While lifters celebrate International Chest Day, leg day may as well be on a most-wanted poster hanging in the post office. Many people avoid training legs altogether, and even those who don't abstain often dread it.
I'm not here to tell you to fall in love with leg day. I am here to tell you that leg training is essential for your physical fitness and physique. It's the foundation of what you do as an athlete or health enthusiast, and it carries over into everything you do. The big lower-body moves, such as the squat, tax your body in ways that trigger the release of muscle-building anabolic hormones. In fact, simply balancing a loaded barbell across your shoulder girdle taxes your upper body while forcing your midsection to work in support.
Nearly all the workout plans in BodyFit contain leg workouts, except for the body-part-specific ones, but the following four deliver some serious punishment to your pins.
Be forewarned: These are not for beginners or the faint of heart.
1. Project Mass
This advanced 14-week muscle-building plan is the brainchild of exercise scientist Jacob Wilson, Ph.D., CSCS., assisted here by bodybuilder Lawrence Ballenger. Project Mass' uniqueness derives from the merger of classic exercises such as the squat and deadlift with cutting-edge techniques such as forced eccentric training, blood flow restriction, and stretching between sets. The leg days are either strength focused or muscle-growth focused. Most training weeks have one of each, separated by upper-body sessions. If you feel that your leg growth has reached a plateau, this plan will elevate you to the next level. To help your wheels recover from punishing sessions, Wilson also provides nutrition and supplement guidance.
2. 30-Day Legs
30-Day Legs with Abel Albonetti is considerably shorter than Project Mass—four weeks versus 14. Yet it's jammed with advanced techniques and high-volume training sessions, all designed to turn your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves into pillars of muscle and strength. You'll be training legs three times a week as part of a full-body muscle-building plan, but make no mistake—wheels take center stage here. This plan isn't fun…unless your idea of fun involves limping around the day after. It's brutally effective, however, shocking your leg muscles into growth unlike any you've seen before.
3. The Blueprint to Mass
At eight weeks long, The Blueprint to Mass falls about midway in length between the two preceding recommendations. This plan is a throwback to an earlier time, the Golden Age of bodybuilding, when some of the most legendary physiques and legs the sport has ever seen were built with blood, sweat, and donkey raises. You've likely seen these physiques immortalized in black-and-white photos that stir the imaginations of bodybuilders to this day. The training back then was pretty black and white, too: squats, lunges, and supersetted extensions and curls using heavy-ass weights. Each week you'll train six times, including two leg workouts. To be a legend, you've got to beat the legends, and this is your blueprint for doing just that.
The aforementioned leg workouts could all be deemed hardcore, but the squat and leg press sessions in Mike Rashid's Kingmaker strike fear into the hearts of men. This four-week plan blends boxing, powerlifting, and bodybuilding into a badass brew that will tax your body and test your will. It's the leg workouts, though, that truly separate the men from the boys and the beasts from the men. I'm not saying Rashid enjoys dishing out punishment, but it sure seems that way midway through one of his leg gauntlets, when wobbly lifters begin eyeing the nearest trashcan. Rashid is a boxer now, and his leg workouts are about punishment and survival—and what lies beyond what you thought were your outer limits.