Thigh Training: How to Build Shape, Sweep and Size

Thigh Shape and Sweep Size

To develop a balanced physique you must full build each muscle group.

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There are few things more disappointing than to see a bodybuilder with real contest potential who has a terrific upper body and legs like a stork. Believe me, I've seen many. Some people are lucky and have thighs that respond rapidly-just about any exercise seems to make their thighs grow bigger and more impressive. Obviously, you wouldn't need to read this article if you were one such fortunate individual. Don't feel alone. Ninety-nine percent of your fellow bodybuilders-including yours truly-have to bust their buns to make any type of thigh improvement.

Usually, if the thighs respond slowly, most of us tend to concentrate more on the muscles that grow more quickly-chest, arms, back, etc.- and are easier to work. Not to worry, because I discovered a training program that added three inches to my thighs in just six weeks; that is, quality muscle-shape, sweep and size. I have seen dozens of guy s at my gym use it with similar results. It will work for you.

I didn't invent this sensational, result-producing thigh program. I learned it from the man who did. His name is Millard Williamson. He was just about unbeatable in Best Legs subdivision competition. His thighs were the epitome of the teardrop appearance; they were 25 inches when measured three inches above the knee cap!

Not even Tom Platz's amazing thighs could surpass Williamson's lower-thigh development, although Platz probably would have prevailed in a Best Legs event if the two had competed against each other, because his overall thigh mass, density, definition and vascularity may have been the best in bodybuilding history. But as for shape, different strokes (and bone structures) for different folks. I prefer the teardrop look, just as Steve Reeves did. Besides, no matter what you do, how could you truly expect to build the equal of Platz's thighs?

You can, however, make the best of what mother nature gave you structurally and try to attain your maximum potential. The routines in this article are designed to help you do just that.

Years ago there was a young guy named Don Rhondo who trained at Ernie Phillips' gym in San Francisco. Don would squat, squat and squat with nothing to show for it. His thighs just refused to grow no matter how hard he trained. One day Don had Mel Williamson design a program for him, and six months later he was winning Best Legs events in local competitions.

If you want to see dramatic improvement in your thighs, try one of Mel Williamson's programs. After 30 years in bodybuilding, I have never seen anything that works better or faster for the average bodybuilder. Here are the exercises Williamson favors:

Nonlock squats. Mel said, "This is the most effective exercise I have ever used for building both mass and shape." It is performed in the same manner as the regular squat (heels elevated on a two-inch board) except that you never fully lock out the thighs-you stop about three inches short of straightening your legs. This technique keeps continuous tension on the quadriceps. With no hesitation in this top position (knees are slightly bent) do another full squat, continuing until you hit 12 reps; then lock out fully and tense the thighs as you take three or four deep breaths. After that blast out another eight reps for a total of 20 (12 plus eight). Your thighs will be screaming for mercy.

Front squats. Front squats do not differ from regular squats except that the bar is held on the shoulders in front of the neck. Also, they attack the thighs from a different angle and, if done correctly-with the back always straight-there is no danger of injuring the lower back.

Generally, only one deep breath between reps is recommended to prevent the thighs from getting too much rest. Five to eight reps in strict form stimulates the best gains.

Leg curls. Again, using only strict form, you'll get best results with 12 to 15 reps. Always keep your butt from arching up as you contract the leg biceps, otherwise you'll be working the glutes more than the hamstrings.

Regular high-repetition squats. This is probably the best all-purpose thigh exercise. It ranks second only to nonlock squats for building mass and shape. Using strict form, take only one deep breath between reps, and lock the knees at the top on every rep. Most trainees prefer 20 reps, but it's possible to do well with as few as 12 reps.

Regular low-repetition squats. The only difference between these and high-rep squats is that you perform less reps and can use greater poundage. Also, you can allow a longer rest period between reps- take several (three or four) deep breaths between reps. Any number of reps between three and 10 will be effective, depending on the individual.

Although there are well over 100 effective exercises for the thighs, these are the ones Williamson has found work the best, not only for him, but for hundreds of bodybuilders and athletes he has helped train. Here are a few of his favorite routines:

Routine 1

Low-repetition squats. Ten sets. Perform 10 reps on the first set. Then add 10 pounds to the bar and do nine reps on the second set. For each succeeding set you increase the weight 10 pounds and do one less rep until finally, on the 10th set, you're using 90 pounds more weight than you began with for a single rep. To make the routine progressive, every week Williamson added 10 pounds to his starting poundage. This is Williamson's favorite program for building leg strength.

Routine 2

Front squats 4x8

Nonlock squats 4 x 20

Williamson used this routine for several months, adding at least five pounds to each exercise every week. This is one of his favorite programs for building shapely mass.

Routine 3

High-rep squats 4x12

Training tip: Use very heavy poundages. Williamson and his training partner at the time, Mr. Universe winner Jack Delinger, were using 405 pounds for four sets of 12 reps. They used this as a change-of-pace routine, adding five pounds a week to their training poundage. They also performed a light warmup set of 15 to 20 reps in addition to the four heavy sets.

Routine 4

Low-rep squats 5x8

Nonlock squats 1 x 20-30

Training tip: One light warmup set precedes the five heavy sets. The one set of nonlock squats should be done as follows: Start the first workout on this routine with one set of 10 reps. Add one rep each workout until you reach 30 reps, then increase the weight, but now work up from 20 to 30 reps on this "pump set."

Routine 5

Nonlock squats 10x20

Training tip: This routine is strictly for advanced bodybuilders. It is the most rugged and result-producing routine Williamson ever used. He said, "I can guarantee anyone willing to do this routine for six weeks will get amazing results." Start within your capacity and add five pounds each workout. You'll get fantastic improvement in development and endurance.

Routine 6

Nonlock squats 5x20

Front squats 3x8

Leg curls 4x15

Training tip: I couldn't keep up with Williamson, but I gained three inches in six weeks, working up progressively to five sets of 20 reps with 225 in the nonlock squat. Very few people can handle 10 sets of this brutal exercise.

These are only a few of the many exercise routines that can be formulated from Williamson's five super thigh blasters. Here are a few major points to remember about these terrific routines:

» Be sure to perform all movements just as described. All squats must be full, with no hesitation between reps on the nonlock squats except as described.

» Don't rest too long between sets-only as long as it takes to get the recommended reps for the following sets.

» Use intelligent planning on your progression of poundage increases; be realistic.

» Perform squatting movements with the heels on a two-inch board.

» Williamson got best results when using any of the routines three times a week, but two times per week may be sufficient for most trainees.

» Use all the weight you can possibly handle in strict form.

» Don't do any running or outside athletic activities that work the legs (cycling, football, basketball, tennis, etc.) while on these routines.

» Get plenty of rest and sleep; you'll need it. And you must keep your nutrition program 100 percent, with no missed meals or junk foods.

» Maximum effort-no missed workouts or half-effort training sessions-produces maximum gains.

If you need to improve your thighs, give one of Mel Williamson's routines a try for six weeks. If you work, they'll work!




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