Workout of the Week: Build Strength and Size in Your Legs
Leave no stone unturned in your quest for leg growth.
By Josh Bryant, MS, CSCS
Developing serious strength has taken a back seat far too long in the regimens of bodybuilding enthusiasts.
Back in the day, the founding fathers of bodybuilding were required to perform feats of strength in addition to their posing routines. Guys with great physiques possessed great strength and power; guys that possessed great strength and power did not look like the regulars at Golden Corral.
Even if you couldn’t care less about lifting heavy weights, realize that your limit strength is your base. Don’t get mad at me, I don’t make the rules. Bodybuilders must train core lifts. Strength athletes must include the small exercises that assist in the ultimate performance of core lifts.
Science and anecdotes agree that a wide volume, intensity and exercises must be included in your training repertoire to maximally develop a muscle.
Stop Spinning Your Wheels
There is nothing as silly as seeing chicken legs serving as the base to a massively developed upper body. Thankfully, in the modern area, bodybuilding places a high precedent on lower body development.
This workout will build your legs, keeping strength at the core of the program.
“Shut up and squat!” the motivational gym poster says. Start these with a five-rep max weight. The objective is to use the same weight for all four sets. Rest 2–4 minutes between sets. All squats should be performed in a low-bar-power style, slightly below parallel.
Use a high-bar and a narrow foot placement between shoulder- and hip-width. Squat ass-to-grass-style, without making technique the sacrificial lamb. Pause in the bottom position for one second. The pause will prolong time under tension and eliminate the assistance of the stretch shortening cycle (the elastic-like energy stored on the negative that assists on the way back up of the lift). Go as heavy as possible, rest 2–4 minutes between sets.
Leg Extension (2 up 1 down)
Remember, the purpose is isolation of the quads so don’t let this become an ego lift by using weights that alter technique or tempo. Pick a weight you can do 12–15 strict repetitions with. Do a leg extension with both legs but remove the leg you are not working at the extended position and lower the weight with the one leg you are working for a count of five seconds. Repeat this seven more times and then switch sides. Eccentric overload work is essential to maximum muscular development. Rest 30 seconds between sides/sets.
The hamstrings extend the hip and flex the knee. Far too many bodybuilders forget about the hip extension part. We will have all bases covered, working the hamstrings hip extension with this tried and true classic. Remember, this is not a straight leg deadlift, keep a slight bend in the knee throughout the movement, push the hips back while lowering the barbell (you should feel tension in the hamstrings), stop when the torso is parallel to the floor, then lift the weight back up by extending the hips. Rest 1-2 minutes between sets.
Leg Curls (2 up 1 down)
Don’t let this become an ego lift by using weights that alter technique or tempo. We are keeping the reps low because hamstrings are primarily a fast-twitch muscle, so in turn, they respond best to lower reps. Pick a weight you can do 8-10 strict repetitions with. Do a lying leg curl with both legs but remove the leg you are not working at the flexed position and lower the weight with the one leg you are working for a count of five seconds. Repeat this three more times then switch sides. Eccentric overload work is essential to maximum muscular development. Rest 30 seconds between sides/sets.
Prison Squats are just bodyweight squats with your hands held behind your head. Use a shoulder-width stance and squat as deep as possible each rep. Prison squats force you to squat downward more than back, like a power squat, in turn torching the quads. Do as many bodyweight reps as possible in two minutes.
Maximum development requires a holistic approach, that’s what powerbuilding is. We’re keeping strength fundamentals in the process, synergistically mixing compound movements, tempos and rep schemes.
We are leaving no stone unturned in our journey to hypertrophy heaven.
Time to hit the pig iron!
Josh Bryant, MS, CSCS, trains some of the strongest and most muscular athletes in the world in person at Metroflex Gym in Arlington, Texas, and via the Internet. He is the co-author of Amazon # 1 selling book, Jailhouse Strong. To learn more about Josh Bryant or to sign up for his free training tips newsletter, visit www.JoshStrength.com