Learn How to Build Muscle

Secrets To Overcoming Sticking Points III: Exercises For Your Legs And Abs

This is the last of three newsletters about overcoming sticking points in your muslce workout routine. We have all experienced these plateaus reached by all but beginning bodybuilders.

That muscle that won't develop or that weight we can't get past.

For the cures to these mental and physical limits, I have delved into the archives and come up with a series of exercises developed and promoted by a number of major bodybuilding trainers.

Most of these originated with The Iron Guru, Vince Gironda.

Vince was an innovator in exercise, posing and nutrition. Many bodybuilding champions, Hollywood stars and athletes trained at Vince's Gym on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, California.

Many others came to him for training on specific muscle groups and to get help developing their posing routines.

The list of acolytes that came through Vince's Gym read like "Who's Who" of bodybuilding. Many movie action stars received training advice from Gironda as well; Clint Eastwood, Clint Walker, Robert Blake, Cher, Denzel Washington, James Garner, Brian Keith, Tommy Chong (of Cheech & Chong) and Erik Estrada are amongst his devotees.

Another word of advice, Do Not Overtrain! Gironda used to say, "Workout like a bodybuilder, not like a weightlifter or powerlifter."

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A common problem with body builders, particularly those who are "juicing" on steroids, is to work each muscle too much. These "juicers" are really getting their results from a chemical infusion more than the workout. Without the steriods, they wouldn't have grown much at all.

Vince's feeling was that if you did the exercise correctly and with focus, you did not need heavy weights or more than three sets of any exercise.

Here are some specialized exercises that will work your legs and abdominals.

Thighs - Your thighs and calves have developed to a point from all your heavy squats, leg extensions, hamstring curls, calf raises and such. You want to cut up more and refine the shape of your leg muscles.

* Thigh Squat - This exercise sounds easy, but it is hard to master the technique. It is not advisable nor necessary to use heavy weights as you would in a powerlifter's back squat. Practice this with an empty barbell until you have the move perfected. This would be considered a "perfect squat" for bodybuilders.

o Begin the exercise with your heels on a 2X4 block, standing erect with the barbell held in front resting on your frontal deltoids. Your feet should be about twelve inches apart.

o As you slowly descend, keep your hips under your shoulders and don't lean forward.

o As you slowly ascend, move your hips forward out from under your shoulders. Your knees will be slightly bent when you reach the top position, with your shoulders over your heels.

o Repeat this move for a total of eight repetitions.

Calves - These are probably the hardest muscle group in the body to develop. This is one of the biggest weak points in most bodybuilders. Those who rise to the top of the heap will almost always have calves that look like a profile of butterflied shrimp.

* Calf Raises - You will need access to an upright calf machine preferably, but this may be done with a belt-and-chain and a dumbbell. You also need a three inch block on which to place the balls of your feet about four inches apart.

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o Keeping your knees slightly bent throughout the movements, rise up slowly on your toes, bringing your heels together at the top of the movement.

Place the full load of the weight on your big toe and contract the calf muscles forcefully and lower your heels slowly down for a full stretch.

o Repeat this for a total of eight repetitions.

Abdominals - This is a true "six-pack" exercise to get six-pack abs.

* Frog Sit-Ups - This is a rolling movement, not a true sit-up, and should be performed slowly. Done properly, you don't need any more than three sets of eight reps to work the abs.

o Lying supine, draw your heels up and keep your knees spread wide.

o Holding a barbell plate behind your head, curl your head towards your stomach until your chin rests on your chest and your shoulders are rounded forward.

o Only the small of your back should be in contact with the floor.

o Return to starting position and repeat for a total of eight reps.

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