Believe it or not Ronnie Coleman wasn’t born with legs dubbed ‘quadzilla’. Believe it or not, I didn’t have huge muscular legs before I started training. (I personally don’t think they’re huge now, but i’ll never turn down the compliment.)
One of my biggest personal annoyances in the gym is seeing guys, regardless of their size, neglecting leg training. I don’t know why it bothers me, but it does. It just grinds my gears so exhaustion. To add insult to injury, all I need to hear is ‘I don’t need to train legs because I play football’. You can probably hear me screaming into my posing trunks now.
I take pride in my leg development, and I consider them to be my most developed muscle group. Today I’m going to share with you one of my early workouts which helped me develop my quads and hamstrings. The leg training I do now differs to what I’m about to share with you. With me now competing in bodybuilding, my training goals are different to what they were when I was younger.
However Im going to share a pure mass building leg routine with you guys that I performed through my late teens and early 20’s to develop bigger, stronger legs. Before I jump into the workout though I want to explain why it is important to train legs.
Why You Need To Train Legs
Performing big compound lifts (bench press, deadlifts, squats) place your CNS (Central Nervous System) under large amounts of stress. For your body to cope with such stressful conditions, additional testosterone is produced by the body to cope. Of course higher levels of testosterone will lead to a greater anabolic state in your body. Simply put this means you’re able to add on more muscle and get stronger.
One of the factors relating to how much additional testosterone your produces is dependent upon the amount of muscle tissue stimulated in a workout. That is why big compound lifts such as a squat or deadlift will increase the amount your body produces. It’s no secret that your legs, the quadriceps and hamstrings, are huge muscle groups. That is why squats will not only help you build bigger legs, but put your body in an anabolic state to increase muscle mass throughout your entire body.
Another, more obvious, reason as to why you should train legs is to not look stupid. We’ve all seen muscle bound upper bodies, with chicken legs. Do yourself a favour, and ditch the KFC bargain bucket legs. It just looks silly.
My Leg Workout For Mass
This is the leg workout I performed throughout my late teens and early 20’s to build a strong foundation and add pure mass to my legs. It also allowed me to build up a good amount of strength, as i’ve squatted 160kg for reps in the past. The workout is more of a hybrid between pure hypertrophy or pure strength. It instead allows improvements in both areas. I rarely changed this workout as the gym I used to train in was very limited to do leg equipment.
Barbell Back Squat 4 sets 12-6 reps
I would always perform my sets in this range, gradually increasing my weight on each set. The important thing is to ensure you’re using a full range of motion. The moment you start half squatting, rack the weight and remove a plate. Partial reps will set you on a fast track to getting nowhere.
Barbell Front Squat OR Hack Squat Machine 4 sets of 8-6
With the higher reps done on back squat, i would then turn my attention to maxing out with just 8 reps on front squats or hack squats, going as low as 6 reps. This range would be enough to build both muscle and to develop strength. Front squats and hack squats place a larger emphasis on just quads, in comparison to back squats which also involves glutes heavily.
Leg Press 4 x 12-20
Finishing off with another compound exercise, however higher reps allows fast twitch muscle fibres to work, which is what leads to muscle growth. A contrast to the first 2 exercises.
Straight Leg Deadlifts 5 x 8-12
This works the hamstrings. Its important to develop both the quadriceps and hamstring to sculpt fully developed legs. A heavy weight is not needed here, as its easy to get sloppy and not use correct form. Keep the barbell close to your shins and get a full stretch on the hamstrings.
Seated Hamstring Curls 4 x 12
Standing Alternate Hamstring Curls 4 x 12
The reason I keep reps higher on these 2 exercises is i feel a better contraction, and im able to fatigue the muscle more. Performing lower reps on these exercises doesn’t build a great degree of strength, so the key is to work the fast twitch muscle fibres which is what will lead to your muscles growing larger.
That’s all folks. I performed this consistently to help build the trunks of my physique. Don’t be THAT guy who doesn’t train legs. Of course there is always room for experimentation with any workout. You may have access to more equipment, or may not feel one particular exercises hits the muscle as well as I do. So use your own judgement and be selective when following this routine. What worked for me, may not work for you, however it will at least provide a solid starting point.
Remember that weight training is just a small part to gaining weight. Whilst expensive weight gain shakes and protein supplements aren’t essential, hitting your macro’s and living a good lifestyle is. Its important to consume a high calorie diet, with plenty of carbs and protein in order to add mass. I personally would recommend the use of creatine and protein powder, however these aren’t essential to gaining weight. The most important thing is to train hard, eat right and rest.
About the Author: Adam Foster is the founder of cheapproteindiscountcodes.co.uk and is an aspiring bodybuilder. He runs his own bodybuilding & fitness blog shreddybrek.com which documents his progress and bodybuilding competition prep.