I’ve been working out for about a year and I’ve been able to build up a good amount of muscle mass in my upper body but my legs just don’t seem to grow no matter what I do and they are definitely the weakest part of my physique. I’ve always been pretty lean and I can eat just about anything without getting fat. I hate being called “chicken legs” by my buddies in the gym and I need some good recommendations for packing on muscle to my lower body so I don’t look so out of proportion. It was suggested by a trainer at my gym that I train my legs twice a week. Based upon this schedule, how could I incorporate two days of leg workouts into my workout regimen and is this the best way to train my legs to build lots of muscle?
Congratulations on making such great gains in your first year of training! Since you have been able to pack on some quality muscle to your upper body, it sounds like you know how to train in the gym for the best results. Now, it’s just a matter of figuring out the best exercises and training routine to bring your legs up to par.
Most guys who are really lean have a hard time adding a lot of size to their legs. This is because the ectomorph body type is one that has very low levels of body fat while having a tougher time packing on overall muscle mass. The ideal body type is the mesomorph who is not only lean but also naturally heavily muscled. Mike Tyson is a good example of a mesomorph. The biggest factors involved in adding serious size to your legs in order to bring them up the level of your upper body is by choosing the most basic mass building multi-joint exercises like barbell squats and leg presses and doing them with super heavy poundages in order to annihilate the muscles of the quadriceps and hamstrings. Your reps should be in the range of 4-6 per set in order to maximize the amount of weight being used and it’s also smart to use a spotter so you can bust out a few extra muscle building reps at the end of each set!
I’m not going to lie and tell you it’s going to be easy to gain a lot of muscle mass in a short amount of time. It’s going to take a ton of hard work and patience in order to fully develop your legs. You will need to really focus 100% of your attention towards building up your legs and this comes with gut busting workouts in order to stimulate growth. You probably had an easy time packing on muscle to your chest, back and arms but this is not going to be the case with your lower body. You will need to scratch and claw for every inch of new muscle growth you achieve! Don’t worry, I’m sure you will reach your goals but don’t get discouraged if it takes another 8-12 months to see a significant change in the overall size of your legs.
In terms of how many times you should train your legs, I highly recommend limiting them to only one workout per week. You want to utterly destroy your legs during your workout and completely crush them by using different mass building exercises. When you leave the gym you should barely be able to walk. I’m not kidding! You need to get super serious when it comes to your leg days since this is the time that separates the men from the boys and it’s your time to do serious work! There is no time for joking around and chatting with your buddies. If you want huge legs bad enough, you will put the work in that’s needed in order to force your muscles to grow. When you train in this super high intensity style, you want to give your legs a lot of time to fully recover and repair the broken down muscle fibers. The adequate amount of time for full recuperation is several days and this is the reason why you need to give your legs enough time to completely rest up before hitting them hard again.
You also need to take into account the level of mental focus and energy you will be putting into your leg workouts. You’re basically going to war on leg day so you need everything in your mental tank to focus and power you through the insane workout. If you train your legs twice per week, you are simply not working hard enough and you will need to sacrifice the level of intensity in order to get both workouts in during the week. Trust me, if you go all out and leave everything on the gym floor after your leg workout, the last thing you will be thinking about is doing another leg workout later in the week. If you’re training the right way, you will barely be able to get through your workout without hurling your pre-workout meal all over your partner!
If the things I have pointed out above still have not changed your mind to only train your legs hard once per week, then you can try to incorporate 2 leg workouts per week but I highly recommend that you at least try to train with only 1 leg workout per week for at least 6 months to see how well it stimulates muscle growth. If after 6 months, you have still not packed on a significant amount of muscle to your lower body, then you can try to add an additional workout in during the week. Just make sure you space them out and you get at least 72 hours of rest between workouts. You can follow this two-day leg training regimen below to get an idea how to set up your workout schedule for the week.
- Dumbbell Chest Press (3 or 4 sets of 10-12 reps)
- Incline Dumbbell Press (3 or 4 sets of 8-10 reps)
- Cable Crossovers (3 or 4 sets of 10-12 reps)
- Squats or Leg Press (3-4 sets of 12, 10, 8, 6 reps)
- Lunges (3-4 sets of 12 reps)
- Leg Extensions (3-4 sets of 15 reps)
- Close Grip Chins (or Close Grip Pulldowns) (3 or 4 sets of 12 reps)
- Wide Grip Pulldowns (3 or 4 sets of 10-12 reps)
- One Arm Dumbbell Rows (3 or 4 sets of 4-6 reps)
THURSDAY (TRICEPS & BICEPS)
- Triceps Press Machine or Dips (3 or 4 sets of 12 reps)
- Pulley Pushdowns (3 or 4 sets of 12 reps)
- Barbell Curls (3 or 4 sets of 8-10 reps)
- Biceps Machine Curls (3 or 4 sets of 8-10 reps)