Legs grow too easy, upper body not so much
01-30-2014 04:04 PM
Legs grow too easy, upper body not so much
Why the heck do my legs respond in growth and strength so much easier than my upper body? It is very frustrating. The only exercise I do for legs is 3 sets of 3 reps of front squats 2 times a week. In three weeks my FSQ has increased by 40 lbs and my jeans are getting tighter in the quads. Yet I struggle to make mass gains in the upper body.
02-01-2014 03:59 PM
I'm in the same boat. T-Rex mode sucks. There was a time in my life where I squatted 405 but couldn't bench 185. Try training legs every other week and increase volume on upper body. You should still be able to make leg gains and it will give your upper a chance to catch up. After a while you can go back to legs once a week.
02-01-2014 04:18 PM
What are you doing for your upper body? How often?
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02-01-2014 06:13 PM
02-02-2014 08:25 PM
Don't take this the wrong way at all, but I just looked through your thread and I think you are a little "off" on your assessment. You say your legs grow but your upper body doesn't? Yet, when I look at your PRs a the beginning of that thread you don't even list squats and you got deadlifts for 1 rep with 315, but you could bench 225 for 13 reps!?? Seriously? Then by the end of that thread you're doing squats and you got 1 rep with 295. It sounds like your upper body has already done a lot of growing and your legs are far behind, maybe they are just catching up.
I couldn't bench 225 for 5 reps I bet, but I could probably squat 400 if I really wanted (I pre-exhaust with leg extensions to failure, then go right to squats in super set fashion and use 300 pounds but have never tried for a 1-rep max) and I know I can deadlift around 400.
I think your upper body doesn't respond as easily because it is already more advanced, and your legs seem to be quite a bit behind. Get your squats and deads up and your upper body will follow.
02-02-2014 08:41 PM
I have had a major knee and back surgery. I don't do deads because wi am gun shy. I feel very similar towards squats as well. I have been told it's genetics and that's about it .
02-02-2014 09:48 PM
Like I said, I didn't want you to take that wrong - you sound super strong on the upper body is all, yet you are basically saying this is your weak point...
You are doing squats with 295 it sounds like, and deads with 315 - do you feel any pain when you do these exercises? You are still using a good amount of weight (not on par with your upper body, but still strong) and this weight could cause injury just as easily as 400 pounds or 500 pounds, if your form is in check.
When I was a teenager, I hurt my back playing sports a lot. I was afraid to deadlift heavy or squat heavy, and I kept hurting my back. One day I decided I was going to get these two exercises up, and I started lifting some heavy ass weights. I went from deadlifting 250 to about 400+ pounds and suddenly my back was never hurting anymore. If your doctors have told you to avoid these exercises, then I can't argue with that, but if you are avoiding the weights out of fear, then it is your fear that is causing your pain.
Start comfortable and add a little each weak. Don't go crazy, keep your form in check, and pay attention to pain. Don't be a hero, but don't be afraid.
Finally, one thing I really like doing is pre-exhausting before deads and squats. I feel it allows me to work with heavy weights, get more impact, and improve safety. The flip side is that it can be very taxing.
I do heavy leg-extensions and then superset with squats, taking both to failure - no rest. It is taxing. Sometimes I do a drop set on either the squats or the leg extensions. It can be brutal.
On back day, I do hyper extensions with weight across my chest to failure, then superset with deadlifts to failure. Again, I may incorporate drop sets.
The other thing I have to say - when I was younger I lifted explosively, since returning to the weights a year ago I started following a slower, more controlled pattern that takes me 3-4 seconds up, pauses in the contracted position for 2 seconds, and then 4 seconds down. I had to check my ego at first and drop the weights to accomplish this, but it works and I can tell you that I had minor shoulder injuries with nagging joint pain in my left shoulder in particular, that has completely disappeared and I credit this controlled lifting with that. My muscles got stronger, but weren't being tugged and I had to have more control over the weight.
If you simply cannot do the exercises because of the surgeries, that is a different story, but that doesn't sound like it is the case. Be careful, but don't be afraid!
02-03-2014 04:48 AM
Well surgeries actually are the case. Herniated disc repair was the back surgery. If I push my limits I will at times aggravate the sciatic nerve. Honestly that scars the crap out of me. I makes me wonder if I have done further injury to the disc. I do have other bulging discs as we speak. The knee surgery is just a secondary concern. I honestly think I am either going to front squat or goblet squat with light weight and stay there. I just need to come up with a rep/set scheme.
02-03-2014 04:30 PM
I don't blame you on that. I'd be nervous too. I wasn't questioning that you had surgeries, I was stating that it doesn't seem to be the case that you can't exercise because of these surgeries, since you are doing the exercises in the other thread.
Can you do leg extensions? If so, I would do leg extensions/leg presses and drop the squats and any squatting that loads your spine, at least for the bulk of the time.
I would then spend the time you have focusing on your deadlifts in a safe fashion or just do weighted hyper-extensions.
Even with injuries, if you have a strong back, you will feel the pain less. The trick is getting it strong and I think loading your spine 2-3X a week is a mistake. Load your spine with deadlifts once every week or every other week. I.e. - Deadlifts this week and hyper-extensions the next. Slowly increase the weights and don't push your limits.
As for your upper body, you seem to be getting older. I have always had a high-intensity, low-volume approach to my training and I have noticed that getting back into this at 33, I have a very different recuperative ability than when I was 18. The stuff I did at 18 would be obvious overtraining for me now and it was probably less volume than most people do period. Now, I do even less, with less frequency and higher intensity. For you, I would drop the intensity a little, increase the volume and not be afraid to decrease frequency if you aren't seeing gains in your upper body - it just sounds to me like you are doing a little better than you give yourself credit for in that department. You are probably stronger than most people in the average gym. Once you get that strong, the gains slow down, but should be steady.
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