Note: This article is a copy of a Q&A session with Layne Norton.
On leg training:
I just have such a hard time getting my self to work my legs. I keep on talking my self out of it. Any advice?
Legs days are what separates the men from the boys. Hell arms… joke. Chest… that’s for fun. Back… not even close. Shoulders? Walk in the park. Legs are what separates the recreational lifter from the truly intense. Just keep that in mind whenever you feel like skimping on leg day.
After I am done cutting, I want to start hitting my legs real hard. I have read that you have done a Russian squat routine. Have you done Smolov? Or another program? How did the program look like? What were your results (strength and size gains and overall weight gain). How did your incorporate your upperbody training?
I did smolov and it worked well, but my joints hurt SO bad from squatting so frequently. I am back to hitting it 2x/week legs now.
Basically I just upper body 2x/week with lower volume since smolov has such high volume, I wanted to focus on my legs and give them a chance to properly recover.
Twice a week, huh? What sort of volume each time?
Around 30-40 sets for quads/hams/calves.
That’s quite a heap of work Layne (I’m interpreting that as roughly 10 sets per body part twice a week). You’re not a subscriber to the less is better?
I saw the recent pics you posted and it seems you’re making excellent progress anyway.
Absolutely not. Volume is the only thing that has ever worked for my legs. I think most people could have volume work for them but they are too scared by all the overtrainnig propoganda.
On squats and lower back:
Layne, do you think it is possible for someone to base a leg program around the Leg Press?? I can get away with any other exercise, except squats. I can do them, but I can only go so heavy; it is murder on my lower back, so I may need to give them up. Anything else is fair game though… hack squats, front squats, lunges, etc. I guess my biggest concern is that I do not want to limit my potential growth by not using the best exercise for legs. And I simply refuse to do box squats. Below parallel is the only way for me. But I know I need heavier weight. You are fairly close to me in height (I have you by two inches). Have you had to make this sacrifice for the greater gain?
I would base it around hacks or fronts in that case.
On Upper back:
Also I find it hard to get some serious mass on my upper back. Which exercises do you recommend?
As far adding back mass; there is no secret, hard and heavy with rows, chins, and pulldowns. Rack chins are something you may want to try.
On resting between sets:
It’s typically recommended to rest between sets about 1 minute or under if hypertrophy is your goal (which for me it is) and for strength 2 minutes or more. The only problem with this is that I think strength and size are inextricably linked. So what’s the compromise? What are your thoughts on this Layne and how long do you rest between sets?
I rest however long it takes to regain my focus and be 100% ready for my next set. For curls this can be as little as 45 seconds, for something like heavy squats though, I may go well over 5 minutes between sets.
That is an interesting statement. I also think that most people have this overtraining scare. Not ripping on people, just ignorance, which is the lack of knowledge. In my life time of sports (including 3 years at pro level domestic cycling), and bodybuilding. I have only ever know of 2 people that were actually in a state of overtraining. Now of course I come nowhere near to knowing each individual involved in sports, but out of the literally thousands that I have known, that is still a minute number compared to the (as Layne so eloquentlyput) propoganda that circulates today. Oh and those 2 people were both ultra distance runners who developed eating disorders, with the thinking that lighter is faster. So they cut their calories to a ridiculous level. Layne, what’s your take on ‘overtraining’? From someone who actually has the science to back him up.
Essentially what people don’t realize is that volume is another form of overload. One of the principles of hypertrophy that most people agree on is you must continuously increase overload on the muscle to stimulate new growth. Well you can only gain so much strength, eventually you plateau, but you can ALWAYS add more volume. My friend did his masters in exercise physiology at one of the premier places to do that degree (Baylor) & during most studies they ran the strongest correlating factor to muscle growth was almost always volume. The reason most people are scared to do volume is 1) they have always been told they will overtrain and 2) when they first start out on the program they lose strength and feel rundown and like shit. This is normal, your body isn’t used to it and it must adjust. It takes about 2-4 weeks for your body to adjust, once it does the strength and hypertrophy gains are very noticeable, every client I’ve ever done this to has worked quite similarly. They are begging me to let them train the old way for the first 2-4 weeks, and after that they send me emails saying they can’t believe how fast they are gaining strength.
There are two drawbacks to volume:
- 1) more rapid development of injuries as you are doing more sets and if you have any problems in form they will be exaggerated faster with high volume so you may get aches and pains
- 2) It is very mentally tough to keep up with high volume. You will mentally burnout before you ever physically do.
