Several five summers ago, on an off year from caddying, I spent my days working as a counselor at a traveling summer camp. A co-counselor and I were in charge of 12-15 8th grade boys who were out of their minds a pleasure to work with. That group of boys are now freshman and college, and I still see one of them on a regular basis, because he goes to my gym.
Seth has spent a good portion of the last two years playing the “What workout can I Google today?” game, but as he says, “I’ve been going hard for the past 4 months.” In my words, that means, “Harold beat me with the foam roller enough that I began listening to him.” (For the record, I don’t think I did that.)
A large part of my role at the JCC is helping people find the missing puzzle pieces in their exercise plan, which may be as simple as a cue or technique tip, or as broad as encouraging strength training all together. In the case of guys like Seth, it’s converting their raw energy into effective training and throwing in as much education as I can. Sure, I occasionally get frustrated, but those moments are nothing compared to the gems I’ve heard. Just this past Thursday night, after a sip of water, Seth casually turned to me and said something along the lines of:
“I gained 8 pounds in like 3 weeks of working legs.”
For the better half of the past two years, it was rather common to have Seth come into the gym and ask, “Harold, what should I do today?” to which I would routinely reply, “Deadlifts and chin-ups.” Seth’s on a journey to put on some size, but was a victim of the “Yo, I Lift Every Day” syndrome. Now, he’s down to about 4 days a week, and they’re pretty much an upper/lower split. The best part is that he says things like this:
“I was never one to work out my legs because all I wanted was my upper body to look good. However for months my upper body looked the same. Once I started workin’ out my legs I put on weight and my upper body got bigger.”
[Favorite Lift?] “Uhh definitely deadlifting and split squats. Nothing feels better then a max deadlift.”
Having Seth (and cohorts) come into the gym, grab a foam roller, go through their mobility and movement prep work, then set up a barbell is awesome not only for them but for me as well. Guys are hitting their goals left and right, and everyone enjoys seeing hard work pay off. Hopefully those who have neglected lower body training, much as Seth had, can learn that it’s not too late.
Hopefully one day /i begin to understand why most people would rather train their biceps brachii over their biceps femoris, and triceps brachii over triceps surae. Those are your hamstrings and calves, people! Some will cite the aesthetic benefits of a large chest, or that ‘big’ legs aren’t conducive to their goals, or that their legs are strong from running. I usually like to respond with something about the glutes are good for everyone, that it’s more about leg strength and function than it is about size, and that saying that running makes your legs strong is absolute bullshit. Let me tell you, that last one gets them every time.
Seth’s also been using the Prowler for some of his conditioning work, and we’ll swap in some timed bike rides on days when we want less wear-and-tear, such as before a flag football game. As Seth puts it, “The bike rides are a relaxing way to demolish the legs.” That’s a polite way to say, “Man these suck.” (Explanation: Next time you get a chance, hop on a stationary bike and ride 3 miles as fast as you can. As a point of reference, I’m at 7:30, and it makes me hate life. If something makes you want to push the Prowler, it’s probably hard.) For another example of bike-based conditioning, here’s a video of Ben Bruno crushing a Tabata set on the Airdyne. If I had one of these, I would use it as the key to my house; a 4 minute ride to get in and a 4 minute ride to get out.
I usually save conditioning for the end of a workout, and today I’ve done that with your post. Take some time to consider how you prioritize and program training for your lower body, and where/how you can make improvements to take your health, performance, or physique to the next level. Just like Seth has, I’m hoping that with some reflective thought you’ll have a realization. If not, drop me a comment below and I’ll let you know what I think!