Bronx Leg Bombing
Top IFBB 212-class contender Marco Rivera doesn’t waste a moment in this hardcore, fiber-splitting leg training routine.
When in Rome
Toweling off the leg-curl pad, Marco turns to the Smith machine for the next two exercises in his gauntlet. He drops the bar to hip level and locks the safeties, then, oddly, starts loading 25-pound plates onto each side. There is a method to his madness, however.
“I use quarters when doing this exercise, because the smaller diameter allows me to bring it closer to the floor,” he says. Beginning with two 25-pounders per side, he steps up to the bar with his feet splayed out slightly and just outside shoulder width and grasps the bar overhand, twisting it to free it from the safety latches. From this standing position, body tensed from toes to his neck, he slowly bends at the waist to lower the bar.
As the weight descends, Marco’s hips shift rearward, and once he reaches a point where his upper body is parallel to the floor, he reverses sharply but deliberately. “A barbell is fine, but I prefer the Smith because it helps your balance,” he explains between sets. “You can place your feet a little further in front of you or behind you and change the emphasis in your hamstrings.”
Before he begins anew, he mentions what he calls the most integral part of Romanian deads. “You get the most hamstring action on the way down,” he says. “When you’re lowering the weight, you want to push those glutes back as far as possible until you feel it pulling at the top of your calf, and then picture the hamstrings contracting as you come back up. Think about the hamstrings stretching and contracting on every rep. For this exercise to work, you need to be mentally engaged 100 percent.”
Marco completes four sets, adding 50 pounds each time and, on the final set, doing a multi-drop similar to the curl machine, sliding a quarter off of each side and knocking out 10 reps at each stop. “If my partner was here, he’d slide those off without me ever having to put the weight down,” he explains after the bar is finally perched.