Both of these are why volume should be cycles and once every 5-10 weeks depending upon how your body response you should reduce volume and reduce weights to 70% of normal for 2 weeks to regain your focus and let your body’s aches and pains subside.
On rep/set schemes:
I do higher volume as well, not super high. But this is the thing, don’t limit yourself to a certain amount of sets or reps. In my opinion these are just barriers. How many times have you done 3 sets of 10 reps but probably could have done 5 sets of 11 or 12? whenever I go to the gym the only thing that is preconceived is what exercises I’m going to do. Sometimes I’m not feeling that great and I’ll only do 2 sets other times I’ll be flying high and do 10 sets for things like legs. Just listen to your body. Be instinctive. That’s what this is all about. Remember your muscles don’t count, your brain does and if you wanna work that out there’s plenty of love novels out there for you to read. Or maybe you can do a nice crossword and have a cup of tea and crumpets.
Yea I agree that you need to not get TOO hung up on rep/set schemes. In the end the one question you need to ask yourself is “am I working harder than the guy who will be onstage next to me.”
I go where the science supports my friend.
On High Volume training:
Just curious what your definition of high volume is? For some its 12-15 sets for other its 20-30 sets.
Yea more or less. If the bodypart is a weakpoint (back/legs) it will get more sets, if it is a strength like chest, I do probably half as many sets as I do for back.
Frequent training and Soreness:
I don’t know how people squat 3x a week? When I squat, I am sore 4-5 days. and when I say sore i mean the handrails are my best friend
The more frequent you workout the less you get sore. The best powerlifters squat FREQUENTLY… even up to 4x/week. It will, however, take a bit to get adjusted to this frequency.
Yeah but how the hell can you squat with weight when it hurts to even sit on the toilet?
Well you don’t squat heavy every single day.
I don’t know any other way!?
Even if squatting 2-3x week with 1-2 heavy days is superior? And there is much evidence to support that having at least one lighter day is superior for strength and size than just straight up one workout per week.
When you say ‘lighter day’ just wondering whether you mean to use lighter weights and back off the intensity (ie, stopping well short of failure) or use lighter weights with equal intensity as the heavy days?
If I’m doing 3x/week then one day is heavy, one day is light shy of failure, and one day is light, but closer to failure.
When powerlifters lift 2-3 times a week, don’t they only do 1 or 2 sets with 1,2 or 3 reps at a workout? It’s almost like an entire workout spread out over a week. I’m not sure I see the point of a ‘lighter’ day. Can you explain the reasoning?
Not really, powerlifters often use a lot of volume. I routinely know powerlifters who will do well over 10 sets on a given exercise.
Light Day workout
Can we have some discussion on the ‘lighter day’ workout? I hear people talk about it. I’m not sure I agree with it. Just looking for some talk about it.
Just because a workout is ‘lighter’ does not mean you are not stimulating muscle tissue and additionally it also facilitates blood flow to that area. I can tell you right now it certainly enhances recovery by taking advantage of the repeated bout effect.
So would you suggest maybe doing 3-5 light sets the day after training a muscle to get a little pump and blood flow? Do you do this?
I do one heavy workout per week focusing on 3-8 reps going as heavy as I can on compound movements, still pretty high volume, then later in the week I go lighter for 10-20 reps with more volume but not as much failure as I do earlier in the week.
My legs NEVER grew off one time per week shit. I started training 2x/week and everyone said I would overtrain; low and behold my legs actually grew, the science supports it as do my experiences with myself & my clients.
On Chest development:
Layne, my pectoral development is not exactly what I would like it to be, but coming along. I hit it hard once a week. On the days after the workout, can I go with a few hundred pushups for active rest to help with the development, or is this too much?
Hell no it’s not too much, I’m telling you, once I started working everything out 2x/week hard; that’s when my physique went from middle of the pack to being competitive for my pro card. I am quite convinced that being brave enough to try high volume/frequency was one of the main reasons I am not still an amateur.
Layne Workout Journal
Could you please post up some more workout videos; I like seeing what other people do.
Checkout my videos on youtube here; it shows a lot of my workouts.
