WRITTEN BY RICHARD SEVEN
Q:I've got a question for you from my 36-year-old son. He is 5 foot 7, 170 pounds. He works out regularly and is in good shape. He would like to know how he can increase the size of his upper and lower leg muscles. What approach would you suggest?
For advice, I turned to Jon Blodgett of Redmond's Velocity Sports Performance. Here's what he said:
A:To really increase the size of your legs, many factors must first be determined. For example, exercise selection, order and total volume (sets, reps, weight) must be carefully monitored. One must also consider rest intervals and cardio (intensity, frequency and duration) when designing a goal-based program.
It's difficult to isolate the quads from hamstrings, since both are utilized during exercises such as squats, leg presses, lunges, step-ups, regular deadlifts, etc. Only during single-joint exercises, such as leg extensions and curls, are they isolated.
I recommended doing three to four sets per exercise using 10 to 12 repetitions, going as heavy as you can with perfect form. Start with your big, compound (multi-joint) exercises like squats, leg presses, lunges, etc., before doing things like leg extensions and curls.
For calves, I would train them on both Monday and Friday, doing five sets for both seated and standing calf raises. You should not be doing cardio more than three times a week. And one of those days should be sprint-based, perhaps on Wednesday. Sprints can help increase leg size, while also helping you stay lean.
Stay away from long, slow bouts of cardio, and focus on short, intense cardio sessions. You want your calories and energy to be geared toward high-intensity weight training; too many calories burned during cardio will only hinder your ability to build solid muscle.
Remember that everyone's body is different. These are basic guidelines. If you aren't making progress, increase your calories or decrease your cardio. Get plenty of sleep, eat five to six small to medium meals a day, and consume a post-workout meal within 30 minutes of your training consisting of high-quality proteins and quickly absorbing carbohydrates. Be sure to consume around one gram of protein per pound of body weight, two to three grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight, and keep fat intake to 15 to 20 percent of your total calorie consumption.
Q:I am a (young — if that makes any difference) senior interested in learning more about tai chi. Do you know of any good videos for a beginner?
A:Paul Lam, a Chinese doctor, has recently released a DVD series, including one titled "Tai Chi for Older Adults." Lam and the production are quiet, methodical and totally lacking in spunk. But that's the point: The sessions provide an authentic introduction into the Eastern discipline that preaches calming focus. It runs 110 minutes.
Lam has released two other DVDs — "Tai Chi for Young People" and "Qigong for Health." Qigong dates back more than a century and includes breathing and meditative exercises. The DVDs are produced by East Action Videos/Wellspring. For more information, see www.taichiproductions.com.
Q:Some months back you wrote of your experience with the Power Plate, which sounded like a miracle machine. Do you have any follow-up information on that story — have you continued to use it, or heard any more about it or anything like it?
A:John Wilson, vice president of sales and marketing for Power Plate USA, says a home version became available in mid-December and costs roughly $3,500. It will have a smaller platform and fewer settings than the one I tried at the University of Washington last year, and it won't be as industrially strong.
The idea behind the Power Plate is to use whole-body vibration to improve strength, flexibility and blood flow. Europeans have long used vibration therapy to enhance performances and help conditions from multiple sclerosis to arthritis.
I'm not sure about a miracle machine, but the device is getting used among sports teams and in rehabilitative settings. I can't explain how the powerful vibrations did it, but I immediately increased my flexibility by a wide margin after spending 30 seconds on the platform at 30 hertz.
For more information or sales inquiries, contact Power Plate North America at www.powerplateusa.com.
Richard Seven is a Pacific Northwest magazine staff writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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