Ah, the (in)famous legs! Either you’re born with them either you’re not… Although genetics tend to play a major role in the shape and available muscle mass your legs can boast, hard work and dedication will indeed alleviate the consequences of Mother Nature’s stingy gift.
As usual, I’ll focus on the big picture by proposing you three basic exercises that are the foundation of any sound leg workout program. As a note to the readers, once in a while we like to address the needs of people looking to dramatically increase their fitness levels and their muscle mass as well, so be aware that this type of workout is primarily intended for bodybuilders.
However, by adjusting the repetitions and intensity accordingly, these exercises will also be beneficial to those in quest for that ‘toned’ and ‘sharp’ look, so read on.
The full squat is the most basic and probably the most effective tool to build strength and mass. Please forget the machines for once – I know there are many squat machines available but none of them can truly mimic this movement – because this ‘free weight’ movement has the added quality of making you work supporting muscles in order to keep your balance and stability. Not only you’ll add some serious meat on your frame, but functionally speaking, you’ll improve as well.
Keep your feet apart. As a rule of thumb, the distance between your two feet shouldn’t exceed that of your shoulders. If you are not familiar with the movement, I suggest you use the tip of a bench as your ‘seat’. This is very useful because you’ll instantly know that your buttocks don’t go too deep so you don’t risk injuring your knees. Imagine that you want to sit down, but as soon as your glutes touch the bench, instantly go back up in a controlled motion.
It’s no secret that when trying to build mass the range of repetitions is key. In this case, you’ll want to perform (with good form) between 8 an 10 repetitions, the last one being so difficult that performing one more correctly would be impossible. Legs workout are very taxing on the body, so please eat light prior to engaging in this. I’d say that 3 sets with 2-3 min. rest between each set is plenty.
QUADS ON BENCH
The picture is self-explanatory as it shows that keeping your back straight and avoiding going too deep make for great form. Although this exercise is somewhat similar to the regular squat movement, this is not a mass-building exercis by any means so avoid adding too much weight on this one.
Slowly go down, but not too deep as you don’t want your knee to touch the ground. This would mean that your other knee is leaning way too far as well and this would put unnecessary stress on your joints and lead to an injury.
Contrarily to the first exercise, with this one you’ll want to exert the muscles to exhaustion by recruiting muscle fibers that weren’t much involved before. I recommend performing 12-15 repetitions, always with good form, for each leag with rest periods of 45 to 60” per set. Three sets are good as well.
As much as I despise machine-based movements, it is quite difficult to train the hamstrings effectively without resorting to at least one machine exercise. Alternatively, you could use a barbell, standing up and slowly depressing the weight to your feet. However, I dont’ really recommend it, because it’s very tricky to perform correctly and most of the time, my clients complain about lower back uncomfort, a clear signal that the movement isn’t performed properly.
So for now just stick with this. Since the movement is mostly guided by the machine contraptions, it is not necessary for me to go in details about how it should be done. Just keep in mind that although this movement is very effective, hamstrings usually take a very long time to respond, unless -here we go again- you’ve been blessed with great genetics.
Most of the time though, people do have weak hamstrings so training them thoroughly is necessary. It will tighten you lower chain, help you posture and give a much bigger ‘oomph’ to the overall appearance of you legs.
Add enough weight to perform 8-10 reps correctly without using your hands and the very convenient handles to give momentum. I know it’s tempting because you can move more weight and thus feel more empowered or feel like you exercise with more intensity, but you actually don’t. You just swing the weight like a pendulum, increasing the likelihood of injury and the likelihood of looking weird.
That’s it for today, I hope you’ve enjoyed the read. Please give us some feedback on twitter here @fitcorpasia, we’d love to know what you think of this routine and how it’s working for you.