No matter how great you look from the waist up, neglecting the development of your legs will ultimately make your physique appear weird and unbalanced. Leg training isn’t something that should be saved for “later”, once you accomplish your goal of building a humongous upper body.
We get it that you probably find it less appealing than for example, biceps training, but the fact remains that if you’re hoping to build a highly aesthetic and well-defined physique, you need to get as serious about building big legs as you are about building a massive chest.
With that in mind, we offer you a set of five must-do leg moves that will push your lower body growth out of the box and separate your physique from that of the average rabid bench presser. Start today!
Roughly put, leg training begins and ends with squats. This exercise is the single most important one when it comes to adding mass to your lower body, but sadly, its potential often remains untapped due to the lack of focus on form and technique. To make the most out of squats, leave your ego at the gym door and resist piling plate after plate on the bar – instead, try to perfect your form and improve your mind-muscle connection by focusing on maximizing the contraction on every rep.
First, make sure to properly warm-up by doing a couple of sets with only the weight of the bar. This will get the blood flowing to your leg muscles and prepare your joints for some heavy work. As you lower the weight, focus on keeping your back straight. Aim to complete a full range of motion to maximize muscle fiber recruitment.
Pyramid sets work great for building leg strength. Start with a weight that allows you to get around 12 reps with good form, then increase the weight by 20 pounds and perform 10 reps. Increase the weight again by adding 20 reps and perform 8 reps, then add another 20 pounds and go for 6 reps. The next set should be the peak of your pyramid – increase the weight by 20 pounds again (by now you’ve added a total of 80 pounds to your starting weight) and aim to get 4 reps with as strict form as possible.
Now it’s time to come down the pyramid, so remove 20 pounds and try to hit 6 reps, then remove another 20 pounds and go for 8 reps, and so on until you get to the weight you’ve started with and perform your final 12 reps.
#2. Hack Squats
Next, you will get your quads to scream “no more” with hack squats. While performing these, your main focus should be on increasing the time under tension by going through the full range of motion in a slow and controlled manner.
Pick a weight that allows you to get 15 good reps and perform 12 reps with a 4-second lowering phase. Each lifting phase (upward motion) should be performed in a fast and explosive way while each lowering phase should last 4 seconds in a maximally controlled manner with emphasis on keeping the muscles under constant tension. Be careful not to completely lock out your knees however, because this can easily result with injury.
Hack squats deserve a special place in your leg training routine because they place more emphasis on the lower, inside area of your quads than regular squats do. And since hack squats take the upper body out of the equation, they remove potential compensations that might affect your squat depth.
Also, you can change the focus of the exercise by simply adjusting your foot position – a higher foot position will hit the glutes more effectively, whereas a lower foot position will primarily engage the quads.
Hack squats are performed on a hack squat machine which offers additional control and stability of the movement, thereby allowing you to load up the weight. It’s important to make sure that you keep your back in contact with the backrest throughout the entire movement in order to keep your spine adequately supported at all times.
Given that you perform it correctly, this intense exercise will cause your leg muscles some serious pain but it will ultimately bring terrific mass gains. To maximize its benefits, keep your form in check and aim to keep the mechanical tension constant.
Ideally, you should perform 4 sets of 12 reps with a 4-second lowering phase on each rep.
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