Legs. The muscle that everyone has a love-hate relationship with it. I mean we all want to have tree trunk legs, but only a few will enjoy the process of developing a pair.
Leg training is hard, Everyone knows that. So if you have been skipping your leg training for a while, or maybe you were genetically cursed with smaller legs, then this article is for you. After reading it, you should have a clear idea on how to attack your thighs for hyper-growth.
Let’s first start with a brief anatomy reminder, so you know what you are working on.
the quadriceps are the muscles at the front of the thigh which act as extensors of the leg.
The quadriceps, as the name implies is composed of four muscle groups: the rectus femoris and the vastus intermidius: those are the muscles that create that V shape like look that we see on the middle of the front thighs of professional bodybuilders.
the other two muscles are the vastus medialis of the inner thigh and the vastus lateralis of the outer thigh.
Generally, the basis of all four muscles of the quadriceps is to extend and straighten the leg.
The hamstrings represent the musculature of the rear of your thighs. As their name implies, the hamstrings are composed of two main muscles the Biceps femoris, which is the main hamstring muscles and the one that gets the most attention. The second muscle is the semitendinosus, which is the upper inner hamstring muscle.
So, if you think that doing leg curls is enough to work all of your hamstrings then think again.
Now, after this boring anatomy reminder, let’s move to the real stuff.
The Importance Of Leg Training
First of all, I want to start with a note on the importance of leg training. For a variety of reasons, people always tend to skip leg training altogether, or just not giving it the attention it deserves. I mean, I have been around gyms for over years now and I can tell you that it is really rare to see someone excited about working their legs and training them with super intensity like they do with chest and arms.
I know that legs might not be your favorite muscle to work, and it is not as attractive a big set of guns and a barrel-sized chest. But, without a proper leg development, your physique will look unproportionate and weak. Trust me, no one likes people with big upper bodies and chicken legs, it is just not aesthetically looking.
Leg Training For Overall Muscle growth
Besides being vital for most athletes, leg training is especially beneficial for bodybuilders and those training to look good naked. Why is that? Simply because your legs are the largest muscles of your entire body, and the strongest as well. So when performing movements like the squats and deadlifts, you will be able to lift way heavier weights then you lift on other exercises such as the bench press. Heavy weights are the main stimulators of testosterone, testosterone, which most of you may already hear about it and how it is very important for muscle building and fat building, is the male hormones.
In addition of being responsible for secondary male characteristics like body hair, deep voice, beard, etc, testosterone is one of the strongest anabolic hormones in the human body since it increases protein synthesis and inhibits protein breakdown. Thos two effects equal muscle growth.
So, simply if you want to grow bigger muscles, you need ore testosterone. And leg training is your number one key for increasing free testosterone levels naturally so skipping it might not the best idea.
Also, if you are someone who is looking to burn bodyfat, leg training exercise are the most demanding exercises in terms of calorie burn and EPOC effect, so they will help you to burn fat faster.
I think you already figured out how important leg training is in physique development. Now, let’s move to Leg training and how to successfully develop tree trunk legs.
Key1: Use Compound Exercises With Heavy Weights For Growth
Legs are a large and strong muscle with so many fibers, it is best to use compound exercises like the squats and deadlifts to target as many muscle fibers as possible. Also, since it is mostly composed of fast twitch muscle fibers, the legs respond very well to heavy weights training and higher intensity methods.
So, to grow big powerful legs it is vital to include some big compound exercises with heavy weights in the 6-8 rep ranges.
Note: advanced trainees could go as low as 2 reps when the goal is a maximal strength, while beginners, on the other hand, should never go under 6 reps per set because their tendons are not strong enough to handle such heavy loads, which can ultimately lead to injuries.
Key 2: Do Enough Training Volume For The Legs
Besides being strong, the legs are designed to handle a lot of workloads. After all, they are meant to carry us around all the time. So, in addition to using heavy weights, it is important to do enough volume of leg training to fully overload those muscle and elicit the desired growth response.
The minimal volume for legs would be 12 working sets for quadriceps and 12 for hamstrings weekly. Of course, that is the minimal amount. So you can increase that as long as it doesn’t cause recovery issues.
Key 3: Don’t Neglect Your Hamstrings
That is the most common mistake people make. They would start their workouts with squats, leg extension, lunges then they would finish with a few half-assed leg curl sets thinking they effectively worked the hamstrings.
Over time this will lead to weak hamstrings, which is very common even among professional bodybuilders. Prioritizing your quadriceps for years will result in disproportionate look and it would make it harder to grow your hamstrings.
To avoid that, make sure to target your hamstrings first in the workout. Also, work both of their functions. It is true that leg curls are an awesome exercise but they only target the biceps femoris. To target the semitendinosus you need to do a variation of a hip hinge movement. I found the stiff leg deadlift to be the best for that goal.
Key 4: Use Proper Form And A Full Range Of Motion
Quarter squats won’t make your legs grow, period. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen dudes load the bar with 3 or 4 plates to only do few reps of quarter squats. Guess what they all have in common, small legs.
And while it is not necessary for anyone to go ass to grass on the squats, since some people have limited mobility, it is important to at least hit the 90-degree angle while doing squats. A trick that I like to use is to use bench squats. This is a variation where you have to touch the bench with your butt before going upward.
Also, tall lifters tend to have a hard time recruiting their quads in back squats because their torso tends to bend a lot. So a good option for them would be to perform front squats instead to fully stimulate their quads.
Key 5: Train Your Legs Twice A Week
If your legs are a weak bodypart, it is really hard to bring them up with one session per week. Leg training is very demanding and brutal. So fully stimulating every muscle of your legs in one workout would be a draining and painful experience. To really get your legs to grow you should be pushing that hard.
So, I always find it a much better idea to split your leg training into two weekly sessions. One way to do that is to hit the quadriceps in one session and the hamstrings in the second one. Another method is to do one heavy workout at the beginning of the week where you use maximal weights with a low rep and long rest periods. This type of training will stimulate your high threshold muscle fibers so they are easily recruited in the second workout. The second workout will be a hypertrophy focused workout.
As we said, the second workout would be a hypertrophy based workout with some metabolic component. We will use slightly higher reps and shorter rest periods. Techniques like drop sets and supersets would be optimal to increase the intensity and get the most out of this workout.
Either way you want to go about it, training your legs twice a week is a much better option for growth.
Monstrous Legs Workout
Now, let’s put it all together and design an effective leg workout.
Note: This a very high volume and a demanding workout designed to be done once every 5 days at max. Make sure to eat properly and rest adequately for optimal results.
|1-Barbell front squat||4||6-8||120 sec||Use moderately heavy weights and focus on full range of motion|
|2-Stiff leg deadlifts||4||8-10||90 sec||Don’t go all the way up to keep the tension on the hamstrings|
|3||10-12||60 sec||3A and 3B are done as a superset without rest.|
|Walking lunges||3||15||45 sec||If you feel tired you can do them without weights, if not use a pair of moderately light dumbells|
|Standing Calf Raises||5||10||30 sec||Squeeze your calves at the top|
Now, hopefully, you will be able to walk in the next couple of days. Trust me this workout is no joke. So, get ready to get hurt and to grow those wheels.