Strength Training Arms and Legs Together

Strength Training Arms and Legs Together

A study conducted at Lillehammer University College titled “Physiological elevation of endogenous hormones results in superior strength training adaptation was published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology. It’s an interesting study that shows strong evidence that training legs and arms together may provide a strong natural hormonal boost to enhance hypertrophy (muscle gains).

This was a small study, with only 9 male subjects used, however, the results were quite fascinating.  The researchers put the subjects on a bodybuilding program, and included in the program were 2 days in which the participants performed standard bodybuilding exercises on their LEFT biceps ONLY.  Then, on 2 other days, the subjects trained their legs with intensity, followed by RIGHT biceps ONLY training, using the same exact arm exercises.

During the 11 week study, the researchers tested various parameters and at the end of the study, they measured the participants’ arms.  The right biceps, which were training along with legs were significantly bigger and stronger than the left biceps.  Based on the data collected, the researchers concluded that leg training produced higher levels of GH (growth hormone) and T (testosterone), which is consistent with many other studies.  Of course, this only really applies if you are training with intensity, but assuming that is the case, leg training will cause a cascade of biochemical processes that lead to hormonal increases, of which GH and T are critical for hypertrophy.

Following up the leg training with arm training (remember, arms are small muscles compared to the legs/glutes), will create a situation where you have elevated hormones necessary for muscle gains.  In addition, it has been shown in other studies that GH gets spurred on even more by protocols that elicit lactic acid.  Lactic acid is produced when there is either high intensity or high volume.  So, if by combining these mechanisms, we can produce a protocol that optimizes growth, and that is exactly what TC Luoma has done, based on this study.  You’ll know when lactic acid is present because that’s when you “feel the burn!”

Mr. Luoma’s suggested protocol calls for 2 days of combined leg / arm training.  Other training days could include other upper body areas (shoulders, chest, back), cardio, etc….  On day 1 of the combined training, you would do quad dominant exercises with triceps training.  On day 2 of the combined training, you would do posterior chain dominant exercises along with biceps work.

Day 1 – Quads & Triceps

  • Quads
    • 4-5 sets with low reps 3-5, and heavy weights 80-90% 1RM
    • Back Squats, Hack squats, Front Squats, Zercher Squats, Leg Presses (pick 2 exercises)
  • Triceps
    • 3-4 sets with high reps 12-20, and moderate weights 60 – 75% 1RM
    • Overhead extensions, Lying extensions, Skull Crushers, Push-downs (pick 2-3 exercises)

Day 2 – Posterior Chain & Biceps

  • Posterior Chain
    • 4-5 sets with low reps 3-5, and heavy weights 80-90% 1RM
    • Deadlift, Romanian Deadlift, Hip Thrusts, Cleans, Snatches (pick 2 exercises)
  • Biceps
    • 3-4 sets with high reps 12-20, and moderate weights 60 – 75% 1RM
    • Chinups, Any curl variation, biceps machine (pick 2-3 exercises)

If you are struggling getting your arms to grow, give this protocol a try.  Work your legs with high intensity and then when it comes to your arms, feel the burn baby!!!  ​

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