Growing up surrounded by bodybuilders with heavy structures allowed me to discover one or two tricks of gaining an all-round ripped physique – yes, including the lower body. Nowadays, this is something many gym-goers fail to train.
I know the first thing that comes into your mind is legs. You got that right… but you can’t forget to leave out the lower back and glutes too.
Training ‘legs’ in a single workout just won’t cut it. It’s incredibly important to concentrate on the entire lower body to build and sculpt a highly-desirable symmetrical shape.
I’ll explain why people should swap one of their (many) chest days to really hammer your legs…
Benefits of Lower Body Training
1) Testosterone Production
Testosterone is the main hormone for muscle building in males. Females have testosterone but its levels are very minimal. When doing lower body exercises, testosterone level is spiked and hence it insulates muscle growth.
2) Fat loss
Performing lower body exercises burn more calories than a session of walking on the treadmill. Squats and deadlifts are the most important lifts that help in fat burning.
3) Increases Lifts and strength
Power lifters/bodybuilders find squats and deadlifts as the main weapon to increase lifting strength . It is a common to either say “how much you lift” or “how much you squat.”
4) Strong, symmetrical lower body
Lower body exercises will help keeping the whole body in symmetry.
5) Multi-muscle movements
Exercises like squats and deadlifts involve more muscles groups than singular workouts. Doing squats involves hamstrings, quads, lower back and glutes.
Lower body exercises
1) Lower Back:
– Hyper extension
2) Glutes :
– Glute Bridge
– Stiff leg dead lift
– Leg Curl
– Leg press
– Leg extension
– Leg abductor machine.
– Standing calf raise
– Sitting calf raise
– Donkey calf raises
Sample Workout Plan
1) Free weight Squats:
3 sets x 20 reps (minimum weight)
2) Leg Extension
3 sets x 20 reps minimum weight
Set your self up, facing a bar about eye level in a rack.
a) Grab the bar at just outside of shoulder width, whilst holding the bar here, duck under the bar and place it on the meatiest part of your upper back to act as a cushion (usually around the traps).
b) Unrack the bar by taking a couple steps back and place your feet just outside of shoulder width with your feet pointing towards 11 and 1 o’clock
c) Brace your core tight, keep your chest up, neck in a neutral position and then imagine there is a chair behind you and you are going to sit on it.
d) Lower yourself until your hips are parallel with your knees and then stand back up by pushing through your heels.
Sets and reps: 3 x 15, 12, 10 (go heavy!)
This exercises requires a leg extension machine. Don’t be too worried if you’ve never used one before – it’s really simple to use! (not to say that the exercise is easy…)
a) Sitting at the machine, place your legs underneath the pads, aligning the top of your feet to ‘scoop’ around them – if it doesn’t fall like this, you may need to adjust the pads – do ask for assistance if you’re not sure. Your legs should also form a 90-degree angle, as shown above.
b) Powering through your quadriceps, exhale whilst extend the legs to their maximum possible distance.
c) Hold the contraction for a second or two.
d) Keeping the body tight, slowly return your legs to the starting position, again, landing at a 90-degree angle.
Sets and reps: 3 x 15, 12, 10
a) Sitting on a leg press machine (as shown above), place your legs onto the platform at an average medium stance.
b) At the side of the machine are safety bars holding up the platform – slowly release these bars and control the weight of the platform with your legs so your legs and torso are at a 90-degree angle.
c) Powering from your quadriceps, begin to push the platform using your heels until legs are fully extended in front of you.
d) Again, using your quadriceps, return to the starting position and repeat.
Sets and reps: 3 x 15, 12, 10
a) Start with your feet hip width apart – your weight should be placed on your heels.
b) Squeeze the stomach and glute muscles tight, lift your left leg and step forward.
c) As your foot makes contact with the ground, bend both of your knees so that your right thigh is parallel to the ground – your right heel should be off the ground at this point.
d) Breathe out and press off the ball of the right foot, stepping backwards so that you return to the starting position – taking the next step forward with your opposite leg. It is important to never allow the knee to go beyond the toes in this exercise.
Sets and reps: 3 x 15,12,10
These can be performed on a step, standing calf raise machine or seated calf raise machine (slightly different exercise but just as beneficial as each other).
For this example, we’ll explain how to use the calf raise machine, as it is easy enough to adjust to using a step.
a) Begin by adjusting the level of the calf raise machine to fit height – Step under the shoulder pads with your toes facing forward and the balls of your feet secure on the below block – this will ensure that your heels extend off the back.
b) Extend your hips and knees to push the lever up – you should end up standing upright with a slight knee bend.
c) Begin to extend your ankles and raise the heels whilst breathing out – your calves should be flexed. This position should be held for a moment or two.
d) As you breath out, slowly lower yourself back to starting position, ensuring your ankles are bent and calves become stretched.
Sets and reps: 3 x 20 (heavy)
How many times a week?
Ideally, hitting one body part per weak is advisable so that the muscles get complete rest but people vary it according to their requirements and experience.
Personally, I’d recommenda gap of 72 hours between the same muscle sets to prevent injury.
Note: While training Back people do deadlifts to train lower back muscles. Avoid training legs after back day if you’ve performed deadlifts. Go ahead and train legs with other exercises, which put bare minimum pressure on, back or else give 72 hours gap.
Take Home Tips
✓ Try to keep Saturday as Leg day so that Sunday you can completely relax.
✓ Consume carbs on leg day because you would be needing strength and energy to lift . Don’t worry – you will burn all calories!
✓ Really feel every set. Go slow in Squats and go low – don’t distort the position.
✓ Always use waist belt and knee wraps when going heavy on squats
✓ Try taking a pre-workout powder 30 minutes before you train for strength and focus
✓ Eat like a beast post-workout.
✓ Maintain minimum 8 hours of sleep
Results will come no matter what the circumstances are.
Believe in yourself and build massive legs!