Leg Exercises

Muscle in Minutes: Legs

Carry your hard-earned, upper body mass around on bigger pins with this twice-weekly, leg-building workout plan.

Expendables Workout - Walking Lunge

Everyone wants bigger legs but no one wants to train for them. We get it. Leg day can be pretty brutal, even to the most well-conditioned athlete. There’s also a misconception that better legs are only the result of years of training. But the truth is that you can drastically change the appearance of your quads, hams – and don’t forget the glutes – through some hard training in just a few short months. All you need is the right prescription. The routines that follow could be a nice fit for the leg impaired.

The first workout of the week is heavy – front squats, Romanian deadlifts and walking lunges. All demanding, all productive. Upping the ante is the fact that they will be done in circuit fashion, which keeps the intensity high and the time commitment minimal. The second workout consists of squats, leg curls and step-ups, each done for higher volume. Back squats place a higher demand on the glutes, as do the step-ups. Hamstrings get attacked again but this time with some isolation. Dive in and hobble out – it’s leg day, peeps.

Workout 1

When I think of athletes with huge quads, I think immediately of Olympic lifters. The key to their quad-bloated success? They perform a ton of fronts, heavy. So we start the week off with heavy front squats to get the quads growing and move right on to hamstrings. The hamstrings are made of primarily fast-twitch muscle fibers, so a hearty diet of high-rep sets on leg curls isn’t really doing them any favors. It’s important to with stick with heavy weight, in this case via the Romanian deadlift, which targets the muscle across two joints (the knee and the hip). By the time you get to the lunges, you are pretty spent but it’s crucial to hit the glutes, hams and quads just a little more in this short of a workout.

Exercise

Sets

Reps        

Front Squat 

5

5

Romanian Deadlift 

5

5

Walking Lunge   

5

5 steps (per leg)

Perform all three exercises in a circuit fashion, moving from one exercise to the next without rest. Rest 90 seconds between circuits. Make sure to rest at least 48-72 hours before you perform the next workout. After one warm-up set with light weight on the front squats, use a weight that is about 80-85% of your one-rep max (1RM). Make sure to rest at least 48-72 hours before you perform the next leg workout.

Notes: Perform all three exercises in a circuit fashion.

Barbell back squat

Workout 2

The quads are a unique muscle group that needs a variety of stimulation. While the Olympic lifters left heavy and have huge quads, cyclists also have huge quads for not lifting much weight. This is because the quads also respond to high reps. Many bodybuilders have found new growth by simply switching to high-rep sets of multiple squat varieties or by alternating heavier work with “lighter” work. In this case, we’ll infuse variety and volume by switching from the front squat to the traditional back squat and doubling the rep range to your 10RM. Heavy and high rep back squats in the same week will greatly enhance your chances of tapping into each of your various muscle fiber types. Leg curls allow for some additional hamstring work, and the step-ups tackle your glutes, quads and hams in a way that is also immediately transferrable to sport.

Exercise

Sets

Reps        

Back Squat

3

10

Leg Curl

3

10

Dumbbell Step-Up   

3

8 (each leg)

These exercises are performed in straight sets fashion. Finish all sets and reps for one exercise before moving to the next. Perform one light warm-up set ahead of your squats and then start at a weight that is about 65% of your 1RM. Add weight on each set until you reach about 80% of your 1RM. Rest 90 seconds between sets. Make sure to rest at least 48-72 hours before your perform your next shoulder workout.

For more training info from Justin Grinnell, CSCS, you can go to www.justingrinnell.com, or visit his gym’s website at www.mystateoffitness.com, his Facebook page, or check him out on Twitter. He is the author of The Grinnell Lifestyle: My Nutritional Doctrine, available on Amazon.

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