Dugdale Does Legs
When you first look at super symmetrical rising star Mark Dugdale’s physique, nothing jumps out at you. Not because nothing is impressive, but because everything is full, balanced and equally conditioned. When you take a closer look, however, you realize that Mark does have a standout bodypart that merits some extra attention, his legs.
From the front, Mark has shredded, separated sweeping quads that only add to the easy flow of his physique. When he turns to the side and hits a side chest or side tricep, the detail and fullness of his hamstrings almost shocks you. And when he turns to the rear, his ham and glute striations and detail will please even the choosiest judges who want to see “shredded glutes”. And perhaps that is the sign of how good Mark’s legs really are. No matter what pose, what angle or which part you’re looking at, they are equally impressive and developed. This is a case of symmetrically outstanding leg development.
Mark’s “Secrets” For Awesome Legs
OK, OK, Mark will be the first to tell you that there are no secrets. He’s very willing to share a few tips, however, that have contributed to his crazy wheels.
Tip 1: Train Quads and Hamstrings on Separate Days
“I train quads with abs on Tuesday, followed by a day off. Then I hit hamstrings on Thursday, after a day off. This accomplishes a few things. First, for me to really get the most out of my quad work, I can’t feel like I have to have anything when I’m done for another bodypart. And I certainly can’t train them after another bodypart. Quads are heavy work for me, so isolating them and taking the next day off are critical to the development I’ve been able to attain.”
Tip 2: Don’t Assume
“Don’t make the mistake of assuming that the training approach that works for your quads will work just right for your hams. It may, but it may not. For me, quad training is about one thing…moving the heaviest weight I possibly can from the beginning position to the end position. For hams, I’ve found that more attention to how much I’m feeling the movement in my hams through the entire range of motion is more critical than simply going heavy.”
Mark will open up the session with a few sets of leg extensions for the sole purpose of getting plenty of blood into the quad and thoroughly warming up the knee joint before getting to the riskier, heavy movements where massive weight can create an injury.
Barbell Squats or Smith Machine Squats
Now Mark is ready to get serious. He will choose between barbell or Smith machine squats, usually rotating them from one week to the next. With either movement, he positions his feet about shoulder width and will squat “ass to the floor” before blasting out of the bottom position.
“I love the feel and the challenge, of heavy weight when I squat. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not careful. I always wear a belt and knee wraps to insure proper support. I will also do regular barbell squats with a 2 ½ pound plate under my heels to help keep my back more upright and throw some extra stimulation on the quad. If you take these precautions and use good form, squats are just an incredible mass builder for the quad.”
Mark will do three warm-up sets before doing his two working sets of 6-12 reps.
45-Degree Leg Press or Hack Squat
Next, Mark will choose between the leg press and hack squat. As with the two squatting movements above, he will usually alternate them from week to week. For the hack squat, his form mirrors regular squats. He is sure to take all the necessary precautions, go as deep as possible and control the movement from beginning to end.
For the leg press, Mark will position his feet a bit closer than shoulder width and perform full reps, bringing the weight down to the point where his knees touch his chest before returning to the starting position. With either movement, Mark will do one warmup set followed by two working sets of 6-12 reps.
Lying One-Leg Sled Press
With his quads fully pumped and starting to feel the effects of the earlier movements, Mark does a unique exercise…lying presses on a selectorized sled machine. He prefers to do the exercise one leg at a time.
“I find that when I do these in single leg style that I can really isolate the quad and keep any derivative stress off the butt and hamstring. I can also get really deep doing them this way.”
Mark performs one set of 12 reps before going to his next movement, walking dumbbell lunges.
Walking Dumbbell Lunges
Before he calls it a day for quads, Mark will do two sets of walking lunges holding a pair of dumbbells.
“I will make sure to get good and deep on each step. I live in Washington State where it isn’t always that warm, so I do these inside the gym, going across the gym, resting, and then walking back. If I had to guess, I’d say that it’s about 90 feet for each set.”
Mark finishes off his quads by returning to the leg extension for two working sets. On the first set, he will do eight reps and then hold the weight in the resting (down) position for about five seconds and then do another eight reps.
“That pause in the down position may be the toughest part of the whole exercise. My legs are fully stretched and tensed, so I’m not ‘resting’. There’s still plenty of resistance going on. On the next set, I’ll just put the whole stack on the machine and do as many reps as I can…usually 6-10. At that point, I’m glad to say that quads are done until next week!”
Lying Leg Curl
Mark starts his hamstring work with Lying Leg Curls. Mark makes sure to control his reps from top to bottom and not let momentum take over. He squeezes every rep from top to bottom and doesn’t let the leg completely straighten at the bottom of the movement.
“You want to start the rep back up just before your legs straighten so you can keep the stress on the meat of the hamstring.”
Mark will do one warmup set, followed by two sets of 6-12 reps before moving on to his next hamstring movement.
Standing 1 Leg Curl or Stiff Leg Deadlifts
Mark will choose one of these exercises and perform two sets of 6-12 reps. If he is doing the standing single leg curl, he will lean slightly over the machine and make sure to get a strong contraction at the top of the movement before returning the weight to the bottom position in a slow and controlled fashion to take advantage of the negative portion of the rep.
For the stiff legged deadlifts, Mark grabs a barbell and slowly bends at the waist until he feels a full stretch in the hamstring while keeping his back straight. This usually occurs a few inches below the knee. He is careful not to go much lower than that because it would cause him to round his back and put the stress on his lower back.
A leg-training article on someone as symmetrical as Mark would not be complete without the details of how he trains his incredible calves. Mark keeps it short and effective.
“On Mondays, I’ll do seated and standing calf raises, each for two sets of 6-12 reps. Thursdays you’ll find me doing standing calf raises again and another straight legged toe press, like machine toe presses. Again, two sets of 6-12 reps on each movement. I don’t do seated calf raises on Thursday for a very good reason. I still can’t bend my leg after Tuesday’s quad workout!”
So there you have it. Now you know the precise leg training programs of an up and coming star in the world of bodybuilding. What can Mark’s leg training principles do for your legs? There’s only one way to find out. See you at the gym!
Mark trains on the following training split:
- Monday: Chest, Biceps, Calves
- Tuesday: Quads, Abs
- Wednesday: OFF
- Thursday: Back, Hams, Calves
- Friday: Delts, Triceps, Abs
- Saturday: OFF
- Sunday: OFF