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Emphasis on Legs for Maximal Hypertrophy? Alternative Exercises?

Hi Dr Darden! Happy continuation!

I have heard or read somewhere that by putting an emphasis on legs you drive overall hypertrophy? This seem to correlate with your previous “big” (or was it the “best of the best”) routine.

What are your opinions on this? I am considering adding another leg excercise after the leg press, to push things further.

Since I am not very fond of squats (stiff in the lower back after herniated disc 10 years ago) and having recently experienced knee problems due to heavy leg extensions - I was thinking about adding leg curls for a starter.

Another question is how you consider the hip abduction/adduction machines? In theory they seem to be a fine addition - but in practice they only seem to be used by female trainees for some sort of fitness idea (sorry for being narrow minded). Anyone in the forum having any good experience?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this.

Lower back issues probably eliminate certain exercise choices, so leg curls are an option.

If you have lower back issues, I’d avoid the ABducter and focus on the ADducter. Be sure and do your static adducter stretches at the end of the workout.

Update. Last workout I tried the hip abductor + adductor machines, for the first time (ever), as an add-on to leg press. Used a moderately heavy weight for 10 reps NTF.

Conclusion: Recommended. Apart from being a bit wobbly I really liked it, and will continue mixing them in every 2nd workout. Got a serious pump in the adductors and glutes, which for some reason have continued to give the muscles a fuller sensation.

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Dr Darden,

What other excercises/muscles would you train in addition (to your deadly quad workout) for a complete workout? How frequent and for how long is it advisable to do the leg emphasized routine?

You might add extremely wide leg presses. Sumo style, but wider if you have the flexibility. Start with unusually light weight to avoid pulling your groin muscles, and add weight as it feels comfortable. I got this tip from Jeff King who had some remarkable adductors.

Also, I used the abductor machine to strengthen the stabilizer muscles. I found that it prevented injury of my abductors while squatting. I used fairly light weight with the emphasis of holding at the contracted position that likened my wide squat stance.

Squats always bother my lower back (leverage squat machine helps a little though). Even with perfected form and technique it can be an issue, but being almost 6’3" doesn’t make it easy with a sufficient resistance.

My two main leg compound exercises are: a leveraged leg press (see pic in another thread) and I do one legged dumbbell squats using my free hand to brace onto something while holding db in other hand on the side of the leg I am training - it’s almost like a one legged lunge I suppose, but they work excellent.

Sometimes I will throw in a leg curl, but it’s rare these days.

And I do calf raises.

I’m going to try 301030 on next gen nautilus leg Press. Then alternating on nautilus duo leg press and finish with 60 sec hold at top of hammer leg extension. Next week some time. May post video.

That theory goes way, way back. I first started lifting in 1977 and I bought books from the 50’s that were stating that, in fact some stated that squats were about the only exercise you needed to grow. It’s funny because I squatted my ass off and my quads were the only muscle that grew significantly, like way out of proportion to my upper body :^ / It’s likely a very individualistic phenomena at best.

When I started bodybuilding, back in 1959, the experts said to do a set of pullovers immediately after your barbell squats. The idea was that your forced breathing on the squats would lead right into pullovers, which would expand your rib cage.

I did that consistently for the next 7 or 8 years.

I never built award-winning thighs, but my rib cage grew and grew and grew. As much as anything, that led to my success in bodybuilding.


When I quit going to the gym, I started experimenting with various kinds of one-leg emphasized squats. I’ve become a fan of the rear foot elevated split squat. I’ve added some elevation on the front foot also, for increased range of motion. So F&RFESS. Pretty awkward name, but it has grown on me.

For me, it seems to hit the glute and hip differently than a bilateral squat. Can’t say that it works the quads any differently, at least not how I do them.

I basically start with F&RFESS, and then follow with some dumbbell squats.

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Dr Darden,

Amazing routine! Today I tried your killer quad series, and what a great sensation! It hurt bad but felt good. I confess I had to cut the final wall hold after just over 30 secs. Anyone else tried it?

Added chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps (and lower back) to the workout (in 30-10-30 cadence) following your old-school BB routine from the book.

Thanks for the recommendation of a lighter weight on the pre-exhaust. I used 25 lbs which was enough for making a good inroad. I used 80% of 12 rep max on the leg press which was perfect for reaching over 90% of my capacity. My legs were shaking without control during the final reps. I was surprised to being able to even make a 30 sec wall squat hold.

Question: I want to be at it again! How often do you recommend a trainee do it? Secondly, over how long a period is it advisable? I was thinking about doing it every third workout - what do you think?

I also tried it tonight and like you only hit 30 seconds on the hold.

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Wall squats are brutal…took me quite awhile to get to 60 seconds, that was about 10 months ago…i am sure if I did them again I would be back to about 30 seconds

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Today, I did one set of leg presses (10 reps) and then with a short to moderate rest, I did one set of one legged squats (10 reps) with both exercises just shy of failure…or better explained, I stopped the exercise as soon as the form started to break. I had jello legs for a bit afterward…really felt in glutes and thighs.