Q: What do you think of cable exercises for the legs when preparing for contests? Do you think they are beneficial or take too much energy away from size-preserving exercises like squats?
A: Everyone is different. I’ve seen guys get ready for shows still doing squats, leg press and hack squats, with absolutely no finishing type exercises and look separated, sharp and cross striated. I’ve also seen guys do lunges, leg extensions and other specialization exercises and look fantastic too. I think it really knows how your legs respond to stimulus. Do you, for instance, respond well to either high rep or low rep training and still have fantastic legs?
If that’s the case, you can’t make that many mistakes and anything you do will benefit your legs. However, if you’re the kind of guy who doesn’t really do well with low rep training and needs more intensity and duration built in to leg workouts, I’d say that finishing work is really going to benefit you, as well as doing giant and supersets. In general, I’m a big fan of cable movements for the legs, as I feel they require a great deal of control.
When you’re talking about controlling movement and becoming precise, you’re using far more ligaments, tendons and insertion attachments than you would doing compound exercises like squats. Isolation is the key to most finish work and using cables forces you to be precise. Many gyms, unfortunately, don’t have ankle cuffs any longer. Nor do many of them have that small sissy squat apparatus with the floor plate, two padded rollers and a back plate to stabilize the calves and isolate the quads. That was always my favorite ancillary piece in the gym when I was coming up through the ranks.
It really burned my quads like nothing else, and the separation I got from it was unbelievable. If you were to combine something like that with cable leg extensions and lunges, you could really do some great work on bringing out tendons and ligaments that look impressive on stage and create the illusion of additional separation. So yes, the more stuff you can do to bring those things out, I think you should be all about it!