We all have a love/hate relationship with leg day. Nonetheless, it is absolutely a necessary muscle group you need to train.
No workout day is going to be harder than leg day, physically, and even mentally.
In this article I will include my favorite exercises for building muscle, and adding some serious mass to your legs.
Now eat up, and get to the gym, you have legs to build!
Warm Up – 10 minutes
5 Minute Thermogenic Warm Up: I.e. stationary bike, stair climber, jump rope, etc.)
5 Minutes of Dynamic Stretches: I.e. Knee-to-chest squeezes, prisoner squats, lateral lunges, etc.)
Barbell Squat – 12 Reps
Leg Press – 12 Reps
1. Begin with the barbell supported on top of the traps. The chest should be up and the head facing forward. Adopt a hip-width stance with the feet turned out as needed.
2. Descend by flexing the knees, refraining from moving the hips back as much as possible. This requires that the knees travel forward. Ensure that they stay align with the feet. The goal is to keep the torso as upright as possible.
3. Continue all the way down, keeping the weight on the front of the heel. At the moment the upper legs contact the lower legs reverse the motion, driving the weight upward.
1. Using a leg press machine, sit down on the machine and place your legs on the platform directly in front of you at a medium (shoulder width) foot stance. (Note: For the purposes of this discussion we will use the medium stance described above which targets overall development; however you can choose any of the three stances described in the foot positioning section).
2. Lower the safety bars holding the weighted platform in place and press the platform all the way up until your legs are fully extended in front of you. Tip: Make sure that you do not lock your knees. Your torso and the legs should make a perfect 90-degree angle. This will be your starting position.
3. As you inhale, slowly lower the platform until your upper and lower legs make a 90-degree angle.
4. Pushing mainly with the heels of your feet and using the quadriceps go back to the starting position as you exhale.
5. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions and ensure to lock the safety pins properly once you are done. You do not want that platform falling on you fully loaded.
Dumbbell Walking Lunge – 12 Reps
Leg Extensions – 12 Reps
Dumbbell Walking Lunge:
1. Begin standing with your feet about hip-width apart and holding dumbbells in your hands down by your side. This will be your starting position.
2. Step forward with one leg, flexing the knees to drop your hips. Descend until your rear knee nearly touches the ground. Your posture should remain upright, and your front knee should be in line with your front foot. Do not allow your front knee to go forward beyond your toes as you come down, as this will put undue stress on the knee joint.
3. Drive through the heel of your lead foot and extend both knees to raise yourself back up.
4. Step forward with your rear foot, repeating the lunge on the opposite leg.
1. For this exercise you will need to use a leg extension machine. First choose your weight and sit on the machine with your legs under the pad (feet pointed forward) and the hands holding the side bars. This will be your starting position. Tip: You will need to adjust the pad so that it falls on top of your lower leg (just above your feet). Also, make sure that your legs form a 90-degree angle between the lower and upper leg. If the angle is less than 90-degrees then that means the knee is over the toes which in turn creates undue stress at the knee joint. If the machine is designed that way, either look for another machine or just make sure that when you start executing the exercise you stop going down once you hit the 90-degree angle.
2. Using your quadriceps, extend your legs to the maximum as you exhale. Ensure that the rest of the body remains stationary on the seat. Pause a second on the contracted position.
3. Slowly lower the weight back to the original position as you inhale, ensuring that you do not go past the 90-degree angle limit.
4. Repeat for the recommended amount of times.
Romanian Deadlift – 12 Reps
Lying Leg Curls – 12 Reps
1. Hold a bar at hip level with a pronated (palms facing down) grip. Your shoulders should be back, your back arched, and your knees slightly bent. This will be your starting position.
2. Lower the bar by moving your butt back as far as you can. Keep the bar close to your body, your head looking forward, and your shoulders back. Done correctly, you should reach the maximum range of your hamstring flexibility just below the knee. Any further movement will be compensation and should be avoided for this movement.
3. At the bottom of your range of motion, return the starting position by driving the hips forward to stand up tall.
Lying Leg Curls:
1. Adjust the machine lever to fit your height and lie face down on the leg curl machine with the pad of the lever on the back of your legs (just a few inches under the calves). Tip: Preferably use a leg curl machine that is angled as opposed to flat since an angled position is more favorable for hamstrings recruitment.
2. Keeping the torso flat on the bench, ensure your legs are fully stretched and grab the side handles of the machine. Position your toes straight (or you can also use any of the other two stances described on the foot positioning section). This will be your starting position.
3. As you exhale, curl your legs up as far as possible without lifting the upper legs from the pad. Once you hit the fully contracted position, hold it for a second.
4. As you inhale, bring the legs back to the initial position. Repeat for the recommended amount of repetitions.
Hack Squats – 15 reps
Standing Calf Raises – 15 reps
1. Place the back of your torso against the back pad of the machine and hook your shoulders under the shoulder pads provided.
2. Position your legs in the platform using a shoulder width medium stance with the toes slightly pointed out. Tip: Keep your head up at all times and also maintain the back on the pad at all times.
3. Place your arms on the side handles of the machine and disengage the safety bars (which on most designs is done by moving the side handles from a facing front position to a diagonal position).
4. Now straighten your legs without locking the knees. This will be your starting position. (Note: For the purposes of this discussion we will use the medium stance described above which targets overall development; however you can choose any of the three stances described in the foot positioning section).
5. Begin to slowly lower the unit by bending the knees as you maintain a straight posture with the head up (back on the pad at all times). Continue down until the angle between the upper leg and the calves becomes slightly less than 90-degrees (which is the point in which the upper legs are below parallel to the floor). Inhale as you perform this portion of the movement. Tip: If you performed the exercise correctly, the front of the knees should make an imaginary straight line with the toes that is perpendicular to the front. If your knees are past that imaginary line (if they are past your toes) then you are placing undue stress on the knee and the exercise has been performed incorrectly.
6. Begin to raise the unit as you exhale by pushing the floor with mainly with the heel of your foot as you straighten the legs again and go back to the starting position.
Standing Calf Raises:
1. Adjust the padded lever of the calf raise machine to fit your height.
2. Place your shoulders under the pads provided and position your toes facing forward (or using any of the two other positions described at the beginning of the chapter). The balls of your feet should be secured on top of the calf block with the heels extending off it. Push the lever up by extending your hips and knees until your torso is standing erect. The knees should be kept with a slight bend; never locked. Toes should be facing forward, outwards or inwards as described at the beginning of the chapter. This will be your starting position.
3. Raise your heels as you breathe out by extending your ankles as high as possible and flexing your calf. Ensure that the knee is kept stationary at all times. There should be no bending at any time. Hold the contracted position by a second before you start to go back down.
4. Go back slowly to the starting position as you breathe in by lowering your heels as you bend the ankles until calves are stretched.
Keep in mind, like any workout, will only be as good as the effort you put into it. If you decide you are ready to have big tree-trunk like legs, get ready to work!