Akim Williams' Old School Leg Workout

Just how badly do you want bigger, stronger legs?



Per Bernal


For Williams, “old-school” doesn’t mean sloppy and haphazard. He is careful and meticulous about warmups in his workouts, including his usual Wednesday quad-focused leg session. “I stretch my quads out first, getting into a deep squat, where I lean back a little when I’m in the down position,” he says. “Then I’ll warm up with single- leg extensions, three sets of 15 to 20 reps. I want to make sure everything is running on all cylinders before I even start thinking about going heavy.”

The first major move is the leg press, which he pumps out powerfully, his kneecaps sinking into his pecs on every rep. “I’m really strong with squats, so I try to pre-exhaust my quads first so I don’t have to go as heavy to stimulate them,” he says. He starts with a few plates per side and proceeds to do four to five sets total, each time loading up two more plates per side until the leg-press apparatus is maxed out.

Foot placement varies, which helps him hit both the inner and outer quads. “If I do a shoulder-width or wider stance on the leg press, I’ll do a closer stance on squats, and vice versa,” Williams says. As for reps, he does go as high as 15 to 20, but don’t get it twisted—it’s only his prodigious strength, built up over years of practice, which requires him to bust through double digits to hit failure.

Per Bernal


Following presses are barbell squats in the power rack. “Because they’re totally different movements with different mechanics, I’ll start off light again to warm up the joints and knees,” Williams says. That means a plate on each side for 135 pounds for 12 to 15 reps.

From there, he adds 90 pounds per set, while the reps naturally decrease over anywhere from four to seven sets. “I’ll top out at five to seven plates [495 to 675 pounds] per side, depending on how I feel that day,” he says. “The most I’ve ever done with six plates is 16 reps, but I’ll try to go as high as I can. If it’s six or seven plates, I’m aiming for six or seven good reps out of that. If I go up to eight plates, I’ll try for at least two to three reps.”

No matter how long he goes, his form remains firm, as he drops his hips downward to reach a thighs-parallel-with-the- floor position while keeping his core flexed, feet flat on the floor, and eyes focused forward.


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