Ok, I know that if you train a gym you have seen it before. One of those stooopid guys. You know, huge arms and chest, little back development and skinny legs.
Now I am not saying anything pejorative about their intellectual or cognitive abilities. I am merely saying that they are sharply limiting their development back by not focusing on their largest muscles. You don't want to be like this I am sure, so read on.
The Importance Of Leg Training
Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift
Granted there are a few reasons why leg training is not as glamorous. Most of us pride ourselves at pushing up big numbers on the bench press and having good looking show off muscles like the pecs and arms.
The Quadriceps ( the front thigh muscles responsible for thigh extension) and Hamstrings (the muscles responsible for flexing the leg at the knee joint) are not often associated with the testosterone infused dominance we train for.
Think of it. When someone asks you to show them muscle you probably flex your biceps...you don't pull your pant legs down to show off quad development. I know personally that it is very important for me to have good thigh development to compete in bodybuilding for symmetry.
But all of us need good leg development for a complete body, no matter who you are. Aside from looking good, well developed legs will help you in just about any sport since they are an integral source of power. I mean, if you don't have decent leg development it makes you look like you are too lazy to put in the work for legs.
Here's another thing to keep in mind. For a leg workout to be productive it has to be an intense, brutal session! There is no way around it. Leg training is hard but productive since compound movements like squats, leg presses and deadlifts will elevate your testosterone levels and call upon other muscle groups--leg workouts are almost a total body effort so to speak.
The Strength Of Legs
Your legs represent the largest muscles in your body so you have to train with heavy weights. Even though it is quite an accomplishment to bench press 315lbs leg training can call for some big friggin weights.
In addition to amazing strength ability, the legs also have lots of endurance. Think about all the times you call upon your leg muscles: walking from place to place, up and down stairs, dancing in a club, driving, bending down, getting up, getting out of bed, playing sports etc.
Because we use our legs so much they are outfitted with a higher proportion of endurance muscle fibers than the chest or biceps. Legs need a higher volume of work. I respect the people who train in the Mentzer-type training style but, I suggest that you train the legs with more sets-- say 8-12 sets for quads, and 6-8 sets for hamstrings.
OK, know that I told you that you need heavy weights and volume lets put the two together. I suggest that after 1-2 light warm up sets, that you pick a weight that you can just barely get 15 reps. Proceed to add weight and your reps will decrease. Do 3-4 sets of 15 reps down to about 6-8 reps on your leg movements.
Exercise Guides: Barbell Full Squat
Watch The Video - 00:21
So now that I have enlightened you with the methodology you are probably wondering what exercises to do. Drum roll please... yep squats! If you are still reading this I am both surprised and proud since most people find squats the most repulsive and difficult exercise around (along with deadlifting no less).
Hard work in the squat rack will calls for tenacious dedication but will result in terrific columns of shredded quadriceps sweeping out like tree trunks, squats also stress the spinal erectors, the inner and the outer thigh muscles and it will also work the glutes and hamstrings hard...providing that you check your ego at the door and make sure that you get a full range of motion--squatting to parallel or just slightly above.
Also I recommend plenty of heavy Leg Presses and Hack Squats. These movements place more stress on the thigh muscles by themselves rather than synergistically with the lower back as is the case with Squats. I used to begin my workouts with squats, but now I start out with Leg Presses.
I find that doin' leg presses first fry my thighs, so by the time I get to squatting, I don't have to worry about the lower back giving out before the legs. Finish the quads off with leg extensions--these help carve in detail and chisel cuts.
Make sure to put in some work with the hamstrings. All too often people with good quads do not stress hams. Enough since they are not as fun to train. Do all variations of leg curls; lying leg curls, seated, standing, using a dumbbell. Top it off with some Stiff Legged Deadlifts to help stretch the hams and work the glutes.
- Leg Press
15 reps, 8-10 reps, 7-9
- Barbell Squat
12-15 reps, then 2 sets of 8-10 reps
- Leg Extensions
3 sets of 10-20 reps
(I use 135-170lbs)
- Lying Leg Curls
3-4 sets of 8-12 reps
- Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift
3 sets of 10-12 reps