During my training I have found that there are two types of people. There are those who love training legs and there are those who hate training them. Regardless of which you are, by this point, I'm sure you are aware of the benefits of training legs.
Personally I compete in bench press contests. However, I will be the first to tell you that I attribute much of my success to my leg training. A proper leg-training program can be the key to newfound size and strength. By properly training your legs the rest of your body will grow as well. In this article I am going to share some of my techniques to add size and strength to your entire body through leg training.
Lesson 1. Barbell Squat to a Bench
Squats, sure nothing you don't already now right? Well it depends on how you do them. We have all seen the guy "squatting" 405 who goes all of about an inch and a half down and does like 6 reps and thinks he has accomplished something. Besides looking like an idiot he has accomplished very little.
While doing squats I believe in going just to the parallel point. Here comes the twist, and the pain. Take a flat bench or a box and place it behind you. Now for each rep come down to the bench/box and stop. Yes, actually sit on the bench box for a full two seconds. Doing this requires the quads to act in a way they are not accustomed to. This will build "explosion power".
This is similar to pausing with the bar on your chest while doing the bench press. You will build much more true power. Obviously start with a lightweight and work your way up. After doing these pause-squats for a while go back to your normal style and notice how easy it is.
Lesson 2. Stiff-Legged Barbell Deadlift
Like squats this exercise works much more than just your legs. I suggest performing straight-leg deadlifts off a flat bench by standing on the end. This will do two things. First it will improve your balance. Second it will allow for a greater range of motion. Standing on a bench is not the most secure place, so I would start fairly light with the straight-leg deadlifts until you reach a good comfort level. Be sure to pause at the top of every repetition.
Lesson 3. Single-Leg Extensions
Great exercise for the quads. I view leg extension as more of a secondary exercise than a fundamental one. After performing heavy squats there is no need to kill yourself doing leg extensions, that is why I recommend doing them one leg at a time. Do these reps at a slower pace and pause at the top of each rep. This is more of a high rep exercise than squats.
Lesson 4. Standing Calf Raises
This is another exercise I do a little differently. Basically put a straight bar on your back, like squats, and then do calf raises. Make sure you do them somewhere where you can get that stretch at the bottom. This can be accomplished by doing them off the edge of a step, or you can simply stand on the edge of a few 45 pound plates stacked up on the floor. Again pause at the top for two seconds. This is another exercise to do for higher reps at a slower pace.
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Note: Prior to any lifting, especially legs, allow at least 10 minutes to stretch. Just doing lightweight does not completely warm-up the muscle. Also proper stretching will allow you to lift more weight.
I recommend trying the above routine for 5 weeks. Please adjust weight accordingly from sample routine. A good leg workout will release growth hormone in your body and the result will be noticed everywhere, not just your legs. Make sure you eat, get plenty of protein and rest. If you want to build a better body start with your legs.