A lot of guys look like Olympia Weekend material from the waist up, but when they take off their sweatpants... Yeesh! Sure, we all know that well-developed legs can make or break your physique, but saying it doesn't make it any easier to build them—especially if you're tall or have a quicksilver metabolism.
Being top-heavy is sure to get you a comment or two in the legendary Bodybuilding.com forums. The nice thing about our millions of forum users is that, while they may give you a smack with one hand for skipping leg day, they'll freely share the program that helped them transform their own lower bodies with the other. They understand that true lifters—people who need the iron, who abide by the credo, "I Lift, Ergo I Am"—want to build the total package, not just half.
These six routines helped our readers bring home killer wheels once and for all, and now no one dares to giggle. Follow their protocols and you, too, can fearlessly leave your sweatpants in the locker where they belong!
Full Squats and Partials
Heavy, basic, tough. That's all you get here! Five sets of full ass-to-grass squats immediately followed by parallel squats means double duty on the biggest mass-gaining move of all, and can be done with heavy weight to pack on the size.
If depth is an issue for you, consider putting 2.5-pound plates under your heels or wearing Olympic lifting shoes to open the door to the lower-half of your range of motion (ROM). And don't expect the partials to be easy. If anything, having to stop above the bottom will burn even more!
The lunge and single-leg deadlift should still feel heavy, but since you're working one leg at a time, prioritize proper form above weight. These are really here to develop those underlying and stabilizing muscles, creating a solid base on which to grow some beef.
Twice as Nice
If the same old weekly workout isn't doing it for you anymore, maybe some shock treatment is what your legs need. This twice-weekly routine mixes negatives with straight reps to force your legs into growth. Leave at least 4-5 days between workouts, or even 6 if you're still suffering too much to lift.
Leg press negative
5x5 Meets 20-rep Squats Meets Pyramid
Since your great-grandfather's days, strong men have been successfully using three approaches to build legs that are as strong as they look, and that won't change any time soon:
- 5 sets of 5 reps
- 3 pyramid sets with increasing weight
- 1 single 20-rep squat set
Luckily, no one is evil enough to mix them into the same program, let alone the same week...right?
Welcome to a dark corner of the Bodybuilding.com forum! For Workout 1, you follow the classic 5x5 model with the same weight in each set (after a suitable number of warm-up sets, of course). The subsequent exercises are done in pyramid fashion, increasing the weight as you decrease the reps with each set.
One set of a squat might not seem like a lot, but chew on this: It should be done with a weight where you'd normally max out at about 10 reps. Twice the work plus same weight equals a tough and potentially nauseating experience for you!
You can use rest-pause and take mini-breaks within your set, but here's the key: Don't rack the weight unless it's absolutely necessary. You want to keep tension on the muscles and force them to grow. The rest of the sets that day? Yeah, you guessed it: They're pyramids.
Volume, Volume, Volume
Ah, the golden days of bodybuilding, when Tom Platz ruled the leg roost. Here's one of the Golden Eagle's leg programs, resurrected by poster Wildtim. Notice some variance in sets? That's no mistake. Platz was a volume master, so we don't want you to feel obligated to match him rep-for-rep.
Check in with your body before—and during—your workout and decide how many sets you want to do for each movement. If you're flying high, hit the high range; if you're dragging, go for the low. But no matter what, bring your best effort.
Standing calf raise
Squat 'Em All
Programming variety is key to maintaining passion and making gains, especially when it comes to the big money moves like squats. User SuicideGripMe changes his squat variation every week to keep things fresh and ensure his legs feel each and every workout.
His options include box squats, high-bar deep squats, low-bar squats, and front squats. Your formula for growth might include others.
Superset for Size
Supersets are a great option for when you don't have a lot of time to train, because you can cram a lot of exercises into a shorter time frame. Like magic, workout intensity—and results—also go through the roof.
For the leg extensions and curls, don't try to be a hero when it comes to weight. Take it from the forum elite: Nobody cares how much you can leg curl for reps! Perform each rep purposefully, establishing a solid mind-muscle connection to encourage growth.