Did you spend weeks or months hitting your legs with heavy weights, from every angle and yet you still can’t see any gains in size? Well, don’t worry, it happens to a lot of people. Legs are the biggest muscle group, which means that making them bigger will require a lot of effort on your part. There are some people who are gifted with good genetics and have legs the size of tree trunks, while others will make adding size to their legs a breeze no matter the training or any of the things that we list in this article. But for the people who weren’t so lucky, these five things will help you add mass to your legs and make them huge.
1. The training program
It is quite possible that your training program is the culprit. If it has some stuff just thrown together then it’s very likely you won’t see any results with it. When it comes to size, volume has been deemed the most important factor. Numerous studies have concluded that a total number or around thirty reps per exercise is essential for the start of muscle hypertrophy. So, for example, for one exercise, 3 sets x 10 reps, 4 sets x 8 reps or 5 sets x 5 reps is a good starting point when designing your own training program.
Next thing to consider is the number of exercises per each muscle group. After you’ve done a compound movement, the general recommendation is two exercises per muscle group. For example, after you’ve squatted for several sets, you can proceed with leg extensions or maybe a leg press or lunges. After doing deadlifts, you can proceed with legs curls and then Romanian deadlifts.
Compound movements provide the greatest muscle building stimulus, such as the deadlift and the squat. They engage a lot of muscles and should be the staple of any leg workout routine you’ll do. This way, you will ensure that the legs gain size at a steady rate, since the squat mainly targets the anterior chain and the deadlift primarily the posterior chain. This will help you build monstrous hams and quads, provided that you do them correctly. In order to get the best results, train your legs twice a week. Reserve one day for squatting and another for deadlifting.
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2. Training frequency
For athletes who don’t use anabolic steroids, research has shown that training a muscle group twice a week with less intensity will give you greater size gains in the long term. You’re probably thinking that you’re already incredibly sore from train training legs once a week let alone two. This can be fixed by reducing the overall training volume compared to a standard “bro split” program which combines high intensity and volume on the same day, which leaves you crippled for several days, unable to train. This we want to avoid at all costs.
You will get to a point in your training day when more does not mean bigger. Instead it turns into an overkill and is counterproductive. What sounds more reasonable to you? Training at 90% of your 1-rep-max for each exercise of the day, or training at a 100% for your first exercise, 80-90% for the second, 60-70% for the third and becoming too tired to give anything above 40% at the last exercises while thinking that you’re giving it all you’ve got. But giving 100% when you’re fatigued is not the same as giving 100% when you’re fresh.
3. Caloric surplus
Calories are the main building blocks of your body and without them growth of new tissues cannot happen. If you are not in a caloric surplus, that is, if you are not consuming more calories than you expend in one day, it is practically impossible to gain new muscle tissue. This applies for all muscle groups, not just your legs. Even though phrases such as “eat big to get big” do have some truth in them, if you consume a lot more over your maintenance amount you’ll most certainly gain a lot of fat. Consuming around 10% above the maintenance amount should be enough to limit fat gain and increase muscle size, making you lean and healthy.
Now that we’ve sorted out the caloric surplus issue, we proceed with calculating how many of those calories should come from protein. Protein is the most important macronutrient when it comes to building muscle and it is in charge of tissue repair. It cannot be made from carbs or fats, which makes it essential nutrient for everyone and even more so for those striving to get bigger muscles. The general recommendation is to consume around 2 grams per kg of bodyweight. This should be the minimal amount to stimulate muscle growth. If you have trouble consuming your prescribed daily intake, protein shakes come quite in handy, since they are perfect as additions to your meal or using them as snacks to get to your desired protein intake goal.
5. Technique and form
With every exercise you do, you need to pay close attention to your technique and see to it that you perform it properly, so that you avoid the risk of sustaining an injury. This can put a stop in your hobby before it even began, so if you need some help on how to do an exercise with a proper form, there are plenty of exercise videos and guides on the Internet which can help you along the way. Form is paramount when it comes to weight training and this applies even more to free weight movements like the deadlift and the squat. Plus, it’s not a squat unless you go down at least parallel to the floor. This will ensure that you engage all the right muscles in your legs and make some massive gains.
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Bonus point: Rest
The last point is a small bonus which is probably one of the most important. There is a phrase saying “You don’t grow in the gym, you grow out of it”. This is pure wisdom. When you consume enough calories, sleep adequately and rest properly, you create the perfect environment for the development of new muscle tissue. When you workout you create micro-tears in your muscle fibers. When you rest your body repairs these tears and makes your muscles bigger and stronger. Take a few days of rest every 10-12 weeks, sleep at least 8 hours per night, train hard and smart and you’ll be well on your way to getting huge legs.