When you want bigger legs, chances are you’ll work your quads to exhaustion, then you’ll hit them some more. But without a good set of hamstrings and calves you may as well kiss that quad work goodbye. After squeezing out thigh-burning rep after thigh-burning rep and lifting heavy poundages on squats, leg presses and lunges, you’ve really just begun. Time to move onto to your knee and ankle flexors for a bit more pain. Because when it comes to bigger, stronger legs that will also help you athletically, the muscles in the back are just as important as the ones in the front.

Legs to Stand On

To really get your legs growing, you need to increase strength to up your weights and increase volume to pack on size. Your best bet is to target train your hamstrings and calves twice per week, with one strength day consisting of relatively low reps and one hypertrophy day of high volume and moderate reps. On strength days, give yourself a solid two minutes of rest between sets – if you don’t need that much of a break, it means you didn’t work hard enough. On size days, limit rest periods to 75-90 seconds.

Remember the old saying “no pain, no gain.” In fact, don’t just remember it – live it, breathe it and embrace it on leg day. If you don’t feel a burn and want to quit, it probably means you need to add more weight, increase your range of motion or both. Often the hamstrings and calves get neglected because they’re not fun to train, and the strain of hard work takes a big toll on your physical desire. All we can say is, suck it up. Don’t let them lag behind. Move hams and calves to front of your leg day – yes, before quads – from time to time to give them priority your routine. For once, don’t put the backs of your legs on the backburner.


Lower Body Blast: Strength Day

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Seated Leg Curl      4 6 2 minutes
Romanian Deadlift 3 8 2 Minutes
Good Mornings 3 6 2 Minutes
Single-Leg Dumbbell Standing Calf Raise 4 6 2 Minutes
Seated Calf Raise 4 8 2 Minutes

Size Day

Exercise Sets Reps Rest
Leg Curl      5 12* 75-90 seconds
Single-Leg Dumbbell Standing Calf Raise 5 12* 75-90 seconds
Good Mornings 4 12 75-90 seconds
Seated Calf Raise 4 12 75-90 seconds
Romanian Deadlift 4 12 75-90 seconds


*On each of the last two sets, after reaching failure initially at 12 reps, drop the weight at least 25% and do as many reps as possible.