Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify | Listen on YouTube
I’ve written and recorded a lot of evidence-based content over the years on just about everything you can imagine related to building muscle, losing fat, and getting healthy.
I’ve also worked with thousands of men and women of all ages and circumstances and helped them get into the best shape of their lives.
That doesn’t mean you should blindly swallow everything I say, though, because let’s face it—nobody is always right about everything. And especially in fields like diet and exercise, which are constantly evolving thanks to the efforts of honest and hardworking researchers and thought leaders.
This is why I’m always happy to hear from people who disagree with me, especially when they have good arguments and evidence to back up their assertions.
Sometimes I can’t get on board with their positions, but sometimes I end up learning something, and either way, I always appreciate the discussion.
That gave me the idea for this series of podcast episodes: publicly addressing things people disagree with me on and sharing my perspective.
Think of it like a spicier version of a Q&A.
So, here’s what I’m doing:
Every couple of weeks, I’m asking my Instagram followers what they disagree with me on, and then picking a few of the more common or interesting contentions to address here on the podcast.
And in this episode, I’ll be tackling the following . . .
4:31 – “The 4 to 6 rep range doesn’t suit everyone.”
22:07 – “I disagree with the lack of mobility work in your routine.”
31:02 – “You can target individual quad muscle with different exercises.”
Mentioned on the show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Hello and welcome to Muscle for Life. I’m your host, Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today. Now, I’ve written and recorded a lot of evidence based stuff over the years on just about everything you can imagine relating to building muscle, losing fat. And getting healthy. I’ve also worked with thousands and thousands of men and women of all ages and circumstances and helped them get into the best shape of their life.
But that does not mean you should just blindly swallow everything I say, because let’s face it, nobody is always right about everything, and especially in fields like diet and exercise, which are always. Thanks to the efforts of honest and hardworking researchers and thought leaders, and that’s why I’m always happy to hear from people who disagree with me, especially when they have good arguments and evidence to back up their assertions.
Sometimes I can’t quite get on board with their positions, but sometimes I end up learning something and either way, I always appreciate the discussion and that gave. The idea for this series of podcast episodes, which I call says you, where I publicly address things that people disagree with me on, and I share my perspective.
It’s kind of like a spicier q and a. So what I do is every couple of weeks I ask people who follow me on Instagram at Muscle Life Fitness, please follow me what they disagree with me on, and then I pick a few of the more common or interesting contentions to address here on the podcast. So if there’s something that you disagree with me on, and it could be related to diet, exercise.
Supplementation business, lifestyle. I don’t care anything. Go follow me on Instagram at Muscle for Life Fitness and look for my says you story that I put up every couple of weeks where I solicit content for these episodes. Or just shoot me an email, [email protected] All right, so here is what I’ll be tackling in today’s episode.
The 4 26 rep range doesn’t suit everyone. And this comes from Endoka over on Instagram and then the lack of mobility work in your routines. And that comes from Geo Dude 17 Instagram. And finally, you can target individual quad muscles with different exercises. For instance, elevating your Heels emphasizes the fastest medias, and that comes from Sabe over on Instagram.
Also, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you want to help me help more people get into the best shape of their life, please do check out My Sports Nutrition Company Legion, which thanks to the support of people like you, is now the leading brand of. All natural sports supplements in the world, and we are on top because every ingredient and every dose in every product is backed by peer reviewed scientific research.
Every formulation is transparent. There are no proprietary blends and everything is naturally. Sweetened and flavored. Now, Legion is also holding its biggest sale of the year right now [email protected] That’s just b y legion.com, and that means that for the next few days, you can save up to 30% on our best selling products, including our protein powders pre-workout.
Post workout supplements, fact burners, multivitamins, joint support and more. Plus, all orders over $150. Will also get a free $15 Legion gift card. All orders over $200. Will get a free $20 gift card and all orders over $250. We’ll get a free $25 gift card that’s another 10% off. So that means that you can stock up on your favorite supplements for the winner and save up to 40%.
So skedaddle on over to buy legion.com v ui legion.com right now and save big. You need to hurry though because no matter our exorbitant E R P software predicts we run out of stock of at least a thing or. Every year during our Black Friday sale. And so that means that your favorite products or flavors may or may not survive the initial onslaught.
