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Four Tips For Building Bigger Legs

In the latest of our fitness and performance series, Rory McInerney of FFS Gym provides us with the ammunition to build bigger leg muscles.

Benefits Of Big Legs

Does any of the following apply to you;

  • Someone with skinny legs?
  • Someone who has a lot of fat stored in their thighs / rear end?
  • The wimp that always skips leg day?

If any of the above is applicable, and be honest with yourself, then you NEED to read this article. 

Having bigger legs, with more muscle mass, provides numerous benefits to those looking to increase size, lose body fat and perform better for sports. Aesthetics are a huge factor for a lot of people, like I mentioned in my previous blog on core strength, so let’s face it, no one wants a Johnny Bravo type asymmetrical physique with a large upper body and chicken legs.

The following four tips are my key exercises and recommended training load for those looking to pack on some leg mass. Remember, the goal is hypertrophy (muscle growth) so the rep range is roughly 8-12 and the rest should be no longer than 90 seconds.

That means no phones out on the ‘Gram or Snapchat. Knuckle down and get to work!

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1. Squat

Starting your leg day with a squat is essential. The squat uses pretty much all of the lower body muscles and recruits a lot more upper body and core muscles than most people think.

There are tonnes of variations of squats that you can use and each one plays a different role. For the purpose of packing on mass, the back squat is the king.

I would recommend you start your session with a goblet to get you warmed up, before progressing to a barbell back squat.

Recommendation

– Goblet Squat – 3 Sets x 12 Reps With 45 Second Rest 

– Barbell Back Squat – 4/5 sets x 10/12 Reps With 90 Second Rest.

– Box Squat – Low Reps, Heavy Weight

As we are trying to develop max power for performance in sports, box squat lifting as heavy as possible for lower reps is of most benefit. In this instance, size is the goal so squat as low as you can with good form.

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2. Single-Leg Squat / Lunges

Adding single-leg variations to lunges and squats ensures that both legs are getting worked and minimises the potential for an imbalance to grow.

Although there are huge injury prevention benefits, do not let the single-leg variations trick you in to thinking that these are an ‘easy’ alternative to a heavy back squat.

Bulgarian (or Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats) are my favourite for building size. When done correctly they can have a serious impact on building leg mass (quads, glutes and hamstrings) as well as being a functional movement that has crossover to a lot of sports.

The dumbbell variation is a good option as as it requires less set up, is safer and also works your core and grip strength.

Recommendation

– Single-Leg Lunges – 4 Sets x 10 Reps On Each Leg With 90 Second Rest.

– Lift as heavy as you can with good form. Watch that heart rate shoot up instantly and good luck walking up (or down) the stairs out of your gym.

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3. Posterior Chain Movements

The addition of squats and single leg squats / lunges has just rapidly accelerated your route to leg mass and serious size gains, but, we cannot neglect what we do not see in the mirror.

A good set of legs is just like a good mullet;

“business in the front, party in the back”.

You MUST work your hamstrings and glutes otherwise you will end up with a host of mobility / lack of flexibility issues in your hip flexors; not a nice road to go down.

I would highly recommend Barbell Romanian Deadlifts (RDL). If you struggle with a hip hinge movement then regress it to using a plate hug RDL or using light dumbbells.

You should then add a barbell glute bridge to really work on increasing glute size.

Bigger glutes are shown to have a direct correlation with acceleration and speed in top level athletes as well as a decrease in injury, so this is a no-brainer for those of us involved in performance sports.

Recommendation

– Barbell Romanian Deadlift – 4 Sets x 10/12 Reps With 60-90 Seconds Rest

– Barbell Glute Bridge – 4 Sets x 10/12 Reps With 60-90 Seconds Rest

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4. High Volume Finishers / Super Sets

I LOVE high volume finishers at the end of my sessions to get a lot of blood flowing to the muscles that you have just ‘damaged’ during your session. Use less technical movements and light loads (bodyweight is usually sufficient). 

My favourite finisher is bodyweight reverse lunges, with the back knee tipping the floor, superset with a 90 second wall sit. Do this for 3-5 sets without any rest and watch your legs explode. 

Recommendation

– Body-Weight Reverse Lunges – 15 Each Leg x 3 Sets

– 90 Second Wall Sit x 3 Sets

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Full Leg Workout

– Goblet Squat – 3 Sets x 12 Reps With 45 Second Rest 

– Barbell Back Squat – 4/5 sets x 10/12 Reps With 90 Second Rest.

– Box Squat – Low Reps, Heavy Weight

– Single-Leg Lunges – 4 Sets x 10 Reps On Each Leg With 90 Second Rest. 

– Lift as heavy as you can with good form. Watch that heart rate shoot up instantly and good luck walking up (or down) the stairs out of your gym.

– Barbell Romanian Deadlift – 4 Sets x 10/12 Reps With 60-90 Seconds Rest

– Barbell Glute Bridge – 4 Sets x 10/12 Reps With 60-90 Seconds Rest

– Body-Weight Reverse Lunges – 15 Each Leg x 3 Sets

– 90 Second Wall Sit x 3 Sets

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Too simple for you?

Better basics = better results and simple is easy to adhere to. Try the exercises and let us know how you get on via Instagram.

 

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Author: FFS

Fitter Faster Stronger (FFS) is a high-performance training facility designed for athletes & those with a serious commitment to long-term health.