The Pareto principle (aka the “80/20 rule”) states that, in a given area, roughly 80% of your results are accomplished by 20% of your efforts. If we were applying this to leg training, then squats, lunges, stepups, and deadlifts would fall into the 20% of exercises producing 80% of your lower-body gains (more or less). All those leg extensions and leg curls are fine, but they’re likely not your true thigh-developing linchpins.

What you’ll find here is a Pareto-inspired leg workout that provides a bit more bang for the buck than your standard leg day routine—variations of lunges, squats, stepups, and deadlifts, and nothing else. Consider this your 80/20 leg day. If you’ve got time later in the week (and aren’t crushed by this workout), then knock yourself out with leg presses, leg curls, and the inner-/outer-thigh machine.

Level Up Workout

Directions: Warm up with five to 10 minutes of low-intensity cardio followed by one to two sets of light leg extensions and one to two sets of light lunges.

  • Reverse Lunge: 3 sets, 10 reps per leg
  • Goblet Squat: 4 sets, 8 reps (Start light and increase weight on every set.)
  • Stepup: 3 sets, 10 reps per leg
  • Romanian Deadlift: 3 sets, 12 reps