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Early in his career, like many guys with freakish legs, Abbaspour relied heavily on free-weight squats to build up his lower body. While barbell back squats still find their way into his workouts, he prefers the safety and predictability of machine squats. Here he is shown doing the plate-loaded machine, but he will use the Smith machine as well. He pyramids up with the weight, starting with 15 reps, then gradually decreases that number as he works up to a last, max set of two reps.
Abbaspour’s go-to mass builders are the machine squat and leg press. Clearly, his powerful lower half provides him the ability to pile on a tremendous amount of weight. However, executing smooth reps using a full range of motion tops all else.
This exercise is not listed in his workout chart, but when Abbaspour does it, it usually follows his main mass-building exercise. While visiting the East Coast Mecca—Bev Francis’ Powerhouse Gym—where these photos were taken, he had access to a range and variety of equipment not easily found anywhere else. Naturally, he made his rounds to take advantage of the unique opportunity.
THIGH ADDUCTOR MACHINE
Abbaspour uses two sets of 10 reps on the adductor machine to help him fill out his inner thighs. (And we bet you erroneously thought this machine was reserved for ladies looking to tone their shapely legs!)
Abbaspour lowers the barbell to the floor, stretching his hams and glutes before standing just short of straight to keep tension on the backs of his legs. He will go as high as 20 reps.
Abbaspour sometimes does both the lying leg curl and the one-leg standing version, but he also implements a variation with a pulley that is rarely seen. He lowers a pulley attachment to the floor and hooks a padded sleeve onto the carabiner. He faces the apparatus, pulls his leg back, and curls it upward. Whichever type of leg curl variety he’s doing, he executes high reps and squeezes the muscle at the apex of the movement.
Just when he’d done nine sets for quads and 11 sets for hams, you might think it’d be time to call it quits. But Abbaspour isn’t finished, and he returns to quads. Again, he’s pictured doing the standard two leg version, but Abbaspour has his own version he’ll employ from time to time: He’ll turn his back to the cable crossover machine and slip his ankle through the padded sleeve for single-leg standing cable leg extensions. This time he extends his leg forward, squeezing the quad muscles. Left leg, then right. Since this is another exercise you really don’t need to go heavy on, Abbaspour focuses on the burn and does sets of 20 reps.
This move resembles a squatting leg-out adductor stretch: Hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides with feet shoulder-width apart. Keep one foot grounded and take a wide lateral step with the other foot; perform a squat while straightening the stationary leg. The glutes and thigh adductors are the primary targets, with a secondary focus on the quads and hams.