How to Build Muscle in Your Legs: 7 Rules for Leg Workout

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Let’s take a closer look at how to get muscular legs. The leg workout technique has its own secrets.

Well, take your pants down. Yes, if you are the average hobbyist, then it is safe to say that your legs are very far from ideal. Where to start? Yes, even with these seven rules! Here is the theoretical foundations of an effective leg workout program.

1. Understand The Difference Between Leg Exercises

First, understand the anatomy of the leg muscles. Your lower limbs have three joints – the knee. ankle and hip. Each joint serves its own muscles, so if you are going to load your legs, which is called bottom-to-top, you need to choose an exercise that “includes” all three joints. There is little choice here. We are talking about squats and their variants: leg press and hack squat.

In leg extension, one joint works – the knee. In flexion – also one, knee. Calf raises are ankle work. One might think that single-joint exercises are “more profitable”. For example, in squats, the weight of the bar is sprayed over the entire array of legs, but in extensions, the entire load is precisely placed in the quadriceps. However, it is not.

For anatomical reasons, you are able to squat with a huge weight, and in specific terms, the load on the quadriceps will obviously be greater than that which you can give them in the extension. Why do we need extensions then?

First, with extensions, you can selectively add load to your quads if they are lagging behind. Secondly, the extensions form a rounded-convex shape of the quadriceps, which squats do not. From squats, many increase the patellar part of the quadriceps. In other words, we are talking about a targeted “cosmetic” effect on the muscle. Well, multi-joint movements work “for the mass.”

2. Warm-Up

We used to think that warm-up is insurance against injury. Joint tissues are like plasticine. As the temperature rises, they become softer and more elastic. So by doing a warm-up you can really reduce the risk of sprains and micro-tears. On the other hand, the amplitude of leg exercises is not that great – why be afraid? But with a warm-up, you can lose the strength that is so needed when pumping legs with huge weights. So even experienced guys try to “save” during the warm-up. Do a couple of sets of low weight leg presses, and that’s enough. But here’s a new discovery in sports medicine. It turns out that the return of exercise depends on the power of the nerve impulse that the muscle receives.

Don’t confuse power with strength. Strength is when you try to lift a bag of potatoes alone, and power is when ten people grab the same bag at once.

So, the power of the pulse increases gradually, according to its own laws. In the muscle there are “generators” that first accumulate nerve energy, and only then send it further along the nerve axon – into the depths of the muscle tissue.

Again, all this has little to do with muscle strength. Right after a couple of warm-up sets, you can easily go for a record squat weight and beat it. However, in terms of subsequent muscle growth, the return of such squats will be minimal. In other words, the muscle must be treated like a car stagnant in the garage. First you need to “drive” it at idle speed. This activates the neural networks, and the effectiveness of the exercises will increase many times over.

So how do you warm up? Start with a 10-minute aerobic workout on a stationary bike or stepper. The load should be such that you sweat a little. Next, do a couple of light exercises to stretch the quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves, each time remaining in a stretched position (no spring) for 20-30 seconds.

Many people try to warm up with leg extensions, but this exercise works mainly on the quadriceps. The leg press is preferable because it is also accompanied by movement in the hip joint. Due to this, the muscles of the pelvis, lower back, buttocks and hamstrings are stretched. Do three warm-up sets with low weight and high number of repetitions (15-20) – by no means until muscle “failure”! – and consider that you are ready for serious work.

Use leg press as a warm-up exercise to train your legs.

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3. Start Your Workout with Leg Exercises for Mass

Now comes the turn of the big weights – for this you, in fact, warmed up. Therefore, the first exercise should be very serious (leg extension is clearly not one of those).

So which exercise should you choose? Start with squats, hack squats, or leg press, although barbell squats are a little preferable. Here you have to maintain balance, and this is an additional load on the muscles. Together, many useful muscles are strengthened, including in the lumbar region. It is believed that squats are dangerous for the lower back, but this opinion Miloš Šarčev considers amateurish: “Do not listen to those who call squats a dangerous exercise. It is not squats that are dangerous, but excessive weights. All you have to do is start with an empty bar to master the correct technique. Well, then start increasing the weights, avoiding technical errors. Squats injure those who have not yet had time to understand the technique, and are already trying to master a huge weight.”

