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Build Bigger Legs

Turn your twigs into solid tree trunks with this pre-exhaust leg routine.

By David Sandler, MS, CSCS
Build Bigger Legs

Some people actually look forward to leg day, but for most it’s last on their list of training priorities, which explains why many men have large, strong upper bodies supported by pencil-thin legs. If you find yourself wearing pants at the gym more often than shorts, the following workout will give you some newfound confidence just in time for the beach this summer. If you don’t train your trunks, you can’t expect them to grow. And if you don’t train them hard – simply going through the motions won’t cut it – it will take much longer to see results, if you ever see them at all. In other words, it’s time to buckle down below the belt.


When you think of big legs, you immediately think quadriceps. But just like a jacked set of arms requires the efforts of both the triceps and biceps, the legs need the hamstrings to be worked hard to maximize overall size. Lower body strength workouts normally begin with squats, but this plan switches things up by focusing on isolation exercises for the quads and hammies first, then hitting the big strength moves.

Isolating muscles allows you to attack weak areas that the big strength exercises often miss; heavy compound lifts incorporate many different muscles, thus emphasizing overall strength rather than particular trouble spots. If size is your goal, then strength should be a secondary concern. This is particularly true for the hamstrings, one of the more difficult muscle groups to bulk up.

In the below workouts, squats don’t show up until the end of the session, and when they do, they’re supersetted with yet more leg extensions in what can be referred to as a “post-exhaust” set.

Caution: Be careful when you get to your squats. If you’ve hit it hard on your previous sets, your legs will be fairly shot. This is the ideal time to take some weight off the bar.

Workout 1 is a stand-alone routine for hardcore lifters. Workout 2 is for those not quite ready for the challenge or working other bodyparts along with legs. For maximal results, do both workouts during the week.