We’ve all seen the meme’s, pictures or know the stereotypes first hand. Gym guy works out and the legs are slim jims but the upper body is huge – like a walking triangle! That scenario can be quite common, depending on the location and culture of a gym, and this type of physique is typically looked at as quite comical (a joke). But fear not, your legs can and will grow if you give them the time and effort. Keep reading for more details on some great tips to grow your legs.
Before we get into the juicy details of building legs like Tom Platz, I want to touch on the following. I think there is too much negativity focused on the above mentioned look – purely based on the notion of symmetry and proportion. Unless they are body building, where symmetry and proportion is a requirement, or have a muscle imbalance that can cause them pain, I firmly believe if an individual is happy with their physique that’s the only thing that should count. If anyone’s in the gym then it takes real gusto!
BUTT & THIGHS!!! [Glutes, Quadriceps, Hamstrings and calves]
This post is about building up leg strength and size. Maybe you need push past a certain sticking point or you haven’t seen any progress in a while. Well, you’re about to be blasted with some sweet treats!!
*Please note that the following tips are merely my own thoughts and not recommendations. Everybody’s body is different and the following may not apply to yourself.*
My personal experience:
- Barbell back squat twice a week. 1st day in the week: Barbell back squat once a week with 100 reps – any combination of reps and sets that you want them [I usually vary my foot position/stance in each set] with half your body weight on the bar or more. 2nd day in the week: Barbell back squat once a week with a heavy weight, low reps, 5 sets minimum. I like to start at 5 sets x 4-6.
- Alternate between Squats and the Leg Press on your leg workouts.
- If your gym has one, use a Hack Squat Machine for excellent leg development. Some people may find this exercise eases pain on the knees.
- Unilateral work [i.e. one side of the body a time]: Including my favourite Rear foot elevated Dumbbell lunges and Dumbbell front foot reverse lunge.
- Bicycle power routines. I alternate between medium rides and sprinted time trails for a mile.
- Test your near maximum Squat at least once a month
- stretch after a leg session!
And something a bit different:
- Go on a squat holiday. Crazy right? Recommended by Wolfgang Unsöld, a german strength coach – I have to try this but I truly cant wait to try it! You can read about this unusual holiday here.
- The Sled – push and pull. Louie Simmons a world renowned strength coach recommended the sled as one of the best pieces of equipment outside of Barbells and dumbbells. I have found these help a lot…and seriously kick my butt Every. Single. Time!
- Learn the proper form to squat – I found this resource amazing from Strongerbyscience, it really increased my strength just from minor adjustments to form. Or, I have been told that the book ‘The squat bible’ by Aaron Horschig is very useful too.
- Deadlifts once or twice a week will aim to improve overall strength and should hopefully translate to your squats.
- More and more reps and sets can aid growth and strength, you can read a study here, about the effects of volume on leg size.
- Tempo work, control the eccentric and concentric movement of your lifts. I find that a longer time, around 4 seconds on eccentric movement [i.e. going down in the squat] has improved strength and size. Taking a fast approach up in the concentric part of the motion will recruit your larger type 2 muscle fibres which can increase strength and size.
Let me know if your going to try any of these. Or, If you have any useful tips that I might find helpful and would like to include please send them my way. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
!! Under construction !!
My legs after a day of high volume, low rest and low weight squats (100 reps). I have always loved this method, its exhausting and I can isolate the legs perfectly.