8X Mr. Olympia Lee Haney Shares His Secret to Quality Muscle
Pro bodybuilders talk about adding “quality muscle.” Is that basically mass and definition, or is it something more?
Adding “quality muscle” to your frame is the result of the consummate art of combining mass and definition. It’s a rare and difficult accomplishment. You can have muscle mass without definition and vice versa — you can even throw in symmetry, “lines” and other assorted idioms — but you won’t have “quality muscle” until all of that definition erupts out of your muscle mass like fissures and faults on a mountain.
Every muscle in your body must stand out on its own, bold and bursting; this, you may think, is the definition of “definition.” Not so. Definition won’t stand out if it’s not big enough to get your attention; otherwise, it’s just strings and threads. Conversely, muscle mass alone is an unstructured blob.
Quality muscle, on the other hand, is sculpture, hammered, and chiseled into prominent but detailed features from years of purposeful sweat and toil. By that, I mean you can’t achieve quality from simply lifting the heaviest weight possible without regard to technique, nor from pumping out endless reps with a feeble weight. I was very serious when I said you must hammer and chisel with sweat and toil, but that takes heavy reps and a lot of them.[RELATED1]
In my quest for quality muscle, I realized that I had to maintain both mass and low bodyfat, so I used two different workouts for each major bodypart. The first was designed to build mass, the second was oriented toward definition. Sets and reps differed for each type of workout. For mass, I relied on extremely heavy weight for lower reps (six to 10 per working set), the objective being to take the muscle group to failure for each set. The definition phase incorporated more reps (eight to 15 per set) to build an isolated burn in target muscles.
Did my exercises differ for each type of workout, you may ask? Not really — I believe that the best exercises for each bodypart can be counted on one hand, so why not concentrate on those? Instead of including inferior movements for the sake of diversity, I simply varied the weight and reps for my objective that day.
To develop a complete and mature physique with the two qualities of muscle — definition and mass — I recommend rotating two workouts for your larger bodyparts (delts, thighs, chest, back and shoulders, at least). I have included an example of the thigh workouts I used in the offseason before the 1991 Mr. Olympia contest.
Each type of workout requires maximum intensity. Even if you’re facing a definition sequence, with its lighter weights and higher reps, that doesn’t mean you need not push each set to absolute failure. Effort, after all, is more important than all the techniques in the world.
HANEY’S QUALITY TRAINING FOR LEGS
WORKOUT A: MASS
- Leg Extensions | SETS: 3* | REPS: 10-12
- Leg Presses | SETS: 4-5 | REPS: 8-10
- Squats | SETS: 4-5 | REPS: 6-8
- Leg Curls | SETS: 4-5 | REPS: 8-10
- Stiff-Leg Deadlifts | SETS: 3-5 | REPS: 8-10
WORKOUT B: DEFINITION
- Leg Extensions | SETS: 5* | REPS: 12-15
- Leg Presses | SETS: 5 | REPS: 10-12
- Hack Squats | SETS: 5 | REPS: 12-15
- Single Leg Curls | SETS: 4-5 | REPS: 8-10
- Stiff-Leg Deadlifts | SETS: 4-5 | REPS: 8-10
*First set is a warm-up.