Aaron Clark’s Wheels of Fortune
At just 23, Virginia’s Aaron Clark accomplished a dream that many amateurs never realize: earning an IFBB pro card. Here’s how he went from punk to powerhouse, building some of the sickest legs in the biz.
Lying Leg Curl
Start: Adjust the machine for your height and lie facedown, hooking your heels securely under the roller, feet flexed. Grasp the handles on either side of the apparatus and drop your chin so your spine remains neutral.
Execution: Press your hips into the bench and contract your hamstrings to move the roller up in a smooth arc, bringing your heels as close to your glutes as possible. Squeeze hard at the point of peak contraction, then slowly lower back to the start under control. Don’t let the weight stack touch down between reps.
Aaron’s Advice: “Hamstrings are very prone to tears, so I’m very conscious to do slow negatives with this move, and build those muscle fibers with eccentric reps to make them as strong as possible.”
Power Pointer: The leg curl targets the hamstrings from the knee joint, making it a perfect complement to the romanian deadlift, which works the hams from the hip joint. Use both moves for more complete ham development.
Aaron’s 7 Deadly Sins of Leg Training
1. Don’t train quads and hams on the same day if you’re having trouble bringing up your legs. They’re both large muscle groups that require a lot of energy, at least when they’re trained right. I split them into two separate days about a year ago — with at least 72 hours of rest between workouts — and have seen incredible gains.
2. If you’re exhausted, take a day off, especially if it’s leg day. It’s better to go home, eat a nutritious meal, get rested and come back tomorrow when you can hit it hard. Pushing through a workout when you’re physically at less than 100% is just asking for injury, and your gains won’t be as good, anyway.
3. Don’t discount the StepMill and StairMaster as leg-training tools: They boost cardio endurance so you can train harder and longer, which translates into more muscle growth.
4. Don’t jump into a leg workout without warming up. I do warm-up sets for at least my first 2–3 leg moves to make sure my joints and muscles are completely ready. And that means warming up on both the negative and positive contractions.
5. Don’t avoid doing a leg exercise just because it sounds girly. I do walking lunges and step-ups on a regular basis, even though a lot of people think of them as chick moves. A lot of shows are won by guys with separation and density in the ham and glute area, and these exercises directly target that spot.
6. Don’t cut your rest periods short, especially in the off-season. You want to be completely ready for your next heavy set if you’re trying to build size, and for me that sometimes means resting up to five minutes, especially on heavy sets of multijoint moves.
7. Don’t forget the negative contraction. A lot of guys are so focused on training heavy for legs that they completely neglect lowering under control in favor of explosive drive. But the negative rep is very important, not only to full muscle-belly development but also to help prevent injuries.