Forget those workouts that just hit one or two of your leg-muscle groups. Anthony "Gainz" LaVigne's leg workout is going to spur well-balanced muscle growth up and down your legs with this one mercilessly escalating procession of exercises. You'll start out each leg exercise in the lower rep ranges, then finish most of them with LaVigne's trademark 35-rep burnout. Yes, you read that right: You finish with 35 reps. Good luck with that.
Gainz breaks this 60-90-minute workout into four leg-muscle groups: calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. This is not an aerobic workout. Take time (but not too much) to let your heart rate stabilize before you move on to the next set.
Do this workout once a week for at least 4 weeks.
Seated Calf Raise
This exercise is going to hit both the gastrocnemius and soleus, the two major muscles of your calves. In the past, LaVigne has done both high-rep/low-weight and low-rep/high-weight calf workouts. This time, he combines both to start off your calf workout with a scream.
Smith Machine Standing Calf Raise
LaVigne has you doing this one in 5 continuous sets, stripping weight off each set and pausing a minute between sets. Start with a weight you can lift for 8 reps max, then take every set to failure. The standing calf raise isolates the gastroc, not the soleus. When you do the 35-rep burnout set, choose a weight that challenges you. Hit it with all you've got.
Time to work the quads. Pre-exhaust them with leg extensions so your circulatory and nervous systems are ready for the compound movement to come. This is a working set, not a warm-up. Go at this one "balls to the wall." Take each of the five sets to complete failure, meaning you can't do another rep without a complete breakdown in your form.
LaVigne is going to have you vary your stance to make sure that you work all four muscles of the quadriceps: rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, and vastus medialis. Foot and toe position helps determine which area of the quadriceps you're hitting. As you do the narrow stance, keep your toes pointed forward. As you move your feet a little farther out with each set, keep your toes pointed forward to make sure that you're targeting the quads, not the hamstrings. To avoid knee injury, don't lock out your knees at the top.
Start out with your feet close together to target the vastus lateralis. With each of the following 3 sets, move your feet a little farther apart to hit the adductor portion of the leg, including the rectus femoris and vastus intermedius muscles. Finish with your feet widespread to target the vastus medialis.
LaVigne places this movement toward the beginning of your workout to burn out your quads. Squatting this way stimulates parts of the quads you can't hit with any other exercises.
Narrow-Stance Leg Press
For this exercise, keep your toes pointed forward to isolate the outer sweep of your quads. Just because this movement falls near the end of the quad portion of the workout doesn't mean you can dog it. Pile as much weight on the machine as you can while still hitting the 8-rep mark. Don't lock out your knees at the top of the movement.
Weighted Sissy Squat
Finish off the quad portion of the workout with 35 sissy-squat reps, designed to flood those tissues with blood. Perform this move either by stabilizing yourself with one arm and holding a plate in the other, or by stabilizing yourself with both arms and not using additional weight. Rock forward on your toes as you descend, keeping your pelvis up and stretching your quads as much as possible.
Time to start working the hamstrings. If your gym has a glute-ham raise machine, you can get a good stretch and squeeze using only your body weight. If you want to challenge yourself more, grab a plate and hang on tight. If your gym doesn't have this machine, do lying leg curls instead.
You're only doing 2 sets here, so do them both until failure within the 6-10 rep range. Choose a weight that's going to challenge you while keeping you in that range. Maintain a slight bend in your knees and keep your chest up throughout the exercise. LaVigne prefers dumbbells for this movement because they allows him to keep his hands in a neutral position. You can always switch out the dumbbells for a barbell, though.
Leg Press With Wide Stance
LaVignerecommends using a "duck" stance, with your feet pointed out. This isolates the hamstrings while also starting to activate the glutes, which you'll target next. Whenever you're executing a hamstring movement, push through your heels rather than your toes. This works the hamstrings, whereas using your toes will engage the quads.
Get the last bit out of your hamstrings with 35 bodyweight squats. Feel free to use that same "duck" stance, pointing your feet outward to focus on the hamstrings. Bear in mind, the more your feet point out, the more challenging the movement becomes. After the leg work you've already done, your own body weight should be more than enough to challenge you. For extra pain and gain, slow down the last couple of reps.
Last up: glutes. Fire up the abductor machine for 5 sets of 6-10 reps, resting 10-15 seconds between each set. Start at the heaviest weight you can handle and move up the pin after every set. Just make sure you always fail in that 6-10 rep range.
Barbell Hip Thrust
Saving the best for last, LaVignehas you finish with a 35-rep burnout set of barbell hip thrusts. He chose this exercise knowing that it would hit any part of the glute you might have missed on the abductor machine. His last bit of advice: At the top of that movement, get a good contraction by squeezing your glutes hard!
If you've done this workout correctly, your only problem should be getting your body across the gym floor and into the locker room, or from the gym to your home. Just take it slow and easy, and don't be too proud to crawl.