High Reps for Big Legs


FOUAD ABIAD: "The most important change in my career came in 2010, when I decided that lifting really heavy for legs was mostly for my ego. Throughout my career, lagging quads and hams have always held me back. 'Not enough sweep,' people would say about my legs, or 'not thick enough all around.' So I decided to make some changes in my quad training. Instead of lifting heavy for sets of 6–8 reps like I did for the first 10 years of my career, I decided 15–20 reps was the way to go. As soon as I increased my rep ranges, I noticed a rounder, fuller look to my legs. Now, I mix the two training philosophies. On leg presses, I go as heavy as I can for 20 reps, and on hack squats, I go as heavy as I can for 10–12. I don’t do any sets for my legs under 10 reps anymore; I just don't get the size from it."


Exercise Sets Reps
Lying leg curls 5 20-10*
Squats 5 20-10*
Leg presses 6 20
Stiff-leg deadlifts 4* 10
Hack squats 3 10

* Increase weight each set, starting out with 20 reps with the lightest weight and finishing with 10 reps with the heaviest weight.


Super Slow Reps


DENNIS JAMES: "When something doesn't work or I hit a plateau in my training, I always implement very, very slow reps. I'm talking super slow, as in 5–10 seconds up and 5–10 seconds down on every rep using 30%–50% of the weight you'd normally use. And you don't have to limit this to just one exercise in your workout; you can do it for every exercise. It takes you much longer to get through the set, but I guarantee one set will make up for 5–6 regular sets. You can either do slow reps for, say, a month, or you can do slow reps one week and go back to normal reps the next. Doing your reps very slowly is much more intense, creates more of a burn and the chance of injury while doing it is almost zero. And even though you're going a lot lighter, it feels heavier. Because you're going so slow, you can make one plate feel like it's four, so I typically keep the reps between 3 and 6. And I guarantee you, if you try it, you will walk away with the best pump you ever had."


Exercise Sets Reps
Pushdowns 3-4 3-6*
Lying Extensions 3-4 3-6*
One-arm reverse-grip pushdowns 3-4 3-6*

* Perform every rep with a speed of 5–10 seconds on the concentric portion and 5–10 seconds on the eccentric.

For Kai Greene and Ed Nunn press next page


Don't Overthink It


KAI GREENE: "You should always aim to reduce everything to its lowest common denominator to keep things very simple. A lot of times we make things more complicated than they need to be, and as a result we make it harder to hear the common sense and universal wisdom that's always lurking and is often quite obvious. We tend to think, 'It can't be that simple. It's got to be something more complex.' If you want to put on muscle, be very clear about that goal. When we're being very clear about the goal, we'll find that we don't need to ask 50 different people the same question. Truth is, I don't have to get lost in minutiae because that just makes things more complicated than they need to be. Keeping things very simple will help anyone who aspires to be better at something. For example, if you want to add size to your legs, you should do squats. It's very simple advice, but it works."


Exercise Sets Reps
Wide-grip pullups 4 8-15
Lat pulldowns 4 8-15
Barbell rows 4 6-15
T-bar rows 4 6-15
Seated cable rows 4 8-15


Shorten Your Range of Motion


ED NUNN: “When I had to bring up my upper chest and pec tie-ins to the front delts, I focused a lot on the basic incline barbell bench press, and I got a lot stronger and more powerful on that move. I always make sure to lower the weight slowly, and I also do a pretty brutal drop set on my last set, where I start with 405 pounds and work down to 135. But one technique that really helped me, especially on inclines, was to stay in a certain ‘window’ of the range of motion. I don’t lock out my elbows at the top of the rep and I don’t come down all the way and touch my chest at the bottom. I stop just short of full range of motion on both ends to keep constant tension on the muscles. I think that has really helped my upper-chest development.”


Exercise Sets Reps
Standing dumbell flyes (warm up) 2-3 10-12
Flat-bench dumbell presses 4-5 10-12
Incline barbell presses 4 8-10*
Pec-deck flyes 4 12
Cable flyes 7** 10

* On the last set, Nunn does a drop set where he tries to get 10 reps with each of the following weights (pounds): 405, 315, 275, 225, 185, 135.
** Following Hany Rambod’s FST-7 technique, resting 30–45 seconds between each set.

For Ben Pakulski and Phil Heath press next page


Neurological Overload Set


BEN PAKULSKI: “Neurological overload set training is something I do that contributes to muscle growth and overcoming plateaus. On the fourth and final set of a given exercise — usually for each exercise in a workout — I perform four consecutive drop sets in 20% increments and try to knock off at least 5–6 reps with each weight. I find this to be a great way to overload the muscle, as well as overload the nervous system to force adaptation. An example of NOS would be lateral raises for shoulders. I choose to do laterals seated because it removes one variable of cheating. My typical NOS set for laterals would look something like this: 70-pound dumbbells for 6–8 reps, then 55s for 6–8, 40s for 6–8 and finally 30s for 10 reps.” (Check out Pakulski’s upcoming DVD to see NOS in action at


Exercise Sets Reps
Bent-over lateral raises 5 12*
Seated lateral raises 5 8*
Machine overhead presses 5 10
Reverse pec decks 4 10
Cable lateral raises 3 15
Upright Rows 4 10*

* Perform an NOS set (four drop sets where the weight is decreased 20% each time) on the last set.


