An Epic Leg Workout, Or: Why I’ve Been Limping For Six Days

This is my favorite leg workout.

Along the same lines as the One-Stop Shopping Chest Workout, this leg workout will allow you to bogart one single squat rack in the gym for a solid 45 minutes straight. You only need one barbell and whatever plates you may require – no dumbbells are strictly necessary. This is a simple, solid workout that will hit all the important areas – quads (A.K.A. the front of yo’ leg), hamstrings (A.K.A. the backa yo’ leg), and calves (A.K.A. the bottom of yo’ leg).

Disclaimah:

Please keep in mind that I am not a personal trainer, athletic coach, or fitness expert. (HA.) I am merely someone who goes to the gym forever, and I am just detailing what I personally like to do while I am there.

Exercise 1: Lunges

lunge

This is a great warmup exercise to get your muscles nice and loose for the rest of your leg workout. It also is a great exercise to work on balance. You can add dumbbells if you want, but you don’t really need to.

Begin standing up, with your feet together and your hands on your hips like your mom just totally grounded you because she’s super lame. Take a giant step forward with your right leg so that your bent knee does not pass your toes. Try to keep your body erect; don’t lean forward. Drop your left knee toward the ground a bit. You should feel a nice stretch in your left hamstring, as well as a slight burn in your right quad. Bring your left leg up to meet your right so that you are in a standing position once more. Repeat the exercise, this time stepping with the left leg.

Set 1: Just use your bodyweight, and do 10 reps.

Set 2: 15 reps.

Set 3: 20 reps.

Exercise 2: Squats

squats

This exercise is the generally accepted end-all be-all of leg exercises. It will work your quads, your glutes, and your core all at once.

Grab a squat rack and position yourself in the middle of the barbell, which should be behind you, just below shoulder height. Holding the barbell with both hands, lift the barbell off the rack so that you are supporting the weight on your shoulders like a wizened old farmer carrying water to his oxen.

Now: squat. Bend your knees so that the angle of your quads is LESS THAN 90 degrees with your shins. You don’t need to touch the ground with your butt, but you should be pretty close. Try not to lean forward – Keep your weight on your heels, not your toes. Don’t leg your knees spread out too much.

Now push back up, still keeping your weight on your heels as much as possible, until you are standing again, and when you get the top, squeeze that ass! Don’t lock your legs – just push your hips forward and give your glutes a nice squeeze to finish out the movement.

Set 1: Pick a weight at which you can achieve 15-20 reps.

Set 2: Increase the weight, 12-15 reps.

Set 3: Increase the weight, 10-12 reps.

Set 4: Increase the weight, 8-10 reps. Keep in mind that by rep #8, you should be really struggling.

Exercise 3: Front Squats

This exercise is very similar to the squat, except for one crucial difference: the weight is in front of you instead of behind you, allowing you to wake up different muscles.

Set the bar at about nipple height. With the bar in front of you, position it against your upper chest, just above the swell of your breast (or pec). Bend your arms and put your elbows in front of you, grabbing the bar with supine hands. It may require a tiny bit of flexibility.

When you remove the bar, lift your elbows as high as they’ll go so that the bar doesn’t roll forward. It may be pressing a little bit on your collarbone area.

Now all you have to do is squat down like you did for regular squats. Try not to let the weight pitch you forward. Come back up, and, once again, drive your hips through.

Set 1: Pick a weight at which you can do 15-20 reps.

Set 2: Increase the weight, 12-15 reps.

Set 3: Increase the weight, 10-12 reps.

Set 4: Increase the weight, 8-10 reps.

Exercise 4: Box Squats

boxsquat

This exercise is also very similar to a regular squat, with the bar resting on your shoulders. This time, you’re going to need a box or a surface on which you can sit. The height of the surface should be less than the height of your shins, so that when you sit, your quads are coming further than parallel with the ground.

With the bar on your back, stand in front of the box and position it a few inches behind your heels. Sit down on the box, keeping your torso erect. Let your full weight settle onto the box; no hovering allowed! Now, bending forward as little as possible, stand up again. This shit hard, yo.

Set 1: Pick a weight at which you can do 15-20 reps.

Set 2: Increase the weight, 12-15 reps.

Set 3: Increase the weight, 10-12 reps.

Set 4: Increase the weight, 8-10 reps.

Exercise 5: Calf Raises

calfraises

This exercise, obviously, targets your calves, which are a much-neglected body part.

Place the barbell across your shoulders like you’re going to do a squat. Simply lift yourself up on tiptoe so that your calf flexes, then lower yourself back down.

If you can, find a board or a book you can put under your toes, so that the angle of your foot and your leg is less than 90 degrees. This will give you a bigger range of motion.

Set 1: Pick a weight at which you can do 15-20 reps.

Set 2: Increase the weight, 12-15 reps.

Set 3: Increase the weight, 10-12 reps.

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