12 ways to make your leg workouts harder
Leg day is normally a Wednesday right? Monday is chest, Tuesday is back so it must be Wednesday, that is unless you’re one of those people who SKIP leg day…
Training legs is a great way of increasing your overall muscle growth and fat loss because of all the muscles you’re working, along with all of the anabolic (growth) hormones you will produce as a result.
If you don’t squat I suggest you start now.
For those who have been diligently training legs and might have hit a plateau I have some excellent training methods to help you improve your workouts and help you get more results.
These methods aren’t easy, however they are worth it.
Supersets - Pair two leg exercises together for extra volume and more intensity - Front Squat & Back Squat for example - 5 reps rest 10 seconds the straight back under the bar for 5 more then rest 90 seconds
TriSets - 3 or more exercises in one go - Back Squat, Lunge and Wall Sit make a great combo - 12 reps, 10 second rest, 12 reps each leg, 10 second rest, hold for 60 seconds then rest 2-3 minutes
Giant Sets (not for the faint hearted.) 4 or more exercises in one round - Back Squat, Leg Press, Leg Extension, Lunge, Prowler Push & Prowler Drag - 8 reps, 10 second rest, 8 reps ,10 second rest, 12 reps, 10 second rest, 24 reps (12 each leg), 10 second rest, Push 20m then drag 20m back straight away, rest 3-5 minutes
Japanese Drop Sets - Perform 4 sets of 6-8 reps then after your last set you use the weight you’ve just finished with and go for 25 reps! Once you can’t do anymore reps drop the weight by 10-20% and keep going until you hit 25 reps. It might look like this: last set 50kg, first drop - 45kg x 5, second drop - 40kg x 6, third drop – 35kg x 7, fourth drop - 30kg x 7
Pause Reps - Stopping at certain points of the contraction to help increase TUT (Time Under Tension), these style of sets also help increase IGF-1 production (Insulin-like Growth Factor). If you’re doing hamstring curls try pausing at maximal contraction, then again just after that, and once more just before you return to the starting position
Increasing your eccentric tempo (the lowering phase of the exercise). If you were to use the deadlift you would perform the lift to the lock out position and then slowly lower the weight, perhaps 4-6 seconds each time. Try 4x6 with the following tempo: 6111. This means a 6 second eccentric phase, 1 second pause at floor, 1 second concentric phase and 1 second pause at top
Pre-exhaustion Sets - An isolation movement before the main lift - Leg Curl x 12 10 seconds rest Straight Leg Deadlift x 6. Rest 2-3 minutes and repeat
PHAT (Peripheral Heart Action Training) - This will be a great addition to those who are working towards a competition such as a triathlon or cycle sprints. 6 Squats, 10 seconds rest, 6 Push Presses, 10 seconds rest, Bike with high resistance (e.g. level 15+) for 2 minutes. Rest 1-2 minutes
Mechanical Drop Set - You will start with the hardest version of a lift, once you hit the desired number of reps you will change the angle making it easier and then continue. Front Squat x 8, Back Squat x 8, Heel-raised Squat x 8, Goblet Squat x 8, Bodyweight Squat x 8, rest 3-5min. Make your transitions one after the other with as little rest in-between as possible
Get a training partner - The above methods have all been exercise-based and have the ability to be implemented by someone training alone. However, from my experience nothing beats having a solid training partner to help push you past your limits
Hire a Personal Trainer - A good PT will not only help to motivate you, they will also be able to teach you various other methods to help you continuously improve. I’ve been training for years, but I still have a coach, you can never beat a good coach to humble you and give you the push you need
Enter a competition - Nothing is more motivational or inspiring. If you have a competition on the horizon you will find your training sessions have more purpose, you will also be more focused, thus resulting in more intense workouts.
Pick a method and have fun.
Written by Paul Swainson