Lawman Legwork: Joe ''Swat'' Palumbo Leg Workout

Joe ''Swat'' Palumbo is a full-time police officer and an IFBB pro bodybuilder. His wheels need to be big for the stage and functional for the beat. Here's his workout!

From amateur competitions in high school auditoriums to battles on the Olympia stage, the quality of a competitor's leg development often separates him from the rest. If you've signed up for a competition and think your huge upper body is going to dominate the day, think again. You will easily roll back in the pack if your wheels aren't right.

The importance of leg training isn't exclusive to the competition stage. Joe "SWAT" Palumbo is an IFBB pro and a full-time police officer. He knows full well how strong legs can help him be a better cop. The stronger and quicker he is on his feet could save crucial seconds helping a victim or pursuing a perp on foot. To ensure his status as a pro bodybuilder and an elite police officer, Joe takes his leg days seriously.

"I'm my own worst critic," Palumbo says. "I always look at my legs and find weaknesses that need improvement. I also know that to be an effective member of the S.W.A.T. team, I have to be in my best shape at all times. That's why leg training is so important to me."

"I always look at my legs and find weaknesses that need improvement."

Bodybuilder, police officer, regular dude—regardless, you must take leg training seriously. Here's Palumbo's workout, one that will whip your sissy quads and hams into shape!

Lawman Leg Workout
  • Leg Extensions Leg Extensions Leg Extensions
    2 warm-up sets of 10 reps, 2 sets of 12-15 reps, 1 set of 15-20 reps, 1 dropset to failure, rest 60 seconds between sets
If possible, add a few forced reps to the last set.
  • Squats Squats Squats
    3 sets of 12-15 reps, rest 60 seconds between sets
  • Front Squats Front Squats Front Squats
    3 sets of 12-15 reps, rest 60 seconds between sets
  • Leg Press Leg Press Leg Press
    3-4 sets of 15-20 reps, rest 60 seconds between sets
  • Standing Leg Curls Standing Leg Curls Standing Leg Curls
    3 sets of 12-15 reps per leg, rest 60 seconds between sets
  • Lying Leg Curls Lying Leg Curls Lying Leg Curls
    3 sets of 15-20 reps, rest 60 seconds between sets

4 "SWAT" Secrets

Going through the sets and reps of this workout isn't enough. Palumbo is here to help. Apply these four secrets to your leg session today for more effective and efficient training.

Constant Change

Training can get boring if you don't change exercises, sets, and rep ranges occasionally. Joe changes his workouts every time he trains. "I don't even plan what I'm going to do until the day of the workout," he says. "My partners don't know either. They just show up on leg day. When I get to the gym, I look around and figure out what we're going to do. This constant variation makes my workouts more fun and challenging. It also minimizes the chance that I'll plateau."


Palumbo makes an effort to increase the time that his muscles are under tension at the midpoint of his reps. "I like to squeeze and hold the rep for 2-3 seconds before lowering the weight back down," he explains. "That extra tension will improve the hardness of the muscle and help you control the weight you use. Concentrate on the quality of your repetitions, not the quantity."

Load Smart

"If you can't handle the weight when you lift, put it back. No competition judge is going to see where you have the pin on the stack when you step on stage. Powerlifting is determined by the number of pounds on the bar, but bodybuilding is about appearance. If you want to win as a bodybuilder, train like one."

Eat To Grow

If you aren't eating healthy to support your muscles as they recover from the onslaught you inflicted upon them, you will get nowhere fast. "Why would you go to the gym, bust your butt for so long, and then go and eat a bunch of unhealthy food? You'd almost be better off not training at all! Pay as much attention to what you eat as to how you train."