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Legs – The Battle!

Here is a text version of the workout:

To set the scene – in the blue corner was Johnny Reid a 24year old super-heavyweight competitor who threw down the gauntlet of a hard training session a week before d-day! In the red corner was me (Mike Gelsei) a 45year old light-heavyweight masters’ competitor who took the challenge!
Before we get to the nitty gritty of the workout I want to congratulate Johnny on a job well done as there would be many that would have given up long before the session actually ended. So when I describe what we actually did blow by blow I will present the facts and in no way do I want to belittle Johnny just let him know the areas he can improve on so others can learn and improve too. Also, there are areas I need to improve on too so filming the workout has been valuable for me to analyse my weaknesses.

This was obviously what many people would call a ‘shock’ session but the basic framework would be the same for most workouts, exercises may vary but the principles are the same – to stimulate the intended muscle groups as fully as possible whilst limiting the stress on the joints.

1st Exercise:

Leg curls. 4 or 5 warm-up sets around 8 reps per set with progressively heavier weights. Working sets were a tri-set of leg curls, the first with the body supported in a press up position, then onto a ‘normal’ leg curl then partial repetitions.
The weights were 50kg for the first part of the movement, 75kg (the stack) for the second and 85kg for the partials. Reps were 8 for the first and second movements and around 20 for the partials.
We each did 3 tri-sets which equates to 9 sets of hamstring work completed in a short space of time. The result? A great pump and burn, making it difficult to pick the feet up off the floor. A nice start to the session.

2nd Exercise:

Leg extensions. 3 sets of 20 to get the blood flowing in the quads and the knees warmed up for the heavier work to come.

3rd Exercise:

Leg press. The machine we have is a very steep angle so everything feels heavy! We performed these with our feet high on the platform to finish the hamstrings and start working the quads.
1st set – 10 reps, 4 plates aside.
2nd set – 10 reps, 6 plates aside.
3rd set – 10reps, 8 plates aside.
4th set – this is where it got interesting! 10 plates aside, I managed about 16 reps then 1 plate was removed and more reps were performed (around 10 I think). This continued until 100 reps were completed… Yes that’s right 100! I completed my 100 reps on 4 plates aside and it took me 5min 29sec to finish. Johnny completed his 100 reps on 3 plates aside, taking 7min 10 sec to finish.
Legs were pretty exhausted already – that was the plan! This would be enough for many, for us the session was only half way through!

4th Exercise:

Squats. Yes you read that right – time to work the fast twitch fibres as the slow were pretty much spent by now. The goal here was nice and deep with good form, lifting as explosively as possible and controlling the negative. 5 reps per set.
1st set – 60kg.
2nd set – 100kg.
3rd set – 120kg.
4th set – 120kg plus 50kg of chains.
5th set – 120kg plus 90kg of chains.

Johnny actually did about 10 reps per set; however, I’m sure he’ll agree the depth was more of a quarter squat. When you see the video you’ll notice that my 5 reps take longer to perform than his 10, which means the time under tension was greater with my lower rep sets. This is the reason I dislike writing out training programs for people, the number of reps means nothing – it’s all in the performance!
Another thing you’ll notice when watching the squatting part of the video is Johnny’s absence during my sets! He spent most of his rest outside, getting some air and having the occasional bout of sickness!

5th Exercise:

Leg extensions. These were now working sets but with a difference…timed. If you’ve never performed a timed set and think you are getting a great ‘time under tension’ in your exercises give these a go.
1st set – 14th plate, 1 minute.
2nd set – 12th plate, 1 ½ minutes.
3rd set – 10th plate, 2 minutes.
Each rep was performed deliberately on the way up, a pause and squeeze at the top and a slow negative. The goal was to get a pump in the quads to finish off the session. I completed my first 2 sets without too much of a problem, they were hard but I finished. My third set was a struggle but I managed to finish the 2 mins. And Johnny? First set, done. Second set 1 ¼ mins and the third was 1 ½ mins – he had reached exhaustion and beyond!

This was a hard training session by anyone’s standard – was I sore? Hell yes! From my perspective it was good to know that I can pull it out of the bag when I need to and I think Johnny learned a great deal too.I have to admit, the way I set the session up was deliberate as I know Johnny is strong but does take his time between sets. I purposely had plenty of reps at the beginning and kept the pace of training pretty fast through the session. Hopefully, this taught him about his weaknesses and how he can incorporate some new ideas into his training.

If there is anyone out there up for the Empower challenge – say the word and we’ll get it arranged!!