Johnnie Jackson’s Size & Strength Leg Workout


IFBB Pro Johnnie Jackson, the strongest man in professional bodybuilding, explains how to train legs for maximum gains in both power and mass!

By Steven Stiefel; Photos By Steven Stiefel

Johnnie’s Strength and Mass Leg Routine

“I work in both heavy and light days for leg training,” Johnnie says. The biggest difference between the two is how he approaches squats. On heavy days, he uses much heavier weights for six reps per set, increasing his poundages each set in pyramid fashion. On light days, he performs 15–20 lighter reps per set but still increases the weight on each set. “I’ll do 2–3 consecutive heavy leg workouts, then one light leg session,” he says. “I decide whether to do a heavy or light day depending on how my body feels.”

Leg Extensions:

2 Sets x 25-30 Reps (warm-up)
4 Sets x 15-20 Reps

Barbell Squat:

2 Sets x 30 Reps (warm-up)
5-6 Sets x 6 Reps (heavy days)
5-6 Sets x 15-20 Reps (light days)

Hack Squat:

1 Sets x 20 Reps (warm-up)
3 Sets x 10 Reps

Leg Press:

2 Sets x 30 Reps (warm-up)
4 Sets x 25 Reps

Lying Leg Curl:

4 Sets x 15 Reps

Leg Extension

Strategy: Johnnie uses this move to warm up his quads, and to isolate them for greater separation and detail.

Start: Sit erect on the seat, aligning your knees with the edge of the pad. Position the ankle pad at the curve between your shins and ankles.

Execute: Raise your lower legs using your quads. “Your legs should be straight at full extension, and you should feel a deep contraction in your quads,” Johnnie says. Hold for a count, then return to the start slowly enough that you feel the stretch and burn. Stop before the weight touches the stack and go directly into your next rep.

Caution: “Don’t let your lower back round or arch off the pad during the set,” Johnnie advises. You may think this my net you more power, but it actually reduces the load on your target muscles and dramatically increases the risk of injury.”

Change Up: “There’s only one way to do this exercise, and you want to do it properly.” The most significant change Johnnie makes is in the number of reps he performs per set, using higher reps for warm-ups and moderately high reps (15–20) for working sets.

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  • Jason Sutcliffe

    Should you train chest And back before shoulders?

  • roa78

    I have a few questions regarding the amount of weight to use as well as the frequency (# of days per week) for this type of workout.

    In terms of weight to use – I noticed that the reps are fairly high and as such I would assume that a lighter weight would be in order. But how light is like? For example – if I can leg press 450 lbs for say 10 reps – how much lower should I go to be able to do 20 & 30 reps?

    Also – for the exercises that have varying reps (say the barbell squats for lighter days) – should the reps/weight be consistent for all 5 – 6 sets or should they vary?

    How many days per week should this routine be performed and what about rest days?

    Lastly – how many weeks can this routine be performed for?

    Thank you for the answers :-)

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