How to Build Big Legs

How To Build Big Legs (The Definitive Guide To Insanely Huge Wheels)

You might be hating on leg day especially if you’re not a big fan of lower body training. Strong muscular legs are also important, though, and for this reason, I’ve come up with this article on how to build big legs and be the envy of every skinny guy in the gym.

When you put the spotlight on well-developed legs, you’ll come to realize that it’s not just your physical appearance that’s benefitting from it.

Rather, strong lean legs can give you the ultimate performance of your life, and I’m talking about your athletic endeavors. 

Cross out leg day from your weekly workout and, at best, suffer the consequences of looking painstakingly awkward. Worst scenarios are you won’t be able to do simple movements like lunges and squats and you’ll get injured more easily. Simply put, you won’t be performing at a normal level.

That’s why I’m going to share these pieces of advice on how to build big legs and push your lower body to get bigger and stronger in the coming weeks.

Here’s a clear warning, though- it won’t be easy. 

More or less, it’s about training your legs over and over but there’s really a method to doing so. 

You won’t grow a bulging set of hamstrings, quads, and calves by simply doing leg extensions and glute raises. If you’re seeking shortcuts and hacks, this won’t work for you.

However, if you’re committed to learning how to build big legs and get stronger each day, then keep on reading. 

The Basic Science of How to Build Big Legs

There are loads of opinions out there about how to best build big legs.

Female on a 45 degree leg press.

While some people say the squat is all you have to do, others claim that you can simply go for high-repetition training.

Some say you should focus on isolation exercises while others support the concept of heavy lifting all throughout.

Some people maintain that leg workouts should be separated into quads and hamstrings workouts while others believe that training your legs should be done as a whole. 

Well, these are the things I’ve learned about building massive legs that you should know too:

Related: Best Quad Exercises For Women

Focus on lifting heavy weights.

Sure, high-rep exercises help lose body fat and improve muscle tone, but they can’t produce the same muscle-building results as heavy training.

Muscular female squatting with a barbell across her shoulders.

Focus on leg movements that allow for progressive overload.

This puts the spotlight on doing more. Progressive overload follows a strength training approach with which you gradually increase the stress placed on your muscles.

Mostly, these are the squats, lunges, Romanian deadlifts, and other compound exercises. Not only is this about progressive overload and increased muscle tension but moderate rep intensity and high load while bringing progressive overload into play is much better.

This means that you should perform a bit better every time you work out so you can build muscle and get stronger. This could refer to doing another rep, adding one more set, increasing weight to the bar, or even reducing your resting time.  

Check Out: The Ultimate 5 Day Split For A Muscular Sculpted Body

In terms of weekly volume, you have to get this one especially right. 

Volume is the total number or amount of reps you perform every week. This is highly crucial when you’re lifting heavier weights. Heavier weights will allow you to do fewer reps each week. 

When you lift heavier weights, you need more time to recover. This means you can’t perform as many sets weekly as you could with lighter weights. Well, you could try if you want to but you’re only risking overtraining

If you incorporate heavy weights into leg training, an ideal volume can be about 70 reps for every 5 to 7 days. It’s an optimal volume not just for the legs but for other major muscle groups in your body.

So Why Build Big Legs?

If a major improvement in physical appearance isn’t enough to get you started, consider the following benefits to leg training:

  • Anabolic response- leg training exercises generate a strong anabolic response that can affect your whole body. Maintaining an anabolic state is a fundamental component for bodybuilding and weightlifting. It’s the muscle-building state. It’s the optimal physical state that will make a huge difference in your body’s growth and development. 
  • Improved performance- most, if not all, sports and athletic endeavors benefit much from leg power and strength. If you have powerful legs, you can both press a hefty deal of weight and produce force quickly. This can come in really handy if you’re engaged in physically demanding sports with which you have to be strong and fast at the same time.
  • Less injury- get rid of these injury-related misfortunes when you build big, strong legs. As I’ve mentioned, compound movements like squats, lunges, and deadlifts will work your hamstrings and build muscle around your weaker joints. In turn, this will increase your stability and mobility. To be clear about this, you simply need to work often on building your legs if you’re an advocate of muscle building, functional strength, and injury prevention. 

