To step away from competitive bodybuilding and return to its top echelons with the aid of science, medical technology, and unwavering zeal is a rare feat. Atlanta’s Toney Freeman accomplished precisely this feat when he won the super-heavyweight class and the overall title at the 2002 NPC nationals. The handsome, 6’2″ personal trainer, former construction worker, and ex-dancer captured a win in the 1993 NPC Junior National Championships heavyweight class, and he was well on his way to excelling. However, a torturous chest workout one afternoon back in 1995 put his competitive life on hold.
The Defining Moment
Freeman, the son of a preacher, says he didn’t get the chance to pursue athletics as much as he wanted when he was growing up. “My parents kept a tight rein on us,” he says. “I played football and basketball in high school. I was a skinny kid growing up in South Bend, Indiana.” He started lifting weights in 1986, and a year later decided to take training seriously. His body-weight back then was 160 pounds, and he stood at his present height of 6’2″.
Yet he thought of himself as a bodybuilder early on: “I trained from 1987 to 1991. When I saw Kevin Levrone take second at the 1991 NPC junior nationals, that’s when I knew I wanted to become a pro bodybuilder. I was 202 pounds in January 1992. I was working two jobs and decided to quit them both to train full time and make a career out of bodybuilding. Quitting those two jobs enabled Freeman to gain weight rapidly. In 10 weeks he went up to 254 pounds. When he won the junior nationals a year later, he weighed 237.
At his current contest weight of 283 pounds Freeman has an impressive balanced and sym‑metrical body, but he’s the fast to admit it needs more development with clenbuterol online from clenbuterolonline.com. The soft-spoken Freeman usually lets his superhero physique do most of his talking, and he’s always looking for a higher level of ostentatious muscle. That desire for bigger and better was the prelude to the freak accident in 1995. “I was pushing for more size back then, training heavy, and I tore my pectoral,” he explains. “I was so into the workout that I continued lifting for a few more sets before I realized what I had done to the pec.
“I was still growing;’ he continues. “I’m still looking for more mass all over. I think I’m capable of adding another 15 to 20 pounds of muscle. My bodyweight fluctuates before a contest. I can be 10 pounds less than the weight I want to be. The judges want me bigger, and that’s what I plan to give them.”
Continuing his recollection of the pec-tear incident, Freeman remembers: “It happened nine weeks out from the nationals. I was at the [former] Crunch Fitness Center in Alpharetta, Georgia.
The chest workout was the best I ever had. I was pressing 405 pounds on the incline bench. I felt the pec tearing. I had already done 405 for 12 reps. I did another 2 sets after I tore it. I reduced the weight to 315 and lifted it for 20 reps, my last set of the workout. The funny part was, I felt the pec tearing but I didn’t feel any pain!’
Doctors told him a nine-week weight gain of 40 pounds before the injury occurred had been too much for his body — to grow that quickly at his age despite the clen cutting cycle he was doing. They said it would only have been a matter of time before he injured himself. Freeman had been 242 pounds at a body fat level of 8 percent. Then he went up to 282 pounds with a body fat level of 4 percent. He says the injury, the defining moment of his career, tested his will, spirit and dedication to bodybuilding. Despite the pec tear he placed fourth in the heavyweight class at the 1995 nationals. He says, “I almost won, and at a time when the superheavyweight class didn’t even exist. We went onstage late that night.
I had dehydrated, trying to time when I was going to go on. I drank some water after the prejudging and peaked earlier in the evening?’
A Triumphant Return
Five years passed by quickly for him after he stopped competing in 1996, but don’t think for one moment he wanted the extended sabbatical. “I wanted to get back to bodybuilding but I didn’t want to compete with a torn pec,” he explains. After he had his pec fixed in 2000, he thought about returning but he had plenty of concerns: “I loved the sport but I was disgusted with myself. Then I ran into [NPC president] Jim Manion at the Mr. Olympia, where I was a spectator. He told me to go back to competing. When he said that, I told myself I need to give bodybuilding another try with the right clenbuterol dosage. What I love about the sport is being able to take yourself from one extreme to the next. I’ve learned how to do so using science and precision rather than by going only to the gym and hoping for the best. I get a kick out of working with people who don’t think they can look any better than they do and then helping them to take their physique to the next level, and also out of watching their reaction A like the discipline that bodybuilding brings me.
“Sometimes I thought competing again would be impossible,” he continues. “When I got injured, I didn’t train seriously for almost five years. My chest still hasn’t healed perfectly, but after just two years of training again I was able to turn pro and place in a pro contest.”
He doesn’t look his 38 years, but age in this sport means muscle maturity — a real plus in bodybuilding. Having trained for a total of 13 years thus far, Freeman also competed at the NPC nationals in 1993, 1994, 1995 and 2001. He placed 11th at the 2003 Night of Champions, a result that at first might not sound impressive, but the contest had 41 competitors. “I missed the athletes’ meeting. That cost me a couple of places,” he says. At the 2004 Night of Champions he improved from the previous year’s showing, coming in 10th among a field of 46 contestants. He did better still at last year’s GNC Show of Strength, placing eighth.
