There is no way to do a workout to build bigger legs without getting dirty.
Building bigger legs is the definition of hard work in the iron game. There is no fake hustle involved in a real leg workout.
Why Some (Most) Lifters Avoid Leg Day
Now before we get into the workout, there are two major reasons why most lifters avoid a real leg day.
The first reason is flat out fear.
Most lifters are scared to do legs because they know the workout is going to be infinitely harder than doing arms and chest.
These lifters will be swiftly exposed as frauds. Nobody can easily walk through a real leg day.
The second reason is that leg workouts require a toughness and moxie that most lifters just don’t have.
It’s easy to post on social media about how you are a beast or in beastmode. But it’s hard to actually get in the squat rack and do what the true alpha lions of the iron game do.
Bigger Legs Workout
This is the legs workout I did on 2/3/21. I’ll detail all the nuances below.
Paused Barbell Squat SS Paused Glute Ham Raise 7 x 3
• We were battered by a big snow storm in Philly. I shoveled multiple times, so my back was wonky going into the workout.
• Despite my stiff back there was no reason to not train. At worst, I would have had to make some modifications to the workout.
• I used the Hogan belt (lifting belt) for the squats and RDLs to protect my lower back. I normally don’t use the belt, but you do what you need to do to complete the session if things aren’t right.
• I warmed up my squats with the bar x 3, 95lbs x 3, 135lbs x 3, 155lbs x 3, and 175lbs x 3. None of the warm-up sets felt great.
• I warmed up my glute ham raises by using push off reps (5 x 3 reps per set).
• I used the seated calf raise to stretch out my Achilles tendon before and in-between sets of squats. I’ve got naturally tight ankles and that stretch allows me to open up my ankles and squat deeper into the bucket.
• My work sets with the pause squats were done with 185lbs. I stayed in the bottom for about 2 whole seconds.
• My heels were elevated during the squats so that I could put the stress primarily on my quads. I lost significant quad size while I was recovering from my prior hamstring tears.
• Injuries will force you to smartly modify your program in order to get healthy. But you will more than likely lose some of your previous gains due to some exercises being out of the program for a while.
• I paused for about 2 seconds at the bottom of the glute ham raise. This is brutal for the hamstrings especially at the bottom!
• I have regained most of the strength in my hamstrings after tearing them both (grade 2) in 2018 and 2019. When you get knocked down, you’ve got to get back up.
Safety Bar Bulgarian Split Squats 4 x 8
• This was easily the worst part of the day.
• Barbell split squats are absolutely the hardest move in the gym. They give me butterflies in my stomach every time they are a part of my leg workout which is often!
• I did one warm up set with 115lbs x 3 for each leg.
• My work sets were done at 135lbs. I also elevated the height setting on the split squat stand to make the reps harder.
• I took about 2 seconds to descend and about 1 second to rise back up from the depths of the abyss.
• My back knee had to touch the ground for the rep to count. So does yours.
• By set 2 I was questioning what in the blue sky I was doing.
• I rested about 60-90 seconds in between legs and about 2 minutes in between sets. There is no way to speed up split squats if you are doing them right.
Elevated RDL SS Barbell Hip Thrusts 3 x 10
• This final superset focuses on building the posterior chain. Your posterior chain makes or breaks your physique.
• I used 255lbs for the RDLs and 405lbs for the barbell hip thrusts. These are not decidedly heavy weights for me, but they felt very formidable after doing those split squats!
• For the RDL, I stood on a wood block that raised me about 2 inches above the ground.
• I’ve got long arms so standing on a wood block allows me to get a deeper range of motion. This modification taxed my hamstrings big time.
• My glutes were absolutely smoked from the split squats. I was also flat on my back after every superset!
Seated Calf Raises 5 x 10
• These were straight sets.
• I used 120lbs for my sets. The rep speed was about 2 seconds down and then exploding up.
• A lot of lifters skip doing calves which is a mistake. You cannot build a complete leg without having calves.
• Some lifters (men and women) have big, genetic calves which means they won the calf lottery!
You are not judged by your words. You are judged by your actions.
Anybody can talk a big game. But you will find out what that person is made of when it’s time for the action.
If you want to build bigger legs you have to do the ugly work that the majority of lifters will not do.
I’ll do this same workout again (week 2 of 3), with the proper progressions, on 2/10/21.
I’ll holla at you next time.
The People’s Trainer