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Powerful Legs Workout Routine

Author: Tom Venuto
Publisher: Exercise for Men Only

Are you one of those guys who heads straight to the bench and curl bars every time you visit the gym, but you never go anywhere near the squat rack? Sure your chest and arms look good in a tight T-shirt, but if you're embarrassed to take off those sweatpants in the gym because your legs look like something you'd see hanging out of a birds nest, maybe it's time for you to start working those underpinnings.

Let's face it, the reason so many people avoid leg training like the plague is because it is downright hard work. An intense set of high-rep squats leaves your thighs aching, your heart pounding and your lungs burning. But it's all worth it because nothing looks better than a completely balanced physique with perfect symmetry between the upper and lower body.

Most training experts agree that the ideal number of repetitions for developing muscle size is somewhere in the range of 6 - 12. This is may be true. The muscles of the lower body, however, seem to respond even better to a combination of high and low reps. Former professional bodybuilder Tom Platz, who is known for having the best leg development of all time, used this approach to develop his monstrous thighs and win the Mr. Universe contest. Platz has performed squats with 405 for 25 reps, 315 for 50 reps and 225 for 10 minutes nonstop! He was also capable of a 750 lb.-plus single.

The following routine isn't just intended for champion bodybuilders; it will work for anyone who wants to fill out their lower half. As long as you're willing to work hard, this regimen will add slabs of meat to even the scrawniest pair of thighs.


1. Warm-up with 5-10 minutes on the bike, Stairmaster or treadmill, followed by 5-10 minutes of stretching. On your first exercise for each muscle group, do 2-3 warm up sets before jumping up to your heavy sets.

2. Perform each leg exercise in strict form, using a slow, controlled speed. Utilize a combination of different repetition ranges (both high reps with lighter weights and low reps with heavy poundages) to produce the best results.

3. On high-rep sets, select a weight with which you can perform at least 15-20 reps. Your goal every workout is to constantly strive to increase the number of repetitions you perform with a particular weight. Build up to as many as 30-40 reps. When you reach the upper end of this rep range, increase the weight, drop the reps back down and continue to progressively work up the reps with the heavier poundage. If you have a training partner, challenge each other to bet your rep records at every workout.

4. On your heavy sets, select a weight with which you can barely perform 6-10 reps. Progressively increase the weight with each workout as much as possible, provided you can perform a minimum of six reps with good form.

5. The ever-popular pyramid method of increasing weight and decreasing reps with each successive set is a great system for size and strength development, especially if you are working up to very heavy weights in basic exercises like squats and deadlifts. A system that may be even more effective is the regressive pattern or reverse pyramid. Begin with your heaviest weight when you are fresh and the strongest, then decrease the weight and increase the reps each set until you are finishing with at least 20 reps on your final set. To use this system safely, you must be sure to warm up thoroughly.

6. Back squats are the core exercise in this routine. Leg presses are fine, but nothing compares to squats. For some variation, occasionally try front squats. These help develop a nice shape to the frontal thigh and lower quads, while reducing the stress on the hips, butt and lower back. They are, however, more difficult to perform than regular squats because the bar is held high in an awkward position on the front of the shoulders, so use caution.


Back Squats

Position the bar on the back of your shoulders holding on with a medium, overhand grip. To avoid injury, keep your torso rigid at all times. Inhale as you begin to descend, squatting to a point where the thighs come to parallel or just below parallel to the floor. Lower yourself slowly and always maintain control. Hold your breath momentarily as you begin to ascend, then exhale as you rise through the sticking point. Keep the torso erect and push through with your legs, avoiding the tendency to lean forward and use the lower back. Do not look up or down; look straight ahead at all times.

Elevating the heels under a one-inch board or mat will help you maintain your balance if you lack flexibility. Alternate heavy and light days every other workout. On your heavy day, do 2 - 3 light warm up sets followed by for 3 - 4 "work" sets of 6-10 reps. Increase the weight in a pyramid fashion with each successive set. O

n your light day, do your warm up sets, then perform 2 high reps sets of 20-40 reps. If you put 100% into your high rep sets two sets is plenty. On both days, finish with a final "pump" set of 15-20 reps with a light weight performed very slowly with constant tension. Each rep in the pump set should take 10 seconds: Five seconds up and five seconds down. Do not lock out and do not stop moving.

Hack Machine Squats

Position yourself on the hack squat machine with your feet in the center of the platform. Your heels should be about one to two inches apart and your toes should be pointing out at a 45-degree angle. Slowly lower yourself to a full squat position with your knees kept in line with your toes. You should squat deep enough so that the back of your calves touches your hamstrings. Provided that you are fully warmed up, you use good form and you have no pre-existing knee injuries, you should have no fear of doing your hack squats to below parallel.

Lower yourself slowly and under control and do not bounce out of the bottom position. Driving through with your heels (not off the balls of your feet), rise back to the starting position, but do not lock out your knees at the top. Since you are already warmed up from your squats, you should use a regressive weight pattern, starting with a heavy weight you can perform for a 6-8 rep max. Perform two more sets, decreasing the weight and increasing the reps with each set. (Example: 1 X 300 lbs. X 6-8 reps, 1 X 250 lbs. X 10-12 reps, 1 X 200 lbs. X 15-20 reps)

Sissy Squats

Stand upright with your feet a few inches apart and your toes pointing straight ahead. Grasp an upright support with one hand and place the opposite hand on the hip or across the chest. Push the knees forward and lower yourself into the squat position until you break just below parallel. Push back up to the top position, never fully locking out the knee. As you rise up, push through with your weight on the balls of your feet.

To keep maximum isolation on the quadriceps without involving the hips, maintain a straight line from the shoulders to the knees (do not flex at the hips). Perform 10-15 reps, holding a weight if necessary so you reach failure prior to 15 reps. As you become more advanced, hold a weight plate in the free arm across the chest. For extra intensity, go to failure with the weight, then drop the weight and continue to do reps with bodyweight until you reach failure again.

Stiff-Legged Deadlifts

Grasp an Olympic bar with an overhand grip slightly wider than shoulder width. Starting in the upright position, bend forward from the hips, slowly lowering the bar towards your ankles until your torso is parallel to the floor or close to parallel. Keep the bar close to your thighs and shins during the entire movement. To avoid injury, do not round your back; maintain a rigid torso and a flat or slightly arched lower back. Keep your head up and look straight ahead at all times.

Alternate heavy and light days every other workout as you did with squats. On your heavy day, do 2 - 3 light warm up sets followed by for 3 - 4 "work" sets of 6-10 reps. Increase the weight in a pyramid fashion with each successive set. On your light day, do your warm up sets, then perform 2 high reps sets of 20-40 reps. On both days, finish with a final "pump" set of 15-20 reps with a light weight performed very slowly with constant tension. Each rep in the pump set should take 10 seconds: Five seconds up and five seconds down. Do not lock out at the top and do not stop moving.

Lying Leg Curls

Lie prone on the leg curl machine with the roller pad positioned on the back of your ankles. Curl the weight all the way up through the full range of motion until the pad touches your buttocks. Lift the weight under control with the strength of the hamstrings only. Make sure you keep your hips firmly down on the pad. Raising your hips in the air during heavy leg curls puts pressure on the intervertebral disks in the lower lumbar area and can be an invitation to injury. Lower the weight slowly and repeat for the desired number of repetitions. Perform your leg curls as you did your hack squats; with a regressive weight pattern. Start with your heaviest weight for 6-10 reps, then decrease the weight and increase the reps for 3-4 sets.

>> Click here for Tom Venuto's Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle program