Leg Exercises

7 Wheel-Blasting Leg Workouts

Serious total-body change starts with your legs. Try one of these widowmaker routines to get your quads and hams on the grow.


About zero people out there start a heavy leg day with calves. But how many among us actually have calves worth boasting about? This routine still gives you all the thigh-busting benefits of compound moves but a calves-first focus adds a subtle change and sets the tone for more isolation work later.

Exercise                                      Sets/Reps

Standing Calf Raise                  6/10 1

Lying Leg Curl                           6/10 1

Leg Extension                           3/12 2

Hack Squat                                3/12

Leg Press                                  4/8

Seated Calf Raise                   3/12

1 Perform two sets with your feet angled in, two with them angled out and two with them parallel. Rest 90-120 seconds between sets.

2 Perform one set with your feet angled in, one with them angled out and one with them parallel. Rest 90-120 seconds between sets.

Why It Works: To turn you chopsticks in to tree trunks, you need to hit your hams and calves as hard as you hit any other part of your body. Doing calves first may seem counterintuitive, even ill advised. But training them first, when they’re fresh, will help turn them into a centerpiece of your leg development. This program develop each of the muscle groups of the leg completely provided that you choose weights that make the last rep of each set almost impossible to get. Rather than focus on big lower body mass builders like the barbell squat, you’ll target individual muscles at multiple angles to ensure that the entire leg, not just the quads, get worked. The multijoint hack squat and leg press allow you to use heavy weight without worrying about stability – from your fatigued calves or your core. You’ll finish with seated calf raises, which work the deeper-lying soleus muscle to give your calves added dimension.

David Sandler, MS, CISSN, CSCS*D, RSCC*D, HFD, HFI, FNSCA, FISSN has been a consultant, educator, researcher, and strength and conditioning coach for the past 25 years. He is the Director of Science and Education for iSatori and the President of StrengthPro, a training and nutrition consulting group.