RULE#1: Don’t be a pussy, train legs. Enough said.
RULE#2: If you have the ability to train another part of your body after you do legs, then you didn’t do them hard enough. I’ve seen this over the years. Guys get done with quads and hamstrings and then go train back or shoulders. If you still have the energy to do another body part then you need to train legs harder. It should be an excruciatingly tiring workout. Your mental capacity and nervous system should be shot. Period.
RULE #3: Get in a zone. You should be focused from the first set to the last. Every rep is another step to growth and maximum development. This applies to not only leg training but also every body part. Stop waiting five minutes in between sets and tell your lifting partner to shut the fuck up. Before you know it you will be there for two hours and any pump that you had has gone to shit.
RULE #4: Correct form is everything. Stop worrying about the weight. I love seeing someone ready to squat with 405 on the bar and their range of motion is within inches of them standing erect. Stop showing off. Use weight that you can handle for the proper amount of reps with good form. Always remember that for as strong as you are, there is always someone stronger. We are not breaking world records here. We are trying to develop your physique and half-assed form is not going to get you there. Lose the ego.
RULE #5: Train with intensity but listen to your body. Many bodybuilding injuries occur when people ignore what their body is trying to tell them. Just because you did a total of 25 sets for legs last week doesn’t mean you will have the ability to do the same the next. There are so many variables that affect that such as amount of sleep, the amount of meals you had that day, how much water you drank, your day at work, etc. Train balls to the wall and push you body to the limit but have that physical gauge to know when you’ve had enough.
These five rules are what I would tell everyone to follow regardless of your experience level in this sport. The best bodybuilders in the world are the best not only because of their genetics but also because they follow these principles consistently and they are applied to each workout.
Now the other problem that I see with bodybuilders in today’s day and age is that very few do the exercises that are essential to get results. Everyone does leg press, a leg extension and a leg curl. Those are all constantly done within a routine. However, whether you are in the offseason or pre-contest there are certain leg movements that are tried and true. They suck to do especially if you are using heavy weight, but suck it up. Like I said before, if this was easy, everyone would do it.
Exercise #1: Barbell Squats. This is the granddaddy of leg movements. You’d be surprised that not everyone does these each week, but they should. This should be a staple in every leg workout. Barbell squats work twofold, as they develop overall leg development and also help add detail. And when I say squat, I mean ass to the floor. None of this parallel bullshit. Full range of motion. I have seen guys use every other piece of equipment for legs and not do free weight squats. And that is why their legs suck.
Exercise #2: Barbell or Smith Machine Front Squats. A forgotten movement by a lot of bodybuilders. If you are having trouble building mass on the front of your leg, look no further than this movement for a solution. These are painful and the pump that you get in your quad is surreal. I would say incorporate these in your routine every other week so you can really target the front of your legs if they are lagging.
Exercise #3: Walking or Step Back Lunges. This is a great movement to achieve that separation in between your quad and hamstring. This is a great finisher exercise that really helps detail the shit out of your legs. Walking lunges tend to hit more quad whereas step back lunges (I do them on the smith machine.) tend to hit more hamstring. Keep in mind that this movement is not one of those power movements, so don’t think you are going to do a walking lunge with 100lb dumbbells or a step back lunge with 315 on the smith machine. Concentrate on the movement and you will see the results. Alternate these every other week.
Exercise #4: Stiff-legged Deadlifts. This movement is great for elongating the hamstring. This is a great compliment to a leg curl and fine-tunes the hamstring especially as you get closer to the contest. Again this is not a power movement but more of a stretch that you want to achieve. This is an exercise that also really works that glute-hamstring tie-in very well. Your quest for striated glutes should include this under-utilized movement.
So there you have it, my thoughts on the art of leg training. It’s a grueling body part to train if done correctly but if you are serious about making it in this sport then it is a necessity.