For most people, leg day is the most dreading part of the week. That is why a lot of people simply choose not to train their legs. After all, your upper body is all that matters, right? All kidding aside, legs are just as important as your upper body, so you should make sure to train them that way. Nothing looks more ridiculous than someone who has a massive upper body but no leg mass at all.
I feel that many people hardly have any problems at all seeing leg gains; in most natural bodybuilders that take their training seriously, I find that their upper bodies actually are superior to their lower body. It’s not tough to bring your legs up, but you do have to put the work in at the gym.
Leg training should be kept simple just like any other muscle. The key to seeing growth anywhere is progressive overload. This means to continually see results in the gym whether it be an increase in reps, strength, or a combination of the two. You don’t have to go in and hammer your legs with countless sets until you can’t move anymore; sure, that may seem great on paper to break down your muscle, but it’s not really do anything unless you’re seeing results in progressive overload. Here is a sample workout for leg training that I would recommend:
Leg Press: 3×10-12
Stiff Legged Dead-Lifts: 3×6-10
Leg Curls: 3×8-10
Leg Extensions: 3×8
Seated Calf Raises: 4×8-12
As you can see, this is kept very short and simple. You do not have to go in and hit 3 different variations of squats; the key, once again, is to see progressive overload. You do not have to do all of these exercises, but I would pick out two exercises for your quadriceps, two exercises for your hamstrings, and one or two exercises for your calves. I would highly recommend for everyone to start their leg day with squats though.
The reason for the importance of having squats in there is usually a great correlation with leg size and the amount that you can squat. For example, you will most likely never see anyone who can squat 400 lbs that has small legs. The reason that you should start your leg day off with squats is that that is when you will have the most energy. If you do it after three other exercises, then you will be worn down too much at that point to really see that much progress.
Now, you’re also probably wondering why I would only recommend 5 repetitions for squats rather than shooting for higher reps and achieving hypertrophy that way. Well, first off, you can see a lot of growth by training in strength rep ranges as well. Secondly, if you gain more strength on squats, then you will also be able to do higher weights in the hypertrophy rep ranges. Lastly, squats also have a greater range of motion than almost any other exercise, so that means the time that your muscles are under tension will be greater than an exercise with a lesser range of motion such as leg presses.
This means that you will not have to do as many reps to create the same amount of time under tension.
One thing to remember is that the key to results is progressive overload; you should be focusing on stimulation rather than annihilation. I would also recommend training your legs twice per week; on one day, you can do lower reps training for strength, and on the other day you can do higher reps. Once you start building up some strength on squats, then it’s a guarantee you will see some solid gains.