Ultimate Leg Day Workout: Achieve Explosive Muscle Growth Today!
Read Time: 8 minutes, 49 seconds.
It’s crazy to think that so many apparent weightlifters choose to skip leg day. Building large, powerful legs is the ultimate way to produce a well-rounded, strong physique. However, many regular leg day enthusiasts fail to see the growth they want. The reason for this most likely lies in using an old, stagnated routine that your legs are too used to.
In order to build sizeable, muscular legs, you need to be following well-crafted workouts that keep things fresh and keep the muscles guessing. You also need to ensure that your workout is designed in such a way that you give 100% of your effort and leave nothing on the table. Well, here is the template ultimate leg day workout.
The 5 step approach to an effective leg day routine
Step 1: Carry out a proper warm up
This step is pretty straightforward, however, far too many gym-goers fail to warm up correctly, if at all! Failure to do so will lead to an increased chance of injury and the ability to lift less during your workout that follows. A proper warm-up should effectively target your core, glutes and hip flexors. Leaving you flexible and pumped for the session ahead.
As a minimum, we recommend 10 to 15 of light cardio. Using the treadmill or exercise bike work well for this. Followed by another 10 minutes of slight to moderate stretching. It also helps to stretch your upper body as well, as exercises like squats engage muscles all across your body.
Step 2: Pre-exhaust your quads
Ok, now it’s time to move on to the heavy lifting! And here, we believe in starting the punishment right away. That’s why we recommend starting your session by pre-exhausting your quads. Leg extensions tend to work best here. It’s up to you how many sets you do/need, however, 5 is usually a good amount.
Start the first set off lightly, maybe 60% of your working weight for 10-12 reps. Increase this to 70% for the second set, 80% for the third, 90% for the fourth and 100% for the 5th. Leg extensions are great as they really isolate the quads and force you to contract the muscles fully. You’re now ready to move onto step 3 …
Step 3: Destroy your quads!
There are 2 main exercises here, that I’m sure you’re familiar with. That’s right, squats and leg press. These 2 exercises are the staple of any good leg day, and we highly recommend starting with squats. This is because they engage so many other muscles and really force you to engage your core. 5 sets of 10 to 12 reps is a good amount.
Afterwards, your 5 sets of leg press are the best way to really push your quads to the max and get everything out of them that you can. Again 5 sets is a good amount. For both squats and leg press, we recommend increasing your weight as you progress through the sets. If this means dropping the rep count as you go, that’s fine. Just focus on adding more and more plates and feeling your legs start to shake more and more after each set.
Step 4: Now it’s time for the hamstrings
It’s impossible to build huge, showstopping legs, without giving proper attention to your hamstrings. Lying leg curls are one of the best ways to isolate these and, once again, 5 sets where you gradually increase the weight is a good way to go. Afterwards, try out another 5 sets from any of the following:
Deadlifts are a great way to target your hamstrings, while also giving your lower back an added workout. However, the “Clean” version of the deadlift puts even more pressure on your hamstrings and switches focus away from your lower back.
FLOOR GLUTE HAM RAISES
You’ll need a training partner for these, but they are a surprisingly effective way to give your hamstrings an unexpected shock. In fact, they are so tough, that most people can’t do them at first without pushing off the ground.
The Romanian deadlift is another great variation of the classic deadlift that puts more work on your hamstrings. Just be sure to keep your head up at all times and don’t jerk the movement.
This is a favourite exercise due to how many muscle groups it works all at once. Including your calves, back, shoulders, core and, of course, hamstrings! However, it is important that you get the movement right so ask for help when trying this for the first time.
Step 5: Don’t forget your calves
Far and away, one of the hardest muscle groups to tackle and grow are the calves. They are the bane of bodybuilding for many die-hard weightlifters, simply because they don’t grow as quickly as you’d like. Well, it’s time to do away with the whole “no matter what I do, my calves just won’t get bigger” excuse. Instead, it’s time to change how you approach them.
First and foremost, you need to realise that calves are an incredibly strong muscle group, despite their comparative size. They get used almost constantly every day, so achieving growth only comes through hitting them hard. They also have a very fast recovery time, so 4 sets once a week simply won’t cut it.