Do not risk such a calamity my friend. Place your order now [email protected] and claim your discount and then bask in the post-purchase glow. Okay, so let’s start with the first one, which again is four to six reps. Doesn’t suit everyone from Ando. Kaka over on Instagram, and I agree here. There is nothing magical about the four to six rep range, and in case you’re wondering why somebody is challenging me on this point.
Earlier on in my journey as a fitness professional, I was a bit more of an absolute in many different ways, and now as I have continued to educate myself and more importantly, work with a lot of people and see firsthand. How some things, some dietary techniques or training techniques can work really well for a lot of people, but then not so well for others.
And how important it is to let people know that while one size fits all prescriptions are certainly use. And again, are going to help a lot of people get closer to their goals. Some people are going to need to make modifications again to the diet and to the training. So for example, with dieting, a calorie deficit of 20 to 25%, it’s gonna work very well for most people who want to lose fat and not muscle.
However, if somebody has a lot of fat to lose, then they can use a larger deficit without any negative. Side effects, and if somebody is lean, wanting to get really lean, they probably are going to have to use a slightly smaller deficit to avoid some of the downsides of dieting. Now, similarly with training the four to six rep range is one of those things that works really well.
With most exercises for most people, and that’s why I have been promoting that rep range for many years now. And we could look at it also in terms of one rep max, right? I’ve been promoting working with 80 to 85% of your one rep max, and taking sets close to muscle failure for quite some time, and I stand by that recommendation in that again, it is going to work well with most exercise.
For most people, and it is going to allow people to gain a lot of muscle and strength and to keep their workouts relatively short and make the workouts more enjoyable for most people than higher rep ranges. Especially if you get above 10 reps, like for example, do sets of barbell squats for 10 to 12 reps, ending one or two reps shy of muscle failure.
Do that for four sets and tell me that you don’t hate. And I will not believe you. It sucks. Compare that experience to four sets of four to six, or even five to seven reps, and it’s hard, but it’s a different type of hard, right? The higher rep ranges produce a lot of burn and a lot of discomfort in the muscle bellies themselves, whereas the lower rep work produces feelings of tension high.
Tension, which again is uncomfortable, but is not as painful as the high rep burn. That said, I certainly acknowledge that the four to six rep range does not work well for everyone. For example, if someone is brand new to weightlifting and they’re not very strong, so women, for example, many women who just start out in the gym start out.
Very strong. And to have them jump into 80 to 85% of their one rep max for hard sets just practically doesn’t work very well. Many women I’ve worked with over the years find that starting with the eight to 10 rep range is very challenging, but doable, but still very challenging like that. Feels like very heavy weight to them.
And having them start with even heavier weight to work in the four to six rep range can be intimidating to the point where they actually just don’t want to do it. And the same thing goes for men. I’ve worked with usually older men who are very out of shape and who have not lifted weights at all. They also similarly have.
Trouble just jumping into the heavy barbell weightlifting, and it makes sense to give them an easier on ramp in the way of lighter weights and higher reps to establish some technique and to establish some, at least like a baseline of muscle and strength. Also, injuries can come into play and joint issues can come into play.
If somebody has bad knees or bad elbows, for instance, then heavy barbell squatting and. Bench pressing and overhead pressing may be outta the question. The only way to do those exercises without pain and without pain afterward as well, during and after the workout is lighter weights and higher reps.
Another issue that many people run into with the four to six rep range, or again with 80 to 85% of one rep max, is it doesn’t lend itself. It’s not very conducive to good form on certain isolation exercise. The dumbbell sideways is a good example of that. You can do a dumbbell side raise for four to six reps with good form, but you have to be fairly strong or you’re just gonna be swinging all over the place and you would be better off reducing the weight so you can maintain proper form.
To get the most outta the exercise, and that holds true for front raises as well, rear raises, and not so much for arm work. I think that you can profitably barbell curl or dumbbell curl, or even cable curl heavier weights, for example. Same thing goes for triceps exercises that we all like to do, like the press downs and the overhead presses and so forth.
But again, there are some isolation exercise. That are more comfortable to do with lighter weights, leg extensions for me, for example, although I just don’t like leg extensions at all because they just kind of hurt my knees. But I know many people find them comfortable and doable at a 10 reps, but very uncomfortable and sometimes painful at four to six, for example.
And then there are isolation exercises that are easier to just execute well and to feel the target muscle working at lower weights and higher reps. So my current position on the four to six rep range is, I think it is still one of the most effective rep ranges to train in, in terms of gaining both strength and muscle.