Layne, what you like to do for your calves? I saw you did 15 sets, you always do a lot of sets like that? You know it’s hard for us naturals to get those good looking legs that have a lot of thickness. I’m 6’2 so my upperbody is a hell of a lot more powerful than my lower, you think squats that are heavy with lower reps would help to get some mass on them, anything else you suggest feel free. Thanks a lot bro, hope the training is going well. By the way you’re a monster with those front squats!
As you probably know legs were a big weakness for me, and I still consider them a lagging bodypart; but not like they used to be. I think high volume/high frequency is really the way to grow. My calves were stuck at 15″ until I started working them 2-3x per week with 20-30 sets per week; that got them up to 17″.
My calves suck. I’m 6’2 with 16” calves (high inserts too) and I’m a hardgainer. My diet/cardio/training (other than calfs) is going really well. I’ve been doing DC training for the past 2 years so (which is calves every other workout for 1 set of 10-12 reps with a 5sec neg, 15sec stretch and a hard flex at the top)…
This method isn’t really doing much for my calves (they have hardly grown in those 2 years whereas everything else has)
Can you please give me some advice AND post your calf training? I read that you like to do high volume for your calves. Please list the training in detail (reps/sets/with what part of split/amount per week/tempo/etc).
Calves are something extremely hard to grow… most people who have big calves… have always had big calves. Train them hard and heavy and like a mad man. Drop sets, super sets, giant sets, hard and heavy. I do over 30 sets per week for calves. My calves when I started were 11″ now they are just under 17″ not great, but a good improvement.
On circuit training:
What do you think about circuit training? They have or have had some place in your workouts during the year?
Only time I use circuit training is if I’m on vacation & pressed for time or during the days before a show.
On Layne performing Traditional squats:
Layne, do you do traditional squats? I always see your videos of you doing front squats.
I do, just not recently, I feel front squats much more in my quads & it’s not near as hard on my lower back & knees.
On squats for glutes and hams:
You feel that the front squats work you glutes and hams? Or just do direct work for those groups, i.e. GHR’s
Probably not quite as much, but my ass and hams are not my weakpoint… quads are, quads have been a bane of mine for a long long time. But they have come a long way, at some point I’ll post up some progress pics of my legs for you guys.
On warming up:
What type of rep range do your warm up sets consist of , saying my goal was to be in the 6-8 rep range, I always followed the max-ot warm up sequence ( don’t train with max-ot ) start with 12 , 6 , 4 , 1 or 2 reps then your working set, I only do this in the beginning or the workout for that muscle , after that i do 1 “feel set ” for the other exercises , what you think?
Depends on the exercise, on something simple like curls I’ll do like 1-2 sets of 8-10 but on something like squats or deads I’ll do it like this.
For example on front squats my best is 2 sets of 365 for 5; so if I wanted to warm up for that I’d do:
- 1-135 X 10
- 2-185 X 7
- 3-235 X 4
- 4-275 X 2
- 5-315 X 1
Then I’d do my working sets.
Thoughts on a leg routine:
So in my quest for better legs I tried a taste of Layne Pain. All exercises were done with 1 warm up (except squat, which was 1st, and has 2) and 4 working sets with reps taken to almost failure on each. It looked something like this:
- leg press
- hack squat (first time I’ve done that in 15 years and it tried to kill me)
- hamstring curls
- GHR’s (no warm up needed)
- good mornings
- leg extension
I just followed the same routine last night and it felt great again. I’m not feeling like I need a funeral service today, so that’s awesome. I even added some weight to each lift and kept my form.
Damn nice workout bro! Now that is a leg workout!
On inner thigh development:
Layne, when squatting, what is the best way to shift the emphasis to stimulate inner thigh development?
Probably going a bit wider; however I’m a fan of just using whatever foot position is most comfortable because you will have better form and use more weight.
Just a question regarding quads. I really struggle to put size on my quads, would you recommend doing quads twice a week? Could I do one day of close-stance squats, leg press etc… and one day wide-stance?
I killed myself for YEARS on legs going once per week and just hammering the living hell out of them til I couldn’t walk or tie my shoes the next day. Made very little progress. People told me I was over training, so I backed off. Made even less progress. Then a friend of mine who is very intelligent told me to forget all that nonesense and try training them 2x/week and low and behold, my legs actually grew. I swear by 2x/week. One day is lower volume and lower reps focussing on heavy compound movements moving as much weight as possible the other day is lighter, with more reps, less rest between sets and more volume.