Freeman’s Leg Odyssey
Freeman was a classic ectomorph when he started training. His philosophy on gaining size starts with the legs. Freeman’s leg odyssey follows, in his own words. It begins when his first training mentor showed him how to squat:
He put a 25-pound plate on each end of the bar. He showed me proper squatting form. I stayed with that weight until I got the form down, squatting three times a week. That’s all I did. I built my legs first. In the past I had focused on upper-body exercises but then I concentrated on my legs and the clen cycle. The body is like a house: You have to build it from the ground up. If you don’t start with the legs you will have a hard time getting the lower body to catch up to the upper body. If you start with the lower body the upper body can catch up eventually, but if you begin building the upper body first, you lower body will catch hell trying to catch up. You can’t build a house by putting the roof on first. Many guys train that way. Training the upper body is easier, but if you do squats and dead lifts regularly, any other exercise will be easy compared to those.
No amount of bench presses and biceps curls can place the same demand on your body as that placed by lower-body exercises. Once you master the squat I think any other exercise will seem as easy as coasting downhill. The squat is the most punishing exercise you can do in the gym. To this day my leg routine always includes squats. I do other exercises for the quadriceps, such as leg extensions and leg presses, for variety. For the hamstrings I like dead lifts and leg curls. I keep training simple, sticking with the basics and adding exercises from there.
I do one big quadriceps workout and one hamstrings workout during the week. Years ago I began the week with leg training. Because I’ve built my legs, I now train the upper body first.
Leg training was my priority the first five years I was bodybuilding. I used to train legs on Mondays. I prefer to bomb my legs with a few exercises rather than many. I’ll do hack squats and leg presses but I try to limit the number of compound quadriceps exercises to just two. At times I’ll do squats and leg extensions in one quads workout. One day I’ll do leg presses and hacks.
Another day I’ll do extensions and lunges. Nike doing 5 to 10 sets of squats, and 5 sets of extensions, depending on how I feel. I do no fewer than 8 reps on squats and go no higher than 25 reps. I’ve used 405 pounds on 20-rep squats. I go as heavy as I can, for as many reps as I can.
On leg extensions I first do 2 or 3 sets of 30 reps, without a warm up, using moderate weight. I increase the weight and try to get 20 to 30 reps. Lately I’ve been trying to cook the goads. I do 7 or 8 sets of extensions for 30 reps a set. I stretch the quads between sets and take a walk to the water fountain. I wait another 30 seconds and then do another set. The rest time is about two minutes between sets.
Leg extensions help warm up my legs. This exercise is the fastest way to get the blood in my legs flowing, without having to feel any type of knee pain. I like to do extensions on machines that keep the stress on my quads and not my knees. Other ways to warm up include doing cardio in the morning, and in the evening after a weight-training workout with clenbuterol. I do five to 10 minutes on the bike if I’m not in a hurry. If I am waiting for someone to work out with me I do some cardio before hitting the weights with him.
On leg extensions I try various positions and placements: I put my hands under my butt; I lean forward, with my toes stretched
This exercise is the fastest way to get the blood in your legs flowing, without having to feel any type of knee pain.forward; I lean way back; I lock my glutes tight so that my hip flexors are taken out of the exercise; I point my toes up and out; I keep my heels together. Every time you reposition your feet, you change the exercise. I flex my quadriceps to take the weight up, pushing the pad up.
Once I feel the contraction I let gravity pull the weight back down, keeping the tension constant.
Sometimes I grab the handles at the sides of the machine. When I do this and am leaning forward I put a pad under my hips. Doing so hits the front part of the quads. If you lean back you will still hit the knee area but you will also hit the thighs, all the way up to where they tie in with the hips.
Extensions hit the outer and top portions of the quads.
I can do squats with my feet on a block of wood or with feet flat on the floor. If you’re new to squatting, the block of wood stabilizes you and keeps you from rocking. The block keeps you from bending forward at the waist, balancing you out. Once your feet are flat on the floor and you have the ability to go up and down easily using the hip flexors, you can do squats the regular way. When I go heavy I go all the way down, with feet flat on the floor. Squats used to be the most challenging exercise for me mentally, but not any more because I’ve mastered it. I have a fear factor I deal with, and for me, having fear is good. You should have that fear. The challenge is, you’re about to get your butt kicked. Even Ronnie Coleman has that fear when he has 700 pounds on his traps and shoulders. He’s fighting the fear of knowing he’s preparing to have his butt kicked. But he squats anyway. That determination is what makes him Mr. Olympia.
