Do you suffer from “chicken legs” syndrome? You know, a well-built upper body, with legs the size of a bird. It really is a funny sight. One you should avoid at all costs. Maybe you put your quads through hell, doing 20-rep squats, and find yourself aching in your back, with negligible progress.
Or maybe you are already happy with how your legs look and you just want to add some extra size for the summer. If you answered yes to any of these questions, this is the article for you. We present you with a superb leg training program which will add mass to your legs like never before, provided that you are also willing to push yourself both mentally and physically than ever before and also get a little creative while doing it.
We have to be frank, you might never manage to build legs as huge as pro bodybuilders have (unless you have the right genes), but you can get very close by applying the following protocols and insights on a regular basis. It’s about time you get your legs up to par with your upper body.
The majority of professional bodybuilders and powerlifters would agree that the squat is the most important exercise for proper leg development. The squat challenges your body on several levels by stimulating extreme muscle grown in a systemic approach. The way it does this is by forcing all muscle groups to contract simultaneously in order to stabilize the weight and keep you from getting buried under it. When performed with a smooth and slow descent and an explosive and controlled concentric movement, the legs will get pumped up instantly which will induce growth in the long-term.
Besides looking really hardcore and cool, doing squats with chains is a great method to increase the movement’s level of instability which will increase core strength. This comes quite in handy when you’re striving to increase the resistance in any form. When performing the exercise in this unstable condition, you’re also improving your lifting technique by pulling yourself back into proper position whenever your torso leans too forward.
And what’s probably most important, putting some chains over the barbell required greater efforts. When you explode from the bottom, the full chain weight is slowly added to the barbell. This basically means that if you hesitate, you might fail to extend fully. The most important thing here is to make sure that no matter what chain you add to the already loaded barbell, you need to make each repetition a barely achievable, Herculean task.
Adding drop sets to any workout will greatly intensify it, and this is especially true for a squat workout. Adding two additional drop sets to your final set will really force you to push yourself beyond your current mental capacity. You’ll have to dig deep into your psyche and find the focus and will to endure this. What you’ll get from these two additional sets will pay great dividends in leg size and mental toughness.
Even though the squat takes first place in the mass-building potential contest, the leg press comes second and is a staple movement for many lifters. And not without a reason. In addition to squatting regularly, doing leg presses will allow you to put greater tension on your front thighs, without getting additional assistance from muscles like the abs and lower back. Since your body does not need to stabilize the weight that much in this position, you can put more effort into isolating the quads. And you can also use more weight, than with the squat.
Be sure to use controlled movement and do not let the weight “drop” back to the starting position. The most important part of a repetition is the negative(eccentric) part. When you control the negative, you will both minimize the chances of getting injured and create greater micro trauma in your muscle fibers, which will lead to increased muscle growth.
Even though it’s used by the majority of people as a warm-up exercise before doing heavy squats, leg extensions also have the potential to pack on muscle if performed correctly and with proper load. It’s important to note that this movement should not be done with heavy loads and low reps. It’s most effective when done with enough weight which will make you fail on the 15th,12th or 10th rep. Leg extensions can be used to build mass in the whole quad area, especially the vastus medialis or the “teardrop muscle”.
Unless the load is kicked into position forcefully, doing a controlled, slow positive, with a squeeze at the top position, will significantly increase the quad burn and create an amazing pump. Make sure to squeeze on each repetition to get an incredible pump.
Walking lunges were popularized by eight-time Olympia winner and one of the greatest bodybuilders in the world, Ronnie Coleman. They are known to engage the quads, hamstrings and glutes in a unique way and create greater shape and size. Taking into account how difficult they are to master and perform properly, not to mention the pain they inflict in your legs, it’s no wonder you can rarely see them done by regular gym goers. But, professional lifters will always incorporate some type of lunges. The walking version with a barbell is still the most popular and the most effective. Include this exercise in your leg workouts and you’ll see tremendous progress.
The ability to do walking lunges is a real feat of leg strength and endurance and a true test for those doing them for the first time. For example, doing a set with high reps can be tremendously hard to complete. And precisely for this reason many lifters tend to rush though the movement, or avoid it completely. When you’re doing them rapidly, without a proper form, which is not contracting the quads fully at the top of the movement, you fail to maintain a lot of tension in the muscles being worked. Instead, you hammer the knees and the stabilizer muscles like the abs, hips and your lower back, which are forced to the brunt of the work.
Hamstring/Glute Extensions on a Lat Pull-Down Machine
Performed correctly, this exercise has the potential to isolate the hamstrings better than more popular muscle mass builders like the stiff-legged deadlift.
Also, unlike overall mass-builders like squats, you need to emphasize extra-slow descent and positive contraction, which means you shouldn’t explode up from the bottom. Being a pure hamstring/glute isolation exercise, the kneeling extension doesn’t need heavy weights to be effective. Always go lighter with this movement and try to feel the hamstrings and glutes contract through the whole range of motion.
Standing Unilateral Calf Raises
This movement is severely underestimated and under-utilized when it comes to building mass. Being very time-consuming and very painful when done with a proper form, which is stretching fully and doing a hard squeeze, this exercise is very often neglected in favor of the more popular and easier version with a two-legged machine. In order to engage the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles properly, you must maintain complete control throughout the entire range of motion. Try to do an extra squeeze at the top of the movement to intensify the already agonizing burn.
Do 15,12 and 10 repetitions for this movement in a consecutive manner. This means that you should use enough weight which will cause your calves to fail on the final repetition of each set. The main indicator of a succesfull workout session, progressive overload, can’t be achieved when using ligther weights. Even though many think that doing sets with high reps and light weights will produce the best results for calves, professional bodybuilders with the biggest calves do it with heavier weights.
Car Push in a Parking Lot
This movement may sound like a gimmick, but car/truck pushes are an extremely efficient way of challenging all the muscles in your lower body and induce new muscle growth. It goes without saying that some gyms won’t allow you to do this challenge. For the gyms that do, you’d do yourself a great favor by taking advantage of this remarkable leg movement. You might not have access to a Hummer, bur you could use any similar-size truck. It’s the effort you put into it, not the model of the truck, that will help you build huge legs. Use this movement to finish the already hard leg training session. Do the push until you get a full pump in your legs and the lactic acid buildup forces you to quit.
Once you get the truck moving, you have to really keep the momentum in order to really target the hamstrings, quads, calves and glutes. If you stop and start you’ll put great stress on your lower back and your hip flexors, while getting the tension off the muscles that are supposed to be worked. If you can’t push a truck or a car, you can always push a prowler or drag a sledge.
Squats (15, 12, 10 with additional two drop set)
Leg press (15, 12, 10 with additional two drop set)
Seated leg extensions (15, 12, 10 with additional two drop sets)
Walking lunges (3 sets of 20 reps)
Kneeling hamstring/glute extensions on lat pulldown machine (15,12,10 reps)
Standing unilateral calf raises (holding dumbbell) (15,12,10 reps)
Car Push in parking lot