If you’ve ever trained for weeks and months on end and you just don’t see any improvement in mass gains of your legs – fear not, you’re not alone!
Legs are your biggest muscle group so it’s not surprising they’re the toughest part to gain size. Partly, it can come down to genetics, some people are naturally gifted with tree trunks, others find it extremely easy to add size to their legs regardless of training or any of the below points in this article.
However, for those who don’t, the five-point will help aid leg mass development – so let’s get going!
1) Training Program
It’s possible your training program is letting you down. If it’s been put together haphazardly then chances are you won’t be getting results from it.
Volume is important to consider, studies have shown that a combined total rep amount of around 30 reps per exercise is key for hypertrophy to begin. So for one exercise, 3 sets of 10 reps, 4 sets of 8 or 5 sets of 5 is a good place to begin when writing a training program!
How many exercises per muscle?
After compound exercises are considered, I recommend 2 per muscle group. So for example, after squatting, you can do a leg extension and possibly a leg press/lunge. After a deadlift, you could do a leg curl followed by Romanian deadlifts.
Compound exercises contribute so much to growth, the number of muscles the Squat and the Deadlift stimulate is countless and should be the basis of any leg routine and will make sure that your legs grow at a balanced rate as the squat primarily works your anterior chain and the deadlift mainly works your posterior chain, sure to give you beastly hamstrings and quadriceps when done correctly. For best results, train legs twice a week and squat on one day and deadlift on the other day and with that, onto frequency!
2) Training Frequency
For natural athletes, studies have shown that training a muscle group with less intensity but twice a week contributes to more long-term hypertrophy gains. I know what you’re thinking, I am so sore from one leg day, let alone two! Don’t worry, you’ll be training with less overall volume than on a typical “bro split” aka a program that packs all intensity and volume into one day so you can barely move afterwards, this is not what we want.
There comes a point in a training day where more is not more and it becomes overkill or even counterproductive. What makes more sense, training at 90% for every exercise in the day or giving the first exercise 100%, the second 80-90%, the third 60-70% and the last few exercises you’re too knackered to give anything above 30-40%, you might be thinking during the sets you’re giving “100%” but 100% at the specific time is not the same as 100% if you were fresh!
3) Calorie Surplus
Calories are the building blocks of the body, without them, tissue growth couldn’t happen. If you’re not in a calorie surplus, meaning, you’re not eating more calories than you burn in a day, it is scientifically impossible for you to gain new tissue, i.e. muscle. This goes for all muscle too, not just legs!
While phrases like “eat big to get big” have some truth behind them if you eat way over your maintenance calories you will gain a lot of fat…eating around 10% over your maintenance should limit most of your fat gain and give you enough muscle gain to keep you happy and lean.
Leading on from calories, you need to partition a certain amount of them to protein. Protein is the macronutrient responsible for tissue repair and protein cannot be made from carbohydrates or fats so it is essential for everyone and even more essential to someone searching for hypertrophy.
How much to consume?
Around 2g per kg of body weight should be enough for muscle gaining. If you struggle to consume your daily protein intake, shakes such as Impact whey protein are perfect for meal additions or even snacks to top up your daily protein count.
5) Form And Technique
With all exercises, the proper technique needs to be in place, without it you lay the risk of injuring yourself and stopping your hobby dead in its tracks, if you need help nailing form, there are enough exercise guides out there to guide you along the way.
Look at any of the Myprotein ambassador videos on our YouTube channel, for example, they’ll have you lifting perfectly in no time because the form is everything when it comes to weightlifting and this is even more paramount when it comes to free weight exercises such as the squat and deadlift. Oh, and I want to see everyone squatting to at least parallel, that is of course if you want to stimulate all the right leg muscles and make muscular gains, which I know you do!
This is a short bonus point which I felt was very important, have you ever heard the phrase, “You don’t grow in the gym, you grow out of it”? Words have never been so true when you eat, rest and sleep are when your body will be creating the pathways to new muscle, you tear the muscles down whilst you train but the new, bigger, stronger muscle is made after you train.
Take rest days, get enough sleep, train smart and hard and you’ll be paving your way to a decent set of pins in no time!