It is nicely balanced in that way, where the weights are heavy enough to produce a good amount of strength gain and to provide enough volume to produce a robust hypertrophy stimulus. And you know, if I could only train in one rep range, that would probably be it four to six, maybe five to seven.
Certainly no higher than six to eight. And I think the four to six rep range is especially effective with people who are new to proper compound. Weight lifting, like proper strength training, who have enough strength to use 80 to 85% of one rep max and use good form. And that is usually younger, not young, not like twenties, but maybe twenties, thirties, forties, even fifties men, especially if they have done some sort of resistance training in the past, and they do.
A baseline of strength and muscle, but if they don’t, often, in the case of younger men, twenties and thirties, they can just jump right into four to six reps and it’s a little bit awkward at first, and the weights aren’t very heavy. Like they may only be bench pressing 120 pounds, for example, for four to six reps.
But what’s nice about that rep range is. It produces rapid progress in both strength and muscles. So by training in that rep range, they are able to add weight to the bar every week or two. And every workout, they’re gaining a rep or two reps on their big lifts, and they’re seeing their physique start to fill in.
And again, they’re doing it, enjoying their workouts, not spending too much time in the. Never feeling too uncomfortable or like they are training beyond their capacity. And that’s not something to downplay either. If you really are not enjoying your workouts and if they really just burn you out, you’re leaving the gym exhausted and you don’t enjoy the process of doing them.
Like every set, your muscles are on fire. You can do it. You can keep going. Certainly you can just toughen. But your long-term results are going to be better if you mostly enjoy your workouts. If you look forward to most of them, you’re never gonna look forward to all of them. And sometimes you are just gonna have to grind your way through a workout and then just be satisfied on the other end of it that you did your workout.
But if. Most of your workouts are just grunt and grind sessions, then it’s time to take a look at your programming because something should probably change. And again, if you were to start your strength training, your weightlifting with a lot of 10 to 12 or 12 to 15 rep training, you probably are not going to find that nearly as enjoyable as starting with a lot of.
Weightlifting, and especially again if you’re a guy. Now, if you’re a woman, and if you’re strong already, then I would say everything I just said applies to you. However, if you are not particularly strong, if you’re just a normal woman starting out with weightlifting, then I actually would recommend a higher rep range, probably eight to 10 reps.
That’s where Thin, lean, stronger has women start, for example, and then incorporate some heavier work later in the program. After. I know that the trainees have gained quite a bit of muscle and strength and they’ve gotten comfortable with the exercises and are ready to load them heavier. Now, one other thing I should mention is periodization, and particularly periodizing, your rep ranges, so training in different rep ranges.
Now, I have written about this extensively in my book, beyond Bigger Than Stronger, and you can also listen to. Part of the audio book chapter of that book here on my podcast. If you want to learn all about periodization, just search for period and it’ll come up. I posted it months ago, but for our purposes here, I will just give you a quick little takeaway, and that is if you are new, To proper weight lifting and to put some numbers to that, if you are a guy who has yet to gain his first 25 pounds or so of muscle, or if you’re a woman who has yet to gain her first 10 or 12 pounds of muscle, you really don’t need to get fancy with your periodization.
For example, my bigger, leaner, stronger program, which is what would get you there, it’s designed to get men to their first 25, maybe 30 pounds of muscle is using a double progression. Model, which has you work in a rep range like four to six reps on the big lifts, for example. And when you hit the top of your rep range for a certain number of sets, you then just add weight to the bar.
And so it is periodized in that your reps do work up. And then you put more weight on the bar and then they come down and you work back up. And that’s also how thinner, leaner, stronger works. Now, there are other ways to Periodize training, of course, but I really like that method for new weightlifters in particular because it’s very simple, doesn’t require spreadsheets, and it allows you to auto-regulate your training based on how you feel and it produces reliable results.
Now as you enter the intermediate phase of your weightlift. So if you’re a. Who has already gained 25 ish pounds of muscle, which you can do in, call it a year and a half to maybe two years, you are now solidly into your intermediate phase. And if you’re a woman, just cut that number in half. I think that it makes sense to put a little bit more thought and work.
Into periodization. Double progression still is very useful. And in my Beyond bigger, leaner, stronger book and program, which is for the intermediate and advanced weightlifters, not just men, a lot of the stuff in there applies to women. I will do a female version of the book, but if you’re a woman and you don’t wanna wait, you can read that book and then shoot me an email, [email protected] and I’ll help you with the programming because the workouts are skewed toward.