Fitness star Monica Brant usually squats in the Smith machine: “I recommend this machine to all women. There is almost no difference with squats, but it is convenient and safe. Squats require a belaying partner, and he is not always at your side. The Smith machine allows you to train alone without loss of quality.”

Squats may not be anatomically suitable for you due to your tall stature or a tight hip. In this case, select leg press and hack squats. In any case, you should start building legs with an exercise that makes two joints work at once – the knee and the hip.

The hack squats is a hard, basic exercise.

4. Choose the Second Complex Leg Exercise

Legs are a huge muscle mass, and one multi-joint exercise is not enough for them. If, say, you started with barbell squats, then follow the leg press or hack squats: if the first was leg press, the second number could be hack squats. The main thing is that you do not violate the optimal sequence of exercises: first movement with free weight, and then in the machine.

Exercises with free weights that require muscular coordination should not be done when physically and mentally fatigued. Firstly, the risk of injury increases, and secondly, you will not be able to give 100 percent, since the task of maintaining balance will become much more difficult. As a result, you will only think about not falling over with the barbell.

Lunges is the best glute exercise. Don’t do lunges with barbell. Dumbbells are better. Also, this exercise completely closes the question – how to build muscle in your legs. Since it is basic and includes all the muscles of the legs.


5. Leg Lunges Exercise

Lunges is the best multi-joint exercise for the glutes. Actually, the same muscle groups work as in squats, but the lion’s share of the load falls on the gluteal muscles. A wide range of options are at your disposal.

The most basic (the poet would say “programmatic”) is considered to be a “stationary” attack. You spread your legs in the manner of open scissors (one foot in front, the other in the back). Well, then squat on the “front” leg a given number of times. After completing the set with one leg, change the position of the feet and squat on the other leg.

Lunges are not recommended to be done with a barbell, as it is too dangerous. It is better to take a healthy dumbbell in your hands, and even tie each to the hand with a gymnastic belt.

Step-Ups are considered second in value. You put your foot on the surface of the bench and with the force of one leg climb onto the bench. There are also walking lunges, side lunges, reverse lunges. In any case, start with the minimum weight so that the muscles “remember” the movement. And in general, do not put too much weight on it. Make allowances for the fact that this is your third exercise.

Isolation exercises should be placed at the very end of the workout program.

6. Add Isolation Exercise

How to build your legs with extensions in the machine. After “hard” multi-joint exercises, it’s time to move on to “single-joint” movements. Now you can isolate your quads with the Leg Extension. It seems to many that the lifting phase is the most important here. In fact, it is not so.

Extend your legs in a powerful dynamic movement, but lower the weight emphatically slowly. In this case, the stretching phase of the muscle (and not contraction, as in other exercises) works for pumping the muscles. There are two other good exercises for the legs: on the adductor muscles located on the inner thighs, and on the abductor muscles that occupy them (thighs) on the outer surface.

In the first case, you bring your knees while sitting, and in the second, you spread. In these isolated movements, it makes sense to do more repetitions – then you “reach” the deepest layers of muscle tissue. You can even use some “shock therapy” like forced reps or drop sets – this will only enhance the effect. Just remember that both exercises cannot be done in the same workout. Either just bring your knees together, or just part. If you do the exercises at once, they lose their effectiveness.

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7. How Many Reps to Do for Leg Exercises?

The optimal weight is considered to cause muscle failure somewhere in the 8-9 repetitions. If you can easily do 10 reps, or even more, then the weight is too small for you. If you can barely reach the 6th repetition, then you are clearly overdone with weight.

On the other hand, you should not perform all exercises according to the same standard pattern – three sets of 8-10 repetitions: this is a sure way to the notorious “plateau”. If the first set is done in 10 repetitions, then in the second you need to raise the weight and reduce the number of repetitions to 8. In the third set, you should lose weight and do at least 15 reps. And don’t be afraid to try new things.

Many professional bodybuilders build their legs with a huge number of repetitions. So you try experimenting with patterns of 12, 15 and 25 repetitions.

The legs are usually trained three times every two weeks. However, once a year you should do a leg workout program. For 6-8 weeks, swing your legs twice a week. Dedicate the third day to the rest of the muscles. For each, do 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps – no more! You don’t need to give your best in this workout, it has a supportive nature. Throw all your strength into building your legs!

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