The legs are arguably the most overlooked of all muscle groups. Many people find various excuses and justifications for not working their legs, from the Sunday football game to running, which would already sufficiently stimulate the muscles of the lower body. But no one is fooled, and the real reason is simple: working the legs is extremely difficult and painful. Unfortunately, there is no way other than strength training to build beautiful legs, and bypassing thigh workouts is the best way to achieve an unbalanced physique. To help you better understand this difficult session, Wikifit offers some useful tips to make each of your leg sessions both accessible and effective.
THE SQUAT: OBLIGATORY?
The squat is an extremely effective leg exercise, and we recommend including it in your lower body routine as long as you are physically fit for it. However, that’s not to say that squats are some kind of magic exercise that you absolutely have to perform every session, and it also doesn’t mean you can’t get great results without them. The search for hypertrophy comes down to placing a given muscle under sufficient tension using a particular exercise, and then progressively overloading that movement by applying sufficient volume and frequency. As long as you are able to accomplish this, muscle building will follow.. For some individuals with specific body structures that are not ideal for the squat (such as those with very long femurs), exercises like the leg press are not only suitable alternatives, but can actually become significantly more effective than the squat at overloading the quadriceps.
A FEW TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL THIGH WORKOUT
Learn and use proper form
In practice, your execution technique won’t always be perfect, but it should still be good enough to prevent injury.
Check the negative phase
This is especially important for leg exercises due to the involvement of the knee and lower back. As you probably know, the knee and lower back are two areas most vulnerable to joint injury and pain. And one of the surest ways to cause one of these injuries is to lose control of movement during the eccentric phase.
Inhale before or during the negative (eccentric) phase of each repetition, hold your breath during the positive (concentric) phase, and exhale when the repetition is complete. Breathing increases pressure in the abdominal and chest cavities, which helps to support and protect the spine in addition to bringing a gain of strength and explosiveness.
Use a belt
Buy a weight belt and wear it during heavy sets. Belts are not required, but they can help you get stronger while protecting your back thanks to the reinforcement of the cladding.
THE IDEAL TRAINING PROGRAM FOR LEGS
This program must consist of polyarticular exercises for the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings, without forgetting the calves. The ideal is to follow a training program that stimulates as many muscle fibers as possible in a short time, in order to get the maximum performance. The intensity of a session remains the key to progress, not the duration.
5 sets of 15-20 repetitions
Each rep should culminate in a one-second maximum contraction at the top of the movement, and the last rep of each set should be held for as long as possible to engage maximum fiber and quickly congest the quadriceps.
A full squat movement
5 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions
Whether it’s a free squat or a smith machine squat, hack squat or goblet squat, the most important thing is to descend and squat with the load as much as your mobility allows, below parallel if possible. The goal is to engage the hamstrings at the very bottom of the movement and thus maximize the results in the entire thigh. Hold the bottom position for a second, then contract your glutes, hamstrings and quads as hard as you can to come back up, while keeping your torso as straight as possible.
Lunges on the go
3 sets with as many repetitions as possible
Your legs should be so exhausted from the previous 2 exercises that you probably won’t need to load. Your own body weight should suffice.
Standing calf machine
4 sets of 15 to 20 reps
Contract and stretch controlling the load throughout each repetition.
3 reasons not to miss the legs session
Important Reminders for Building Thigh Muscles
Squat: How low should you go?
The front squat: less dangerous and more effective?