Common male goals, which means more upper body volume than most women would want. Most women would want the other way around, and so I could help you with that. But in that program, the primary lifts, the big lifts, the squats, the bench presses, the dead lifts, the overhead presses are periodized using a linear.
Type of puritization and linear puritization is simply where in the case of let’s say rep ranges, where the rep ranges either increase or decrease in a linear fashion throughout a training block and in beyond big lean stronger they decrease. So you start a a 16 week block of training doing sets of 10, for example, on your primary lifts, and then you’re ending the training block.
So if we fast forward now to the last four week me cycle, Training block, you are doing sets of four and then sets of two with appropriately heavy weights. So the fours are gonna be, I think with 85% of one rep max, and the twos are with 90 or 95%. I don’t remember exactly. I’d have to pull up the spreadsheet.
And then you’re even actually doing a. Amap as many reps as possible sets at the end of the training block with 95% on the bar to see if you have gained strength over the course of that 16 week. Macro cycle is the term, right, that 16 week training period or training phase, and that approach, I think is.
More suited to or better suited to intermediate and advanced weightlifters beginners could follow that program and do quite well, but it is more complex than it needs to be for a beginner. And that program provides more volume than is required by a beginner. And so my point with saying all that is you have probably heard that you should be training in different rep ranges for different reasons.
And I don’t disagree. Now, there are many ways to. Incorrectly, and I would say fewer ways to do it correctly and productively at least, uh, fewer ways that justify the added complexity. However, if you do it correctly, it certainly can improve strength gain in particular that’s been shown in research. In intermediate and advanced weightlifters, and based on what we know about the relationship between strength and muscle, and basically what it is, is once your newbie gains are well behind you, the most reliable way to get bigger is to get stronger.
So the methods that allow you to continually increase your whole body’s strength are also going to be the ones that are probably going to be best for getting bigger muscles. And so periodization has been shown to. Enhance strength gain. In particular, there hasn’t been enough research looking at its effects on muscle growth, but my hypothesis is based on what we have seen with strength, we are probably gonna see something similar with muscle growth.
Again, though, you don’t have to train in. Three different rep ranges. If you’re new, if you’re a guy who has yet to gain his first 25 pounds or so of muscle, if you’re a woman who has yet to gain her first 10 to 12 pounds of muscle, you can just work in, let’s say four to six reps. Uh, if you’re the guy on your primary lifts, and maybe six to eight or eight to 10 on your isolation exercises, if that’s more comfortable for you.
And if you like, some isolation exercises at four to six reps, and there are many of those people out there. Some people find, for example, and this probably comes down to muscle fiber types, they find that they actually get a better response to isolation exercises with heavier weights than with lighter weights.
They get a bigger pump, for example, doing sets of four to six or five to seven dumbbell curls than eight to 10 or 10 to 12, and so that is just something to pay attention. When you’re training and if you’re a woman, again, I would recommend starting in the beginning with some lighter weights, and then once you feel comfortable loading the, at least the big exercises a bit more, then you can do that.
If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast, please do check out my sports nutrition company. Legion. Legion is also holding its biggest sale of the year right now [email protected] That’s just b y. legion.com, and that means that for the next few days, you can save up to 30% on our best selling products, including our protein powders, pre-workout and post-workout supplements, fat burners, multivitamins, joint support, and more.
Plus, all orders over $150. Will also get a free $15 Legion gift card. All orders over $200 will get a free $20 gift card and all orders over $250. We’ll get a free $25 gift card that’s another 10% off. So that means that you can stock up on your favorite supplements for the winner and save up to 40%. So skedaddle on over to buy legion.com, b i legion.com right now and save.
Big. You need to hurry though because no matter what our exorbitant E r P software predicts, we run out of stock of at least a thing or two every year during our Black Friday sale. And so that means that your favorite products or flavors may or may not survive the initial onslaught. Do not risk such a calamity my friend.
Place your order now [email protected] and claim your discount and then bask in the post-purchase. Okay, let’s move on to the next one here. And this is from Geo Dude 17, and he says that he disagrees with the lack of mobility work in my routines. And you know, this is something that I have been getting asked about semi-regularly for some time now because mobility has become quite a buzzword in the fitness space.
