Here’s a complete workout for your legs to really work them all around. It trains your glutes, quads, calves and hamstrings for bigger muscle and more strength. You’ll get 6 exercises in this routine for that really good pump.
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We’ll start with squats so my advice is to warm up to this exercise well, don’t start cold. Pick up a light weight, just the bar without plates will do, and get a good feel on your form and control. Warm up the hips and hamstrings for good flexibility. And let’s start.
This is the main exercise for this workout and we have to do it really well. I’ve said it many times and I’ll say it again, you have to control the form really well, not only to get the most benefit out of squats but to avoid back or knee injuries too. We’ll go in a pyramid progression to build up strength by increasing the weights and lowering the reps with each set.
In each set, as you increase the weight, always get the feel of how high you can go. If you feel good about your legs and form, pick heavier weights, but it’s ok to keep lower if it doesn’t feel right – we want to avoid those injuries. But at the same time, we have to keep the intensity up to build muscle and strength, so don’t slack around too.
Dumbbell Step Up
Pick up some dumbbells and let’s do some step ups. This is a great unilateral exercise to focus on one leg at a time and work those quads and glutes individually. Try to pick up a higher elevated box or other platform for this exercise, as we want to keep the intensity higher. As you step up, really focus on the leading leg so that all weight goes through it. Don’t push up with your other leg for momentum.
This unilateral exercise is also a good chance to work on your imbalances if you feel weaker in one leg.
Farmer Dumbbell Squats
Or alternatively, you can do the hex bar deadlift. This is a more balanced version of the deadlift that’s easier on the back. Instead of lifting the weight in front, your body doesn’t need to compensate and it’s easier to complete the correct form. Since we’re focusing on the legs, this is a great compound exercise to work on that hip thrust and hamstrings.
Lateral Box Squats
Another unilateral exercise to work your legs individually (remember those imbalances again). Pick up a kettlebell or a dumbbell for this exercise to add weight and focus on those glutes and rear leg muscles.
We hit those rear leg muscles and hamstrings really hard with the Romanian deadlift. This form of deadlift is different in that it focuses on the hip hinge as you don’t drop the barbell all the way to the ground, your knees are only slightly bent. So it doesn’t only stretch the hamstrings but allows you to work on the standard deadlift form as well.
Seated Calf Raises
As the final exercise we hit the calves with the seated calf raise. We usually load up heavy on this exercise, but don’t go crazy and mind the form here too. Allow more control and slower tempo rather than just bouncing the weight, this will work the muscles better.
The Complete Workout
Squats – 5 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 reps with incremental weight increase
5 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6, 4 reps with incremental weight increase Dumbbell step ups – 4 sets of 10 reps for each leg
4 sets of 10 reps for each leg Farmer dumbbell squats – 4×10
4×10 Lateral box squats – 3×10 for each leg
3×10 for each leg Romanian deadlifts – 3×10
3×10 Seated calf raises – 4×12