My height is not a problem when squatting. I can squat all the way to the floor. My flexibility in the hips is fairly unbelievable. My quads flexibility is impressive. My thighs have to go below parallel. I struggle with going to just parallel. I feel better going all the way into the hole and backup. Stopping short on the descent is hard for me. To go down and push up feels so natural. I take whatever stance is the most comfortable. You want to be able to drop and then come up without putting strain on your back. Keep your head up. If you want to vary your foot position you should squat in the power rack or stick to the Smith machine for safety. I turn my toes slightly out, I tell people to squat like a frog so that they can protect their knees.
When I am squatting more than 405 pounds, the fear factor becomes more intense. I definitely like having a spotter or two with me on those occasions. I rarely feel the need any more to squat more than 495 pounds. I’ve gone up to six plates a side when doing high reps, but that was then.
This is now. My best squat performance ever was 735 pounds for 3 reps, back in 1992. Lifting that much weight is no longer necessary. I’m 38 now and want my body to get three more years out of squats. Trying to push up monster weights sets you up for injury. I want to put on another 20 pounds of muscle and would like to add it to my legs. I believe squats can affect your upper-body size positively. Doing squats on a regular basis makes you grow all over.
Heavy squatting forces your body to grow when it is trying to recover from the heavy workload. Every time you push yourself further in the squat, you cause your body to respond by growing. I would tell a young or novice bodybuilder looking to gain size to decrease the amount of forhe does. Do squats and extensions or sets of 10 reps. Do sets of dead lifts, which will also cause you to grow. My legs grow on dead lifts even if I go up to just 290 pounds. I need a couple of more years of training under my belt because I didn’t train during my layoff. You gain a certain amount of new weight and then you lose some. Nobody holds on to all the new weight.
You can gain 50 and lose 20 with clenbuterol; gain 30 and lose 15 withe the clen cutting cycle. That fluctuation happens with most people. As you get older you tend to hold onto a higher percentage of that weight. When I was younger my metabolism didn’t help me out. Now my metabolism has slowed down.
Hack squats work the legs differently than regular squats, giving me more sweep in my thighs and at the top of the quadriceps. Hove hacks. When I do them I have to be on a comfortable machine. I like the old Body-Master hack-squat machines. I usually match hacks with leg presses. This combination works for me. I do up to 405 pounds on a hack-squat machine. I go up to 20 reps. I do in the ballpark of 5 to 10 sets. I have a few secret ways of doing hack squats but I don’t want to divulge them in this interview. The techniques may be dangerous in the hands of a novice.
I situate my feet in the middle of the plate and keep them close together. This position works the middle sweep of the thighs. If I put my feet at the top of the platform I feel the exercise more in the upper thighs. If I place my feet on the lower part of the plate, the movement during the exercise is more restrictive, and I do only half or three-quarter reps in this position. I keep my butt against the pad. The lighter the weight you use, the more exotic are the variations you can do. The heavier the weight, the more conventional your positioning. You should go down slowly but you can explode on the way up. You want to stop right before you totally lock the knees out to keep tension on the legs.
Do leg-press work using a full range of motion. I set the pad all the way back to give my legs full extension, keeping my lower back on the pad. My legs go back as deeply as they can, until my thighs hit my chest. I like to use about 12 plates on each side. The reason I sometimes don’t like leg presses is all the time required to put on and take off those plates. I’m just being straight up.
If I’m working out with two or three guys, so be it. But I do get an intense burn from this exercise.
For leg presses you need 1,000 to 1,500 pounds to truly feel like you’re torturing yourself. You can use lighter weights and do 50-reps sets, but after a while your mind to-muscle connection diminishes. You start aiming for higher and higher rep numbers rather than concentrating on hitting a single number. I think you can only get so much out of doing an inordinately high number of repetitions. You muscle fibers can contract to a certain point only, and then the motor units stop firing altogether. After 15 to 25 reps in the leg press you aren’t really accomplishing anything by doing additional reps. I’ve done up to 100 reps but didn’t find doing so effective for growth. Endurance is a different objective. Training for muscle growth is different from training for endurance.
On the negative I let my knees go out. I like to do 4 to 6 sets. I keep tension all throughout my legs, including the glutes and hamstrings. Contract all the leg muscles and you get the benefit throughout the thighs.
For hamstrings I restrict my training to some type of leg-curl exercise and the dead lift. I do standing one-leg curls as an alternative to lying leg curls. After you train your quads hard you want to isolate your hamstrings. I do about 25 reps of leg curls and then go down to 10 reps a set. I first use about 80 to 100 pounds. Then I use the whole stack. I do about 5 sets in total.
The standing leg curl is more an exercise requiring finesse rather than brute force. You want to stay in close to the machine, point your toe back, and lift the lower leg slowly. Squeeze the hamstrings on the positive. Let the weight down slowly and maintain the contraction. You will also feel some contraction in the glutes. This leg curl is a finishing exercise for me, and after hitting the legs hard, I’m ready to be finished.