Here’s the thing, if you are new to lifting, you might find that you do have mobility issues that should be addressed. So some common ones are tight ankles, which then can mess up your squat. It can make your chest kind of fall forward when you’re squatting tight hamstrings are common, and that can make it hard to keep your spine.
The neutral position it needs to be in when you deadlift and inflexible shoulders are also common. A lot of us sit hunched over. We don’t pay attention to our posture, and that can get in the way of, well, a lot of exercises and it can cause pain in other problems. That said, though, there are also many people who have no such problems.
Mobility issues are very individual. Many, many people don’t need to do any mobility work whatsoever. The exercises they do with a proper full range of motion improves flexibility and preserves flexibility and mobility, and it wouldn’t make sense for them to spend anywhere from 10 to upward of 30 or 40 minutes per day improving.
Flexibility and mobility. They wouldn’t notice any difference in their training. For example, none of their exercises would feel any different. They wouldn’t gain strength faster. They wouldn’t gain muscle faster. Now, on the other hand, if somebody has any of the issues I mentioned or many of the other issues that.
You can have that can get in the way of your training or just your day to day living, then yes, it’s worth considering mobility work to address it. So for example, I can speak to this firsthand. So for the first four, five years or so of proper weightlift, so for me, those were years like. Eight to 12 or so.
I didn’t do any mobility work and I had no issues in the gym, no injuries. I don’t even really remember nagging aches or pains. I mean muscle soreness for sure, sometimes some joint soreness, but it was pretty straightforward. I would just do 10 to 12 hard sets per major muscle group per week. I’d lift mostly heavy weights.
I was mostly training in the four to six rep range on most exercises and things went really well. Then though I ran into some biceps tendonitis and my right knee started to bother me sometimes, and I injured my SI joint, not majorly, but I was deadlifting. And at the top I let out tension in my core. Do not recommend that.
And I felt my hips kind of shift. And from there I had some lower back pain. And it was kind of a recurring thing. And so then I started to look into restrictions in my mobility and flexibility as related to these issues. And I found some very specific mobility exercises that I could do every day that dramatically improved my situation.
So for example, for the biceps tendonitis, there is a simple little yoga. Move called the Tabletop, I believe. I actually wrote an article and recorded a podcast about this some time ago. So if you wanna check it out, just search for yoga [email protected] or in the podcast feed, and I believe it’s called The Tabletop.
I don’t remember all of the names of what I do. I just know because I do it every day. But that helped. And there was another shoulder stretch that I am not gonna remember. The name of that again is in the article and that I talk about on the podcast. And there are also one or two stretches for my back muscles and my rotator cuff muscles, particularly one on the backside of my body that have helped a lot with the biceps tendonitis.
And it helped with treating the tendonitis, like making it go away and then preventing it from coming back. And I’ve had a little bit of discomfort. In the bicipital groove area here and there when I’m bench pressing heavy. But nothing like how it was nothing like tendonitis, almost just kind of normal training discomfort, I would say.
And as for my SI joint and lower back issue, what I. Discovered is that it is well established actually in the scientific literature, that there is a connection between lack of internal rotation in your hips and SI joint dysfunction. And when I found out about that, lo and behold, I discovered that my internal rotation on my left side, which is where the problem.
Was was really bad. My external rotation, really good, internal rotation, really bad. And then on my right side, I had the opposite going on, good internal rotation, really bad external rotation. And so with a couple of simple hip stretches every day, it took about six months to really start to notice a difference.
I was able to fix that. I was able to improve my internal rotation on my left. Improve my external rotation on my right side, better balance out my hips, and once I got to normal on both sides, internal and external, and achieve that balance, that was the end of SI joint problems and that was a big win for me because that SI joint issue could flare up out of nowhere.
I could be warming up with 225 pounds on the bar for the deadlift and just pick it up, I guess, a little bit the wrong way and not be able to deadlift. Two weeks, I could be squatting the same way, just warming up, you know, maybe two plates on the bar, last warmup set, and then just have something feel wrong and then just have it be too painful to wanna push through it.
And again, after I corrected the imbalance of my hips, it’s been years now, a couple of years. I’ve not had that happen once, and I’ve been able to work back up to heavier weights. Not my heaviest ever, but I’m getting close. I think if the gyms can stay open for the next six months or so, by the end of that period, I should be back to my previous prs.
Now I mentioned that I was also having issues with my right knee, and what I found was the cause of that was quad tightness, and by working out quad tightness, that was the end of my knee pain. And pain is mysterious. It’s hard to say why that is exactly like how does that really work? But what I know is.