Step 1 – Focus on the Task at Hand (Which Is How to Build Big Legs, Of Course)

As we take it up a notch with tried-and-tested exercises for building big, powerful legs, remember that we’re speaking of leg training here. That’s why you should reduce the volume in all other lifts and concentrate on your legs.

If you were to build big, muscular arms, you’ll essentially be told to take down the volume of your squats and lunges so you can focus more on biceps curls

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This time, if you want to effectively build big legs, you’re going to have to back off from upper body workouts (although you should still maintain these exercises around once per week). This way, you can concentrate on adding volume and strength to your legs. 

Step 2 – Prepare to Train for At Least A Month Using This Plan

With your goal of building big legs within, let’s say, a month, then you’ll have to perform leg training exercises three times per week plus another day for upper body lifts for maintenance purposes. 

Male power lifter squatting with heavy weights.

In an ideal training plan, you can have Monday, Thursday, and Saturday to work on your lower body. Tuesday will be for the upper body maintenance training. Your rest days will be on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. You can switch things up, though, to be well-suited to your needs and schedule. Make sure you don’t set up leg workouts on consecutive days. 

Now we have the ultimate workout for you (more on this in a while), and you have to remember that the training volume (reps and sets) will vary each week. 

Do all you can in completing the reps suggested but do not go into failure. Leave one or two reps in the tank. 

Most of all, it’s crucial that you’re maintaining good form, using proper technique, and allowing full range of motion on all your lifts. The following leg training workouts will require that you’ve somehow mastered the lifts.

If not, you can always return to these exercises when you’re completely ready. It’s much better if you’re fully aware of your limits.

Related: How To Squat With Proper Form For Huge Gains In Strength

Step 3- Follow This Workout Plan

An important point to make before you start this, is to always make sure you pick a weight where you finish 1 or 2 reps short of failure on each exercise.

Constantly hitting failure while training legs with this frequency and volume will eventually lead to your burning out and massively limiting your progress.

Week 1 

Day 1 Workout- Legs

Exercises:

Barbell Back Squat*- 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Walking Lunge*- 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Lying Hamstring Curl*- 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Pull-Through- 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Standing Single-Leg Calf Raise- 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

  • Grasp a dumbbell in your right hand. Take a low step with the balls of your right foot on the edge and your left foot behind you. Hold the side of the squat rack with your left hand for support. Keep your body straight and your eyes facing forward. Hike up your left heel as far as you can. Pause and squeeze your calf muscle, then slowly lower your heel down. Complete the sets of calf raises for your right side and then proceed and repeat on the left. 

Two-Minute Leg Press- 1 set for 2 minutes

  • What a taxing way to end your leg workout with the two-minute leg press. How to separate the strong from the weak? Use this movement as a finale and give your all-out efforts in exhausting your legs as effectively as possible. Set up the leg press machine with 70% of the weight you would use for 10 reps. Don’t forget to set your timer for 2 minutes and try to perform as many reps as you can. If you don’t stop for rest, that’s better. Maintain the tension on your legs throughout the movement.

*Drop Set. After finishing the last rep of the last set, take a break for 15 seconds. Decrease the load by 30% to 50%. Try to maintain the same number of reps with the new reduced weight. If you did 10 reps with 220 pounds on your final set of back squats, reduce the weight to 175 pounds and still try to perform up to 10 reps.

Check Out: The Ultimate Push/Pull/Legs Routine

Day 2 Workout- Legs

Exercises:

Sumo Deadlift*- 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Dumbbell Split Squat*- 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Hip Thruster*- 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Leg Extension- 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Hanging Knee Raise- 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

20-Rep Squat- 1 set for 20 reps

  • Perform 20 reps of this squat using your 10RM. As the reps go beyond the weight you can carry for one set, you should take controlled pauses between the reps as you near the end of the set. If you’re unable to maintain proper form, complete the set and try to go over the number of reps for the next week. 

*Drop Set. After finishing the last rep of the last set, take a break for 15 seconds. Decrease the load by 30% to 50%. Try to maintain the same number of reps with the new reduced weight. If you did 10 reps with 225 pounds on your final set of sumo deadlifts, reduce the weight to 180 pounds and still try to perform up to 10 reps.

