Interested in packing on pounds of new muscle mass on your upper legs? Sick and tired of being known as the guy with chicken legs? Ready to learn some tips and tricks to build a great pair of wheels so you can finally wear a pair of shorts with confidence?
It's no secret that muscular legs come down to this dreaded fact: You have to train legs. Not only do you have to train them, but you have to train them hard. This article will teach you how to do so efficiently with specific leg workouts for men.
This means you have to dish out punishment in an intelligent way so that the leg muscles are forced to grow but so that you don't spend the next six days moving around in a wheelchair. Yes, we're going to make you sore, but being sore for longer than three or four days is a clear sign that you overdid it.
Tip No. 1 - Split Your Week Up Into A Quad-Dominant Day & Hip-Dominant Day
If your legs have been a tough body part for you, then begin by splitting your quads and hips (when I say "hips" I'm referencing the hams, lower back and glutes) into separate workout days.
On a five-day split, you could train quads on Monday and hips on Friday. This method allows you to give equal attention to the front of your legs and back of your legs.
Here's a sample leg-prioritization training split:
-Monday - Quads priority + one hip exercise
-Tuesday - Chest + abs
-Wednesday - Back + calves
-Thursday - Off
-Friday - Hips priority + one quad exercise
-Saturday - Shoulder, bicep and tricep exercises
-Sunday – Off
A quad-dominant day could include single joint leg exercises like leg extensions and multi-joint exercises like leg presses, back squats, front squats, forward lunges, reverse lunges, one-leg squats, wall squats, hack squats, Bulgarian-split squats, smith-machine squats, vertical leg press and all single limb variations.
A hip-dominant day could include single joint exercises like leg curls or back extensions, and multi-joint exercises like deadlifts, sumo-style deadlifts, stiff-leg deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, feet wide/elevated leg press and all single limb variations.
Tip No. 2 - Prioritize Your Legs For At Least 6 Weeks
I'm getting really tired of having guys approach me to say, "Man, I wish I had your legs." I always shake my head and think to myself, "You could — if you stopped training chest three times a week!"
Many people are afraid to take time away from their upper body in fear of "losing" their gains. That couldn't be any further from the truth. The only way you'll lose size on your upper body is if you stop training it completely. So throw that fear out the window.
Once you get your legs going twice a week, not only will you have a more proportional and symmetrical physique, but everything else will grow, too, because of the effects of hard training on your hormone levels.
Start training your legs regularly and hit your lower body with the right intensity and frequency, and your entire body will keep on growing. Six weeks of dedicated leg training, two times per week, will get you growing for weeks.
Tip No. 3 - Pre-Exhaust With Leg Extensions on Quad Day and Leg Curls on Hip Day
Although no one has the same ratio of muscle fiber types, the muscle fibers activated during quad training are predominantly slow-twitch (Type II fibers). Believe it or not, I rarely ever squat more than 225 pounds, and my legs continue to grow.
Many guys see their legs grow once they use loading parameters that are different from the ones they use for the rest of their body. Higher reps are not associated with muscle growth, but when it comes to quad training, it makes a big difference.
Kickstart your quad workout with 4 sets of 15-20 reps, with a 5-0-1-1 tempo (take 5 seconds to lower the weight, no pause, 1 second to rise to the starting position and then pause 1 second before performing another repetition). Rest 45 seconds between sets.
Technique Tips for Leg Extensions: Keep your glutes locked down, sit upright (you can lean forward slightly to increase difficulty), keep your patella pointed to the ceiling, go through a full range of motion (weight stacks should be a cm apart) and don't bounce the weight up.
Conversely, hamstrings are predominantly fast-twitch (Type I fibers) so they will respond better to explosive and lower rep ranges such as 4-6 and 6-10. Kickstart your hip workout with 4 sets of 5-8 reps with a 40x1 tempo (take 4 seconds to lower the weight, no pause, "X" means as explosive as possible, then pause 1 second before performing another repetition). Rest 60 seconds between sets.
Technique Tips for Leg Curls: Shove your hips into the pad, don't move your glutes, keep your toes pointed (to eliminate assistance from your calves), prop yourself up onto your elbows (which makes it instantly harder).
Tip No. 4 - Use The Old-School 5x5 Protocol: 5 sets of 5 reps with 4-0-1-1 Tempo & 2-minute Rest
After your legs are warmed up, limp on over to the squat rack to use one of the most famous rep and set protocols responsible for making generations of athletes stronger. The idea here is to start your first set of five once you have found your ideal work weight. You should hit failure on your first set of five to make this work for you. This might take one or two warmup sets to prime your legs. The reps and tempo dictate the load so a typical set might look like this:
Set 1- 5 reps at 225 pounds
Set 2 - 5 reps at 225 pounds
Set 3 - 5 reps at 225 pounds
Set 4 - 4 reps at 225 pounds
Set 5- 3 reps at 225 pounds
Increase the weight 5-10 percent when you accomplish 5 sets of 5 reps with a 4-0-1-1 tempo and 2-minute rest between sets. The idea is to not increase weight until you can successfully complete the goal reps and sets, and, most importantly, the tempo and rest periods.
On hip day, you can do the 5x5 method on any deadlift variation of your choice. I recommend trying an exercise you haven't tried for some time.
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This article originally appeared on AskMen.com.