I had very tight quads on my right leg compared to my left leg, and by doing simple lower body stretching every day specifically for the quads in time, my right quad loosened up, so it was generally not as tight, and that was the end of the knee problems. So what is the moral of that shaggy dog story?
Simply that mobility work should be used prescriptively. I think, again, if you are following a well designed weightlifting program and you’re doing the right exercises, full ranges of motion, and if you’re not having any major issues, if everything is pretty smooth sailing, then you are unlikely to benefit.
Mobility work, unless you just like it, if you like how it feels, that’s a reason to do it. But keep in mind that research has shown that stretching too close to your workout, so like if you were to stretch right before a workout, that can decrease performance. If you stretch too intensely, that can get in the way of recovery and there is no evidence that being more flexible.
Protects you against injury. And so if you have some time outside of your weightlift and you’re not currently doing any cardio, for example, I would rather have you go do cardio than start doing mobility work because the cardio is gonna benefit you, it’s gonna benefit your overall health in several different ways, and it is probably going to improve your weightlifting performance specifically by increasing your ability.
Cover in between your sets. So if you are like me, you probably rest according to the clock. If you’re doing big heavy lifts, you’re probably resting three to three and a half minutes in between sets. If you’re doing isolation stuff, probably two to two and a half minutes. And if you don’t have good cardio right now and you worked on that and you got your cardio up to, let’s just say a.
Level. What you may find in the gym with your lifting is you feel more recovered after those rest periods, and then are able to push harder in your training, are able to get more reps per set, which of course translates into faster progress. Now if you are running into issues that mobility work may be able to address, check out Kelly Star’s Work over at the Ready State that was previously mobility.
And he has the popular book Becoming a Supple Leopard, which is well organized and gives you all kinds of exercises that you can choose from, depending on what you need, and you’re really just gonna have to work through the different options and see what works best for you. Okay, let’s move on to the final challenge of the day.
And this comes from SEC over on Instagram, and he says that you can target individual quad muscles with different exercises. So for example, if you elevate your heels, that’s going to emphasize the vast medias, and this is one of those fact. Toys that has been around for a long time. Bodybuilders for a long time have been saying that you could make little changes to limb positions or joint angles when you’re doing certain exercises and better target individual muscles within a muscle group, or maybe place more emphasis on certain parts of a single muscle.
And scientifically, it’s not a bad theory, right? Because changing the joint position can alter what is known as the. Pull on a muscle, and that then alters something called the natural length tension relationship of the muscle. And I don’t want to go into too much technical detail here, but all you really need to know is that the length of the internal muscle fibers, the bundles of fibers that make up our muscles as we know them heavily impact the amount of force that the muscle fiber can produce and therefore that the whole muscle can produce.
And so by training a muscle, Optimally lengthened position, you should be able to produce the most activation. And the idea then is to try to get individual muscle groups into this optimal position and then load them and train them. And the majority of the research in this area focuses on a few key leg exercises.
So you have the squat leg press and leg extension primarily, and then how each of those can be used to target. Parts of the quads, right? So we have the rectus emeris, we have the vais medias, the vases lateralis, and the vais Intermedius. And when it comes to squatting, research conducted by scientists at Illinois State University used EMG data to show that varying stance width has no significant effect on which area of the quad is trained.
Meaning that the quad muscles were more or less equally activat. Whether using a wide stance or a shoulder width stance or a narrow stance. And there’s another study that was conducted by scientists at the University of Miami that had participants perform three sets of eight reps of parallel squats using their eight rep max.
And for each set, the participants used one of three foot positions. So they had the toes turned in at least as far as they could comfortably, and then they had the toes in a neutral position, and then the toes. Out a little bit again, as much as they could while still keeping the exercise doable and comfortable.
And the results showed that the foot position had no meaningful effect on muscle activation in the quads, but they did find that turning the feet outwards did lead to the most quad activation overall. So that is another reason to have your toes turned out a little bit. It’s also gonna be most comfortable for most people if you turn your toes out a little bit and make sure your knees just remain pointed at them throughout the entire squat.
There’s another study that looked at raising the heel height and it found that. It has no direct effect on quad activation. So I remember hearing that many years ago that you should squat with plates under your feet because it’s going to help you build your legs faster and build your quads faster. Not necessarily.
