Leg Workout: Strength and Volume

The legs are comprised of a massive and intricate network of muscles that comprise the entire lower half of the body. The leg muscles support the entire body from literally the ground up, and are the basis for stability and overall bodily strength. With the application of specific resistance exercises an athlete can not only improve their leg strength and tone, but also their overall strength as well. Click ‘Read More’ below to see the workout…

Front View of the Leg Muscles

The main muscle groups of the legs are the gluteals, hamstrings, quadriceps, and gastrocnemius.  It is these leg muscles that are responsible for all levels of mobility and power, from propelling the athlete forward to transferring torque and weight through the upper body. The gluteals make up what is commonly known as your butt or glutes. The gluteals are some of the strongest muscles in the body, and are a group of three muscles that are responsible for assisting in moving the leg at the hip level. The gluteus maximus is a large band muscle that moves the leg back at the hip level. While the gluteus medius and minimus allow for hip abduction and allow you to move your legs away from the center of your body in lateral motion.

Gluteals

The hamstrings are a group of muscles located on the rear of the upper leg along the femur, and are responsible for retracting the lower leg backwards towards the gluteals through the knee joint.

Hamstrings

The quadriceps muscle group is located on the frontal portion of the upper leg along the femur and structurally counteract the hamstrings. The quadriceps are made up of the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius and vastus medialis. All of these muscles come together and give the lower leg the strength to extend out from the knee.

Quadriceps

The last group of muscles are called the gastrocnemius group and is better known as the calf muscle. These muscles are located on the lower half of the leg that encapsulate the rear of the tibia bone. The movement of these muscles directly manipulate the movement of the ankle, and in turn allow for the torque to be finally transferred to the ground.

Gastrocnemius

Given the sheer percentage of mass and vitality in movement, these muscle groups are a top priority both for aesthetics and strength. The legs not only propel the body in all directions: forward, backwards, laterally, down and vertically, but are each an appendage with tremendous independent or combined power. In addition to the legs supporting the entire upper torso, they are key to aesthetically balancing out the size disparity of the of the upper torso.  Even without a specific athletic or aesthetic goal, lack of proportional leg strength is detrimental to overall health with respect to pain free and unrestrained normal bodily movement, especially as the body begins to age or lacks athletic experience. In order to specifically strengthen, tone and induce hypertrophy of the leg muscles in a complete and concise manner, an athlete must target and execute resistance movements that are essential to overall development as a whole and to each group. The organization and exercises that comprise a workout must focus on strength and volume in order to improve total body strength, leg strength, and stability as well as to aesthetically improve the overall shape and tone of the athlete’s lower body.

Due to complexity and unparalleled versatility of movement, the legs can be trained in any sport or body specific manner for an athlete’s chosen goals. This workout is a basic outline for the development of strength and volume, but there are endless possibilities for modification and variation.

1) The Squat- This is a barbell exercise that utilizes the entire power of the legs and supporting stabilizer muscles of the body in one synergistic motion, while slightly focusing more on the development of the glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps. Load a barbell on a squat rack at around shoulder height and get under the bar with it resting along the upper trap muscles of your back. The bar should be behind your neck, and in line with the shoulders but resting upon the natural flexed upper back that is created up gripping the bar wider than shoulder width. Place your feet shoulder width apart and push up on the bar to remove it from the rack. Take a slow step away from the rack and stabilize yourself. Keep the weight of the bar on your heels and slowly descend as if you were sitting down in a chair. Keep your butt low, keep your chest out, head up and keep your back straight. ALWAYS keep your back straight and never let it round as it will strain your back and cause injury. When lifting, lower the weight to a level that your femur is parallel to the ground and immediately explode upwards while retaining strict form. The structure for this exercises takes advantage of a ‘pyramid’ structure which combines increasing resistance and lower repetitions, with a slow decrease of weight and higher repetitions for a total spectrum of athletic resistance.

  • Warm up with half of the starting weight for 20 repetitions.
  • Increase the weight significantly to a weight that you can only do 12 repetitions of.
  • Increase the weight 10-30 pounds for the next set and perform 10 repetitions.
  • Increase the weight 10-30 pounds for the next set and perform 6 repetitions,
  • Decrease the weight 20-50 pounds and perform as many repetitions as possible till failure.
  • Further decrease the weight again 20-50 pounds and perform as many repetitions as possible till failure.
  • Immediately following this set, decease the weight to the warm up weight and perform as many as possible till failure.

2) Lunges- Load and position the barbell in the same manner as in the squat exercise. Remove yourself from the squat rack, and extend one leg at out a time and allow the the stationary rear leg to come very close to the ground. Push up from this position and bring the rear leg back up to the front leg’s position, and begin the exercise again by extending what was previously the rear leg out. Set a specific distance to travel and attempt to reach that goal with each addition of weight. This exercise can also be performed with dumbbells being held at your sides.

  • Establish a base warm up weight at allows for the determined length of walking lunges with ease.
  • Increase the weight by 10-20 pounds and attempt to reach the original length.
  • Increase the weight by 10-20 pounds and attempt to reach the original length.
  • Reduce the weight to just bodyweight and perform the lunges for the original length.

3) Calf Raises- This is an isolation exercise that focuses on the development of the calf muscle. There a tremendous number of variations of this exercise that are offered by machines and free weights. In addition to being able to be done sitting or standing, the premise is the placement of the balls of the feet on the edge of a surface, stretching the calf muscle by lowering the heel and then raising the heel all the way up to flex the muscle. 

  • Perform a weight that allows 15 repetitions.
  • Increase the weight to one that allows just 12 repetitions.
  • Increase the weight to one that allows just 10 repetitions.
  • Immediately following this, without rest, decrease the weight to 10-20 pounds less than the initial set and perform to failure.

4) Leg Extensions- This isolation exercise is a machine based exercise that is done while sitting for the development of the quadriceps. Start off by placing your shins behind a pad, and adjust the range of motion for your body type. To perform this exercise fully extend your lower leg out from the knee and hold this position at the top for a half second.

  • Warm up with half of the starting weight for 20 repetitions.
  • Increase the weight significantly to a weight that you can only do 12 repetitions of.
  • Increase the weight 10 pounds for the next set and perform 10 repetitions.
  • Increase the weight 10 pounds for the next set and perform 6 repetitions,
  • Decrease the weight 20 pounds and perform as many repetitions as possible till failure.
  • Further decrease the weight again 20 pounds and perform as many repetitions as possible till failure.

5) Hamstring Curls- This isolation exercise focuses on the development of the hamstring muscles through a specific limited range of motion. Place the pad behind the lower leg and slightly above the achilles tendon. Adjust the range of motion so that the leg is fully extended and use a weight that allows you to bring your heels all the way back to beneath the glutes.

  • Warm up with half of the starting weight for 20 repetitions.
  • Increase the weight significantly to a weight that you can only do 12 repetitions of.
  • Increase the weight 10 pounds for the next set and perform 10 repetitions.
  • Increase the weight 10 pounds for the next set and perform 6 repetitions,
  • Decrease the weight 20 pounds and perform as many repetitions as possible till failure.
  • Further decrease the weight again 20 pounds and perform as many repetitions as possible till failure.

Go Train.

-Papa Swole

(This is an original post copyright to SwoleScience.com, credited to the aforementioned author. Its reproduction is strictly prohibited. All rights reserved to the original authors of any quoted or embedded material)

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1 Response

  1. November 10, 2014

    […] we look at Dwayne Johnson’s sample leg workout, what we are seeing here is a lot of volume that is being implemented for a maximum pump of the muscle tissue in order to create hypertrophy and […]

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