If you want a leg workout that is going to be most effective at helping you to build bigger legs, this is the one. Continuing on in the 100 workout series, we are hitting the quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves in one efficient routine that is going to help you to build muscle in your legs.
The workout’s efficacy revolves around the concept of effective reps. Whenever you perform a set of, say 12 reps to failure, the first 7 or 8 are not really challenging at all. In fact, some argue that they serve no purpose other than to fatigue your muscle to get to the point where the reps do start to become difficult. Well, what if there was a way to tap into these more effective, growth inducing reps more quickly? There is, and that is where this 100 leg workout steps in.
We kick off the workout for legs with one of my favorite leg exercises of all time, the dumbbell bulgarian split squat. Grabbing a pair of dumbbells that will cause failure in our first set at 8 on each leg, we perform what we call our ignition set. Keep in mind, these reps are not going to count towards your 100 rep total for this workout. They are just serving to kick off this exercise and pre-fatigue the reps that are to come after on this leg exercise.
After reaching failure on the ignition set you will rest/pause for just 15 seconds before jumping back into your first set of effective reps. Now keep in mind, leg workouts can be grueling for many. If that is the case for you, feel free to extend your rest slightly but do so realizing that the spirit of the workout as written is for you to ultimately be able to do this with your rest limited to just 15 seconds each time.
Perform 15 effective reps on each leg, making sure to get all of them done on one leg before proceeding to the other.
The next exercise up is one for the posterior chain which will give a much needed reprieve to the quads and anterior chain muscles – and it’s the barbell RDL. The key to doing this glute and hamstring exercise right is to hinge at the waist and soften at the knees. Don’t lean the barbell out too far in front of you as this puts unnecessary strain on your low back.
Aim for 20 effective reps after your ignition set of 12 to failure to kick it off.
The next exercise is going to take you back to the anterior chain with the dumbbell alternating reverse lunges. Two great tips that make this exercise easier to perform are to remember to keep your back foot traveling not just back, but out as well. This will broaden your base of support and help you to maintain balance from the split stance position. This is especially helpful when you are handling heavy weights as you will on this leg exercise that is to be performed at an 8RM ignition set leading into 15 effective reps each leg.
Once again, we keep this leg workout moving by heading back to the posterior chain exercises, this time with a cable pull through. If you struggled to perform the hinge the first time around, you will not now. This is because the cable and rope help to pull your body into the proper position on every rep. Just remember to squeeze with the glutes to bring you back to the top into full hip extension.
The DB Spanish Squat is an amazing way to train resisted closed chain knee extension without having to use the open chain alternative leg extensions. The addition of the dumbbells to this leg exercise make it even more brutal and capable of trashing your legs in just the 15 effective reps I’m asking for.
Finally, you can’t complete your workout for legs without a little bit of calf work. Most people focus too much on the gastrocnemius and not enough on the soleus. Let’s change that by performing 15 effective reps on the seated DB calf raise. Remember to squeeze your contraction at the top and also slow down and hold the bottom position of stretch to remove some of the ballistic tendency of the achilles to dominate the calf muscles.
For a quick summary of this 100 leg workout, it looks like this:
DB Bulgarian Split Squats x 15 effective reps each leg (do one leg at a time to completion)
Barbell RDL’s x 20 effective reps
DB Alt. Reverse Lunges x 15 effective reps each leg
Cable Pullthroughs x 20 effective reps
DB Spanish Squats x 15 effective reps
DB Seated Calf Raises x 15 effective reps
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