Now, I say necessarily because what it does do and what research shows is that it increases range of motion. Particularly if you have mobility issues. So if you squat with a raised heel like you do with weightlifting shoes, which I would recommend using, not necessarily for the raised heel, maybe you don’t need that.
Maybe you have good ankle mobility, but a good pair of weightlifting shoes does give you a very stable base that you. Push off of, and that matters. It also helps you really kind of screw your feet into the ground, which is a good cue for maximizing the force transfer on the way up. Now as far as the leg press goes, research shows that messing around with your toes, you know, neutral toes in toes out is not going to make much of a difference.
If you stagger your feet, of course you’re going to feel one leg working harder than the other. So we don’t need science to tell us that that’s changing. Deviation level, but that’s not very useful. It’s not very practical. Of course, what is practical though is the results of a study that looked at muscle activation with the 45 degree leg press and specifically the, the variation in the study was where the participants put their feet.
So you know, you can put your feet high on the foot plate or you can put your feet low on the foot plate. And what this study showed is that the low position resulted in significantly. Quad activation than the high position. And so that is a useful leg press tip for increasing quad emphasis. And again, this is one of those things that we don’t really need science to tell us that if you just tried a lower foot position on the leg press, you would immediately feel your quads working harder than usual.
But it’s cool that there is some research to to back that up. And then as far as the leg extension machine goes, Studies that looked at turning the toes in or having the toes in a neutral position versus toes out. And they did show some differences in muscle activation between different quad muscles in the toes out versus the toes in position.
And that’s kind of interesting, I guess, but not very useful because there’s a question of. To size, right? So there can be statistical significance. You can say yes. It appears that there is a cause and effect relationship here. It appears that it is not just a random fluke, but how big of a difference does it make?
And in this case, I’m gonna say it’s just not gonna make much of a difference. I mean, how many sets of leg extensions are you really gonna be doing anyway when you need to be focusing on your squatting and your lunging and your leg pressing and so forth. And then there’s also. Point of safety because when you start twisting limbs like you would to dramatically rotate your toes in or rotate your toes out when you’re doing the leg extension, you are changing the mechanics of the exercise and you have to take care to not get hurt.
So that’s it really for trying to target. Individual quad muscles, and it’s usually the medias, the vmo, the teardrop muscle that guys want to emphasize or target the most because it looks cool. I understand having a very highly developed VMO stands out. It’s kind of like having big calves or big forearms.
It’s a weird bodybuilder, weightlifter. But we’re into it, and I get that. But unfortunately, that is mostly going to come down to how big are your quads? Like how much muscle have you gained in your legs and how lean are you? Because in someone like me, for example, to have clear quad definition and even some vascularity in my legs, I have to be very lean.
I have a little bit of that right now, and I’m probably around 8% body fat or so. Certainly no higher than 9%. And in other people though, who just don’t tend to store much fat in their legs, they can be 10, 11, 12% and have very clear separation in their quads and noticeable vascularity. And then there of course is just genetics, right?
Some people have really big biceps, some people have really. Vmo and that is also it for this installment of says You, thanks again for joining me today. I hope you have enjoyed it, and I have a lot more good stuff coming. As always, I have a monologue coming on the Best Home Gym Equipment 2020 COVID 19 edition, how to Build a home gym.
That works. I have an interview I did with Stan Efforting on optimizing gut health FODMAP diet, his own vertical diet as. Calls it and more, as well as the next best of Muscle for Life, where you get to hear handpicked mors from the most popular episodes that I have recorded over the years, another q and a and more.
All right. Well, that’s it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it and found it interesting and helpful. And if you did, and you don’t mind doing me a favor, please do leave a quick review on iTunes or. Wherever you’re listening to me from in whichever app you’re listening to me in, because that not only convinces people that they should check out the show, it also increases search visibility and thus it helps more people find their way to me and learn how to get.
Fitter, leaner, stronger, healthier, and happier as well. And of course, if you want to be notified when the next episode goes live, then simply subscribe to the podcast and you won’t miss out on any new stuff. And if you didn’t like something about the show, please do shoot me an email at mike muscle for life.com.
Just muscle f o r life.com and share your thoughts on how I can do this. I read everything myself and I’m always looking for constructive feedback. Even if it is criticism, I’m open to it. And of course you can email me if you have positive feedback as well, or if you have questions really relating to anything that you think I could help you with, definitely send me an email.
That is the best way to get ahold of me, Mike, at most for life.com. And that’s it. Thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you.