If you’re like the average gym rat, there’s probably one day of the week that you don’t really look forward to: leg day. You see people waiting for chest and arm machines, but rarely will you see a line for the squat rack. But Juan Morel is not your average gym rat. He’s one of the top IFBB Pro League bodybuilders in the world. Oh yeah, and he loves leg day.


Morel’s unbridled passion for leg training stemmed from what was once a competitive disadvantage. “My legs used to be a weak point,” he says. “I used to train like a powerlifter when I first started out, so my legs were really strong, but they were very undeveloped. Going through the bodybuilding ranks when I was younger, people constantly told me I had to bring up my legs, so it forced me to train them harder and train them differently. Some people hate training their weak points. Not me. I look forward to it. I love training legs, so for me I go to the gym on leg day, and I’m just excited. I’m getting ready to have fun. It’s one of the hardest workouts you can do, and for me the harder it is, the better.”


For Morel, Sunday really is Fun Day, because that’s when he hits his legs the hardest with an onslaught of barbell squats, front squats, and leg presses. The volume is high, the reps are high, the weight is high, and apparently, so too is Morel’s pain tolerance. He also ramps up the intensity, supersetting more than half of his routine. Exhibit A: He pairs squats and leg presses for eight heavy, high-rep supersets to start the workout. Some people spend their Sundays watching football. Morel spends his with more than two hours of training legs in the morning and then devoting the rest of the day to hanging out with his family. The better the workout goes, the happier he is the rest of the time. “Most of my workouts are really good,” he says, “but when I have a really great leg workout, it just makes my day.”


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Morel on Squats

“I always start with a light weight and go heavier. I do one quarter [25-pound plate] on each side, then a plate [45 pounds], then a plate and a quarter, then two plates, then three plates, and possibly up to four plates, doing my last three sets with either three or four plates. Once I get under the weight, even if it’s light, I consider it a set because I’m getting a lot of reps and a pump.”

Morel on Leg Presses

“After squats I hit the leg press instead of resting or doing leg extensions; it’s a way to push myself. My legs are already screaming, so however many reps I do I feel every single one of them. Plus, it just feels good to go all-out. “With regard to weight, I start with two plates, then three, then four, then five, then six, then seven, then eight. And I’m getting a lot of repetitions and a lot of volume. My legs are pumped from Set 1, and by the end of that I can barely walk!”

Morel on Walking Lunges

“I don’t do walking lunges as often as I used to, but I still feel it’s a great leg exercise. Instead of counting reps, I walk from one end of the gym or parking lot to the other. I like to superset walking lunges with squats, keeping the bar on my back and pounding out 15 or so squat reps with whatever weight I used for lunges.”

Morel on Leg Extensions

“My legs are fatigued by the time I get to leg extensions. So instead of going superheavy, I focus on keeping the blood and lactic acid in the muscle. That way, when I get to front squats, my quads are on fire. The most important thing is to feel the quads contract in isolation as you extend your legs.”

Morel on Front Squats

“I prefer front squats, but I started doing back squats again recently to try something different. When I do back squats, my lower back gets more of the action, and can get a little tight; with front squats, I feel them working my quads.

I aim for 20 reps, but sometimes I might only get 15. I stay at 225 pounds when I front squat because at that point I can’t really move anything else. Toward the end, that 225 feels more like 500 pounds!”

Morel on Leg Curls

“My hamstrings used to lag big time, but they’ve become a strong point. I’m like Ronnie Coleman in that I believe in keeping everything the same—for example, five sets of 15 reps on all my leg-curl exercises. That is how I brought my hamstrings up, so I’ve stuck with it. I go up in weight on every set of leg curls to where I’m doing the whole rack at the end and still getting 15 reps each set.”

Morel’s Leg Workout

Juan Morel’s Leg Workout
Exercise Set Reps
Squat 8 15-20
Superset with Leg Press 8 12-40
Walking Lunge 3 Varies **
Superset with Squat 3 15
Leg Extension 4 30
Superset with Front Squat 4 15-20
Standing Single-Leg Curl 5 15
Lying Leg Curl 5 15
Leg Curl 5 15
Leg Press Calf Raise 6 20-30
*Includes light sets, starting off with only 25s on the bar for squats and two plates on each side for leg presses and working up in weight from there.
**Morel doesn’t count reps of walking lunges; he walks from one end of the gym floor or parking lot to the other.

Morel’s Leg Tips

  • KEEP THE REPS HIGH: “I believe in high reps for pretty much every body part, but for legs I go a little bit higher because legs grow better when you chase the pump.”
  • REST AS NEEDED: “I’ll rest three minutes on the big stuff earlier in the workout, but on stuff like leg extensions, front squats, and leg curls, I’ll move a little bit faster.”
  • GO LOW ON SQUATS: “I go to the bucket when I’m squatting—all the way to the bottom, but only come three-quarters of the way up. This keeps constant tension on the quads.”

Morel’s Training Split

  • Sunday: Quads, Hamstrings, Calves
  • Monday: Chest, Triceps, Biceps
  • Tuesday: Back, Shoulders
  • Wednesday: Quads, Hamstrings, Calves
  • Thursday: Chest, Triceps, Biceps
  • Friday: Back, Shoulders
  • Saturday: Rest

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