Training lower body helps in maintaining symmetry as well as providing a testosterone boost and strength to any individual.
When we talk about leg training, we have a series of pre-defined old school exercises. Yeah, they are old school as they are in every guy’s schedule with or without variations – exercises like squats, leg extensions, leg press, leg curl, calf raises and so on. These exercises are great to start as a beginner but by adding variations they become more advanced.
After months of trying the different variations, I conclude that adding variations in the workout makes it more challenging and the gains are huge! Replace your present leg routine with the one below for 12-15 weeks and witness the difference. If you are training your legs twice a week, use the routine mentioned below once a week. The workout is not very high on intensity but focuses more on angles and positions to hit every single muscle amazingly.
1. Warm Up
A warm up is very important before your workout. A good warm up ensures that your muscles are ready to take the load. Spend some time working on hip mobility, then do some activity to get your heart rate up – air squats, for example, or walking lunges.
2. Barbell Back Squats
We are not going to do 3 or 4 sets of super heavy barbell squats – we are going to perform 8 sets of barbell back squats. All 8 sets are 10 reps each. The first 6 reps move to just below parallel, with the last 4 reps as full squats. Yes, you got it right – go ass to grass! Do read the below mentioned guide on how it should be performed.
A. For the first set, start with the lightest you lift and do it for 10 reps. If you are capable of doing 300 pounds in your last set, the first set should be 150 pounds in this case. I know it’s very light, but seriously this is how it works – and remember, you have 8 sets to perform.
B. For going deeper, position your feet wider than the shoulder width, with toes slightly pointing outwards. The wider foot placement would assist you to perform full squats. Check the positioning in Image A below.
C. Remember, it’s not your strength that keeps you going. It’s your breath that helps in the exercise. Make sure that you inhale deep and hold your breath while going down. Once you rise, release the air.
D. While going down, go slow. Let your glutes do the work. Stop when you reach below parallel for the first 6 reps in each set. The last 4 reps would require some effort as you have to perform full range of motion. Refer Image B.
E. Take 1-minute rest. Increase the weight by 20 % and repeat steps A-E again.
F. Try to reach the heaviest weight you lift in your last set for 10 reps. Take the help of a spotter if needed.
Image B (Left – Below Parallel, Right – Full Squat)
3. Leg Press
Your legs should be crying now – you just finished an awesome squat workout. Now let’s move on to this awesome quad builder exercise: welcome to the well-known Leg Press Machine. Let’s get down to business. We are going to perform 100 reps without any gaps and after every 20 reps we perform, the foot position changes.
In short we are having 5 different foot positions and for every 20 reps we are changing the foot position without resting. Though there is a catch – a bit of rest is obviously involved when we change the leg position 😉 We are not going to be heavy as it’s a 100 reps single set – cut down your max by 50%. Don’t get beaten by your ego. If you lift 350 kg on leg press, cut down to 175 kg or max to max 200 kg. Follow the steps on how exactly this exercise should be performed.
A. Add weight to a leg press machine – 50% of your max.
B. Position your feet as shown in the figure A.This would be the starting position.
C. Unlock the machine and bring the weight down slowly.
D. Make sure that you are not going completely down. By no means are you going to touch your chest with your knees. Your knees shouldn’t cross your toes while you come down. This would be your ending position.
E. Push up and don’t lock out the knees when you reach the starting position.
F. Perform 20 reps, move your feet up as shown in figure B and repeat steps C-E for 20 more reps.
G. Keep adjusting your feet by looking at the images below (C, D, E) for the next reps.
H. Try to walk around after 100 reps. 😛
Leg Positioning: Why Is It So Important?
Traditionally, the leg press is performed by placing the feet in the center of the platform. The higher the foot placement is, the easier the exercise becomes as it starts involving more of your glutes than quads.
The main aim of having a single set of 100 reps is to push to the extreme. The lower the feet positioning is, the more stress is on your quads and later involves glutes when you go higher on the platform. So along with the quads, your glutes are also getting trained.
4. Leg Extension – With a Twist
Now it’s time for your favorite Leg Extension machine. Perform 3 sets with the desired weight and now do the variations mentioned below for the last set. Leave your ego at the door! The last set consists of 30 continuous reps with 3 different foot positions – toes pointing straight, toes pointing inside and then outwards. Follow the images and steps mentioned below.
A. Perform first 3 sets as per your preferred weight.
B. For the last set, decrease the weight by 20-30%.
C. Perform first 10 reps by positioning your legs as shown in Figure A.
D. Don’t stop, change the leg position as shown in figure B and perform another 10 reps.
E. The last 10 reps have to be performed as shown on figure C.
F. You are done! Congrats!
The last set is an alternate way to target the inner & outer quads. Some gyms may have leg abductor machines to do this work on.
5. Leg Curl
No games with this one. Do 3 sets of 8 of these to train your hamstrings.
E. Standing Calf Raises Machine
Now let’s train those stubborn calves. Calves are a group of two muscles and are often neglected and are difficult to grow. This workout aims to hit them with three different foot placements for maximum effect – follow the steps and images mentioned below.
A. Stand on a standing calf raise machine as shown in Figure A.
B. Keeping knees straight, push up through your heels. This would be your starting position.
C. Hold at the top for 2 seconds.
D. Slowly return back to the starting position.
E. Repeat 20 reps.
F. After a gap of 30 seconds, stand again as shown in Figure B.
G. Take 30 seconds gap and perform the last set as shown in Figure C for 20 reps.
Figure A / Figure B / Figure C (Heels Pointing Outwards)
6. Seated Calf Raises
Perform 3 sets of seated calf raise on a machine. There is not much to the leg placement here and there are no 100 reps. Try to perform at least 20 reps for 4 sets for overall calf development.
Consolidated Workout Chart
Take Home Message
Take this workout seriously. The leg placements are an effective way to get huge quads and calves. The squats are light in the first few sets though they go heavy on the next. The wide leg stance ensures you are able to sit down completely, though you can get help from a belt and a spotter.
Try this workout and let us know your views in the comments below!