T Nation

Leg Questions

First of all, good to have you back on the forums CT!

Now for the questions:

  1. Everyone always says that squatting is an absolute must for beginners, but is it really?

  2. What’s your opinion on switching someone’s main squat variation from front squats to bottoms up front squats from pins? He pins would be below parallel of course.

Thanks in advance.

  1. No… some people are not built to be efficient at squatting (they can learn to become pretty good with lots of training) and beginners are often not rally coordinated… so for a beginner with bad squatting leverages (long legs, short torso) back squats might do more harm than good. For these people I prefer the front squats with heels elevated.

  2. Sure, the only thing I do not like with front (or back) squats from pins, is that it takes a lot of energy to get set-up, especially if you lack mobility.

seeing as how this thread is titled “leg questions” I figured I would just ask here instead of starting a new thread. I hope that is ok.

Coach Thibaudeau, I have a bad back which pretty much rules out any hip extension exercise and back squats. I cannot do any form of deadlift or good morning. My ROM on RDLs and GMs is so pathetic it just becomes embarrassing. Back extensions are out too due to not having access to the necessary equipment (and all they ever did was pump up my lower back anyway…). I can however do front squats, and these are the focus

This has me at a bit of a loss for hamstring training. Currently I feel I am limited to:

-Leg curls (obviously)
-Leg Press with my feet placed really high. This feels like it trains the extension function of my hammies.

And that’s it. I do the leg curls before the leg press so my hammies are pre-exhausted to try and get them firing a bit better. If it helps at all, my whole leg day looks like this:

Front Squats 5 x 8 - 12 is the usual although I regularly change rep range, and sometimes do them as a box squat to keep it fun
Leg Extensions 3 x 20 (VMO emphasis, turning feet out at top)
Leg Curls 3 x 8 superset with clam raise 3 x AMRAP (clam raise is to stop my knees collapsing in on squats which used to be an issue)
Leg Press 3-5 x 10 - 20

Any help you can give with hamstring training or really just my leg training in general is much appreciated.

thanks

another leg question. I had a some small tears in my left patella tendon which have now fully healed with lots of time, supplementation and prolotherapy.

Unfortunately my left leg atrophied quite a bit. over the last few months i have been able to get it close to the same size as my right leg. however im having a lot of trouble getting it the rest of the way.

I think there is something stopping it (esp my VMO) from firing properly. i have been doing LOTS of poliquin step-ups and have build up the weight pretty well. i get a good pump in my left vmo when i do this. I also squat ATG (used to be an o-lifter)

However. when i do my regular leg workouts, the DOMS i get is almost always much more noticeable in my right quad and VMO even though i do a bit more volume in the single leg exercises with my left leg.
(i know DOMS isnt the only indicator of hypertrophy, but im still assuming it means my left quad isnt firing as well as the right)

any ideas on how to improve this?

[quote]tork94 wrote:
another leg question. I had a some small tears in my left patella tendon which have now fully healed with lots of time, supplementation and prolotherapy.

Unfortunately my left leg atrophied quite a bit. over the last few months i have been able to get it close to the same size as my right leg. however im having a lot of trouble getting it the rest of the way.

I think there is something stopping it (esp my VMO) from firing properly. i have been doing LOTS of poliquin step-ups and have build up the weight pretty well. i get a good pump in my left vmo when i do this. I also squat ATG (used to be an o-lifter)

However. when i do my regular leg workouts, the DOMS i get is almost always much more noticeable in my right quad and VMO even though i do a bit more volume in the single leg exercises with my left leg.
(i know DOMS isnt the only indicator of hypertrophy, but im still assuming it means my left quad isnt firing as well as the right)

any ideas on how to improve this?[/quote]

I have a similar problem with my left VL. I have had IT band issues on my left hip that are mostly corrected but when I squat or leg press it feels like only 75% of my quad is firing.

