You have a hard leg day in the gym! If you’re up for the challenge, then this 6 thigh and calf workout will help you rock your legs. Do not be afraid. Just try it!
First of all: you can pay attention to the so-called “The best leg workouts for mass gain in the world”, but these exist and have thousands of views, but none of them will be effective if you do not put in maximum effort in the gym. On the day of the legs, more than on any other, the dependence of success on effort is unequivocal. To build big legs, thighs, and calves, you have to want to, and not be tempted to back down.
And then, of course, you still need to follow a well thought out training program. Of course, you can hit your quads hard with endless triple leg supersets that will surely make you scream in pain, only it will keep you from growing. The burning sensation is part of the plan, but not all.
Our methodology does not reinvent the wheel. It is built around common and time-tested repetition sequences and ranges. This is effective, but difficult for a beginner to understand. Some of the movements are technically challenging – more than it takes time to master the dynamics of movement, in the case of the barbell squat and front squat, so take your time before using the huge weights.
The 6 Best Leg Exercises for Bodybuilding
1. Barbell Back Squat
Squats are the undisputed exercise to start your leg day. Why? Let’s count the benefits. Squats work the leg muscles as much as possible, you can do them with a lot of weight, they engage the entire lower body (and more than half of the upper body), and research shows that they increase muscle growth hormone release better than any other movement.
Squats are actually a group of exercises that involve hip and knee movements. There are many variations, all of which have their own value. Some differ in the placement of the barbell, others in the type of equipment used, and still others in the position of the legs.
You can start your day at the gym with the barbell squat or the one-legged squat option. We will perform the exercise – squats with a barbell on the shoulders, for this we need a high power rack with a bar. We place it at a height just below the shoulder girdle. This option is preferred by most bodybuilders because it hits the leg muscles fairly evenly and because you can squat with more weight than other exercise options.
The most common recommendation is to squat, at least to the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor, but honestly, this is individual and dependent on flexibility. No matter how deep you squat, it is important that your spine stays straight and never bends (rounds), which can cause dangerous damage to the discs.
Solution: work on your flexibility; the stiffness of the thighs and calves can also affect the depth of your squats. The time you spend on technique will pay off with more performance, a deeper squat is always the best squat.
Do several warm-up sets, each time increasing in weight, but never come close to giving up when warm-up. Most workouts require a range of 8 to 12 repetitions – this is the best zone to build muscle, but for the first few working sets of your leg workout, when the strength level is huge, choose the heavier loads. So instead of picking a weight where you get rejected for about 8 reps, put the weight heavier for the 6 reps set. This will give you a little more incentive to build strength.
2. Barbell Front Squat
No, now is not the time to use the simulators. In this leg program, you won’t even get close to the machines for the rest of your workout.
We continue to focus on knee and hip movement, and your best bet is probably the least favorite and therefore hardest exercise. Most powerlifters are slightly behind in quad development, so the front squat is a staple in their leg program.
A simple change in the position of the bar from behind the head to the front changes the distribution of the load on the lower part of the muscles. This puts more stress on the quadriceps than on the glutes and lower leg, and means that it is necessary to reduce the weight. The movement also requires you to maintain a more forward-facing position, which can be safer for your back, and will also allow you to squat deeper.
Since you’ve already done some serious strength work with sets of 6, consider a lighter weight you can do for sets of 10-12 reps. You will work a little with other muscle fibers, and still give them an incentive to grow.
Deadlift is the perfect back thigh exercise after squats. This exercise uses the upper hamstrings and glutes, is unlike other single-joint movements, and is actually quite effective. Plus, most hamstring exercises are about curls (which work by moving the knee joint), while hip flexions tend to be underestimated by most personal trainers. And another plus, perhaps, is the departure from routine in your leg workout program.
But as with most difficult movements, the key is not to do it wrong, which can only cause harm. When performing a deadlift, you must always keep your spine straight and keep the barbell close to your lower leg. Even if you find it difficult to perform the full range of motion and lower the bar to the floor, keeping your back straight is not a problem, this is not the point of the exercise. Just get a good stretch by lowering the bar as far as you can and returning to the starting position.
Learning the correct movement technique is imperative, so start with a light weight. As soon as you work out the range of motion, start increasing the weight, but always be careful to keep your back straight.
Once you master the movement, you can lift the bar with very good weight. After warm-up, do 2 heavy sets of 8 reps and 2 light sets of 12 reps.
4. Bulgarian Split Squat
Now that you have some heavy bilateral work in the back, it’s time to work each leg separately. Bulgarian Split Squat, where you lock your back foot on the bench behind you, is the perfect choice. Raising the back leg forces the front thigh, especially the quadriceps, to take up more workload, and also engage that leg’s glutes. If maintaining balance is too difficult at first, you can do double squats or lunges. As a last resort, you can do it in a Smith machine.
If you think the Bulgarian squat is a weak and ineffective exercise, you are not. On the contrary, it is the main arsenal in the leg program. According to research, some EMG data show that 4 sets of 10 reps to failure Bulgarian Split Squats are not too different from barbell squats. The same study also found similar testosterone spikes on the Barbell Bulgarian Split Squat.
You will not be able to use a lot of weight in this movement, even if you have a lot of strength left from other exercises. Do 3 sets of 10 reps alternately on each leg.
5. Leg Press
You can’t build big legs with just machines, so the leg press isn’t at the top of our program. But machines are ideal for increasing volume after your thighs are already on fire and when it becomes difficult to maintain balance and tone.
Moreover, you can adjust the position of your feet on the platform of the projectile to change the focus of tension. A high stance hits the glutes and hamstrings more, while a low stance focuses the tension on the quads. As before, the deep range of motion involves more of the glutes and hamstrings.
Since this part of the workout is about filling the muscles with blood as much as possible (pumping), light sets are more appropriate here than squats. Pumpig stimulates hypertrophy by delivering blood to the muscles, triggering a different growth mechanism than the strenuous squats at the start of this leg program.
Mentally tune in and move on to your hips. Do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps, dropping on the last set to increase the burning sensation.
6. Lying Leg Curl
The hamstrings are quadriceps antagonists, so they need to be supplemented with work to match the front of the thigh.
A leg movement that better emphasizes the lower hamstring over the knee is also a good addition to an upper-focused leg program. This is a good pumping exercise and is the perfect finish before heading to the dressing room.
Finish this leg program with 3 sets of hamstrings and finally a drop set like a leg press.
Full Leg Workout Routine for Men
|Barbell Back Squat||4||6, 6, 8, 10|
|Barbell Front Squat||3||12, 10, 10|
|Deadlift||4||8, 8, 12, 12|
|Bulgarian Split Squat||3||10, 10, 10|
|Leg Press||3||10, 12, drop set|
|Lying Leg Curl||3||10, 12, drop set|
Warm-up sets are not included; do as much as required, but never use warm-up sets for muscle failure.
Use a weight that will allow you to achieve muscle failure on the target rep. Rest as much as you need, but try to reduce this time gradually to 1.5 – 2 minutes.
For exercises 5 and 6, do the drop set for the final set. That is, once you reach initial muscle failure, quickly reduce the load by about 25 percent and continue with the set.
Once you reach failure again, reduce the load again by 25 percent and continue dropping as long as you can.
In the first week of training, do just 2 sets of the first two exercises to control muscle sensitivity, and limit all other exercises to just one set, doing it to failure. As you progress, adjust the load by choosing the amount of exercise that suits your strength.