Leg workouts can strike fear into the heart of the most seasoned lifters. And with good reason.
Your legs are made up of huge muscles, in fact the the biggest in your body is in your legs; the gluteus maximus, or glutes as they are more commonly known.
Your thigh is made up of quadriceps, hamstrings, and abductors. The tibialis anteriors make up the shin muscles with your calves made up of gastrocnemius and soleus muscles.
In order to have an effective and agonizing leg workout that gets results, you need to be spending a fair bit of time on the hamstrings, quads and glutes especially. Not forgetting calves entirely though.
The leg muscles are so big that you’ll find that people actually run their leg workouts over two days.
How often should you workout your legs?
Because of the size of the leg muscles in proportion to the rest of your body, they require a little more love. Especially if you want to turn them into wheels of steel.
If you’re seriously looking to grow your legs, then training them twice a week is what you should be aiming for.
Lots of people recommend spending a session on quads and another on hamstrings, changing stance and using different machines to hit them hard.
This works well, but it’s more suited to the 5-6 session per week lifters. If you’re training 3-5 times, then one leg session is certainly enough.
Benefits of training legs
To recap, in case any serial leg day skippers are reading this, you might need a reminder about why you should be training your legs.
Obviously if you train legs properly, they’re going to grow. But alongside the increases in size and a more balanced, powerful physique you can expect:
- More Testosterone – Studies have proven that compound movements, like Squats, release more testosterone and growth hormone. Which serve as key muscle building hormones.
- Stronger Core – By doing squats, front squats and deadlifts even, you are making your body work hard to stabilise itself through the entire movement which makes your core strength build up. You’ll also find you recruit your arms and abs, helping develop these muscles too.
- Mental toughness – People often skip leg day because they’re pussies. Man up and head straight to the squat rack.
Training legs is hard. But by sticking with it you can get all sorts of crazy benefits. The biggest being that you don’t have a pale set of sticks dropping out of your shorts on the beach.
Remember, your legs are used to carrying around your weight all day. So leg workouts need to be challenging. Especially if you are wanting to put on muscle mass.
Rep ranges to really work your legs hard need to be around 6-8 on compound (multi joint) movements. This is also a good range to help other parts of your body put on some size.
To really deliver a flow of nutrients to your legs and get a muscle pump, you ideally need to be going to 12-16 reps with isolation movements. But to make sure you still have gas in the tank, you can do the isolation movements after the compounds.
Leg Workout for Beginners
If you’re new to training your wheels, or not sold on a huge workout, then a workout like the one below is a good introduction. We keep those reps inline with 4-6 on compounds and go higher for the isolation movements.
You can rest as long as you need between sets. But try and challenge yourself and be consistent with your rest times too.
To complete this workout you will need access to a gym that’s loaded with the right equipment.
- Barbell Squat – 4 Sets x 4 to 6 Reps
- Dumbbell Lunges – 4 Sets x 12 Reps Each Leg
- Leg Press – 3 Sets x 12 to 15 reps
- Lying Leg Curls – 3 Sets x 12 Reps
- Leg Extensions – 3 Sets x 20 Reps
- Standing Calf Raises – 4 Sets x 12 Reps
This isn’t going to be a walk in the park. You need to give your biggest muscle group everything you’ve got to see good results.
We’d recommending running this workout for 3 weeks. Once you’ve done that, change up some of the isolation movements to target new fibers and cause yourself more agony.
Challenging Leg Workout
If you really want to start sticking mass onto your legs, then we recommend a two day approach to your bottom half.
This isn’t an easy route to go down, and means that most of the week you’ll be struggling with stairs. But it’s going to work.
The exercises on day 1 have been put together as they target both slow and fast twitch muscle fibers, with day 2 focusing on slow twitch. You’re going to be hitting your hamstrings from both ends on the second day. It’ll be awful.
As with the beginner workout above, you’re going to need a fully stocked gym with this one. And maybe a sick bucket.
Leg Workout Day 1
Quadriceps and calves
Back squat 3 x 8-10 reps
Walking lunges 3 x 10 reps per side
Leg press 3 x 6-8
Bulgarian split squat 3 x 10 reps per side
Leg extension 3 x 15-20
Standing calf raise 3 x 6-8 reps
Seated calf raise 3 x 15-20
Leg Workout Day 2
Hamstrings and glutes
Romanian deadlift 3 x 8-10
Lying leg curl 3 x 6-8
Glue-ham raise / Nordic curl 3 x 6-8
Leg slides or TRX curl 3 x 15-20
Cable pull-through 3 x 8-10
Kettlebell swings 3 x 20
Like we said, this a leg workout aimed at the harder people reading this. The ones who hate themselves.
Leg Workout at Home
As much as it might hurt to read this, you’re not always going to be able to make it to the gym. That’s just a sad fact of life.
But should having to skip the gym mean you should also skip leg day? HELL NO. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how much of a wimp you are) you can still do some pretty simple exercises at home to train your legs.
Sure, not having weights is far from ideal. But not training legs at all? So much worse.
The following workout will get your legs burning and also help with mobility. The good thing is that all you need is a little bit of free space too.
Remember, hold your balance, get form nailed and only take a short rest between sets.
- Close Stance Squat – 2 Sets x 20 Reps
- Wide Stance Squat – 2 Sets x 10 Reps
- Single Leg Deadlift (Bodyweight)– 2 Sets of 10 Reps
- Single Leg Bridge – 2 Sets of 10 Reps
- Elevated Single Calf Raise – 2 Sets of 20 Reps
- Wall Sit – Until Failure
Never Skip Leg Day
With the three leg workouts above we think we’ve pretty well covered everything you need to be able to ensure you don’t skip on those all important leg workouts.
These programs work best when they are part of a bigger 5 day workout though. So if you’re looking for a complete program then check out our 5 day workout split. If you’re feeling like you want to give your legs some extra love then you can always add in an extra leg session. You absolute animal.