Maximize your strength training routine by cutting out these time wasters.Read article
Photos by Per Bernal
In a perfect world, a professional bodybuilder would keep his lifestyle utterly simple. Prepare food. Eat food. Go to the gym. Train hard. Come home to relax and recover. Get a great night’s sleep. Rinse and repeat.
Jon Delarosa was doing just that when we caught up with him this past July. But he had to leave his hometown of White Plains, NY, to achieve such simplicity. Of all places, he chose Kuwait to focus on the job at hand.
To most, Kuwait would seem like a curious choice, especially for a professional athlete, but it’s quickly becoming a destination spot for elite bodybuilders. Why? Because of Oxygen Gym, owned and operated by businessman, competition promotor, and fitness mogul Bader Boodai. Delarosa, along with other well-known IFBB pros like Victor Martinez, is taking part in Oxygen’s recurring “training camp,” where bodybuilders go to be, well, bodybuilders.
“It’s like a bodybuilder’s dream here,” says Delarosa, direct from Kuwait via Skype. “All they allow you to do is eat, sleep, and train. They don’t want you doing anything else, no extracurricular activities. There’s nothing to do in Kuwait. There are no bars, no clubs, there are barely any movie theaters, there’s one mall. There’s nothing. So all you can do is eat, sleep, and train. That’s it.”
This is quite a departure for Delarosa, who back home in New York works full-time as a business owner. Eating, sleeping, and training don’t always occur in ample amounts when one is running a business. At Oxygen, not only does he have all the time he needs to prep meals, sleep in, and hit the weights, but his energy level is always topped off when he does the latter.
“With all the rest, you’re going into the gym and you’re training like an animal,” says Delarosa. “Whereas at home, I was working 60, 70 hours a week and going to the gym beat to shit already. Owning a business, I’ve never been able to just train. This is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to be a bodybuilder for real.”
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“I really believe in breaking parallel on squats to get the hamstrings and glutes involved and for overall quad development. I think that’s what’s really going to make your quads stand out onstage. But you also want to watch your lower back, so keep your chest out and shoulders back throughout.”
"Don’t let your lower back roll out from underneath you. The heavier you go, the more your lower back and glutes come up off the pad as you lower the weight down to try and lighten the load. You’ve got to keep the lower back on the pad and drive through your heels.”
“Trainers often say to take a big step when doing lunges. But I always tell people not to overextend the step on lunges. If you step out too far forward, you could hurt your hips or your adductors.”
“You have to squeeze at the top of the movement without overextending and compromising the knees and patella tendons. That squeeze is really important for maximal contraction.”
STANDING ONE-LEG CURL
“Anything with hamstrings, you really want make sure you squeeze hard at the top of the rep. A lot of people will do almost like a half leg curl, where they’re not really getting the most out of their hamstrings. Curl all the way up like you would on biceps. The pad should hit your backside at the top of every rep. On the first two sets of leg curls, I’ll get a good squeeze at the top and try to hold it there, but after that I’m really focused on moving weight. If you try to hold weight that heavy at the top of each rep, you’re going to tear something.”
LYING LEG CURL
“You need to keep your hips down on lying curls—almost like you’re thrusting into the pad as you’re curling up. A lot of people tend to let their butt lift up and the lower back arch as they’re coming up. If you keep your hips down, it will really engage the hamstrings. Hold the top position for a two-count.”
DELAROSA'S LEG WORKOUT
For all exercises, Delarosa increases the weight on each set, provided he’s still able to complete 10–12 reps with proper form. “I’m always doing at least eight reps, but I shoot for 10–12,” he says. Delarosa occasionally performs dropsets on leg presses and leg extensions, but only about once a month. Other than that, he says, “I keep it basic and heavy; that’s it.” The first couple sets of each exercise are usually not taken to failure, but the last two sets always are. “Those first two sets I still leave a couple reps in the tank,” says Delarosa. “But with the last two sets, you absolutely have to reach failure.”
DELAROSA'S TRAINING SPLIT
SPLIT NOTES: Delarosa typically follows a three-days-on, one-day-off split. During precontest prep, however, he may follow a six-dayson, one-off schedule.