On splitting leg routines:
Layne, how do you feel about spliting legs up , like quads one day and hams another? Or do you feel its best to work both together
Depends, I guess you could work out your split so you could do it that way. I’ve always done them together but I don’t see why you couldn’t split them up.
On the effects of calisthenics on recovery
How should I figure in the calisthenics we do at my units PT? They classify it as strength training, but with the short rest times and high reps, it seems to me that it would fall more under endurance/cardio. How would this type of work affect my weight training (i.e. should the push-ups count as chest work such that I need to cut back on my gym sessions so as not to overtrain? Also, would the twice weekly abs work included in the calisthenics be enough ab work or should I include it in my regular weight training schedule as well?)
For someone who weight trains heavy; push ups are not going to impact recover… it is more like endurance than it is strength.
On workout effort:
Just wondering, do you put that much effort into every workout? I mean, you’ve set the benchmark now, will you be disappointed if you don’t achieve at least these numbers on every subsequent workout now?
Actually I cycle my training a bit so now that I’ve broken my max I’ll lighten up my heavy days for a few weeks and build back up to 385 over about 6 weeks so by the time that lift comes up I’ll be really jacked up for it.
On front squat form:
Secondly, I see that when you do front squats you do the arms up/crossed. I am an athlete and we do front squats from the powerlifting setup of clean to squat. Now that season is over and I can do what I want, what do you recommend? Arms up and crossed or powerlifting style?
My wrists can’t take the powerlifting style; however, if you like that better; then do it.
On Total Body Training:
do you agree/support Chad Waterubury’s style of total body training with a 3 day full body routines (M-W-F) focusing on 4 compounds and 2 isolation exercises while varying rep ranges throughout the week? Basically, any thoughts on these type of programs of full body – upper/lower – push/pull. I really enjoy these types of training but don’t know if they be as effective as a body part split.
I haven’t checked it out but I am a big fan of high frequency… think 2-3X week training each bodypart works well.
On taking a week off from training:
What is your view on taking a week off? How long of training and at what intensity would require this? Would it be more of a mental break or would it also have physcial benefit as well?
Honestly I think having a week or 2 where you go to the gym but just got at 60% of normal weight is much more beneficial than totally taking a week off.
What are your thoughts on taking time off from the gym to prevent over training. One of my lifting partners will occasionally take a week off here and there. I train 5 days a week and love it, I hate having to even take the two days off a week! I do a very similar training style/split to your own and get adequate rest(8 hours), and am very conscious of getting proper nutrition/supps every day. I would like to train as much as possible as long it is beneficial and not detrimental to my gains. So what is your take on all of this?
I don’t think more than 3-4 days off is a good idea, more than that and you can actually get atrophy from disuse. Rather, I think 1-2 weeks of deloading: do your normal routine but lift 60-70% of the weights you normally use. This is light enough to allow you to recover mentally & physically & give the joints a break but heavy enough to prevent atrophy.
On training adaptation:
I am currently on Dave’s diet at the moment and making great progress so I wouldn’t want to change my training style. But come the winter months, I am thinking about giving high volume a shot since it worked for you, and I HAVE NEVER done high volume/frequency before, but I have a question. I read that you said after a few weeks you get used to the soreness/lethargy and actually feel a lot better. Well would that “get used to it” mean your body is adapting to it, and the initial shock of a new training style has now lost its benefits? Also, your split is 3 on, 1 off split, and then hit the whole body again those next 3 days, right?
No, adaptation is a good thing during the first few weeks, it is a different sort of adaptation than your muscle no longer responding to a particular routine. I know that sounds strange, but honestly once you get through the first 3 weeks you will start noticing big time increases in fullness & strength.
On Push/Pull/Legs routine:
Is Push/Pull/Legs, 1 day off, then repeat a good split for high volume?
Yea, that’s a good split.
Layne, from a guy who has worked his tail off to bring his quads up. What do you recommend to build the vastus medialis? I’m getting very good results to my outer sweep and thickness, but that tear drop is eluding me. Plus your tear drop is so sharp it almost looks doctored.
I just recommend a full range of motion on all movements especially squats.
On layne performing deadlifts with a trap bar:
I have seen a video where you are performing deadlifts with a trap bar, any reasons?
The trap bar allows me to pull in a straighter line instead of a diagonal line like you do with a straight bar. This allows more quad recruitment which I need since my lower back is already really good, but my quads need work. Thus I do them on leg day.
