Let’s face it, all us hardgainers have been there. You’re working your butt off, eating right and hitting the gym religiously, but the weight isn’t climbing the way you want it to. Ask yourself a question. Are you really doing enough in your leg workout? Are you putting in the type of grueling weight training that it takes to reach the next level? Our legs make up an enormous part of our physique, and the muscles in them, especially the quadriceps have giant growth potential. If you really want to tip the scales with solid muscle, pay attention to these leg guidelines.
High Reps = Skinny LegsPicture a runner’s legs. They have very strong legs but they’re skinny. That is because the action of running promotes small, yet sometimes very strong, leg muscles. In our case we are seeking a different outcome. We want a powerful leg with a striated profile to prove it. From the quads to the calves we want to see size and definition. Leg day should be taken as seriously as any day in our training schedule, and special attention should be given to resting your legs after an intense workout in order to promote muscle growth. All our leg lifts are going to begin with a warm-up set and end in a working set to failure. Remember, we are HARDGAINERS. Nothing comes for free. The following workout will provide examples of exactly what we want to accomplish.
The Hardgainers’ Mass-Building Leg workout:Ok let’s get those legs ripped. No time to waste. Follow this plan.
Stretch Out: It is important we stretch properly before each leg workout to prevent injury and allow us to reach our full weight-lifting potential for the workout. Click here for some basic leg stretches.
After our stretches we begin with seated quad extensions. This is a good early workout exercise because it acts as a warm-up movement for your quadriceps and also allows you get the blood pumping through your knees which will help us with the rest of our routine. Remember we start with a high rep set for this exercise, around 15 under moderate weight, depending on your ability level. The second set should fall in the 10-12 rep range and the final set should be the heaviest and land somewhere near 8-10 repetitions.
Now the heavy lifting begins! Squats are going to be the bread and butter of any serious lifter’s leg workout. This is where we develop explosive power and pack on slabs of muscle. Squats are no joke and should always be done under strict form and preferably with a spotter present. Using a weight belt is recommended to prevent unnecessary lower back strain. With squats it’s important to complete the full range of motion in each repetition. Bring your body down by bending your knees until your quads are parallel with the floor or even lower if possible. This can be hard on the knees so use caution. Our rep set on this is going to be a little different. The first set we are going to 10 reps with the last 2 or three reps being challenging to complete. On the second set we are going to increase the weight and shoot for 8 repetitions. Finally we are going to stack on a few more plates and do our third set. Every one of these reps should be very physically demanding. Squeeze out as many as you can. If you can’t do five you might have too much weight on the bar. I am always happy when I hit 6 and any extra are just icing on the cake. Really put your mind into it.
At this point your legs are shaking. You’ve put your all into the squats and guess what? Its time for some more lifting! You got it, we’re headed to the leg press. We are going to utilize the machine in this exercise to help us reach complete exertion in our legs. Unlike squats where the balancing of the weight falls on our core muscles, in the leg press the weight glides smoothly on a sled allowing us to focus more of our energy on the pressing motion. It is not uncommon to be able to press much heavier weight than you can squat. On our first set we are shooting for 8-10 reps under moderate strain. You should be breathing heavy at the end. On our second and last set, we will target the 6-10 rep range with even heavier weight. At this point in the workout you have successfully depleted your quads and you should also be feeling moderate pre-exhaustion in your hamstrings.
As a finishing movement we will head over to the hamstring curl machine for two more sets that should completely finish off our upper leg workout. First set should go to 10 reps and the last set should be from 8-10 under good strain. Really grunt it out; you’re done with the upper leg.
So you’re tired, sweaty, and ready for some water and a protein shake, but wait, we’re forgetting something. That sad, scrawny section between your knee and that worn out cross-trainer you’re wearing. Your calves! Take a minute or two to recharge mentally and then get ready to go out with your last push of energy. Calves are muscle that MANY people have a hard time developing and the reason is simple, it hurts!
First thing we are going to do is a standing calf raise. You can do this on a machine or using free weights to add resistance. The way I prefer to complete this exercise is using a rest-pause method. I select a resistance that allows me about 25 reps under heavy strain at the end. Waiting about 20 seconds after the first set I get right back at it and shoot for as many as I can. Usually, under the same resistance, I fail at about 20 reps. Again, waiting 20 seconds, I start again and shoot for 15-17 rep range or until failure.
Last we are going to do two finishing sets of seated calf raises to completely exhaust our calf muscles. The first set should be a challenging weight for 10 reps and the second should go to failure around 6-8 reps.
At this point you should be totally out of gas. If you still have muscle strength than you didn’t hit the failure points correctly throughout the workout. Look back at the weights and repetitions you did and make adjustments for the next time. As hardgainers we must get everything we can out of a workout. It might seem like a bad deal, when others seem to so easily pack on mass, but you can’t change your genetics. You will be that much prouder of the muscle you do develop knowing how much hard work and devotion went into it.
Go home. Eat. Rest. Repeat.