How to Train for Bigger Legs:
In order to maximize an individual’s progression within a specific muscle group; understanding the anatomy of the muscle group and following a proper training program are two crucial components to yielding real results. This article provides insight over the anatomy of the hamstrings, glutes, and quadriceps muscle groups, as well as how to optimize leg focused training. Understanding the anatomy of a specific muscle group allows to the individual to properly structure a training program that will yield real results. The leg muscle group consists of the largest muscles in the body and leg focused training is extremely taxing on the body. With that knowledge in mind, breaking down the muscle group into two training sessions a week, a quadriceps focused training day and a hamstring/glute focused training day, can lead to greater overall progression.
The quadriceps muscle group is comprised of four different muscles, the rectus femoris, the vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius. Focusing on exercises that promote knee extension will help to maximize overall growth within this muscle group. In order to promote proportional growth within this muscle group, the main training focus is to target these muscles from different angles by utilizing the principle of progressive overload. Dedicating a day solely to training the quadriceps muscles helps to decrease the risk of muscle imbalances within the leg muscle group.
The hamstring muscle group is comprised of three different muscles, the biceps femoris, the semitendinosus, and the semimembranosus. The gluteal muscle group is also comprised of three separate muscles, the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus. Focusing on exercises that promote knee flexion will help to maximize overall growth within these muscle groups. In order to promote proportional growth within these muscle groups, the main training focus is to target these muscles from different angles while utilizing the principle of progressive overload. Most individuals are considered “quadriceps dominant”, which can increase the risk of injury. One should aim to counteract this by dedicating a training day solely to the hamstring/glute muscle groups.
When wanting to build bigger more proportional legs, the emphasis will be on proper technique and form in order to maximize overall progression. When training the leg muscle group, avoid locking out knees during every lift, as this precaution will optimize time under tension and ultimately promote more growth within the muscle group. Compound (multi-joint) movements have been proven to be the most effective in promoting muscle growth due to the hormonal responses that occur and due to the amount of stress they impose on the given muscle group. Compound movements are optimized with lower training volume and by using heavier weight during the training bouts. Completing a dynamic warm up (high knees, lunges, bodyweight squats) prior to a training session has been proven to increase performance and to maximize overall force production. Completing a cool down (short duration walk/jog) followed by static stretching after a training session has been proven to decrease muscle soreness due to lactic acid build up that occurs during training.
Sample Quadriceps Focused Training Session:
Dynamic Warm Up:
Barbell Front Squat: x 10, 8, 8, 6
Narrow Foot Leg Press: x 10, 10, 8, 8
Stationary Dumbbell Lunges: 3 x 6 (each leg)
Single Leg Bulgarian Split Squat: 3 x 6 (each leg)
Wall Sits: 3 x 45 seconds
Quad Extensions: x 15, 12, 12, 10
Sample Hamstring/Glute Focused Training Session:
Dynamic Warm Up:
Barbell Back Squat: x 10, 8, 8, 6
Leg Press: x 10, 10, 8, 8
Romanian Deadlift: x 10, 10, 8
Dumbbell Goblet Squat: 3 x 10
Dumbbell Walking Lunges: 3 x 6 (each leg)
Hamstring Curls: x 15, 12, 12, 10
Understanding the muscle group being targeted helps lead to greater overall progression and optimizes an individual’s training. By applying the principles stated in this article, one will be able to maximize leg focused training. Combining proper form and technique with compound movements will lead to proportional muscle growth and optimize overall progression within the targeted muscle group. I hope this article provides some clarity regarding how to build bigger more proportional legs and helps to provide real results for those looking to take their fitness to the next level. Try out these sample workouts and let me know what you think!