Day 3 Workout- Legs

Exercises:

Front Squat*- 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift- 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Dumbbell Step-Up- 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Glute-Ham Raise- 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Seated Calf Raise- 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Farmer’s Walk Medley- 3 sets of 50 yards

For this movement, grasp a heavy set of dumbbells while completing the 50 yards. Once finished, go for the next set of dumbbells which should be 25% lighter and then complete another 50 yards. Lastly, hold a third set of dumbbells that are 25% lighter than the second set and walk another 50 yards. The workout is done after completing the walk with all three sets of dumbbells.

*Drop Set. After finishing the last rep of the last set, take a break for 15 seconds. Decrease the load by 30% to 50%. Try to maintain the same number of reps with the new reduced weight. If you did 10 reps with 185 pounds on your final set of front squats, reduce the weight to 125 pounds and still try to perform up to 10 reps.

Day 4 Workout- Upper Body

Exercises:

Chin-Up*- 4 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Incline Barbell Bench Press*- 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row*- 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Seated Overhead Press- 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Seated Cable Row- 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps

Pallof Press- 2 sets of 10 reps

*Drop Set- after completing the final rep of your last set, take a break for 15 seconds. Decrease the load by 30% to 50%, and then try to maintain the same number of reps with the new weight. 

Week 2

Day 1 Workout- Legs

Exercises: 

Barbell Back Squat*- 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Walking Lunge*- 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Lying Hamstring Curl*- 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Pull-Through- 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Standing Single-Leg Calf Raise- 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Two-Minute Leg Press- 1 set for 2 minutes

*Double drop set- After finishing the last rep of your last set, take a break for 15 seconds. Decrease the load by 30% to 50%. Try to maintain the same number of reps with the new reduced weight. Once finished, rest for 15 seconds. Decrease the weight once more by 15% to 30% and perform as many reps as you can while maintaining good form.

Day 2 Workout- Legs

Exercises:

Sumo Deadlift*- 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Dumbbell Split Squat*- 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Hip Thruster*- 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Leg Extension- 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Hanging Knee Raise- 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps

20-Rep Squat- 1 set of 20 reps

*Double drop set- After finishing the last rep of your last set, take a break for 15 seconds. Decrease the load by 30% to 50%. Try to maintain the same number of reps with the new reduced weight. Once finished, rest for 15 seconds. Decrease the weight once more by 15% to 30% and perform as many reps as you can while maintaining good form.

Day 3 Workout- Legs

Exercises:

 Front Squat*- 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift*- 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Dumbbell Step-Up*- 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Glute-ham Raise- 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Seated Calf Raise- 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Sprints- 3 sets of 150 yards/100 yards/75 yards

  • Finish 3 sets of sprints with the given distance and rest as little as possible in between these sprints. You can perform them on a track, field, or treadmill. 

*Double drop set- After finishing the last rep of your last set, take a break for 15 seconds. Decrease the load by 30% to 50%. Try to maintain the same number of reps with the new reduced weight. Once finished, rest for 15 seconds. Decrease the weight once more by 15% to 30% and perform as many reps as you can while maintaining good form.

Day 4 Workout- Upper Body

Exercises:

Chin-Up*- 5 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Incline Barbell Bench Press*- 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row- 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Seated Overhead Press- 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Seated Cable Row- 4 sets of 6 to 8 reps

Barbell Rollout- 3 sets of 8 reps

*Double drop set- After finishing the last rep of your last set, take a break for 15 seconds. Decrease the load by 30% to 50%. Try to maintain the same number of reps with the new reduced weight. Once finished, rest for 15 seconds. Decrease the weight once more by 15% to 30% and perform as many reps as you can while maintaining good form. If necessary, use a lat pull-down machine to finish your double drop set of chin-ups.

Week 3

Day 1 Workout- Legs

Exercises:

Barbell Back Squat*- 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Walking Lunge*- 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Lying Hamstring Curl*- 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Pull-Through- 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Standing Single-Leg Calf Raise- 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Two-Minute Leg Press- 1 set for 2 minutes

*Rest-Pause- after completing the last rep of your last set, pause and rest for about 10 to 15 seconds before trying another 2 or 3 more reps. Rest for another 10 to 15 seconds and try to perform 1 to 2 reps.