I’ve found that performing conventional deadlifts place a huge amount of stress on my lower back (I already have sciatic issues). Do you find doing them with a trap bar reduces the stress put on the lower back? Pros/cons?
Absolutely, allows the quads to get more involved.
On squat form:
I had this guy tell me yesterday in the gym that my form was wrong when I squated cause my knees were going over my toes, he said that doing that using heavy weights I could blow my knees out. does this have any validity? when you squat do you just go parallel or you got ass to heels?
As far as knees not going over toes, unless you have short legs your knees will probably have to go over your toes somewhat to keep your balance or you’ll fall backwards.
On Training till failure:
I’m on an upper/ lower split kind of like yours, but my first 2 aren’t a heavy day then the second 2 a lower, they are both the same except a few diff exercises…
The question is, do I go to failure on each muscle every workout? I know if I was training on a 4 day split I would but weren’t sure when training muscles twice? If you want to see the workout just let me know.
With high frequency high volume I wouldn’t train to failure on every set to begin with. Maybe only half; as your body adjusts to it though you can increase the # of sets you take to failure; you’ll just have to give your body time to adapt.
On Hack squats:
O.k. Since you just posted a hack squat vid I figure this is a prefect time to ask. Where do you place you feet? I’ve got pretty long legs (34in inseam) and I move my feet so much on the platfrom you’d think I was on ‘So you think you can dance’. You can’t really tell from the current video, because that wall is right there.
I put them up as high as possible so I can push through my heels.
Doesn’t that place more stress on the hams and less stress on the quads though??
I don’t think so; and it’s much better for the knees I believe.
On Glute ham raises (GHR) :
No one can understand how hard they are until they try them for themselves. My friend deadlifts about 585 lbs at 185 lbs so a strong dude and yesterday he asked what I was doing (when I was doing GHR) and he wanted to try. So I let him on there and WAM! Faceplant on the first one.
On workout duration:
I was just wondering, with your high volume workouts, how long does a session normally last for you? I’m thinking that unless you keep your rest to a bare minimum it must be well over an hour.
Yea it’s like 1:15-1:45, sometimes 2 hours.
I thought it must be. Ever get sick of having to spend so long in the gym? You must be wasted after 2 hours.
Eh… it’s what it takes. I love lifting. After 10 years of doing it I still love it. I’m looking forward to just about every workout.
are you ever worried about catabolic hormones coming in to play after working out for that long? Or do you still feel that as long as pre and post workout nutrition is up to par, you’re set?
Not really. First pre & post workout nutrition helps mitigate it. Secondly, cortisol studies showing increases after 45 minutes of exercise are done in endurance athletes. There is a big difference between endurance exercise where you are going non-stop whereas weight lifting is short periods of work with long periods (relatively) of rest. Additionally cortisol is a long term acting hormone. Short rises in cortisol really don’t cause catabolism. Hell, cortisol has been shown to rise after workouts… but we know that workouts make you grow. It is long term elevations in cortisol from stress that can be catabolic.
On lagging lats:
I seek some advice about lats…I’m only 6 months in so here is my problem i have…..my right side of my back is thicker and my lat is wider then the left side….I think becouse of me lifting wrong when I started out and/or becouse of my job I’m workin as a mover so I already lift all day long….but back to my point what exercises can I do to straighten my back out? I already do dumbell rows…right around 10 kg and left up to 18 kg…any other sugestions?
As for your lats; I suggest you do extra sets for your weak side. One arm dumbbell rows; one arm cable pulls, or any one arm back exercise. Try doing 2-3 extra sets each workout.
Also, since that side is weaker you probably won’t be able to use as much weight as you can for your strong side. But whatever weight you use for your weakside, you should also use that weight for your strong side so that your weak side can catch up.
On training methodology during the 2-3 week cut :
Question for you Layne in regard to your cyclitic method of eating when off season. Do you keep your exercise regime the same when doing the 2-3 weeks of dieting as when you are eating more?
My training is cyclic but independent of diet. 2-3 weeks of dieting really isn’t enough to cause you to lose strength or energy. I do deload at least once every 12 weeks so i try to make that fall in with the 2-3 week cut.
On Sprints for quad sweeps:
Question for you. I have heard you mention sprints for fat burning and quad sweeps. What is the best way to perform them and for how long? My second cardio session is a fast pace walk at night around a local track. I feel like trying something more challenging and IF it doesn’t burn muscle this seems like a killer workout!