Speaking of leg training, what do you think of snatch grip deadlifts for the hamstrings of someone who wants to bring them up for the squat/deadlift? Would it have excellent carryover to both, or mostly just for the deadlift?

[quote]tork94 wrote:
another leg question. I had a some small tears in my left patella tendon which have now fully healed with lots of time, supplementation and prolotherapy.

Unfortunately my left leg atrophied quite a bit. over the last few months i have been able to get it close to the same size as my right leg. however im having a lot of trouble getting it the rest of the way.

I think there is something stopping it (esp my VMO) from firing properly. i have been doing LOTS of poliquin step-ups and have build up the weight pretty well. i get a good pump in my left vmo when i do this. I also squat ATG (used to be an o-lifter)

However. when i do my regular leg workouts, the DOMS i get is almost always much more noticeable in my right quad and VMO even though i do a bit more volume in the single leg exercises with my left leg.
(i know DOMS isnt the only indicator of hypertrophy, but im still assuming it means my left quad isnt firing as well as the right)

any ideas on how to improve this?[/quote]

I had knee reconstruction in '06 and screwed up in rehab trying to come back too soon. Eventually rehabed and competed successfully. Anyway, I have residual problems and experience what you experience. Say in the Squat…I have been able to get my repaired leg to “fire” better by an imbalanced bar. I’ll use an extra kg or 2 on my smaller, rpaired side until I get to my working sets. On my working sets initially there is an obvious carry over from my weaker leg being properly “warmed up” and I feel I get equal force from both legs.

But…I have noticed something of late I need to try and rectify. I have sort of “Gaps” in my movements. I noticed this yesterday it was obvious on the eccentric portion of a step up. My better leg I could lower slowly, but my repaired leg just gives way…I’m effectively changing my whole body position just to get down off the box.

So, I don’t know. I’d like to hear more on this from qulaified sources. Most I talk to don’t have a clue. I figure I have some nerve damage or something, some sort of pain, or body trying to protect itself is shutting off the “Signal” to fire the muscle.


I’d like to add my repaired leg never gets sore, and what I can do with it…I can do with great endurance. But my better leg gives out quicker, gets sore, and is bigger. ALmost as if no matter what the movement it is trying to pick up the majority of the load.

[quote]rds63799 wrote:
seeing as how this thread is titled “leg questions” I figured I would just ask here instead of starting a new thread. I hope that is ok.

Coach Thibaudeau, I have a bad back which pretty much rules out any hip extension exercise and back squats. I cannot do any form of deadlift or good morning. My ROM on RDLs and GMs is so pathetic it just becomes embarrassing. Back extensions are out too due to not having access to the necessary equipment (and all they ever did was pump up my lower back anyway…). I can however do front squats, and these are the focus

This has me at a bit of a loss for hamstring training. Currently I feel I am limited to:

-Leg curls (obviously)
-Leg Press with my feet placed really high. This feels like it trains the extension function of my hammies.

And that’s it. I do the leg curls before the leg press so my hammies are pre-exhausted to try and get them firing a bit better. If it helps at all, my whole leg day looks like this:

Front Squats 5 x 8 - 12 is the usual although I regularly change rep range, and sometimes do them as a box squat to keep it fun
Leg Extensions 3 x 20 (VMO emphasis, turning feet out at top)
Leg Curls 3 x 8 superset with clam raise 3 x AMRAP (clam raise is to stop my knees collapsing in on squats which used to be an issue)
Leg Press 3-5 x 10 - 20

Any help you can give with hamstring training or really just my leg training in general is much appreciated.

thanks
[/quote]

Well, if you can do full front squats you already have a big chunk of the puzzle figured out. YES it is mostly a quads exercise, but really, any form of full squatting will hit the glutes and hamstrings pretty well.

You can look at one of my old articles: Painful Seven, in which I give several examples of good hamstring exercises.

[quote]tork94 wrote:
another leg question. I had a some small tears in my left patella tendon which have now fully healed with lots of time, supplementation and prolotherapy.

