I’m a glutton for punishment.
I especially love training legs. No, I’m not talking about running, walking, skipping, or jumping. I’m talking about getting underneath heavy iron in the gym. Heavy enough so that it makes me a little scared. Bodybuilders and powerlifters will know what I mean. I’ve been fortunate enough to train with some absolute beasts in my career including none other than Pro Bodybuilder, Lee Priest.
I traveled with Lee around the world from Alaska to Brazil from 2006-2007 and got to know tons of bodybuilders and trained with lots of them. I could always tell who had that little something “extra” in his or her mental makeup by how hard they hit legs. Some were salivating before their next set and others were looking for the exit door. I was fortunate enough to be IFBB Pro John Sherman’s training partner for many months as well. He was another beast in the gym when he decided to turn it up a notch.
TIME TO CHOOSE A WORKOUT
So I was reviewing my workout logs from years gone by (I have logs from all the way back to 1988) and I found this:
This workout is from 1992. Over 20 years ago. It’s taken me about that long to recuperate. I remember doing this workout with former Mr. USA, Mr. Texas Kelly Hitchcock, and another up and coming bodybuilder. Kelly was the ring leader and we just followed his direction. Kelly was well known throughout the Dallas, Texas area and trained clients out of The Fitness Factory off of Greenville Ave. I drove across town from Far North Dallas to The Fitness Factory just to train with Kelly. That’s about 15 miles one way. One time I rode across town on my motorcycle and it started raining…hard. But I kept going. I wasn’t going to let Kelly down. I wanted to be the best bodybuilder that I could be and I was willing to do whatever it took to get there.
The first exercise, Leg Extensions for 4 sets of 5/5/5/5/5/5/20 would be enough to take out most Crossfitters.
Start out with 180lbs and do 5 reps, drop the weight to 160lbs and do 5 more, drop to 140lbs for 5 more, continue in this manner for a total of 6 drop sets of 5 reps and for the 7th drop set do 20 reps with 60lbs.
That’s one set(!)
Do four more like that.
Yeah, right. But we did it. You can read the rest of the workout by looking at the image – I can’t bear to think about it anymore right now. I know that 2 of us puked afterward. A lot of folks would say that you don’t have to train like that to get results. It’s too heavy, it’s too much. But, they are forgetting the tendon and ligament strength that you build when you train hard and heavy. Tendon and ligament strength are the forgotten pieces of the puzzle for those who don’t understand heavy training. Tendon and ligament strength are the foundations of strength. Muscle is the next layer. Take the time to look up the amazing feats of strength that the oldtimers performed like Louis Cyr’s one-handed 700+lb deadlift, Arthur Saxon’s 409.5lb bent press, George Hackenschmidt’s 214lb overhead press with one arm and the list goes on.
Looking back now, it was one of the best workouts of my life. It was more intense than any workout that I can remember. I would pay to see Lee Priest and Kelly go through this workout together, rep by rep. Lee’s loaded up the leg press with 500lbs and knocked out 100 reps – without stopping. Rest? Yes, with feet on the platform and legs extended. Get off the machine? No, not until he was done.
Knowing Kelly, he would have been happy to give that a shot. And then would have tried to do more reps.
The focus, drive, and intensity that I learned from working out with Kelly were invaluable. It has helped me overcome obstacles time and time again in my life. I’m doing my best to pay it forward to young bodybuilders and athletes. Kelly is now in Tyler, Texas, and runs a very popular personal training and strength and conditioning business, KH Fitness He works with some high-level elite athletes from various sports including pro football. Pro, college, and high school. He’s giving them something that they will be hard-pressed to find anywhere else – mental toughness.
Thanks, Kelly. One day, I’ll be back for another leg workout and who knows, maybe Lee will be with me…