Ron Cecchini's Leg Workout

Originally posted to the Weights Mail List
Date: Thu, 1 Jun 95
From: (Ron Cecchini)
Subject: Re: Leg routine


The old routine

The new routine


The old routine

The new routine


From: "Berg, Cory" <>
> P.S. Your turn, Ronbo, you freak you.....

[ ooo. Barely caught this. That's what happens when you're on 13 mailing lists - not to mention having to read thru personal mail. Anyway... ] Thank you Brother Freakly.

Quads & Hams, eh?

Ok, it's been a long time since I've posted a routine. [Oh wait. I did post my back workout not too long ago. Whatever... ]

First off, I/we [ my partner and I ] split up quads and hams. Quite frankly, when I'm done with quads--I'm done period. No hams. No bike. No calves. Nothing. Maybe a good puke, but that's it.

We have a 6 day split done [on paper] 3-on/1-off. In reality, it's more like 2-on/1-off. And, often times, I go even longer before working a bodypart again. I'm much higher volume than the HITers, but I think I'm even more HIT-like than the HITers themselves when it comes to frequency. They do a bodypart at least once a week. I'm lucky (?) if I get to do a bodypart once every 9-10 days.

And here's a little tidbit, I did hams the other night, right. Well, I checked my journal and it had been 25 days since I had done them last. Now granted, that was unusual, and I had, in fact, skipped hams last rotation. But still. And yes, I was actually stronger. Go figure. [spoken: "Go fig-yah!" ]

Our split is:

1- Quads. 2 - Chest. 3 - Back. 4 - Hams. 5 - Delts. 6 - Arms.

I'm most likely going to be swapping back and ham day because I've recently gotten back into doing SL deads for hams, and I'm already doing deads on back day. So I really need the extra rest. Plus, having some other day [ whether it be an off day or ham day ] between delts and arms is good, as we always start off our arm day w/ close-grip presses. Again, it's just more rest.

Quads -----

I could've sworn I posted this before, or maybe it was just an email. Ok. The carpal tunnel isn't too bad today, so I'll type it again:

The old routine:

1 - Extensions.
Lean back against the pad.
3 sets of 50.

The first set should be really easy. The second one should produce failure just around the 50 rep mark. The last one should be a bitch, causing you to fail around 30. Just keep going! Have your partner help you get all 50.

Do your reps slowly! Do not throw the weight around - anyone can do that. Squeeze at the top, and lower the weight slowly. Get into it! Get into the pain!

On the Nautilus machine, I was working w/ 40, 60 & 80 lbs. You think that's wimpy? Try it.

2 - Squats
3 sets of 20.

That's right: 20. You're legs are already going to be fried, so don't expect any squat PR's.

Stand w/ your feet less than shoulder width--maybe 8-10 inches apart. Toes straight ahead. Descend slowly. Almost pause at the bottom. Rise slowly. The idea is to work your quads, not everything else. This isn't powerlifting. Try really hard to eliminate that momentum at the bottom. You wouldn't believe how much even the slightest momentum helps you!

With this close stance, you're going to feel your lower back get pumped. It's a double-edged sword; i.e. the close stance is better for your quads than a wide stance, but it also works your lower back more than a wide stance.

I also squat to well below parallel.

At the time, I was doing: 45x20 [you won't believe how heavy this feels at first! ], 135x20, 185x20 [barely] 225x12-17. I never did make it to 20 with 225. I'd get about 12-14 on my own, and then my partner would help me until I crashed in the cage.

3 - Extensions again.
Lean forward off the pad. This works the vastus lateralis more. At this point, you should be pretty smoked. But try for:
2-3 sets of 20-25.
Again, slow and controlled reps.

Sometimes we'd finish off with [what I call] "squeezes". Stand with your heels together, toes out forming a 90 degree angle. Hold on to something for balance. Now rise up on your heels; i.e. lift your toes off the ground. Squeeze your quads really hard. Hold the contraction for 30 seconds. Then rest 30 seconds. Repeat 2 more times. If you're feeling adventurous, try contracting your quads for a minute.

The new routine:

1 - Extensions.

Lean back against the pad, as before. But here we're not doing a super-duper pre-exhaust; i.e. no 3 sets of 50. We're doing more of a warmup, althought the last set for me is still all-out. I think I've been doing something like: 50x30 100x20 150x15-20

2 - Leg Presses.

Do [what I call] "10's"; i.e. you keep adding weight and doing sets of 10 until you can't do 10. [ We used to do the same thing with barbell curls. ]

I, personally, keep my feet very close together. My heels are practically touching, and my toes are pointed out slightly. My partner assumes a wider stance with his toes pointed straight ahead. [This is just one of the seemingly infinite number of things we argue over. But hey - my stance is comfortable for me.]

Personally, I think we do too many warmups on this exercise, but I've tried doing a smaller number of warmup sets, with higher weight jumps, and I really didn't like it.

Anyway, we do:
4x10 6x10 8x10 [ BTW, that's 4, 6, 8 plates per side]

Then I top off at 10x8-10. I'm almost there, but not quite. My partner, on the other hand, gets it pretty easily, and then does 12x10. I have to help just a little bit [ one hand on the sled ] on the 9th and 10th rep.

Since he does that extra set, I usually drop back down to 8 plates and go nuts. Last week, I got something like 15 reps, then 5 more, then 5 more. Puke? "Yes I did!"

3 - Hack Squats.
1-2 sets of ??? Failure!

