When it comes to weight training for legs, a lot of beginners, intermediates, even advanced lifters in the early years, stay more squarely focused on building up the chest and arms to fill out the T-shirt.
There is nothing wrong with this, as we move forward with our strength and physic improvements made in our upper bodies... Surprisingly it doesn’t take long before we soon discover that the lower body is seriously lagging; pointing fingers and giggles at scrawny legs does little for a guys ego.
The reason for the most part, is quite simple, wise some guys don't train legs!
To reach any kind of strength or defining muscular achievement... the legs generally have to be trained on their own.
A new focused, mental attitude towards training them has to be adopted or they simply will not respond and develop in proportion to the amount of work that was committed to your upper body.
To sum it up: weight training for legs is not easy - regardless if you have trained them or not; instinctively, everybody knows leg muscles are powerful, they adapt quickly and it takes a lot to stimulate them. But...
things go along with this athletic conditioning of making the leg muscles
bigger, stronger, more powerful, defined and separated. This not only builds confidence and strength into all other
lifts you perform, in weight training...
This also affects your ability to be able to walk and run faster and adds a tremendous boost of efficiency to your favorite sports...
You should also understand the amount of calories that you will burn from leg training far exceeds anything you’ll burn from performing cardio.
Every type of training, including cardio could go into the classification of (easy), if you specifically compare it to leg training. But two great things emerge from a good leg training routine with regards to burning calories…
As mentioned, weight training for legs burns lots of calories, because: the leg muscles are big and powerful they have to be stimulated with vigorous intensity to see results, there is also something called the after-burn effect which this produces.
This is the amount of calories that your body will continue to burn after the initial leg workout, this can last up to 70 hours after the initial workout, depending how intensely you've trained them. That’s a tough calorie deficit burning program to compare anything else to, if you ask me.
So let’s go deeper into some of the different leg training exercises and strategies directed to your needs.
With regards to the lower body’s strength and development of the legs for beginners, you have some advantages over intermediate level weight lifters.
Your strength and development curve is sharper than more advanced lifters, this is because: as a beginner your strength curve has nowhere to go but up; if you're consistent, and progressive.
Exercising caution on leg day, as you choose your poundage-level, try to avoid grossly exceeding your lifting level too quickly. Injury and sometimes even permanent or chronic injury can be direct result.
Get comfortable with with leg exercise movements and your natural strength levels before you progress.
Be sure to always warm-up, and your development will get there. Even better, you’ll get there, injury free.
Beginner’s weight training for legs routine:
let's start with 3 great compound movements to build leg strength.
Barbell Squats: performed with bar to the rear of the neck.
Smith Machine Squats:
The Leg Press:
Lying leg curls:
There is an important part in all weight training for legs exercises for men and women; as in other body parts having a one-size-fits-all workout, is fine as a beginner with simple, basic exercises designed to build overall strength, endurance and conditioning to the legs.
But… as you move into the intermediate and advanced level lifting spectrum, you have to become more specific with regards to your leg training goals and lifting level.
Specifically, what is meant by "allowing your goal to dictate what your leg training should be" is: have your leg training routine set up so that it matches your goal?
Be progressive and challenge yourself, not your form, with these exercises
Dead lifting with barbell:
The vertical leg press:
Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlifts:
Standing Calf Raises:
Note: strength training and rest is somewhat different - you should allow for longer rests between sets, allowing your oxygen and the muscles it supplies to make a full recovery, before moving onto the next set. You may have to rest for a full 2 to 3 minutes or more to make a full recovery.
These exercises, in this routine, if performed with good form; this set and rep range will produce excellent strength and muscle conditioning results.
I'd suggest picking a few of the exercises shown here on each leg day. Try them out, see what you think. Experiment with your poundage's and rep ranges, to ultimately find which works best for you.
This has always been a largely debated subject... don’t be fooled, the legs are the biggest and most powerful muscles in your body period!
So how is
weight training for legs incorporated into a good leg routine, to build sheer size and mass to the upper legs?
The legs are comprised of many different muscle groups and fibrous attachments. With that said; the legs are strong and have incredible endurance and adaptive muscular components to them...
Your leg training should have different exercise strategies cycled often so the legs continue to respond to the training your inflicting on them.
