Leg workouts are the key to success for many things in fitness. Weather you’re trying to lose fat, improve strength for football or bump skiing, a good leg workout can make it happen. Maybe you’re a bodybuilder and want to have legs like Tom Platz or Ronnie Coleman; well, you’re in luck, it’s just a few (hundred) leg workouts away.
The fact is that your legs are the foundation of your body. They generate most of the power for athletic endeavors, even those that many people would think are primarily powered by the arms. Throwing a punch in boxing, hitting a baseball, or a swing in tennis are all powered by a strong set of legs and hips, with some rotational core power thrown in for good measure.
If you are trying to burn fat, your legs are the key there too. There is more muscle down under and your largest single muscle is the Gluteus Maximumus, otherwise known as your rear end. Working your legs burns more calories than any other body part, and will raise your basil metabolic rate more as well. Those two things, but especially raising your metabolic rate, are the keys to losing fat.
One thing to be aware of when doing heavy leg work for too long is the constant urge to eat. It is definitely something to be aware of before you start a high intensity leg workout program.
There is a reason for all that hunger, of course. It is because your body is desperately trying to rebuild those large muscle groups. That takes nutrients and calories. It only makes proper eating and supplementation all the more important. There is no sense in killing yourself at the gym, only to sabotage your efforts by not giving your body the resources it needs to get the job done.
One other resource you need to rebuild your legs after a brutal workout is sleep. Sleep is when your body repairs damage and rebuilds things to be better than they were before…better…stronger….faster.
Here are some great leg workouts that really work.
Football / Rugby Leg Workout
Football and rugby demand a combination of power and endurance that is biased toward the power side of things. Depending on the position you play, you may need more of one than the other. For example, an O-lineman needs a bit more pure power than does a defensive back, who must actually run 40 – 50 yards on a regular basis, but still be able to deliver jarring hits and jump high when needed.
No matter what your position is though, one thing is key; explosive power. That is what you have to train for. When training your legs for football or rugby, it is essential to develop explosive power, because the other guy will, and one of you is going to be on the ground, or left behind; better him than you.
To develop explosive power, concentrate on going down fairly slowly, pausing at the bottom of the movement, then exploding out as hard as you can. Do this for each of the rep for the sets with less than 10 reps. Take between 90 – 120 seconds from the end of one set to the beginning of the next.
Sets x Reps:
- 1 x 16 : light weight
- 1 x 12 : light weight
- 1 x 8 : increase the weight as the reps decrease
- 3 x 6 : use a weight that can barely finish reps with maximum effort
Sets x Reps: 1 x 10 / 3 x 6
Dumbbell Squat Jumps
Sets x Reps: 3 x 5
Note: Be very careful doing these. Load a dumbbell to between 11lbs and 22lbs, depending upon your weight and strength. Start with a dumbbell in the squat position. Go down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold that position for about 1 second, then explode out as fast as you can, so you leave the floor, if possible.
Decline Leg Curls
Sets x Reps: 3 x 8
Seated Calf Raises
Sets x Reps: 5 x 15
Bodybuilding Leg Workout
Make sure you warm up for about 10 minutes of moderately easy riding (about 40% VO2 max)on a treadmill or stationary bike before you begin this leg routine.
You’ll get stronger too, but it is about size more than strength, which means you have to cause maximum hypertrophy.
Leave only about 60 – 90 seconds between the end of one set and the start of the next. This is a brutal, high volume workout, that takes every set except the warm up sets to at least one rep past failure. You’ll need a spotter to accomplish this at all, much less safely. Your muscles will be screaming in pain, and you’ll soon follow.
|Squats||4 x 8|
|Leg Press||3 x 8|
|Straight leg deadlift||4 x 8|
|Leg Curls||3 x 8|
|Leg Extensions||3 x 8|
|Seated Calf Raises||5 x 10|
General Fitness – Improve Appearance Leg Workout
High intensity is still the key to getting the maximum benefit in the minimum time, but you don’t have to take nearly the approach that you do for pure bodybuilding. This leg workout will whip your legs into great shape, they will look great, and you’ll definitely perform better on the slopes, courts, or diamond. Leave the same 60 – 90 seconds between sets that you’d use for the body building workout.
|Goblet Curtsey Lunge||3 x 15|
|Leg Extension||3 x 12|
|Dumbbell Leg Curl||3 x 15|
|Dumbbell Calf Raise||4 x 15|
Make sure you incorporate a good stretching program. Not only can it help prevent injuries, but research has demonstrated solid strength increases from stretching alone! It essential to get maximum development, strength, and flexibility out of your legs. The bodybuilder more associated with great legs than any other, Tom Platz, advocated warming up, then stretching completely before every leg workout.