Affordable Training Tip – Rep your way to bigger and better legs.

Whatever your stance is on leg training, as ‘body builders’ we have to accept that the legs are simply part of the body!

Infact so much so that pretty much 50% of your total skeletal muscle fibres are located from your ‘belt’ down. This can go 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 growth hormone (which will aid in all development) alongside a huge uplift in metabolic rate – for upto 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 ‘cashing’ in now on each and every one of these wonderful benefits! So, what’s the secret?

The secret to training legs lays with high reps!

Why? Well essentially there are two types of muscle fibre within our bodies, we all have fast twitch muscle fibres and 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 tip it’s not important, what is important is that we make a clear distinction between ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ twitch and build a solid understanding of how best to train them to create that all important ‘effective 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.

Now Mother Nature has given us all 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 answers simple – because our legs are responsible for carrying us around, making sure we can source enough food and water to maintain life – it’s another example of Mother Nature making sure we survive – imagine how we’d get on 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 fast twitch fibres in the legs but to be honest you’re selling yourself short and neglecting a huge chunk of muscle! No, what you need is a rep range of 15-20, with the odd set of 30’s thrown in (with the help of rest-pause – see previous tips).

Granted the level of resistance will have to be adjusted accordingly, but since when has bodybuilding 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 it’s what stands us aside from sedentary people, what separates us from the ‘average Joe’ and ultimately – it’s what will reward you generously with all the previously mentioned benefits!

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