Before we begin to delve much deeper into building mass and size for the upper legs, there are five main components that should be understood before you take on any serious mass and size training for the legs.
Try to keep the volume - meaning ‘the total number of sets and reps' - relatively high’. And keep the mindset of training very close to muscular failure.
Training legs is not complicated, but learning and mastering the different exercises can be. So… To protect your knees, hips and lower back, I strongly urge you if you’re using heavy poundage’s to not allow this to last more than 6 or 8 weeks ‘provided you're training every week’...
Your body will need a break from the stress.
While you’re taking a break from heavy training, change the load of the resistance from 15 to 20% lower and use some different exercises for the next 3 to 5 weeks. Then come back and pick up where you left off in your mass training routine.
This change will add new stress and a new adaptive process in your weight training for legs, they will be forced to change.
The Angled Leg Press:
Leg Curls For The Leg Biceps:
Weight training for legs tip:
Be sure to warm-up well, choose 3 to 5 of the exercises for each work out, listed above and work on them progressively, as the muscles of the quadriceps and hamstrings become more conditioned; add more intensity for leg growth, by shortening rest intervals.
Angled leg press, calf raises:
Standing Calf Raises:
Seated Calf Raises:
Sets Range 4 Rep Range 8 - 10, this exercise is great for developing the mass of the extreme outside and lower part of the (Soleus, the underlying muscle of the Gastrocnemius). As in all lower leg training exercises, you have to commit to a full range of motion and be very progressive with calf training, keep your goal and rep range in mind, be merciless on your intensity towards them.
As with any muscle groups, adding, separation and definition. First: you have to have achieved enough muscle mass to be able to force separation and definition into them.
If you don’t understand this and you already have underdeveloped or somewhat skinny legs, and you wish to add definition to the overall look of your legs...
You’re going to wind up with even smaller, skinnier, looking ripped legs which do not have the same aesthetic appeal as well-developed muscular defined legs... this is of course is up to each individual as to what they find athletically appealing...
Just be aware that you cannot have one without the other so-to-speak, you also should become more aware of your caloric intake.
Just using lighter weights and performing a few more repetitions and sets will not necessarily add separation and definition to the leg muscles…
Note: when performing exercises for detail and definition: keep in mind you should be slightly decreasing the weight after the initial set, when performing a drop set with no more than a 5 - 8 second count between the original set...
Or eliminate the drop set and perform a superset.
Supersets e.g. are simply combining two different exercises with the same intensity with no rest, rest is taken after the initial two supersets.
You should be reaching muscular failure, within the 10 - 12 rep range. This type of training has more endurance and conditioning properties to it.
You are essentially removing and reducing unwanted water and fatty tissue, to add the final polish to your muscular gains.
With this type of training you are literally using a lot of oxygen and energy from calories, to burn cuts, symmetry and definition into the legs.
Adding separation Tip:
If you're approaching the 6 to 8 week mark and not seeing separation or bulging muscles from the quads, you may have to indulge in some cardio activity for 15 to 20 minutes, (exercise bike).
You could try riding every second or third day to start with: monitor your progress with selfies or the mirror. The exercise bike doesn't burn a lot of calories, but does reduce some body fat and water retention in the legs. the bike is a great cardio exercise that focuses specifically on the legs.
No other muscles on the human anatomy can adapt and are more apt at building superhuman strength, than those muscles of the upper and lower legs...
Regarding weight training for legs: the legs for the most part will only respond to change and progressiveness of your leg training attitude...
Meaning: the only thing that should be regular with your leg training routine is: train with intensity and be constantly changing and cycling it!
The stresses of your training environment, meaning your routine and how creative and focused you are at attacking these muscles will decide the final outcome of how well developed and cut you can actually make your legs appear.
If you truly wish to develop and add separation and definition to the look of your lower body; fall in love with your legs, equally as much as you like training chest and arms, because ultimately it will be your legs that take you there.
Good luck with every set and contraction of every rep you force into your legs. This will be one of the greatest investments you make in your body. Simply because this is our sole mode of our transportation...
So keep those wheels greased and strong, I hope weight training for legs has helped you out, and good luck. DWT