Train Each Muscle Group Twice a Week


PHIL HEATH: “For me, legs were always a bodypart that I felt could be better. I found that training them twice a week, every three or four days, worked out best for adding size and detail. Many guys tend to think you only need to train a specific area once per week, feeling it leads to more growth. I disagree, as when it comes to bringing up lagging areas, training them twice per week will not only yield gains in size but also in detail, especially during contest prep. Eight-time Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman trained everything twice a week for the majority of his career, so it’s kind of hard to debate against someone who carries his muscle mass.”



Exercise Sets Reps
Leg extensions 7* 10
Front squats 3 15
Vertical leg presses 3 15
Hack squats 3 12-15
Walking lunges 1 50-100 yards


Exercise Sets Reps
Plate-loaded squats 3 12-15
Unilateral leg presses 3 12-15
Leg extensions 3 12-15
Hack squats 7* 12-15

For Toney Freeman and Eduardo Correa press next page


Unilateral Static Holds


TONEY FREEMAN: “This is a technique I use on nearly every unilateral exercise — dumbbell presses for shoulders, dumbbell curls for biceps, unilateral triceps exercises, leg extensions, leg curls. On dumbbell presses, for example, I’ll leave one dumbbell in the top position while the other arm is doing reps. I’ll do five reps like that, then switch arms and repeat, then switch back and do four reps with each arm, then three, two and one. So it’s 15 reps, but the time under tension is equivalent to 30 reps on each arm. I kind of let go of the standard banging out sets of 10 or 12 reps. Doing unilateral reps with the static holds incorporates more muscle fibers than standard sets because of the greater time under tension and helps stimulate more growth.”


Exercise Sets Reps
Incline dumbell presses 2-3 15 per arm + static hold*
Flat-bench dumbell presses 2-3 15 per arm + static hold*
Cable Crossovers 2-3 15 per arm + static hold*

* Each set consists of one arm remaining in the top position while the other arm does reps of 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1. The right arm does five reps with the left arm in the top position, then the left arm does five reps with the right arm in the top position, and so on.


Leave Your Comfort Zone


EDUARDO CORREA: "“Most people do their exercises and sets inside a ‘comfort zone’ — meaning the workouts don’t require any extra concentration, effort or pain to execute them. When you stay in your comfort zone, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to see significant gains in size and strength. Leaving your comfort zone can entail anything from doing more difficult exercises, adding more weight to your exercises, doing more reps or adding intensity techniques to your workouts. I left my comfort zone when I started doing the same workouts with the same exercises, only heavier. It’s difficult because it requires more concentration and focus, but if you’re motivated it becomes an exciting and rewarding challenge for your body. You can do the same routine but with heavier weights and great execution, leading your muscles to exhaustion. It works best if you have a spotter to help you through the tough sets.”


Exercise Sets Reps
Alternating dumbell curls 3 10-12
Concentration curls 3 12
Machine preacher curls 3 10-12
Cable hammer curls 3 15

NOTE: On every set, use as much weight as possible while still using strict form and hitting the prescribed rep counts.

For Dexter Jackson and Stan Efferding press next page


Giant Sets for Giant Guns


DEXTER JACKSON:“I found that training arms [bi’s and tri’s] on their own, in one work- out, worked best for me and allowed for maximum growth. Training arms on their own — not with a larger bodypart like chest, back or shoulders — allows you to focus all your attention on them and lift the heaviest weights possible. The specific technique I used that brought on the most growth in my arms was giant sets. I would do one giant set for biceps and one for triceps, and do that four times through. Giant sets give you a great pump and are effective at shocking a stub- born muscle group into growing.”


Exercise Sets Reps
Pushdowns 4 8-10
Dips 4 8-10
Lying extensions 4 8-10
Overhead rope extensions 4 8-10


Isolate to Stimulate


STAN EFFERDING: “I’ve always struggled to build enough arm mass to compensate for my shoulders, which tend to overpower my arms. Even after working up to 225 pounds on straight bar curls for reps or 100-pound dumbbell curls, my arms still lagged behind. When I trained with Flex Wheeler, we tried a different approach and isolated the biceps by taking the shoulders out of the movement and increasing the rep range to put more blood in the muscle. When performing standing barbell curls, the bar no longer curled away from the body. Instead, we pulled the elbows back and the bar traveled straight up my body, perpendicular to the floor. This eliminated the shoulders from the movement and created a better squeeze. Dumbbell curls were changed to seated and performed the same way — elbows back and the weight traveling straight up instead of out in front of me. We also added a lot of one-arm machine preacher curls to isolate the biceps and squeeze each contraction without rocking the weight. This workout added size to my arms. They’re over 21 inches in the offseason now and growing.”


Exercise Sets Reps
Standing barbell curls 4 20
Seated dumbell curls 4 20
One-arm preacher curls 4 21*

* The first seven reps are performed through only the bottom half of the range of motion; the second seven reps are performed through only the top half of ROM; and the last seven reps are full ROM.