Of all the body parts, the legs have to be the most important muscle group. When trained properly they can add heaps of mass to your body, not to mention makes your waist look smaller and provide the foundation of power and strength for any athlete. If your lower body is neglected it can cause your training to plateau which no lifter wants.
Basic Leg Training To Maximize Muscle Mass
When working legs you want to be as intense as possible and really blast those quadriceps and hamstrings. Doing lifts such as the squat and dead lift will actually elevate your body’s testosterone levels which in turn equals more muscle growth!
If you’re just starting out you can take your first few leg workouts slowly and get accustomed to it. But each week I want you to push yourself further until you can do a full hardcore session. Some of the best bodybuilders have been known to train legs so hard that they end up puking. Of course I don’t recommend that as it’s more detrimental than anything but the intensity is what really counts.
At the foundation of any decent leg program is the barbell squat. There’s no other exercise that will add as much mass to your frame as the squat. Not only will it work your quads and hamstrings but also your spinal erectors and glutes.
Because of the massive stress they place on the body they force your body into releasing high amounts of growth hormone, which results in new muscle being built in all parts of your body.
Not only will you see an increase in added muscle mass by adding squats to your workout routine, it will also help you gain strength. Many people who start squatting for the first time find that they add 30-40 lbs onto their bench press!
Many people seem to make excuses as to why they can’t squat. I’ve heard many times the all too common “But it will hurt my knees!” or “I’ve heard they can stunt my growth”. I’m sorry but that’s complete nonsense and with a few exceptions everyone can squat. There’s a good reason the squat is known as the most valuable exercise in existence. So quit making excuses and start squatting.
Squatting Technique Basics
The squat can be a fairly dangerous exercise if proper precautions are not taken. Firstly you should always be squatting in a power rack or a squat rack. This will allow you to drop the weight off your back onto the pins if you get stuck in the bottom portion of the lift (also known as “bailing”).
When squatting you should always be looking directly forward keeping a slight arch in your lower back. Also keep in mind not to lean forward and try to keep the weight on the heels of your feet.
When lowering yourself you want to pretend as if you’re sitting down in a chair keeping your knees inline with your feet. Always lower yourself till your thighs are parallel or preferably lower. When you reach the bottom you want to drive yourself up immediately with your heels making sure not to get relaxed in the bottom position.
Next, anyone looking to add heaps of muscle mass onto their lower and upper body and become extremely strong should look no further than the dead lift. No other exercise adds thickness to the back quite like it.
In my experience with weight lifting, the dead lift if performed correctly can build unsurpassed amounts of muscle while also strengthening almost every major muscle group in the body. There’s a good reason why many lifters today refuse to do a workout program without it.
Not only will deadlifting strengthen the whole back and surrounding muscles but will also increase core strength greatly. It can even help prevent and rehabilitate lower back injuries that commonly plague many people today.
In addition, deadlifting works more muscles concurrently than any other movement. The hamstrings, quads, glutes, shoulders and traps are all worked as a result. This has the effect of forcing the body into growing. Also it helps develop tremendous gripping strength, as the weights used are generally very heavy (I’ve seen smaller guys repping 300lbs easily).
How to Perform the Deadlift
Stand over the barbell with your feet about shoulder width apart. Grab the bar; making sure it’s close to your shins. Squat down so your arms are straight and your back is completely fat (make sure not to round your back at all) and your shoulders are behind the bar. Now stand as you pull the bar up at the same time, keeping it close to your legs. Lower the weight to the floor keeping it close to your legs, making sure to completely let the weight rest on the ground. Reset your grip as needed and repeat.
Rounding out The Leg Training Routine for Mass
In addition, I recommend doing leg presses and if your gym has it the hack squat machine. These machines will work the calves and quadriceps pretty well but additional work will be needed for the hamstrings. For the hamstrings, stiff legged dead lifts and hamstring curls are great. Remember not to neglect the hamstrings, as it will cause an imbalance if you have huge quads.
One considerable factor during calf training is that of maintaining alignment of the foot joint that is just below the ankle. This is the joint that allows the side-to-side motions of the foot. Often the ankles are allowed to roll outward as the heels near the top of the motion during a calf exercise. This demonstrates a lack of use of the peroneals, a muscle group that lies on the outer most aspect of the lower leg. By maintaining the alignment and ensuring that the heel moves straight up, and not out, these muscles are utilized and developed. Due to their position on the leg, they will add to the size and appearance of the “outside” of the calf.
Developing a great set of legs is a very important aspect of gaining mass, and these aforementioned exercises will help you greatly in this area. Everyone should be squatting and dead lifting, from the athlete to the bodybuilder and even the soccer mom. The results are undeniable, treat the lift with respect and use proper technique and you will make gains like you never believed. Basically, if you work those legs as hard as you possibly can, you’ll be on your way to having huge powerful legs.
Video source: ATHLEAN-X