Thursday, August 10, 2017

You Aren't Failing Squats Because of Your Legs

The first thing that comes to mind for most when people talk about growing bigger quads, hamstrings, and glutes is Squats. That's because largely considered the best way to improve these areas. I'm not arguing that Squats aren't the best in the business for bigger legs because there's nothing to say that they aren't for most people, but the thing about squats is that for most people your legs don't fail first.

I've been Squatting for 8+ years at this point and never once have my legs failed me in a squat. This may partially be my background as an athlete, but it is more than that. It's the way we are trained to train. Most people place Squats as the first movement of the day, then they move on to leg assistance and then abs. This is because that's just simpler, not because it's better, and so what happens with this is that we end up putting our midsection last. (The same thing tends to happen with upper back in regard to Benching and Overhead Pressing)

Why is this a problem and how does it relate to our legs not being the problem?

You will automatically place more energy into the work you do at the earlier stages of a workout than you will later in the workout. So if your workout looks something like this:

Good Mornings
Leg Extensions
Ab Wheel

Then you're automatically going to do the ab wheel with less energy than you will with the rest of your work. This means that your midsection will likely be weaker than your legs. For most this is the way that their programs tend to shake out, and this causes you to have legs that your abs and back can't support.

Straining for a Heavy Squat

This is very easy to test too, if you are squatting and you start folding up like a cheap taco (caving in) while you are still squatting with relatively decent speed (before you start going slow), then you fall into this category of lifter and honestly the way to fix this is very simple:

Place the work you do on your midsection earlier in the workout. If you change your workout to look like this:

Back Raises
Ab Wheel
Leg Extensions 

You'll automatically be training your midsection harder and with more focus. This will carryover very quickly into your Squat (and Deadlift) strength and help you stay tight, and keep your spine from turning into a taco. 

Dave Tate has said this, and I have parroted this at least once, but "The first thing to go when lifts are going well is the midsection training" 

To Recap
The way you do you place your movements in your workouts is going to dictate what muscles get emphasized first, so if you tend to place legs first and leave your midsection for last, give it three months where you put your midsection near the front and see if that makes things better for you. You may find that it makes a huge difference in your ability to stand under load, and that's the goal here, right?

Make sure you are doing some of these!

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