As a bare minimum, it’s time to go for 8 sets of 15 to 20 reps, twice per week. And, most importantly, you need to stop doing calves alongside other leg day routines. Instead, we recommend incorporating them on your back day routine, as well as one other day. You can do them on leg day as well, just be aware that you won’t be able to exhaust them in the same way.
There’s no exact science to how many reps to do. But, as a rule of thumb, you want to be going for the high rep range. Many bodybuilders do upwards of 30 reps per set. For Arnold Schwarzenegger type calves, aim for …
● 4 sets of Donkey Calf Raises
● 4 sets of Standing Calf Raises
● 4 sets of Seated Calf Raises
Taking your leg days to another level
OK, remember above where we said that you need to keep your leg muscles guessing? Well, if you follow the same routine week after week, then the benefits you’ll see will slowly start to diminish. As such, it’s crucial that you mix things up. And here are 4 awesome ways for you to do exactly that. All whilst following a similar, proven strategy as discussed above.
Use different equipment wherever possible
Compared to gyms 20, 10 or even just 5 years ago, you can now find an incredible range of equipment to train with. That is, as long, as you choose to be a member of a high-quality gym. Either way, make use of the varied equipment available to you in order to mix up your sessions. Even just swapping between a free bar and a smith machine for squats is a nice way to keep things different.
If you’re a member at Ultimate Fitness Birmingham, then you’ll find we recently invested in a new Hip Belt Squat Machine from Atlantis. This incredible piece of kit no longer requires you to carry the weight on your shoulders. Instead, you load up the machine itself, and then strap the weight on through the hip belt. This offers a number of unique benefits and is already proving incredibly popular.
Access the power of pyramid routines
We mentioned these above, but here’s a little more detail. The idea behind a pyramid routine is to increase the weight lifted each set, whilst simultaneously decreasing the number of reps performed. These work well on any of the leg day exercises mentioned above. And to really mix things up, try reverse pyramids as well. Here’s a quick example of standard pyramid sets:
● Set 1 – 120 kg for 12 reps
● Set 2 – 140 kg for 10 reps
● Set 3 – 160 kg for 8 reps
And now for a reverse pyramid:
● Set 1 – 160 kg for 8 reps
● Set 2 – 140 kg for 10 reps
● Set 3 – 120 kg for 12 reps
Drop Sets and supersets for the win!
To really ensure you get the most out of each exercise, we recommend incorporating drop sets perhaps once or twice per session. Even just drop setting your final set will really enable you to push your muscles beyond their normal limits and to achieve real growth. The same goes for supersets. These allow you to couple up any exercises you wish. A good one to try would be super setting your barbell squats with Bulgarian Split Squats.
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Perform variations on your squats
Squats really are one of the greatest exercises out there. They allow you to quickly build up tremendous amounts of strength, not just in your quads, but also in your core. Another reason why bodybuilders love them so much is that there are so many variations to perform. Making simple changes like increasing the width of your stance can work your quads in new ways. But to really mix things up, here are 3 squat variations for you to try:
1. Zercher Squats – These require you to hold the barbell in front of you, clamped between your forearms and your biceps. Be sure to drop the weight down when starting with these as it is far more demanding and requires you to engage your core in a whole new way.
2. Barbell Front Squat – Once again, this requires you to hold the weight in front of you. Except for this time on the front of your shoulders.
3.Goblet Squats – Hold a dumbbell in front of you and sink your butt right down towards your heels.
Do hamstrings and quads on different days
If you find that doing quads and hamstrings on the same day is a bit too much, then feel free do them on different days. As long as you have a few days rest between each one. That way, you should be able to work each muscle group far better individually than what you would be doing them on the same day. Just ensure you warm up properly on both sessions.
So there you have it, our 5 step guide to supercharging your leg workouts and increasing strength and size faster than ever before. To maximise gains, ensure that you are eating plenty in between sessions and taking necessary supplements to help keep your body fueled as and when necessary. Here is a useful guide we compiled on gym supplements and using them to increase overall gains.