I have been a follower of your ask the trainer mailbag for a while and I absolutely agree on your perspective in bodybuilding and health. I get this ???? face each time I see your email in my inbox.
I have a question that I really need to ask you the fitness guru. I’m 30 yrs old 229lbs at 20% body fat. I am one those people with a genetically huge lower body. I have a 27-inch thigh and 19-inch calves. Working only minimally on leg exercises. I only squat 275 for a good 5 reps. My upper body pales in comparison to my legs. I have an underdeveloped chest, arms, back muscles. So my question is should I stop training legs and just focus on my upper body?
Hi, Jeff. I sincerely appreciate the positive feedback, brother! I usually hear people complain about having a disproportionately larger upper body, while they really struggle to add mass to their legs.
I’ve met a few people facing your circumstances, and it all boils down to the unique, genetically mediated traits you inherited from your bloodline.
The good news is there are some measures you can take to achieve a more aesthetically appealing physique.
As many people know, I don’t place as much emphasis on particular exercise selection as much as I do the execution of any given exercises. How you execute an exercise will make all the difference in the world regarding the results the exercise produces.
Rep Ranges For Hypertrophy
First off, there are some aspects to muscle hypertrophy you should know. The ideal rep range for maximum muscle hypertrophy to occur is between 8-12 reps. When you perform fewer reps than this, there is still a significant amount of muscle stimulation.
However, it’s just not quite as much because your muscles aren’t under tension long enough to reach that peak hypertrophy range. As you perform reps beyond 12, hypertrophy will be reduced with each succeeding repetition.
Repetition cadence will also drastically alter the amount of hypertrophy achieved during an exercise due to do time under tension. Since most of my clients want to build maximum muscle, I recommend they use a relatively slow cadence while performing their repetitions.
This involves taking 3-4 seconds to complete the eccentric portion of the exercise (lowering the weight) and then 3 seconds to complete the concentric portion of the exercise (raising the weight).
By using a rep cadence this slow, you eliminate momentum from the exercise, thus placing more tension on the muscles. This is a great technique to increase muscle hypertrophy.
Use Less Weight
By the way. Plan on using less weight for your exercises when you’re implementing this technique. It drastically increases the difficulty of any exercise. This is the ideal technique for you to use when you train your upper body, since it sounds like your chest, arms, and back seem to be lagging behind.
I wouldn’t neglect training your legs because many compound leg exercises increase growth hormone secretion by stimulating those type II-A & type II-B muscle fibers. This is something that will actually benefit muscle development and conditioning throughout your entire body.
That being said, it would make sense for you to actually reduce the amount of weight you use for your leg training.
You should also work in higher rep ranges with a slightly faster cadence when you perform your repetitions. In fact, I would aim for a rep range of 15-20 reps for your leg exercises.
I also suggest you adhere to a cadence of approximately 2 seconds to complete the eccentric portion of the repetition and 2 seconds to complete the concentric phase of the repetition.
This will reduce the amount of hypertrophy in the muscles of your legs, but still allow you to improve the shape and conditioning of those muscles without throwing your physique further out of balance.
Try these recommendations and let me know how it goes. I wish you all the best of success with your training!
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