pulsing 4-6 inches with constant motion. If you’re not whimpering, you’re doing it wrong.
(As a bunus technique, you may ask a partner to employ “tactile stimulation”, by lightly tapping or touching your hamstrings throughout the movement. For those who have difficulty “feeling” the area being targeted, this is magical. Just be sure to ask someone you trust, as this is a pretty intimate area.)
Rest 60 seconds, and return to A1.
B1) Sumo Deadlift, Glute Emphasis, From Deficit: 5 x 8, 3111 TEMPO, 60 second rest
Heavy, hot and horrible. This exercise will torch your entire backside. Moving from knee flexion to hip extension provides a one-two punch to the hamstrings, and the previous isometric contraction of the glutes (in the hamstring curl) leads perfectly into this heavy set. Work up to your heaviest weight quickly, getting in 3 “all out” sets.
In a Sumo Deadlift, the feet are placed outside the hands, with toes pointed outward. Now, this isn’t a Westside permutation, where the feet are an inch from the plates and the bar moves all of 6 inches vertically…
The goal is to overload the ass, hips and hamstrings through an increased range. Feet are just outside hip-width, with hands placed at shoulder width on the bar. You will increase the range of motion by standing on a 3-4 inch platform. A step box works perfectly, as long as it’s stable. DO NOT fear lifting straps here. There is no goal to train your grip directly. If grip is a limiting factor for how much you can lift, put on the straps, and get to work.
(A bonus technique, and a particularly painful one, is to use chains. Chains effect the strength curve of the movement, making the load lighter in the bottom (where you are most likely weakest), and heavier in the lock-out position. Of note: while doing this, you will look ridiculously bad ass, and hot as hell. Prepare for wandering eyes. Please, send me videos of you doing this. There is nothing greater.)
C1)45 Degree Leg Press, OMNI stance: 3 x (20-15-10), 2020 TEMPO 90-120 seconds rest
To all the haters and “functional zealots”, I say up yours. I love the Leg Press, in the most twisted, sadistic and odd way imaginable.
It’s image conjures thoughts of nausea, boiling blood, laughs and satisfaction. This may not appeal to you, but you will have no idea what i’m talking about until you’ve gone through the same thing.
Some of my fondest training memories are group sessions with close friends, all equally twisted, going to war with the Leg Press. 10+ sets, adventrous rep counts, sweat and tears. THE best leg and glute pump you will ever experience. Stories, however, are for another day. (Possibly some video discussions, yes?)
One main reason for using a machine at this point is to reduce the chances of injury whilst taking your body to it’s limits. A squat variation wouldn’t be appropriate, as the stabilization factor would reduce the amount of stimulus placed on the thighs and glutes.
On foot position, OMNI refers to a chance in placing. First, 20 reps are performed with feet high and inside hip width. Immediately after completing the 1/3 set, switch to a high wide stance, and complete 15 reps. Finally, use a shoulder width, feet in the middle of the platform stance with toes pointed outward for 10 reps. That, my friends, is ONE set.
Please, breath properly while doing these. Iv’e seen gym members holding their breath, looking like an inflating red balloon.
The high, medium-width stance places the glutes and hamstrings under greater load. During the top 1/2 of the contraction, a conscious effort to squeeze the glutes is imperative. The following two stances place tension on different portions of the quad, blasting the pesky VMO on the last position.
D1)Single Leg, Romanian Deadlifts to Blocks, DB: 2 x20, 21×1 TEMPO, 30 seconds rest
With the Sumo Deadlifts, lifting from a deficit emphasised the bottom range. Here, the focus is placed on the top 3/4, grooving the contraction.
With your legs engorged with blood, these will feel tight. Implementing a single leg variation makes it easier to focus on the contraction of the hams and backside, placing the maximum amount of tension on the target area.
Set up blocks or a step at mid-shin height. Holding two dumbells just in front of your thighs, perform a Romanian Deadlift on one leg, lowering them under control until they rest on the blocks. Pause for a brief second while keeping the tension in your hamstrings, then squeeze fucking hard while thrusting your hips forward to come to the top position. Once up there, squeeze again before repeating another rep.
If I was to stand beside you and poke your glutes with a stick, that thing had better snap.
This should finish you off quite nicely, and have you limping out of the gym with a grin of satisfaction. A battle well fought. Combine this with nutrition worth of the training, and a new lower half with come swiftly.
Tweet, Like ‘n Share if you know someone in need.
Implement this routine for 4 weeks or workouts, and prepare to see some new, jean-splitting development in the ass, hamstrings and thighs.
Calves are for another day soon. May the god’s of physique training have mercy on your soul.