Day 2 Workout- Legs

Exercises:

 Sumo Deadlift*- 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Dumbbell Split Squat*- 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Hip Thruster*- 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Leg Extension- 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Hanging Knee Raise- 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

20-Rep Squat- 1 set of 20 reps

*Rest-Pause- after completing the last rep of your last set, pause and rest for about 10 to 15 seconds before trying another 2 or 3 more reps. Rest for another 10 to 15 seconds and try to perform 1 to 2 reps.

Day 3 Workout- Legs

Exercises:

Front Squat*- 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift*- 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Dumbbell Step-Up*- 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Glute-Ham Raise- 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Seated Calf Raise- 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Farmer’s Walk Medley- 3 sets of 50 yards

  • Try using heavier weights than what you’ve used in week 1. 

*Rest-Pause- after completing the last rep of your last set, pause and rest for about 10 to 15 seconds before trying another 2 or 3 more reps. Rest for another 10 to 15 seconds and try to perform 1 to 2 reps.

Day 4 Workout- Upper Body

Exercises:

Chin-Up*- 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Incline Barbell Bench Press- 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row- 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Seated Overhead Press- 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Seated Cable Row- 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps

Reverse Crunch- 3 sets of 12 reps

*Rest-Pause- after completing the last rep of your last set, pause and rest for about 10 to 15 seconds before trying another 2 or 3 more reps. Rest for another 10 to 15 seconds and try to perform 1 to 2 reps.

Week 4

Day 1 Workout- Legs

Exercises:

Barbell Back Squat- 2 sets for 15 reps

Lying Hamstring Curl- 2 sets for 15 reps

Pull-Through- 2 sets for 15 reps

Standing Single-Leg Calf Raise- 2 sets for 15 reps

Two-Minute Leg Press- 1 set for 2 minutes

Day 2 Workout- Legs

Exercises:

Sumo Deadlift- 2 sets for 15 reps

Dumbbell Split Squat- 2 sets for 15 reps

Hip Thruster- 2 sets for 15 reps

Leg Extension- 2 sets for 15 reps

Hanging Knee Raise- 2 sets for 15 reps

20-Rep Squat- 1 set for 20 reps

Day 3 Workout- Legs

Exercises:

Front Squat- 2 sets for 15 reps

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift- 2 sets for 15 reps

Dumbbell Step-Up- 2 sets for 15 reps

Glute-Ham Raise- 2 sets for 15 reps

Seated Calf Raise- 2 sets for 15 reps

Sprints- 3 sets for 100 yards/75 yards/50 yards

Day 4 Workout- Upper Body

Exercises:

Chin-Up- 4 sets of 15 reps

Incline Barbell Bench Press- 2 sets of 15 reps

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row- 2 sets of 15 reps

Seated Overhead Press- 2 sets of 15 reps

Seated Cable Row- 2 sets of 15 reps

Kneeling Cable Crunch- 2 sets of 15 reps

Things to Remember During Leg Training

Always pay attention to your tempo, time-under-tension, and rest. Perform the eccentric part of your movements (lowering) with as much control as possible. The concentric part (lifting) should be done as fast as possible. 

Male doing walking lunges holding a weight plate in each hand.

Do not extend the duration for resting. Although complete recovery between your sets is fundamental in strength training, it’s not the best thing to do for hypertrophy. If you do wish to extend for just a bit longer, the compound lifts’ rest periods can be extended to 90 seconds. For the rest of the program, it should be from 60 to 75 seconds max.

Related: Best Muscle Building Exercises

For the Two-Minute Leg Press, attempt to increase the number of reps you complete each week. Although it can be a challenge to maintain your lower back’s natural arch, this should be done for the entire set. 

Because the 20-Rep Squat is more than intense especially since you’ve already worked your legs with the exercises preceding it, take notice of your form. If you can’t maintain a proper form, it can be too risky so you might as well end the set and return to the lift on the next scheduled day. 

These workouts highlight a massive volume of lifting throughout your week. Make sure you increase your protein intake, have between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night, and keep your other athletic activities to a minimum during these 4 weeks. 

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How to build big legs

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