TheFitExpo’s Hardcore Leg Day Routine

If you’re one of the people who skips leg day most weeks, this workout isn’t for you. This workout is for the people who kill their leg days week in and week out, and are looking for a new challenge. This program is designed to not only challenge your muscles, but to challenge your heart, your willpower, and your mental fortitude. It is not an easy workout by any means, but the results are definitely worth it. We’ll be relying on a mix of high and low rep ranges, varying rest times, and multiple different exercises to train your legs from all angles. The reasoning behind each exercise selection is broken down below, with the complete workout routine at the end of the article.

Warm-up: Begin by foam rolling any spots that feel tight, then warm up with a few minutes on the exercise bike to get some blood pumping through your legs. 1-2 minutes of bodyweight walking lunges followed by 2-3 sets of bodyweight back extensions are very helpful to prepare for leg day. If wish to perform other additional warm-up exercises that you have found helpful in the past, do them here. Whatever you do, don’t jump straight into this workout without a warm-up. Especially on leg day, skipping your warm-up is a recipe for disaster.

Exercise #1: Front Squats

Front squats are a very effective, yet very underutilized exercise. Regular back squats may be substituted if you are uncomfortable performing front squats, but remember that the point of this workout is to get outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Give yourself a few warm-up sets before you reach your working weight, eventually working up to a weight that you can do for 4 sets of 6-8 reps. While this lower rep range won’t jack up your heart rate the way that higher rep ranges do, higher intensity resistance training leads to greater boost in EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption), resulting in more calories burned throughout the day. (1) We’ll be performing these front squats before deadlifts because while it is difficult to deadlift with tired quads, it is much harder to try and squat with an already exhausted lower back.

Exercise #2: Deadlifts

Deadlifts can be performed with either a conventional or sumo stance today, depending on your goals. If you are trying to increase your maximal deadlift for the immediate future, do the stance you are strongest at. However, training your weaker stance will likely better address muscular imbalances, leading to more strength increases long-term. We’ll be performing 5 sets of 5 reps, with a primary focus on strength. In addition to the boost in EPOC provided by all high-intensity resistance training, deadlifting over 75% of your 1-rep max has also been shown to boost testosterone production. (2)

Exercise #3: Leg Press

We’ll start to transition to higher-volume exercises with the leg press. Heads up, this leg press pyramid is a killer. We will begin by pyramiding up the leg press in a fairly standard fashion, performing sets of 20,15,12,10,8, and finally 6 reps, adding weight between each set. Here’s where it gets brutal. We’re going all the way back down! Without any rest in between, drop some weight and rep out till failure (this is known as a dropset). Once failure is reached, drop some more weight repeat until there is little to no weight remaining on the machine. For example, I might start with 3 plates on each side for 20 reps, 4 plates for 15, and so on until I reached 8 plates for 6 reps. From here, I would drop 1-2 plates every time failure is reached, finishing when only 1-2 plates remain on the machine. Obviously, adjust the weights according to your own strength level, but follow the same rep scheme.

Exercise #4: Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts

We’ve already done a lot of quad work, so now we will focus on hamstrings. Romanian deadlifts are a great exercise for isolating the hamstrings, and using dumbbells will allow for a full hip extension at the top of the exercise, providing a complete glute contraction as well. We’ll be doing 4 sets of 15 reps in order to get a little bit more volume work in for our posterior chain.

Finisher:

This superset finisher will finish off your quads and hamstrings, causing a burn like no other. Simply superset leg extensions and leg curls for 3 sets of 20 on each exercise. What is usually an easy weight for you will likely be very difficult after the work we’ve already done today, but that’s okay. Strength is not the primary goal here, we’re chasing the pump!

Calves Superset:

Though often ignored, calves are an essential part of a balanced physique. With all of the work we just put into our upper legs, it would be a huge mistake to skip calves. Some claim that calves respond best to a heavier weight while others go for a higher volume approach. We’ll be combining the best of both worlds with this superset to kill our calves! The first exercise in the superset will be a calf raise machine of some kind. I typically alternate between standing and seated calf raises every other workout. This allows for a more even development of the gastrocnemius and the soleus, the two primary calf muscles. Use a relatively heavy weight, performing 4 sets of 8-12. That’s not all though! Like I said earlier, it’s a superset. In between sets of machine calf raises, perform bodyweight calf raises to failure! Only allow yourself enough time to recover as much as is needed to perform the next set. Go slow, don’t bounce, and you’ll be well on your way from turning your calves into cows!

Warm-Ups: Foam Rolling, 5 minutes on spin bike, 1-2 minutes walking lunges, 3×15-20 bodyweight back extensions

Exercise

Sets

Reps

Front Squats

4

6-8

Deadlifts

5

5

Leg Press

Pyramid

20, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, dropsets all the way back down in weight

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts

4

15

Finisher Superset:

Leg Extensions

Leg Curls

3

20 each

Calves Superset:

Calf Raise Machine (seated or standing)

Bodyweight Standing Calf Raises

4

4

8-12

Failure

If you have any questions about exercise forms or substitutions, be sure to comment below or reach out on social media @thefitexpo! Be sure to let us know how you liked the workout.

Alex Gaynor

References

  1. https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/epocarticle.html
  2. http://www.livestrong.com/article/457147-hormonal-effects-of-heavy-deadlifting/
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s