After wrapping up 2022 with four contest appearances over an eight-week period, natural pro bodybuilder Alberto Núñez transitioned into a well-earned offseason. His competitive season began with a championship win at the 2022 World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF) Pro Universe in September and ended with fifth place at the the 2022 WNBF World Championships in mid-November, after which Núñez enjoyed a period of recovery and the following holiday season.
By January 2023, he returned to the gym with eyes on an extended rotation of growth and recovery phases until his next planned competitive showing in 2024. On Sept. 8, 2023, Núñez posted a training update to share a look at the thorough leg workout he’s using to build more size. After some brief clips from his daily life, the workout begins near the two-minute mark in the video.
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In contest shape, the 5-foot, 10-inch Núñez typically weighs in the neighborhood of 72.5 kilograms (160 pounds) on stage. He previously stated that his goal for the current offseason is to continue gaining until he reaches 83.9 kilograms (185 pounds). In the video, Núñez explained that he’s currently sitting around 81.6 kilograms (180 pounds).
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift
Núñez introduced the session by explaining that he typically trains the quadriceps in one session and hamstrings in a separate workout. However, his current training split calls for three workouts per week, including one session targeting all the muscles of his legs.
Núñez wore a weightlifting belt and wrist supports as he began the session with dumbbell Romanian deadlifts. Núñez said he performed the exercise for three sets. On the final set, which is shown on video, he uses a pair of 68-kilogram (150-pound) dumbbells for eight repetitions. He specifically used a partial range of motion, emphasizing the stretched position to potentially trigger more muscle growth.
Núñez progressed to a leg press using what he called a “balanced” stance to recruit his entire leg without particularly emphasizing either his quads or his posterior chain (glutes and hamstrings).
He completed two sets of eight reps, again using a partial range of motion. This time, however, he emphasized the middle position without locking out or achieving a deep stretch. Núñez explained that this helps to maintain muscular tension and allows him to stimulate muscle growth without the kinds of heavy loading he previously used.
“There’s a point of time in every bodybuilder’s training career where you’re like, ‘Man, it’s kinda cool to be that guy in the weight room.’ A human highlight film, of sorts. But I’m done with that. I like the fact that it doesn’t take a whole lot of time to load, you don’t need a whole lot of weight, and the loads just aren’t, mentally, as daunting. And I love the fact you just stay in rhythm. There isn’t time to think in between reps. I love that part. It just lets lizard brain take over.”
Seated Leg Curl
He returned to targeting his hamstrings, this time using a seated leg curl machine. Núñez took his position in the machine and then leaned his torso forward to flex at the hips. He explained that this further stretched the hamstrings, for increased muscle activation. He again completed three sets, using partial reps for a set of eight on the final set.
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Calf Raise Machine
Núñez trained his calves on a specialized, seated machine that supported his upper body while working in a straight-legged position. He explained that his only direct calf training is this three-to-four minute session involving a total of three sets using an extremely long pause, up to 10 seconds, in the stretched position for each individual rep.
He explained that he trains calves toward the middle of the workout, while many lifters end leg sessions with calf training, because it serves as an “intermission” from more intense training and allows him to stretch and mobilize his calves for the following exercise.
Focus returned to the quadriceps as Núñez used a classic hack squat machine. He began with a 12-rep “activation set” before completing two work sets of eight and six reps with increasingly heavier weight. He again emphasized the lengthened position toward the bottom and avoided locking out.
Single-Leg Sartorious Raise
As a detail-oriented competitive bodybuilder, Núñez targeted an unlikely leg muscle with an innovative leg raise variation. Supporting his upper body in a hanging leg raise station, he suspended a kettlebell from one foot and bent his leg upward to work this muscle which runs along the upper and inner thigh. He performed one set with each leg. However, he admitted that it’s essentially an experiment and the specific results won’t be noticeable until he diets down for his next contest prep.
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Bodyweight VMO Squat
Núñez moved to another relatively unique exercise to target the VMO (vastus medialis oblique) or “teardrop” muscle found just above the knee. He completed two sets of six to eight reps, using only his body weight to descend into a deep squat position while raising his heels and pressing through his toes.
His upper body remained upright throughout the exercise, compared to the classic bodybuilding sissy squat exercise which uses a similar “heels up” squat position while leaning the upper body backward.
Lower Back Extension
The lower body workout concluded with strict lower back extensions. Núñez said that his ability to maintain a stable trunk position during deadlift variations may be inadvertently limiting his lower back development by not requiring it to work dynamically. He finished the day with two sets of six reps on this focused movement.
Once Per Week Leg Day for Bodybuilders
Núñez said the entire session took around two hours, but admits the duration could’ve been shorter had he not been as social with other gym members between sets. However, he finds the community aspect of the gym to be a significant personal benefit. An overview of the workout is as follows:
Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift — 3 x 8
Leg Press — 2 x 8
Seated Leg Curl — 3 x 8
Calf Raise Machine — 3 x 5 – 10 (10-second pause in stretched position per rep)
Hack Squat — 2 x 6-8
Single-Leg Sartorious Raise — 2 x 8
Bodyweight VMO Squat 2 x 6-8
Lower Back Extension 2 x 6-8
Núñez hasn’t specified exactly which contest will mark his return in 2024, but fans of the sport can likely expect the same degree of high-quality presentation he’s brought to previous contests. With 16 years of competitive experience, he has developed an abundance of bodybuilding knowledge to continue sculpting and displaying his physique.
Featured Image: Team3DMJ / YouTube