How Leg Training Improves
Upper Body Mass
Many of the top bodybuilders have long believed that training legs is somehow directly correlated with building upper
body mass. None of them knew why, yet they all felt it.
Sergio Oliva, who arguably had the best-developed upper body of all time, said, “If you want big arms do heavy
squats.” His 22 and ½ inch sleeve-poppers were among the best ever, as was his mammoth chest whose girth nearly matched
Tom Platz, who many feel had leg development unequaled even to this day, firmly believed that his heavy leg training
was the key to his impressive upper body mass (though dwarfed by his legs it was still more impressive than many upper bodies
of his day, and was enough to land him third place in a toughly contested Mr. Olympia.
There is also indubitably a connection between the hulkish Victor Richards’ 37-inch thighs (developed through
ridiculously heavy leg training) and his unprecedented 67” chest and whopping 27” guns.
Though many theories have been purported regarding the physiology behind this phenomenon, recent scientific insights
point to the key factors involved in this correlation.
About a year back I noticed a huge difference in my appetite and feelings on Leg day and on my other training days.
Most of you have probably noticed the same thing.
On days I trained all my other muscle groups, even following it up with a long, intense cardio session,
I felt instantly energized, as well as being, though hungrier, still satiable.
Yet after blasting
my legs with squats descending from 5 plates or stacking the plate-loaded leg-press machine and working down, followed up
with maxing out the Hammer Strength Leg Extension and Curl Machines, all in the space of only 30-40 minutes, my metabolism
is so revved all day that no matter what I eat I’m hungry again within an hour, even WITHOUT doing any cardio.
This is inevitably
due to the increased metabolism, as well as increased insulin sensitivity and testosterone release proffered by the intense
leg training. These factors work in synergy to make not only the legs more susceptible to increased muscle mass, but the entire
Insulin is perhaps
the most powerful anabolic hormone in our body. It forces muscle-building protein, carbs and creatine into our muscles. When
heavy leg training increases our insulin sensitivity our appetite increases accordingly.
When we respond by
accommodating this hunger through the intake of vast portions of protein, carbs and creatine, these nutrients pump our muscles
like balloons. Normally such excessive intake would decrease our insulin sensitivity and be counterproductive to mass building,
but when our insulin sensitivity has first been stoked by a heavy leg workout these monster-meals only satisfy our muscles’
If the upper
body is already in a state of recovery from being trained on the days prior to the leg workout, it, too will benefit from
this increased insulin sensitivity, sucking up protein, creatine, water and carbs along with the legs. If we train chest and
back on the two days before the leg workout, the shoulders, triceps, biceps and traps will all have been indirectly worked
as well. Thus the entire body will be in a position to take advantage of this extraordinary anabolic phenomenon.
Heavy leg training
also releases testosterone in great abundance due to the heavy, intense nature of the compound movements. This testosterone
stimulates positive nitrogen retention, as well as causing the muscles to absorb even more creatine, augmenting the phenomenon
Again, if the upper body is already in a state of recovery from being trained on the days prior to the leg workout,
it, too will benefit from this increased testosterone output.
As for the drowsiness caused by leg training, this is a mechanism designed by the human body to produce GH, or growth
hormone to promote recovery from the tremendous drain a heavy leg workout places on the body. If we obey our bodies and take
a post-workout nap, or, at the very least, get a good night’s sleep following our leg day, the body will release GH
in response to our needs.
Once more, if the upper body is already in a state of recovery from being trained on the days prior to the leg workout,
it, too, will benefit from this increased GH output.
Thus, when we train legs, the extreme intensity increases insulin sensitivity and simulates the release of testosterone
and GH. This stimulus benefits not only our legs, but our recovering upper body muscles as well, if we have trained upper
body on the days prior.
These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. They are not intended to diagnose or
treat any disorder, disease, or other medical condition, but are simply provided as an informative service to our readers.