What I really like is 50 meter sprints up a hill. Try doing 10 sprints to start. Sprint up to the top and walk down slowly (should take about a minute) in between sprints but during each sprint hit it as hard as you possibly can. Doesn’t sound like much, but if you hit it super hard I guarantee you’ll be gassed.
On Volume training during dieting:
Do you decrease training volume when your energy starts to get really low from contest dieting?
On shoulders being stronger than chest:
Layne, if your shoulders over power your chest, is it a good idea to back off shoulder training? I’ve been thinking of backing off my shoulder training and back training and increase my leg and chest training to bring up my sweep and chest.. what do you think?
I think you may try pre-exhausting chest with flyes then move to presses.
On nutrition after a sprint workout:
I was wondering what would you consume following a sprint type workout that you described…. such as how much protein/carbs or anything else…. i just don’t feel like I need that many carbs after i do it i may be wrong though….. I do like 10-12 100 yard sprints…. basically sprinting the straight a ways and walking the curves.
Depends… how many carbs do you have pre workout? Are you cutting or bulking? How much do you weigh? What is your total carb intake for the day?
On DC training:
I keep hearing about DC training…….but I don’t know what it is?
I would check out the last few pages of the daily pump, there is some info about it there, also over at Intense Muscle boards.
How do you feel about DC training?
I think it will get you a great base in terms of strength, but pretty much the only variable that you can modulate is strength/overload and you simply can’t get stronger forever. Most people don’t realize volume and frequency are forms of overload, you can’t always get stronger but you can always do an extra set or increase your frequency. I just feel like a program should take advantage of all the variables to modulate overload & muscle gain.
What do you think of Doggcrapp training (not just the principles but following it as its outlined)? I tried but did not find any comments on this board or other boards by you on DC.
I like the rest-pause principleand I like the heavy stretching & training. However, what I don’t like is they really only take advantage of overload purely through trying to add more weight and do not modulate other factors like frequency, volume, etc.
Layne, have you ever attempted DOGG CRAP workout program? If so, what’s your take on it?
I use various componants of it like rest pause and hard stretching. However DC training only takes advantage of one form of overload which is the weight you use. You can’t get stronger for ever. Eventually your strength plateaus and once its does you have no other way to make progress with traditional DC. So I think it’s best to also regulate other variables like volume, time under tension, etc.
On Precontest training:
When you are precontest, do you train to failure? If so, on every set?
Yes I do… no not on every set.
On increasing weights on deadlifts:
Layne, what I was saying earlier about deadlifts was what is the best way to continually increase poundages and get them high for deads like you did. I am currently doing 230 pounds with controlled slow form, I would love one day to deadlift 300 pounds and more but worry about injury.
I think wave training is the way to go. For example if you are currently doing 230 you would do this:
- week 1: 135
- week 2: 170
- week 3: 200
- week 4: 225
- week 5: 240
- week 6: 245
Then repeat the cycle this time you would do something like:
- week 1: 145
- week 2: 180
- week 3: 210
- week 4: 235
- week 5: 250
- week 6: 255
This has always worked for me and kept me maintaining consistent progress.
Are you saying you should be able to increase your deadlift poundage by 110 pounds in 6 weeks?
He said he was at 230 right now. So in wave training you back off and build up to your max and then over it over 5-6 weeks then back off & do it again.
What is the rep range you working in the beginning weeks? Something like that? Also are you doing multiple sets or is that your only working set?
Nope rep range stays the same. I know it seems dumb to do that light of weight to start but trust me… powerlifters use this with GREAT success. You cannot constantly train to failure; you will plateau quickly.
On Layne’s preferred workout :
1. Power Upper (Coupounds, low reps, heavy weight)
2. Power Lower (Coupounds, low reps, heavy weight)
3. Hypertrophy Chest/Arms (Higher reps, more sets)
4. Hypertrophy Shoulders/Back (Higher reps, more sets)
5. Hypertrophy Legs (Higher reps, more sets)
Layne, how long do you do this routine before “switching it up”, or do you continue to do this routine all the time?
If/when you “switch it up” what type of routine do you use?
Just depends on how things are going. This is my bread & butter but I always believe in variety and I am always changing exercises/volume/etc.
On gauging working sets:
How do you gauge your working sets? When looking at the above weights/reps it would appear that you weren’t close to ‘failure’ with the 315…so when do you start counting work sets vs. warm up?