Unfortunately my left leg atrophied quite a bit. over the last few months i have been able to get it close to the same size as my right leg. however im having a lot of trouble getting it the rest of the way.

I think there is something stopping it (esp my VMO) from firing properly. i have been doing LOTS of poliquin step-ups and have build up the weight pretty well. i get a good pump in my left vmo when i do this. I also squat ATG (used to be an o-lifter)

However. when i do my regular leg workouts, the DOMS i get is almost always much more noticeable in my right quad and VMO even though i do a bit more volume in the single leg exercises with my left leg.
(i know DOMS isnt the only indicator of hypertrophy, but im still assuming it means my left quad isnt firing as well as the right)

any ideas on how to improve this?[/quote]

I had a female athlete (pretty high level Crossfit competitor who does olympic lifting 3-4 times a week) with a somewhat similar issue… she actually got shot (as in gun shot) in her left leg, fractures the tibia, couldn’t use that leg for a long time. When she came up to me her left leg was 20% the strength of the right one. What we did was start every other workout (so 3 times per week) with 3-4 sets of bulgarian split squats, doing a high double contraction for the left leg) and ended with 3-4 sets of light and controlled walking lunges. Between the two she did her normal workout (olympic lifting… but could be a regular session).

Within 2 months her left leg was at 70% and after 5 months both were equal.

[quote]DSSG wrote:
Speaking of leg training, what do you think of snatch grip deadlifts for the hamstrings of someone who wants to bring them up for the squat/deadlift? Would it have excellent carryover to both, or mostly just for the deadlift? [/quote]

A properly done snatch deadlift has you start in the same position as a snatch, which is with the hips low (hips slightly under the knees) and a more upright torso than a regular deadlift. So it is actually more of a quads exercise.

You can do a modified snatch deadlift with the hips higher up (so more forward torso bend) which would essentially be a semi-stiff leg snatch deadlift.

Would it help the deadlift? Yes because it will hit the lower back and hams a bit more than regular deadlifts. It also forces the upper back to work hard to maintain a solid position.

[quote]Christian Thibaudeau wrote:

[quote]rds63799 wrote:
seeing as how this thread is titled “leg questions” I figured I would just ask here instead of starting a new thread. I hope that is ok.

Coach Thibaudeau, I have a bad back which pretty much rules out any hip extension exercise and back squats. I cannot do any form of deadlift or good morning. My ROM on RDLs and GMs is so pathetic it just becomes embarrassing. Back extensions are out too due to not having access to the necessary equipment (and all they ever did was pump up my lower back anyway…). I can however do front squats, and these are the focus

This has me at a bit of a loss for hamstring training. Currently I feel I am limited to:

-Leg curls (obviously)
-Leg Press with my feet placed really high. This feels like it trains the extension function of my hammies.

And that’s it. I do the leg curls before the leg press so my hammies are pre-exhausted to try and get them firing a bit better. If it helps at all, my whole leg day looks like this:

Front Squats 5 x 8 - 12 is the usual although I regularly change rep range, and sometimes do them as a box squat to keep it fun
Leg Extensions 3 x 20 (VMO emphasis, turning feet out at top)
Leg Curls 3 x 8 superset with clam raise 3 x AMRAP (clam raise is to stop my knees collapsing in on squats which used to be an issue)
Leg Press 3-5 x 10 - 20

Any help you can give with hamstring training or really just my leg training in general is much appreciated.

thanks
[/quote]

Well, if you can do full front squats you already have a big chunk of the puzzle figured out. YES it is mostly a quads exercise, but really, any form of full squatting will hit the glutes and hamstrings pretty well.

You can look at one of my old articles: Painful Seven, in which I give several examples of good hamstring exercises.
[/quote]

thanks Coach, that article is great.

good to have some reassurance that I can build hammies without deads :slight_smile:

thanks Coach