I know, funny. But stay with me here for a moment. If you’re focused purely on looking food at the beach, you may ask, “why lift legs? Isn’t that why my board shorts are knee length?” We all know leg lifting is just a scheme concocted by fat powerlifters to make themselves feel better about their lack of aesthetics. Curls for the gurlz, pecs for the secs. Life is pretty simple.
But should you feel so inclined to try to trick people into thinking you are a model of complete fitness and not just a top heavy Johnny Bravo clone, whats the best way to go about this? Before you think squatting is the answer, just remember, squatting is hard and its why you skip leg day in the first place. So whats the best bang for your buck to make you FEEL like you did leg work, without actually doing leg work?
All kidding aside though, I know you squat. Its the king of lower body lifts. But if your focus is bodybuilding, you have a lot more liberties in how you approach all the other assistance or accessory work you do in the day. Your focus isn’t going to be the same as an athletic minded approach, where massive compound lifts designed to maximize the incorporation of motor units to generate the most power. Your focus is less “movement” and more “muscle group” which often means you actually get good returns from isolation movements, or other movements that aren’t focused on maximal power output.
So outside of the squat, or any squat variation, what are the best exercises for building mass? If you limited me to two, I would suggest walking lunges and leg press.
The beauty part of walking lunges, is that it is a good representation of a basic functional motor pattern. So in addition to dem gainz, you do get a good base of useful strength and balance. For me, walking lunges are the single best movement for building heft along the back side of your thighs. And they don’t neglect the quads, but your glutes and hammies will develop great thickness and lead to the eventual development of the appearance of a Clydesdale horse.
There are different variations with your you load weight with this. I prefer weight on my back in a high bar position. In this way, grip is not going to be a limited factor and its very effective in making sure my thighs, butt and hips are moving the weight, and not my slowly fatiguing arms starting to swing for momentum.
Some folk s might question why I bother with this, if I’m also squatting. But my response is, I am a back strong squatter. Leg pressing is a great method for me to minimize how much work my back does to accomplish the movement, and I can achieve a lower body push that is almost purely thigh driven and not posterior chain driven.
With weight on the leg press, I try to avoid the urge to load it with plates to make awesome half rep videos to post on facebook. This is for hypertrophy. I want dat pump, I want full range of motion, and I want 8+ reps in the 65-70% range.
But there’s a thousand ways to get jacked, tan and vascular.
Seth Feroce Explains Leg Training (from Seth Feroce)
Justin Lovato Smashes Legs & Glutes at The Mecca of Bodybuilding (from IAMBUILT)
Jay Cutler’s Mr. Olympia Leg Workout | 2010 Road to the Olympia (from Bodybuilding.com)
TOM PLATZ & THE HOFF | LEGENDARY LEGDAY (from TEAM-ANDRO.com)
Kai Greene’s Leg Workout 5 weeks Out 2016 Arnold Classic (from Muscle & Strength)