In addition to the my daily Big Beyond Belief workouts, I also perform 20-30 minute feeder or specialisation workouts in the morning 6 days a week. I keep these simple and use them primarily to incorporate extra volume which I feel helps tremendously with recovery and keeping the body-part continuously pumped. To read more about the science and efficacy of feeder workouts, check out this article from Christian Thibaudeau here.
Even Piana endorses high rep shoulder and arm feeder workouts prior to sleeping in his “Bigger By The Day” series.
The specialisation workouts are used to bring up my hamstrings which are my focus point this contest prep.
The feeder workouts basically use a rotation of exercises performed for 5 sets, giant set style (i.e. each exercise is performed back to back with no rest until the circuit is complete).
So I’ll start with body weight dips for 10 reps, move straight to pullups for 10 reps, hit light dumbbell lateral raises for 30 reps and then stomach vacuums for a 35 second hold. I’ll then rest 30 seconds and repeat the circuit for a total of 5 times.
Again, the aim is just to flush the blood into the body-part and get a slight pump. I want to feel amazing after the feeder workout, never trashed. Often times, I’ll head to the gym feeling lethargic and hateful only to emerge 25 minutes later feeling on top of the world. It’s the physical equivalent to a morning caffeine-MDMA cocktail.
Dumbbell Leg Curls – Third World Gyms = First World Problems
As I mentioned previously, I think hamstrings and back development are the two areas that separate the men from the boys in a competitive lineup. I think there’s few things more impressive than a set of hams that hang down to meet the calves on the side poses giving one’s legs that 3-dimensional look even when standing relaxed. I think it’s one aspect of physique development the classic guys lacked – Tom Platz and Robby Robinson being the exception.
But, Tom and Robby had hams for days.
When I look at most hamstring routines, they seem to be comprised of a doing a few leg curl variants coupled together with some stiff-leg deadlifts.
I’m using a specialisation routine taken from Charles Poliquin’s book, “The Poliquin Principles” which looks at hamstring training given the fibre makeup of the muscle group.
Charles main points on training the hamstrings:
– Sprinters and bobsledders have the best hamstring development due to extreme short burst of force production.
– Your hamstrings should be able to produce 66% of the force as your quads – best tested by your front squat which should be 85% of your back squat.
– Hamstrings are mostly comprised of fast-twitch fibres meaning they respond best to low reps and short time under tension.
- Exercises working the hip extension function (good mornings or stiff legged deads) and knee flexor function (leg curl variation) should be selected for maximal development.
- Train one leg at a time. Due to a neurological effect called the “bilateral deficit”, the hamstrings will contract harder when trained unilaterally. Plus there are often large disparities in strength between one leg and the other that need to be addressed.
- Stretch the quads between sets
- Emphasise the eccentric.
- Vary your foot positions (neutral, inward and outward) for different lifting permutations creating a unique pattern of overload.
- Train hamstrings first. Priority principle at work.
- Allow for recovery. Due to their fast-twitch makeup, the hamstrings take longer than normal muscle groups to recover.
Charles also lays out a schedule for hamstring training which I have incorporated into my specialisation approach.