Summer is soon approaching, and you know what that means? You are no longer allowed to hide your toothpick legs under pants in the gym. Don’t be that guy this summer. In fact, start wearing shorts every training day so you have to look at your legs. They will constantly be on your mind and will hopefully motivate you to finally take leg training seriously.
Covering weak points is no way to live. Don’t you ultimately want to build your ideal physique? Don’t you want to build every body part to its fullest potential? Sure, not everyone has the genetics or means to build tree trunk thighs but you do have the ability to construct some pretty impressive, muscular, athletic legs. With a little planning and hard work, that vision can quickly become a reality.
Below are 11 ways to pack on muscle to your lower half before summer gets here.
An obvious piece of advice but still worth mentioning is the fact that you must prioritize your legs if you want any ounce of benefit from your training. Answer this: Are you honestly giving 100% effort toward leg training? Or are you simply throwing in a few easy lifts barely approaching muscular failure? Be honest. Anything worth having will take a well-thought-out plan of action. Within that plan you must prioritize your weaknesses while putting your strengths on the backburner temporarily.
2. Start perfecting the squat
I am not about to preach that you must squat if you want bigger legs but let’s face it, the squat is one severely effective leg builder. If you’ve had trouble in the past with your squat form do this: In addition to your current leg workouts start perfecting bodyweight squats – full range of motion, textbook form and deliberate movement. Once you feel comfortable with all aspects of bodyweight squats, graduate to an empty bar – don’t worry about curious onlookers, you’ll be squatting impressive loads in no time. After some time perfecting the empty bar, start loading the bar with minimal weight. Each time add just a little weight, never break your form or range of motion.
3. Try several squat options
Once you’ve built a solid base of strength, form and function with traditional barbell back squats it’s time to vary your arsenal of exercises. Start experimenting with barbell front squats, rear foot elevated Bulgarian split squats, pistol squats, and even barbell hack squats. You will be pleasantly surprised at how diverse your leg training will become. Just remember to always adhere to proper form and range of motion and progress gradually.
4. Train legs more often
Are you a once per week leg trainer? How about twice per month? Yes, few gym-goers actually enjoy training legs. Why? It hurts and the soreness seems to last for days if not weeks. If this is you then I have only one word of advice: Train them more frequently. If your legs need some serious work then you need to start training them on a serious schedule. Worried about overtraining? Don’t be. Your legs are resilient pillars of strength. It will take a lot more punishment than two training sessions per week to do any overtraining damage.
5. Don’t be embarrassed to lunge
Years ago lunges were thought of as a woman-only exercise. Now, the benefits far outweigh the “embarrassment.” Lunges work the entire thigh area: Quads, hams, glutes, and everything in between. Try all forms: Static lunges, reverse lunges, lateral lunges, walking lunges and elevated lunges. You will not only be pleasantly surprised about the new muscle you’ve added, they will also shape your legs like no other exercise.
6. Try higher reps
The common notion for many gym-goers to believe is you must train heavier and heavier in order to gain any appreciable muscle. How has that worked for you? Try something different for a change. Go for higher reps with moderate weight. You’re not a powerlifter so why train like one? You are more interested in building impressive muscle, not building your one rep max. Go for reps in the 10 to 20 rep range for a while and see your legs start to take shape.
Another great technique which has normally been reserved for arm training is the coveted superset. Why not for legs? If you really want to push your legs to the limit and have the ability to do so then supersets will separate you from the wannabes in an instant. Try combining leg extensions with lying leg curls, squats with lunges and Romanian deadlifts with front squats. You’ll not only get a huge pump but you will also start to increase your natural growth hormone levels.
8. Go unilateral
Unilateral training is one of the unsung heroes of physique-building. Once thought of as an afterthought or to merely balance out strength deficiencies on one side of the body, this type of training has now emerged as a true contender when it comes to building real muscle. Be warned: Don’t for a second think of unilateral training as only half as effective as bilateral training. One-legged squats, lunges and one-legged presses take out many of the ancillary muscles you are used to training during squats and leg presses done with both legs. You will find unilateral training actually more challenging all the while experiencing first hand your strength imbalances.
9. Don’t forget calves
Don’t make the terrible mistake of relegating your calf training to a few half-rep sets of raises at the end of your leg training day. If calves are a weak point train them at the beginning of your workout and train them frequently. Just as you would with your quads or hams, use a full range of motion, proper form and use progression slowly but deliberately. Work your entire leg.
10. Get athletic
What good are big, muscular legs if you can’t use them? Being laid up on the couch the next day after leg training is no way to live. Sure, you want to get everything out of your training that you can but what about actually using them? For variety try adding in some plyometric work to your leg training. Do some box jumps, depth jumps, hops, bounds, verticals and ballistic step-ups. You’ll not only be including an athletic element to your training you‘ll also have some fun with it too.
Of course this all boils down to effort. You must be willing to put in the work in order to build an impressive lower body. Taken further, leg training requires consistency of effort; not just a day or two of hard training, but day in and day out, week in and week out of honest, hard work. Always be progressing in reps or weight, always be perfecting your form and range of motion, always leave your ego at the door and lift the amount of weight you should be lifting. Don’t worry about the guy next to you. You are building something for you. You’ve got work to do, now go do it!