I don't know why people often neglect their legs as it is just as important as developing their upper body unless they want to walk around all year in jeans. I've been blessed with good genetics for my legs apart from calves damn! But I know there are many of you out there who are not.
I think with all body parts rest is also very important. Without sufficient rest you could sacrifice half the hard work you put into the gym. This is especially hard with legs as most people have to do a lot of walking throughout the day and the next day after a hard leg workout I can hardly wa1k up the stairs. This is why I thought the best day to do your leg workout is on a Saturday. By doing your workout on Saturday you have all Sunday which is usually a lazy laid back day for most of you to recover from your leg workout. I know it often takes people three or four days to recover fully which is especially hard with all the walking around throughout the school day but having a whole day just to relax can make a world of difference in the recovery process.
Before the workout you should pre-exhaust your thighs by doing a set of leg extensions to failure. By doing this your thigh will fill with lactic acid (that's the 'burn' you experience in your workouts) and you want to stretch your hams and quads to squeeze out all the lactic acid which has developed in your thighs.
Now for the workout the most important exercise and I'm sure you have heard this a thousand times is squats. Unless you have a lower back or knee injury you must squat. Squats actually release natural growth hormones this means it can actually increase your growth rate and increase strength on other exercises.
As I've always had strong legs I thought I could squat a lot more than I can handle. I think the main problem was because of a weak lower back but all I felt was a pain in my back and I left the gym with a sore back but my legs were fine. This went on for two weeks and I thought should I increase the weight so it would put more or should I say any stress on my legs. I don't know why but I then decided instead on decreasing the weight to half what I was doing and by squatting half what I was gave me the biggest pump in my 1egs I've ever had.
The next is stiff legged deadlifts this is a great exercise for your hams but remember as with all exercises to use proper form as using sloppy for especially with this exercise can result in a serious injury. The trick to this exercise is to get your arse as far out as possible to make it hit your hams rather than your calves. Also the 'stiff' part does not mean to have your legs totally straight. They just call them stiff legged deadlifts to tell them apart from deadlifts. You should perform the exercises with your knees slightly bent acting like shock absorbers.
Before you start your main workout do a set of light leg extensions to failure. By doing this you warm your legs up getting the blood flowing but after doing this and then stretching your legs you get rid of all the lactic acid in your legs.
I like to train my calves three times a week but on separate days to my hams and quads as my workout takes close to an hour which is really the maximum time, any longer and you would be over training. So this gives me the whole session to work on one of the main muscle groups. I vary my calve training regularly each workout with sometimes doing high reps and others lower reps with a larger weight. All workouts I like to work my calves to failure. Also if you have developed a lot of strength in your calves it can be very painful on the shoulders doing standing cave raises so I recommend doing them on the leg press machine which will cause all the strain on your calves which is what you want.
If you calves are lagging badly like mine were when walking as long as there is no one around or unless you want to make a Pratt of yourself try going through as much of a range of motion as possible to really stress your calves.
A common exercise for the hams is lying leg curls. I did this exercise on every leg day but did not find it worked to well. I talked to my trainer about it and he mentioned the hamstring is made up of about ten muscle fibers and a scientific test was done and they found lying leg curls only used about three of the ten fibers. This is explained a lot, which is why I have changed to stiff-legged deadlifts.
My leg workout follows:
Leg extensions (pre-exhaust)
Squats 5 sets
Duck squats (toes out) 2 sets
Stiff legged deadlift 3 sets
I like to keep between the 8-12 rep range just remember especially with squats don't load the bar up with as much weight as you 'think' you can hand1e as half the time you will only end up with a sore back and you are then asking for an injury.