Training Legs: 2x a Week for 2x the Growth
Crafting the Blueprint
Developing an effective workout split that will revolve around your weekly schedule is extremely important for success. I implement splits training anywhere from four to six times per week depending on time of the year (offseason vs show prep) and how my body is feeling (fresher than Febreze vs. boiled crap). Examples of variables might I change are combining chest and back rather than isolating them on separate days, or training bi’s after chest and tri’s after back rather than having an arm day. One thing that ALWAYS remains consistent is that I train legs twice per week. Recently, Day One has been a quad focus and Day Two a hamstring focus. Being a taller competitor (6’2’’) I find it more difficult to grow my legs and they require both frequency AND volume in order to grow. Lower back tightness has been a primary struggle of mine and as a result I have found the right exercises to help alleviate this. My suggestion is to identify any stubborn body parts and prioritize them when designing your own workout split.
Day One – Quad Focus
I hit my Day One leg workout on Day One of the week! Monday isn’t international chest day, it’s ‘work on your weak body part day’ and GROW. Bring the intensity and start the week off right. Listed below are the exercises that I perform during this workout.
- Smith Machine Back Squat – 2 sets of 6-12 (parallel), 2 sets of 12-15 (ass to grass)
- The Smith Machine is a great resource and is commonly overlooked. I can isolate my quads much more directly when Smith squatting vs. using a free bar. The first two sets are HEAVY, aiming for 6-12 reps. The first half of my set I take the reps parallel – I’ll end up pausing between reps 4-6 for a breather; the next rep is taken to parallel followed by as many as I can going ¾ depth or what I refer to as ‘pulse reps’. This places an extreme emphasis on the quads, especially after performing the parallel reps. It’s gonna burn. The next two sets I aim for 12-15 CONTINUOUS reps going ass to grass. NO PAUSING or RESTING between reps – mental toughness is key so MAN UP.
- Leg Press – 2 sets of 10-15 (ass to grass), 2 sets of 15-25 (top half)
- The Leg Press is a great machine for leg growth for taller bodybuilders. I use many different foot placements and bands occasionally to relieve back tightness at the lower portion of the rep. For the first two sets, foot placement is shoulder width and ROM is ass to grass. DO NOT BOUNCE at the bottom of the rep. Each rep should be performed with a 3-4 second negative, one second pause at the bottom, and an explosive finish. For the next 2 sets we aim to isolate the ‘teardrop’ of the quad by narrowing foot placement, using a heavier than usual load (for 15-25 since ROM is limited) and fighting for continuous top half reps (pulse reps).
- Stability Ball Hip Thrusts – 3 sets of 10-15 reps
- The first time I saw a guy performing this exercise I thought it looked ridiculous, as it did, and still does. It’s an odd motion, especially when you add weight and pair that with a strenuous lifting face, some people might look at you funny. If you’re like me and like it when people look at you funny, especially when your slinging heavy iron, then this exercise is PERFECT. It’s primarily a hamstring/glute target – once you have loaded a bar across the top of your hips (using a squat bar neck pad is acceptable for this), slide back placing your upper back on a stability ball. Dip the hips while holding onto the bar and flex up squeezing for a second at the top of the rep. These reps do not have to be continuous – my lower back gets tight and causes me to take a few extra seconds between reps towards the end of the set.
- Quad Extension – 3 sets of 10-20 reps
- Our first and only ISO leg exercise – the Leg Extension. I like to perform this exercise once I am already fatigued to minimize stress on my patellar tendons. All sets are performed with a three second negative, explosive positive, and two second hold at the top of the rep. SQUEEZE THEM QUADS! Once you have gone to failure on the first set, rest 45 seconds and repeat two more times totaling three sets. Any gas left in the tank should be emptied at this point.
- Smith Machine Front Squat – 3 sets of 6-10 reps (ass to grass)
- But wait..there’s more! The best way to slaughter your legs is to hit a HEAVY compound exercise after you’ve thoroughly torched them. Oh yeah, ditch the shoes because this variation is performed barefoot. There’s an innate level of badassness to someone who is hobbling around the gym, barefoot, FRONT SQUATTING at the end of a workout. Foot placement is narrow, about six to eight inches between feet. As with the first exercise on the Smith Machine, we want to step outwards forcing our hips back during the negative portion of the motion. I aim for 6 to 10 continuous reps, and mentally focus on pushing through my quads. This is my favorite quad exercise and that’s why I hit it last, it’s my ‘finisher’.
- Calf Raises – 2 sets of 6-10 reps
- I hit calves HEAVY and til FAILURE. Any machine is acceptable. Let the weight stretch you for two seconds at the bottom, explode up and hold the weight for two seconds fully extended.
The Last Word
While no workout is identical to a previous one, this is the general format I follow for isolating my quads. I don’t even call this my quad workout, I call it Day One. A strong foundation starts with the legs and this workout is sure to hit ‘em hard. Intensity is KEY, as is the rep tempo mentioned in each exercise. I recommend an intra-workout carb drink while attempting this.