leg workouts for men and women
learn the the best leg workouts for men and women

One of the saddest sights in fitness is seeing a guy with a well developed upper body who has very under-developed legs.

Of course, some people are unlucky enough to have suffered lower body or back injuries that prevent them from working their legs to any great degree but for the rest, lack of lower body development shows one of two things – poor program design or laziness!

Some exercisers fail to realize just how important leg training is and that skipping leg day can adversely affect their overall development. Leg training, because it is very hard, triggers a beneficial cascade of anabolic (muscle building) hormones which promote systemic and not just localized muscle growth. Also, as your legs make up around 50-percent of your total weight, well-developed legs make a major contribution to your overall muscle mass.

In addition, your legs are involved indirectly in numerous upper body exercises; they are vital for a big bench press, essential in bent over rows and provide a stable base for shoulder presses and biceps curls. Weak legs can limit your performance in several important muscle building exercises.

Of course, you can just wear long shorts or track pants all the time but while that strategy hides your underdeveloped legs, it doesn’t change the fact that lack of leg development will limit other aspects of your fitness and health.

Then there is the issue of laziness; leg training is hard work! No amount of biceps curls, pec flyes or even bench presses will ever be as demanding as a hard set of squats, leg presses or stiff-legged deadlifts. Lower body exercises use a large number of muscles simultaneously which means that even a relatively light set of squats will leave your lungs heaving, your heart pounding and your body fatigued. There is no such thing as an easy leg workout.

However, the payoff from hard leg training workouts is tremendous. Famous 80’s bodybuilder Tom Platz and, more recently, Canadian strength guru Charles Poliquin have said that if you want to add an inch to your arms, you need to increase your bodyweight by as much as 14lbs and the easiest and best way to do this is build bigger legs. Several bodybuilding programs are built around high-rep squats and old time weightlifters and bodybuilders swore by “squats and a gallon of milk a day” to add muscle mass to even the skinniest young fellow.

So, now you understand why leg training is so important, here are some leg workouts for you to try. Chose any one of the following, stick with it for four-weeks and then move onto the next workout. Try to use more weight or do more reps week by week and you will soon start seeing results.

Workout 1 – pre-exhaust supersets – leg workouts for men and women

Do the first exercise in each pairing to failure and then immediately perform the second exercise but stop when your form starts to deteriorate. Work hard (on a scale of one to ten make sure you hit nines) but don’t perform the second exercise with bad form or you may get injured. Adjust the weight to keep you in the muscle building range of 6 to 12-reps.

1a – leg extensions
1b – barbell front squats OR leg presses
Do three to five sets in total

2a – leg curls
2b – stiff-legged deadlifts
Do three to five sets in total

Workout 2 – Powerlifting leg workout – leg workouts for men and women

Despite not training for muscle size, powerlifters usually have very muscular legs. This is because they do a high volume of heavy leg training. Do this workout once or twice a week but never on consecutive days…

Squats – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 1 reps.
Do five reps with a moderate weight and then rest. Increase the weight on the bar and then do four reps. Add more weight and do three reps. Keep adding weight and dropping reps until you finish with two sets of one repetition with a heavy weight. Use a squat rack and/or spotters for safety.

Deadlifts – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 1 reps.
As above.

Lunges – 3 sets of 10-repetitions on each leg. Use dumbbells or a barbell are preferred.

Calf raises – using a weight that allows you to do 12-reps, do as many reps in seven-minutes as you can. Keep cranking out the reps and resting as you need to for the whole seven minutes and then, when you repeat the workout, try and do more reps.

Workout 3 – bodyweight only leg workout – leg workouts for men and women

Just because you can’t get to the gym or prefer to exercise at home doesn’t mean you have to skip leg training! This workout uses a high volume/short rest approach to building leg muscle. Do these exercises as a circuit and then rest for two-minutes before repeating. Three to five laps should leave your hamstrings heaving and your quads quivering.

  1. Squat jumps x 20
  2. Bodyweight squats x 20
  3. Jumping lunges x 20 (ten reps on each leg)
  4. Lunges x 20 (ten reps on each leg)
  5. Step ups x 20 (ten reps on each leg)

Leg training could very well be the missing ingredient from your workouts. If you have been skipping leg day it’s time to “embrace the grind” and start working your lower body before short shorts come back into fashion and you end up being unable to disguise your deficiency. Remember; real men train their legs!

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