We keep our feet fairly high up on the platform. Feet about 8-10 inches apart and pointing straight ahead. I also don't like to use my hands on this machine; i.e. I fold my arms across my chest. Trust me: You WILL feel the weight significantly more in your quads.

Important point: You must do these reps slow. Slow-Slow-Slow! First off, it's very easy to come up too fast on the hack machine and hyperextend your knee. Second, once again the idea is to work your quads. Forget about the weight!

More important point: Actually stop and pause at the bottom of the motion. Completely eliminate all momentum. Now try to squeeze the weight up with just your quads. Trust me: Unless you already do 'em like this, you've never felt hacks like these!

4 - Extensions again.
The same as before; i.e. leaning forward, etc.

Hams ----

The old routine:

1 - Lying Leg Curls
2-3 warmup sets. 2-3 work sets.

I was doing something like 40, 60, 80 lbs for 10-12 reps. Then, depending on what kind of mood I was in, I would either keep pyramidding up; i.e. 100x? 120x? 140x? Or I would jump right up to 140, then do a set at 120, and finally finish off w/ a high-rep set at 80.

The only important things to keep in mind are:

1) Try to keep your back straight; i.e. keep it in line w/ your thighs. In other words, if you have one of those curl machines [as we do] that are bent in the middle, then you have to get up on your arms so that your torso is elevated.

You can do that 1 of 2 ways:

a) Hold on to the handles w/ straight (i.e. locked) arms.

b) Fold your arms across your chest, and actually lean on your arms as you do the movement.

My partner prefers b), and is--in general--against holding on to the handles because of the increased leverage it gives you, which allows you to curl more weight. I argue that as long as I'm not cheating, so what if I'm doing more weight? Holding the handles is more comfortable to me, 'cause when I don't hold on, I tend to slip on the bench.

Yes, this is another thing we argue over constantly.

2) Keep your hips down on the bench.

Don't lift your butt up off the pad as you get tired. You're cheating! Concentrate! Focus on squeezing and pulling the weight up w/ just your hams.

3) Once again [surprise-surprise] do your reps slow and controlled. It is very easy to cheat the weight up on leg curls. You see people doing it all the time. They're using their arms, lower back, momentum, etc - and the weight just flies up to the top!

That's NOT what you want to be doing! You want to actually be working your hams - and not your ego.

2 - Seated Leg Curls
2-3 sets of 8-15 reps.

If you have access to the FLEX line of hamstring machines, by all means, use their seated leg curl! It's the best one I've ever used. Their standing single-leg curl is also the best single-leg curl I've ever used. Unfortunately, I have neither. All our ham machines are lousy Nautilus. No offense to Nautilus, since these machines are kinda old.

My hands are cramping up, so I'll just say again to do your reps slow and controlled. Really squeeze at the bottom.

For those of you w/ Nautilus seated leg curls, I've found that the best way to do the movement [ for me, of course ] was to put my hands behind me and hold my torso up off of the pad so that my torso was perpendicular to the floor. I never felt the movement all that great when I leaned back against the pad. Also, the pad that your rest your heels against isn't settable. So you really have to work at finding the optimal sitting position.

3 - "Squeezes"
3 sets of 40-50

This is another funky movement that my partner does. It's basically like doing a leg curl, but w/o any weight.We take a portable decline bench and lay down it, face down, and w/ our heads up at the high end. Hold on to the foot pads.

Now start curling.

Important notes: Keep your knees and ankles together. Have your partner help you w/ this. You don't have to do the reps really, really slow - and you don't have to go all the way down. Pump 'em out at a moderate speed.

But the most important thing is to really squeeze the shit out of the rep at the top. It should really feel like you're ripping the muscle from the bone. Don't worry - it won't rip from the bone. [at least, it hasn't happened to me yet.]

The new routine:

The new routine just involves doing stiff-legged deadlifts as our first movement. After that, we do the lying curls and seated curls again.

But since we're already warmed up, I do less warmups. Last week, I think I did 80 lbs on the lying curls for 8 reps (warmup), and then did however many assisted reps I could get at 140 & 120. Then on the seated curls, I did just sets: 160x? and then a triple-drop set of 120x?-100x?-80x?

The "squeezes" are optional [on my part - he still does 'em sometimes]

SL deads:

They way I do these now [my partner's way] are alot different than what I was doing in the past--and I do think this way is better.

Hold the bar at shoulder width. Stand w/ your legs stiff, but not straight. I.e. do not lock your knees. Keep your feet fairly close together - again, about 8-10 inches apart--w/ your toes pointing straight ahead.

Now, as you lower the weight, concentrate on keeping your back straight. DO NOT let it round at the bottom. The bar will only make it to about half way down your shins.

Lower the weight slowly and come up slowly. But this is where it gets tough - you have to make a huge mental effort to truly squeeze and feel the movement in your hams. It's important to keep the legs slightly bent to be able to really contract the hams.

Come all the way back up w/ the weight [ something I never used to advocate ] and squeeze the hams.

If you were to watch someone doing these from behind, you would see the person's hams spread away from each other at the bottom of the movement and then come back together at the top of the movment.

As far as weights go, we just keep adding plates until we can't do anymore. My partner was able to do 1x10 2x10 3x10 4x5-6 [ that's 405 lbs ] I made it up to 315x9 - and then that was it. No down sets this week. A few weeks ago [25 days ago!] I did the 315 for 5-6, and then did a down set w/ 225.

That's it for hams. There's a few other exercises I like, like dumbbell leg curls, etc - but I won't get into it now. The RSI has set in ... Gotta run.

[er, ixnay on the running if you give this routine a try! ]


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