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Do you want bigger legs? Then you better be ready to squat – at least if you want to do the below routine from U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Nathan Rumbaugh. “This is the leg day killer workout I utilized during my recent combat deployment overseas,” he says.
No wonder the United States has the strongest military in the world. And you’ll soon have the strongest legs in your gym with this workout.
Featured trainer: Staff Sergeant Nathan Rumbaugh is a weapons loader from the 180th Fighter Wing in Toledo, OH. Since graduating from the University of Cincinnati, Nathan has been a traveling freelance photographer and designer. As a photographer for Bravo Sierra, he’s able to combine his passions of military service, fitness, and photography all into one. When he’s not working on the flight line, traveling, or shooting photography, Rumbaugh is working on his private pilot’s license in hopes to soon be flying for the Air Force.
Equipment needed: Barbell, squat rack, dumbbells (glute-ham raise and calf raise machine optional)
Time commitment: Around 45 minutes, depending on rest periods
Workout overview: The best way to describe Rumbaugh’s leg workout is squats, squats, and more squats. Literally, three different squat variations right off the bat: the classic barbell squat, followed by grueling pistol squats, then dumbbell front squats.
After the squatting trio comes a few sets of curtsy lunges to hit the glutes, adductors (inner thighs), and abductors (outer thighs), in addition to the quads. Then you’ll finish with one of the toughest hamstring exercises on the planet (glute-ham raise) supersetted with calf raises.
“If you’re trying to grow meaty quads and strengthen some key core-stabilizer muscles in the process, this workout is for you,” says Rumbaugh. “Compound movements are very important to build functional strength and to grow stabilizer muscles, which not only aid in balance and control, but help keep you safe from injury during your lift.”
Warmup: After 5-10 minutes of low-intensity cardio and dynamic stretching for the lower body, perform 3 sets of 20 reps of bodyweight lunges and 3 sets of 12 reps of Good Mornings with an empty Olympic bar (45 pounds).
“This light warmup will get the blood flowing,” says Rumbaugh, “and the good mornings will get your back and core stabilizer muscles woke and ready to carpe that diem.”
|Barbell Squat||4||8, 12, 12, 25|
|Heel-elevated Pistol Squat||3||12 per leg|
|Dumbbell Front Squat||3||8, 12, 12|
|Dumbbell Curtsy Lunge||3||8, 12, 12|
|Standing or Seated Calf Raise||3||12|
Cardio: “It’s rare that I have time to hit cardio right after the weights,” says Rumbaugh, “so I tend to break my workout into two segments: cardio in the morning before breakfast (either a 3-mile run or 20 minutes on the Stairmaster), and then strength training later on that afternoon. My goal each week is to do at least three cardio sessions, or four if my cheat meal happened to include a pepperoni pizza.”
Rest periods: Rest 1-2 minutes between sets. The first three exercises in particular are highly taxing compound moves, so taking a full two minutes is advised for most people. Because the two exercises are supersetted, don’t rest between glute-ham raises and calf raises; after calf raises, rest one minute.