Failure or not… 315 feels heavy on front squats. A working set for me is when i’m using 80% or above of my personal record for that rep range. Trust me… you do that kind of workout starting like that and moving all the way up… you are exhausted by the end of it.
On Dumbbell lateral raises:
Do you have a video of you doing dumbbell lat raises for shoulders, I don’t know if I do them right. I feel like I switch up how I do it each week. Well, I’ll try to explain, do you keep your arms more strait? I see a lot of guys do them with their arms bent like a most muscular then lifting up.
I use a slight bend. It is very bad to keep them totally straight.
How often do you suggest take a “deloading” break. (ie after 4 weeks of training, 6 weeks, ect.?)
Usually every 4-8 weeks, I let my body tell me when I need it.
And also, how do you time your delaod and max-out weeks within this setup ? Do you deload during your cut-weeks ?
Not nessecarily. I just deload when I need it. 2 weeks of cutting is not going to tire you out or anything like that, you can still lift heavy.
Layne do you think a 2 week phase of going to the gym and doing “light weight” would be good for a rest or should I only take 1 week?
Yeah I think that would be good for a deload.
On expanding the ribcage:
Layne do you recommend expanding the ribcage with pullovers? And if you recommend it why and when should I do them (with chest,back..etc.)
Eh, I don’t think that really works but I guess I could be wrong.
On HIIT with weights:
I lift heavy (olympic, compound, complexes, etc…) on MWF. How many days of HIIT could I throw in there before it would start hurting me/having negative effect/overtraining. 3, 4, 5, days? Also, how do you feel about weights in the AM and HIIT in the PM? Would longer intervals of 1-2min sprint(as fast as I can go for that time) and 3-4 min light be helpful and complimentary to the shorter spints?
I think 3-4 days per week max. You cannot sprint for 1-2 minutes. A true sprint can only be maintained for about 30 seconds then you completely gas. I think weights in the AM, sprints PM is a great idea.
On Knee height rack deadlifts:
What are your thoughts on knee height rack deadlifts for back development? I like deadlifts from the floor, but I am really trying to bring my back up and really want to isolate that area with heavy weight.
I think they are fine, just don’t do that nonsense where you hyperextend and lean way back… that’s so terrible for your lower back and I see so many guys do them.
On incorporating hang cleans and power cleans to workout routine:
I was curious as to your opinion (or anyone with an opinion on the matter) on hang cleans and / or power cleans within a training regimen. I’m currently bulking and follow a training split similar to yours’. Mondays are upper body with primarily compound lifts, and was curious as to whether or not hang or power cleans would be beneficial.
I think they are fine so long as they do not impede other lifts and you execute them with proper form.
On Back width:
Is there any way to grow a massive back without going too nuts with deads? I used to love deads, but over the years, I feel like it’s risks are currently not out weighing the benefits. It’s marginal cost is way too high I think.
What do you think? What would be a solid back day in your opinion?
Well I work back 2x/week which I feel is a must. I think rack chins, weighted pullups, close grip pulldowns for width. Then barbell rows, dumbbell rows, dumbbell rows braced against an incline bench, etc. I mean there are no big secrets. Go heavy, use enough volume, and be consistent.
On MMA training
Layne, if you were training a MMA fighter what would you recommend for cardio to be in the best shape?
Well, MMA requires long term endurance capacity, but also requires explosive strength. I think the closest to perfect MMA cardio I’ve seen is what Sean Sherk does. He does high intensity drills that get his heart rate way up and he maintains these for a period of time and then he ‘rests’ but while he is resting he is still doing low intensity cardio. Basically this will allow your body to be able to have long term endurance capacity but still be able to be explosve when need be.
On Progressive overload / Variety:
What do you think is a single most factor among the two when it comes to making good strides in building muscle?
a) Progressive Overload or b) Variety
I think both are important, but honestly I think consistency is the most important things. too many people have a few good weeks then a few bad weeks and they just spin their wheels. Slow consistent progress is the most important thing.
Post contest training:
Also, after a contest, do you usually take the traditional week off or do you come back on Monday and start it up again at a lower intensity to help get your body back in the groove?
Within a week you can certainly get detraining start to set in and disuse atrophy. Much more productive to go at 70% of normal to allow recovery but still maintain muscle.
Author: Layne Norton