Leg Exercises

Build Muscle With the Holistic Training Method

Combine various training styles to compound your gains.

by
Shirtless Man Doing Barbell Back Squat
Per Bernal / M+F Magazine
Per Bernal / M+F Magazine
Duration 60 min
Exercises 7
Equipment Yes

CrossFit may be a 21st-century sensation, but the incorporation of various workout methods is nothing new. Even back when gym rats flocked to Muscle Beach, they were trying their hands at powerlifting, boxing, Olympic weightlifting, and running in addition to traditional bodybuilding sets and reps. Back then this was called “holistic.” Today’s lifters, however, can also benefit from mixing in a variety of techniques into their training programs. Going holistic can broaden your workout focus beyond gaining muscle, to burning fat, boosting power, and even increasing dexterity. After all, it’s 2017. Time to try something new for a change.

Going Holistic

The best rep range for growth is eight to 12, and exercises should generally be performed for three or four working sets in that range. But that’s not the only way to grow. In fact, utilizing the same sets and reps workout after workout will inevitably lead to stagnation. By incorporating a plethora of styles and techniques, holistic training can keep your enthusiasm high and your muscles expanding, and it can allow you to focus on other goals, such as jumping ability for basketball or rapid acceleration for football. There are three ways to go holistic.

1) Rotating Cycle

You can change your training style periodically. For example, you could do one week of plyometrics followed by two weeks of power work, followed by three weeks of traditional sets and reps. Each of those three segments is one cycle. The Yoda 3 Training (Y3T) method, devised by fitness guru Neil Hill, utilizes three cycles over three weeks: Week 1 is focused on heavy compound exercises, Week 2 is focused on moderate-weight compound and isolation exercises, and Week 3 is focused on high reps. Holistic cycling allows you to compartmentalize your training into segments of one to four weeks, with each segment devoted to a different workout approach.

2) Staggered Split

You can also change your training style workout to workout. But make sure your approach is calculated to avoid your workouts colliding with one another. Instead, stagger your split so body parts go through the same style rotation but on different weekly schedules. For example, you might do a power workout for legs one day and a high-rep session for back the next day. Then the next week you’ll reverse that. Our sample staggered split includes a different workout style for every body part over four weeks. (In this sample split, HIT is high intensity; high rep is 15 to 25 reps; power is four to eight reps; moderate is eight to 12 reps.)

3) Holistic Workout

Advanced lifters can change styles from exercise to exercise, or even from set to set. As with the cycle and split holistic methods, holistic workouts require planning. Don’t wing it. Instead, plot out sessions wherein one style can complement another and all styles together are stronger than any one individually. Our sample leg routine strives to do this by starting with plyometrics (box jumps, explosive box squats), progressing to high intensity (leg extensions, leg presses), then pumping up and exhausting the muscles with high reps (leg adductions, hack squats), and, for those with the space and equipment, ending with a functional exercise (sled pushes). A routine like this can allow you to focus on more than one goal at once, such as speed, power, muscle size, and functional ability.

Holisitc Staggered Split

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Days Body PArt Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4
Monday Quad/Hams HIIT High Rep Power Moderate
Tuesday Chest/Triceps High Rep Power Moderate HIIT
Thursday Back/Biceps Power Moderate HIIT High Rep
Friday Shoulders Moderate HIIT High Rep Power
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Holistic Tip Sheet

  • Plot out your cycles, splits, and workouts carefully; keep your strategy in your smartphone.
  • Cardio can also be holistic. Utilize more than one machine in the same workout, and/or try to incorporate nonmechanical activities such as sprinting intervals, swimming, pummeling a heavy bag, playing basketball, or using an agility ladder.

Holistic Basics

  • Variety can boost your intensity and focus.
  • Holistic is a great way to incorporate power and speed training into a bodybuilding program.
  • It’s also ideal for those who do other athletic activities, such as football or kickboxing, in addition to bodybuilding.
  • Doing plyometric exercises like battle ropes, box jumps, and speed pushups can aid your bodybuilding.

Holistic Leg Workout

Exercise 1

High Box Jump You'll need: Box How to
High Box Jump thumbnail
2 sets
10 reps
-- rest

Exercise 2

Barbell Box Squat You'll need: Barbell, Box How to
Barbell Box Squat thumbnail
2 sets
10 reps
-- rest

Exercise 3

Leg Extension
Leg Extension thumbnail
2 sets
10-12* reps
-- rest
*All working sets are to failure and preceded by one or two warmup sets.

Exercise 4

Leg Press How to
Leg Press thumbnail
2 sets
10-12* reps
-- rest
*All working sets are to failure and preceded by one or two warmup sets.

Exercise 5

Adductor Machine
exercise image placeholder
2 sets
100* reps
-- rest
*Do as many drops as necessary to reach 100 reps.

Exercise 6

Barbell Hack Squat You'll need: Barbell How to
Barbell Hack Squat thumbnail
2 sets
100* reps
-- rest
*Do as many drops as necessary to reach 100 reps.

Exercise 7

Prowler Sled Push
Prowler Sled Push thumbnail
2 sets
50 yd reps
-- rest
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