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Rep your way to bigger & better legs


Whatever your stance is on leg training, as serious trainers we have to accept that the legs are simply part of the body! So if you’ve got them and they work – train them!

In fact so much so that pretty much 50% of your total skeletal muscle fibres are located in the lower body. This goes some way to explaining why “leg day” can be so energy sapping as not many of us would consider training the full upper body within the one session.

Nevertheless, training legs can be immensely rewarding, especially in the summer time when you get to show off your hard work with a lovely set of thick quads, balanced hamstrings and polished diamonds for calves!

Moreover there are numerous added benefits you may not be aware of that are yours with effective leg training. Not only do you get a great cardio workout, but you also secrete a significant amount of your natural growth hormone (which will aid in all development) alongside a huge uplift in metabolic rate – up to 8 hours!

This means you’ll be burning lots of calories over a lengthy period of time while improving the health of your heart and lungs. The focus of this tip however is not to sell training legs to you (though it is a concern) its primary purpose is to reveal how you can start making the most of these wonderful benefits!

So, what’s the secret? The secret to training legs lies with high reps!

Why? Well essentially there are two main types of muscle fibre within our bodies, we all have fast twitch muscle fibres and we also have slow twitch muscle fibres. Some of you may be thinking “Ah but there are two types of fast twitch muscle fibres – type A and type B.”

While this is true for the purpose of this article it’s not important, what is important is that we make a clear distinction and build a solid understanding of how best to train them to create that all important muscle overload.

Fast twitch muscle fibres are larger and more powerful than the slow twitch ones and because of this they fatigue so much quicker. They are ideally suited to anaerobic exercise such as explosive lifting and sprinting etc.

The smaller and more endurance orientated slow twitch muscle fibres are more efficient at using oxygen so these can withstand resistance over a longer period of time and are ideally suited to all aerobic activities such as long distance running and cycling.

Interestingly we all have a unique ratio of these two types of fibres – it’s the reason why some of us are better suited to sprinting as opposed to marathons or why some of us take to strength training so much easier than to cycling long distances.

However, and here’s the important part – all of us have a greater proportion of slow twitch fibres in the muscles of the leg then we do fast twitch.

Why? The answer’s simple – because our legs are responsible for carrying us around, making sure we can source enough food and water to maintain life.

Imagine how far we’d get if we could only walk on our hands? So having established the legs are predominantly made up of the small but much more plentiful, endurance orientated slow twitch fibres we are now in a position to customise our training accordingly.

Single figure reps are all well and good for the proportion of fast twitch fibres in the legs but to be honest you’re selling yourself short and neglecting a huge chunk of muscle if that’s the only rep range you use.

To make a difference what you really need is a rep range of 15-20, with the odd set of 30+ thrown in (with the help of rest-pause – see associated article).

Granted the level of resistance will have to be adjusted, but since when has our training been just about the weight? Isn’t the nature of the muscle fibres you’re training more important?

Make the change and I promise you, you’ll reap the rewards. This isn’t easy but for those who persevere it’s worth it and in it’s own way incredibly satisfying.


Disclaimer: All exercises on this site are intended for healthy individuals without any present medical conditions. If you are currently experiencing any bone, joint, or musculoskeletal pain, we advise you to consult a licensed health care professional prior to commencing any of the exercises suggested within this site. The author, editor, and publisher specifically disclaim all responsibility and liability for any injury arising from the use and application of the information provided within this site.

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