My lower legs are relatively skinny. I don’t look like a marathon runner, but I’m not winning a body building contest any time soon. I’ll care about my calves when they help me deadlift more, so I’m content with farmers walks, sprints, single-leg work, and having a workout that sucks less than the dude who’s super setting calve exercises. Waste of time, Bro.
My upper legs, are a different story, and they seem to be growing. I don’t remember drying my pants on high heat, but most of my old pants rebel when I try to get them over my thighs. Unfortunately though, I see ‘slim fit’ every where I turn:
What’s up with that, fashion industry? Adding to my frustration was a website that one of my trainer friends e-mailed me a link to earlier this week, called the “Abercrombie Workout“, which as you guessed, is about achieving the ‘look’ of an Abercrombie model. As I first perused the site, I tried to stay open minded, but my emotions quickly progressed from curiosity to discomfort, to anger, to rage. Maybe it was because of lines such as this:
Are You A Victim Of Squats, Dead Lifts, And The Bench Press??
Note: I’m sure you noticed that I didn’t include training legs. Abercrombie and Fitch models don’t have thick, tree-like, legs. Your lower body has a much larger growth potential so it is very easy to build the legs up with weights. You can create much sexier and defined legs with a tough HIIT workout.
According to the site, squats and deadlifts are undesirable. Squats “do a great job of adding a lot of mass to your thighs and butt”, while deadlifts “also does an incredible job of adding mass to the midsection, thighs, and butt.” According to the site, “You do NOT want this! Abercrombie models don’t have huge butts or thighs because it will ruin their look. They also won’t be able to fit into stylish pants.” Additionally, “Adding mass to your midsection will ruin the natural “V” in your upper body. Take a moment and study their physique. They all have nice wide shoulder that tapers down to a small and lean waist.
Thank you, Google, for this example:
Based on the picture, let’s assume that the Abercrombie look is relatively lean, low but noticeable levels of muscle mass, and no legs. Seriously, when you search “Abercrombie Model“, it’s all pictures of skinny guys with six packs. When you add “Abercrombie Model Legs“, you get one additional photo of a female model, unless you scroll for days, which nobody does. At this point, I realized, this is a male version of the female waif model look:
Seriously, this is ridiculous. Sure, I’m bitter about not being able to fit into pants. But more importantly, we’re a nation of inactivity, of obesity, of knee pain and lower back injuries. Most of us spend a good majority of the day not moving. We’re sitting on our butts when we eat, commuting to work, at work, taking bathroom breaks to Tweet at your friends during work; we’re always sitting.
You mean to tell me that it seems like a good idea to avoid working muscles that never work, just in case they get to big to fit into your precisely tapered jeans? Let me tell ya’, that sounds like a terrible idea. In fact:
You shouldn’t give a shit about being an Abercrombie model.
If you do, get off my site and go to another one. I’m here to help you be healthier, stronger, and more confident, not to be concerned with if a model’s legs are too big or too little. There are other people who care about that. Find them. I’m here to help you realize that moving well, picking up heavy shit, and feeling competent with a variety of movement-based exercises will help you feel better, be healthier, and perform better, with looking good naked as a desirable side-effect.
Now that we’re on the same page, let’s address this whole training-your-legs thing. Perhaps you’ve fallen victim to the same don’t-train-your-legs mentality, but you’d like to the see the light. Let me share with you two of my favorite bang-for-your-buck lower body exercises, the Trap Bar Deadlift and the Valslide Reverse Lunge.
The trap bar deadlift allows you to pick up some heavy shit, while providing room to address mobility deficits; you can turn it into a squat pattern, you can perform them in a Romanian/Stiff-legged style, but I’m not concerned with the squat vs. deadlift semantics. Regardless, you should be doing it.
The ValSlide Reverse Lunge is my favorite single-leg variation because like the aforementioned deadlift, it allows for many variations, and each of them are awesome. Simple tweaking allows you to turn it into a knee-dominant or hip-dominant lift, you can load it in a variety of positions, and you can perform them from a deficit. Here are some of my favorite variations in the order I’d recommend progressing them in:
Body weight like Jen Grasso:
When you feel comfortable with the body weight reverse lunge, load it in the Goblet position until the dumbbells get too big. Here’s a set of 120lbs x 20 by Ben Bruno:
Eventually, you’ll have to move on to two dumbbells, each held in your hands:
By the time you progress to the barbell, you’ll be pretty damn strong:
I’m really sick of this don’t-train-your-legs nonsense. Running is fine, and sprinting is better, but neither create the metabolic stimulus or strength gains that you’ll see from dedicated lifting. Proper training will go the furthest for helping you reach your physique and performance goals, but more importantly, it will give you a greater sense of accomplishment, and will better preparing for kicking ass at your daily activities.
Finally, if you have any idea where I can find jeans that fit but don’t look like bell bottoms, please let me know! I’m having trouble finding them.