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Today you will train hamstrings and calves. Among hardcore trainers and rows of underused equipment, you’ll do 15 sets for hamstrings and nine for calves while being observed by an inquiring FLEX scribe and a tireless FLEX photographer. You live for this. You are Jay Cutler.
You do four working sets, the first with 130 pounds (13 reps) and the second with 150 (nine reps). You finish with two drop sets, twice going from 160 (eight reps) to 100 (seven reps) without rest. You could use more weight, but instead of risking injury, you’d rather crank out the repetitions.
Next, you position yourself in a seated leg-curl machine for what you call a “feel set” (a warm-up set during which you get a feel for the weight). After that, you do 270 for two sets of 11 reps. With a grin, you tell the scribe, “Let’s do the whole stack, Greg, so no one can say s—t,” setting the pin at the bottom (285 pounds) and, refusing to give in, grinding out 14 reps.
Next up: stiff-leg deadlifts. Actually, for you, these are bent-leg deadlifts, although you do keep your legs relatively rigid. Bending your knees takes the emphasis off your glutes and lower back and focuses it on your hams. You do sets with 225, 275 and 315, always getting 10-12 reps, not even bothering to wear straps.
Your left side is stronger than your right, so during two-leg exercises your left leg overpowers your right and takes on too much work, compounding the imbalance. Because they allow you to focus on
each leg unilaterally, you feel one-leg curls are the best hamstring exercise for your physique. As sweat rains off you, you do sets with 100, 120 and 130, getting 10-14 reps with each leg.
You finish hams with wide-stance leg presses, positioning your feet near the upper outer border of the footpad, thus minimizing quad action and focusing instead on your glutes and hamstrings. (You also do lunges in your quad routine, and you use a Butt Blaster and stair mill when preparing for a contest, all of which work the glute/hamstring tie-ins.) The wide-stance leg presses are a great finisher, because they stretch out the muscles you just pumped. You get a full contraction at the bottom of each rep, letting the weight pull your butt and lower back off the pad. You use 405 for 12 reps and then do 495 for 12, pause momentarily and get six more.
*NOTE: Beginning bodybiulders should do only the first two exercises for three sets each, intermediates should do only the first two exercises for four sets each; advanced trainers can do the entire routine.
You do a feel set of standing calf raises with 220, and then pump out sets with 250, 300 and 320, getting 10-12 reps. Each of your full reps has a hitch in the middle, allowing you to focus more on the stretch at the bottom and contraction at the top.
You follow with three working sets of seated calf raises, going up to 185 pounds. As with the standing raises, you’re careful to get a full stretch and, after a hitch in each rep, a full contraction. For your next-to-last set, you do 10 reps, then you rest for 15 seconds and do eight more. Your final set is a grimacing, grunting drop set: 10 reps with 195, eight with 140 and eight with 115.
You finish up with raises on a donkey calf machine: 300 x 12, 400 x 10 and the 500- pound stack x 8. You do the reps Jay Cutler-style, all the way down and all the way up. It’s not about the weight; it’s all about the range of motion.
Forty minutes and 24 working sets after you began, your workout is complete. You gulp down bottled water. Your hams and calves are saturated with nourishing blood, perpetually generating the sublime feeling of physical accomplishment that only bodybuilders truly know. You can literally feel the boundaries of your body expanding. There’s more of you than there was an hour before — and there’s always a lot of you. The pump is like a preview of future flesh. You know with proper food, rest and workouts you’ll be as big unpumped as you are pumped today and bigger still when pumped again. You climbed as high as you could today. You’ll rest up and climb still higher tomorrow.