I can’t count the times I have heard women say "Nothing bothers me more than when a guy has a big upper body and no legs".
Leg training is far and wide considered the most brutal and difficult. I frequently find myself with a headache and lying on the floor of the gym gasping for air while training legs.
The most frustrating thing of all is to push yourself to the brink of death just to make no progress on your leg development. If you have stubborn legs, and you’re tired of killing yourself in the gym, then look no further.
I will lay out a solid routine for you which has worked many times for me with bodybuilders who have hired me to make their wheels GROW!!
Break your legs up into four body parts: glutes, quads, hams, and calves. Pick the one you need the most of, for women it’s usually glutes, calves, and hams, in that order. The bigger the quads get, the smaller the glutes look and vice versa. For guys we usually want quads, hams, and calves.
Use day one as a rest day.
Day 2 you train your most important leg muscle and day 5 the second most important leg muscle, and hit calves 2 to 3 times a week if they are a weak point.
For example: A male bodybuilder hit quads and glutes on Monday after Sunday as a rest day, then hams and calves on Thursday and make sure to hit calves 2 other times that week either before arms or before chest.
Calves first? Yes calves first! If your legs are lack luster than having small calves is pretty much guaranteed. I never have energy at the end of a workout to hit calves so I suggest hitting them first on strong body part days: so before chest, or arms, or hams. Hit them 3 times a week assuming you’re not still sore from last time. Here is a simple routine I would do to hit my calves:
Standing or donkey calves 4 sets of 6, drop 6, drop 6, drop 6
Seated calves 7 sets of 10, drop 10, drop 10, drop 10
So for me it works like this:
Donkey calves 700 pounds for 6 reps, partner moves the pin to 600, then I do 6 more reps, then 500 then 400. Thats ONE SET! Do 4 sets like that. Then on the seated calf raise I do 4 plates for 10, then a partner strips 1 plate, then I do 10 more with 3 plates, so on and so on until there is no more plates yet. Again THAT’S ONE SET!! Do 7 of them.
I would do this on days 2,4,6 or 3,5,7 and always before hams.
For hams start with the calves. The reason is when you point your toes on lying leg curl it works the calves like the preacher curl works the forearms when you curl your wrist up.
Lying leg curl 3 sets of 12 reps
For this, you want to be able to point your toes for about 6 reps. Then when you can't get any more, curl (Dorsiflex) your foot and try to finish the set. If you can't get all 12 reps in later sets, have your partner help you get positive forced and negative forced reps. What this means is they help you get the weight up to the top, while you try to hold it up and they gently pull the lever arm down with you fighting the whole time. It should take 6 seconds for them to pull the arm down.
Romanian dumbbell deadlifts 3 sets of 10 reps
The key is to slide the dumbbells down your legs to about mid shin (assuming you can keep your lower back arched in a concave fashion). This is the proper lordotic arch, not rounded like a cat with its hackles raised. Once you're as low as you can go without your back straightening out , thrust your hips forward by squeezing your glutes. Rotate the dumbbells to the outside of your body while you're thrusting.
Seated Leg Curls 3 sets of 10
Do these the same way as the lying leg curls.
Standing single leg leg curls 7 sets of 10 alternating no rest
This is to pump as much blood in the hams as possible, not to tax the muscle fibers. Speed is the critical element not form or weight. Work for a pump on these.
These are a nightmare and have your cheat meal either the night before this workout or a few hours after. It's a good idea to do glutes with these at the end, or first if you're a woman or you are a man with severely under developed glutes.
5 minutes bike to warm up your knees
Leg extension 7 sets of 20 each leg
This is to pump up the quads, no rest and not to muscle failure. It will likely be your pain threshold which gives out before the actual muscle. Like your quads are staring into the sun.
Leg press 4 working sets of 20, 15, 12, 10
How do you know if it’s a work set? If you have to rest pause during the set, then it’s a work set. You should not be able to get all 20 reps without at least one 5 second rest with the weight at the top. Different foot placements hit different parts of your leg. The lower on the plate you go; the more quads. Just make sure not to have your toes go past your knees. Feet high and pushing through the heels? That's more hams and glutes. Wide foot placement hits the inside of your quad more and narrow foot placement hits your outer quad. But where you push through your feet also makes a huge difference just like with squats below.
Hack Squat 4 work sets of 12
Pretty much like the leg press, but there is spinal loading. There are some major tricks but they are impossible to describe!
Squats sets of 10. Pyramid up to 2 work sets to failure
Use a spotter or a cage and get 2 forced reps if you have a spotter. Always keep your back arched as above or neutral.
For quads have your feet pointed forward and use the outside edge of your foot to press out on the floor like you’re trying to split the floor apart. Come to parallel. Rotate your knees out throughout the whole range of motion so they're pointing in the same direction as your toes. Don't let your knees drift in, as this can damage your medial meniscus in your knee. Make sure to come down slow and pause at the bottom. Then push out through your feet.
For glutes do your squats with the duck stance: feet pointed out 45 degrees, and go ass to grass. Push through your heels and squeeze your butt to propel your hips forward.
Walking Lunges 3 sets with 20 steps per leg
Try to take long strides with your torso over your hips and pulling yourself forward for glutes. For quads short strides with your torso leaning forward over your quad and pressing up, not pulling forward like you would for glutes.
If these hurt your joints, use bulgarian Split Squats.
Glute abduction 7 sets of 12-20
For bigger glutes use more weight and less reps. There are plenty variations on the design of the machines, and there are plenty of variations on how you can use each machine as well. Experiment to get the best possible way to feel your upper glute (Gluteus Medius) firing.
That's a very basic and cursory approach to leg training with the basic exercises and basic advanced techniques. I’ll do videos in the near future of each exercise with every variation and article describing how to maximize each exercise and when in your workout it should be included and why.
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Nothing in this article or on this site should be considered medical advice or as an endorsement to violate any law of the country in which you reside. The information given is for fun and entertainment purposes only. All statements are 100% dependent upon proper diet and exercise. Please consult a medical practitioner prior to any diet and exercise program.