3 Best Leg Exercises For Gains
If you want to read this whole article, PLEASE DO! If not, you can scroll down and you will see the bold words which correspond to each of the 3 leg exercises.
We have covered this multiple times in the past, that volume is the biggest indicator for building strength and building muscle right. Well we're talking about how much tonnage, how much work we do day in day out, week in week out, Month in month out, your out. Overall volume is sets times reps times weight plus a calorie surplus, meaning we eat more calories than we need to maintain our body weight, that's how we're gonna build muscle size and mass. That mixed in with good hydration and a lot of sleep is gonna be overall best strategy. Now the biggest difference between strength training, trying to build your 1 rep max, weightlifting, powerlifting whatever it is you're doing to try to get stronger, and bodybuilding(training for aesthetics), the only main difference is our exercise variation and perhaps how many exercises you do.
Hypothetically speaking if you're a power lifter you could become very very good at powerlifting with just the squat bench and deadlift. Now you do risk some weak points that may end up aggravating some injuries or getting a little bit of wear and tear. It may not be optimal but you can be really good at squat bench dead and get strong. With bodybuilding it's highly likely that you need a larger amount of tools, a larger pool of exercise variation to get better. Now we're talking about building muscle, they do go hand-in-hand because we want progressive overload. We want to build, sets, reps and that load, over time (more volume) will build more strength and more size.
So when we start with leg training we mostly want to start out with most bang for your buck. What exercise hits the most amount of your legs and allows you to lift the most amount of weight. The more weight that we can lift the more we can progress. If I'm doing a pinky curl, my little pinky can only lift around 12 ounces(a guess), so for me to progress with my pinky, because it's such a small muscle it's gonna take a lot of time. I'm gonna lift 12 ounces and for 10 reps then maybe 12 ounces for ten and a half reps that 11 reps then maybe I can do 13 ounces. If I can squat 400 pounds, I'm gonna do sets of five with 315 then I can do sets of six with 320 you know more sets more reps weekly progression. So what I suggest, starting out, is finding a big compound exercise that fits well for your body(One that you enjoy).
The First Exercise, the one I would suggest the most would be the back squat, another good complement to the back squat is maybe a front squat, a pause squat or if you don't enjoy those movements a leg press will do. You could even choose a Bulgarian split squat. All these movements allow you to progressively overload, allow you to use a lot of tonnage, a lot of volume and a large part of your leg. You're basically using every muscle from your glutes down. That's really what we're aiming for. What I suggest there is starting out with the majority of your workout, 50, 60, 75 percent of your workout focused in on that movement so you can handle the most amount of weight, handle most amount of volume and get the most stimulus to your legs as you can.
Rep ranges if you're squatting multiple times or doing legs multiple times a week can vary. Using daily undulating periodization where we have squat workout A and squat workout B. Squat workout A would maybe be 3-5 sets of anywhere from 3-6 reps, it's a little bit heavier, it's a little bit less reps and you're getting in that strength training. Where Squat day B you'll also be squatting but now we're gonna do maybe 3 sets of 6-10 reps. A little bit lighter with a little bit more reps. We're gonna stimulate different muscle fibers and we're also going to condition ourselves in different rep ranges, one a little bit strength and one a little bit strength endurance.
Second exercise, if we're gonna break this down nice and simple what I think best for legs is a reverse lunge. Now any lunge will do, walking lunges are great as there are many different kinds. Again a Bulgarian split squat would be great, or the reverse lunge is a great movement for the quadriceps itself. You're still doing a compound movement and you're working a large part of your leg. Hamstrings, glutes, calves are all still involved and it's easy to load. I prefer a kettle bell but you can do dumbbells as well or you can do a barbell across your back. I also think it adds a little bit of athleticism, coordination and balance to your routine. I think adding any type of balance and coordination is highly beneficial not only for your mind, but for your body and it works a little bit extra in your calves although minuscule, I think it's worth it overall!
Last exercise, would be some type of hamstring movement. I believe the RDL Romanian deadlift is a great movement. Again dumbbells, barbells or kettle bells but I think the barbell in particular is the best. I think you can do higher rep ranges, you can really feel your hammies and glutes working. If we got the same setup for work out A and workout B and we're using the reverse lunge for our second movement, again it focuses in on our entire leg, but a little extra on the quadriceps again if we're doing that leg extension on the reverse. Workout A might be 3 sets of 6-8 a little bit heavier load. Then Workout B might be 3 Sets of 10-15 reps a little bit lighter load and what we try to do again, week to week, month a month is progress and not only by adding load but we can do an extra set or we can do an extra rep as needed. Once you start to get stronger and you've been training for a very long time you can't just add five pounds every week to these movements and get stronger, so you'll have to add a set, maybe a rep and progress very slowly. On this exercise I prefer a barbell but as I said before, you can use it with dumbbells, kettle bells or even a machine. Some people do it on the cable but I think the barbell you can really load this movement up, if you keep your back nice and neutral and really focus on pushing back into your hips, keeping your shoulders directly over the bar, and knees slightly hinged.
Additional Info (Sorry Omar)
You can't end a workout without doing a little bit calves! Now if it's if it's purely aesthetic goals and you want to balanced symmetrical physique calves are going to be necessity for entirety of athletic movement. They are a small muscle but it is smart to train them if you're a runner, sprinter, basketball player, etc. Do they need the stimulus that all the rest of our muscles get? Maybe not because you do use them a lot when you're running, jumping etc on their own and they're constantly in flexion themselves when you're standing, walking etc. But you know, a couple sets of seated calf raises real slow, controlled, relaxed at the bottom, allow that stretch to kind of dissipate. We have a very elastic Achilles Tendon it's very strong and it's really wound up. So you want that thing to relax and then control it yourself to contract and control the movement both ways. 3 sets of maybe 15 then some standing calf raises 3 to 20 similar motion. Don't bounce up and down! You see a lot of guys in there doing freaking jumping jacks on the machine. That's my leg routine for some girthy tree trunks!