The Best Leg Workout You’ve Never Tried!
Two things work the best when it comes to moving massive amounts of weight, and/or gaining massive amounts of muscle: Simple work, combined with hard work. Nothing else is going to cut it.
As Mark Rippetoe once remarked, “the most valuable lessons of the weight room: a simple, hard program works best, and that you get out of your training – and your life – exactly what you put into it.”
I could never have said it better myself.
I also have a good feeling that a whole lot of lifters know that simple, hard work is absolutely the best way to train for building slabs of muscle that is also capable of hefting ponderous poundages, but they don’t do it. And I think they don’t do it for a couple of reasons. First, either they’re lazy and/or have convinced themselves that fancier programs that don’t require hard work—brutally simple hard work—work just as well. Or, second, sometimes they just want to do something different than a steady regimen of regular, flat-footed barbell squats, overhead presses, conventional deadlifts, bench presses, and barbell curls.
I can’t help the first group. Nor do I care to do so—lazy “lifters” who don’t want to work hard, but instead would rather just talk about training, are a segment of the population that I could care less about. No, this article is here to help the second group.
Below is an extremely simple workout program for those of you who understand that heavy, hard, basic training will always be the crème de la crème, but who also want something a little different. This is it.
Perform the following workout program about once every 4 to 6 days. It is meant to be used with a “split” program, so the other training days should be a couple of upper body days. A good split for this program might look like this:
Day One: Legs (workout below)
Day Two: Upper Body Pressing (bench press, overhead presses, and one or two other things should fit the bill)
Day Three: Off
Day Four: Upper Body Pulling and Arms (bent-over rows, chins, barbell curls would be par for the course)
Day Five: Off
Day Six: Repeat
The Best Leg Workout You’ve Never Performed!
The first exercise is my favorite squatting exercise of all-time: the bottom-position squat. At one time in my lifting career (when I was forced to train alone all the time), I used the bottom-position squat, and nothing but the bottom-position squat, to hit a triple-bodyweight raw squat (no suit or wraps, only a belt) in a competition. (I weighed 163 pounds and squatted 510 at a powerlifting meet about 15 years ago.)
For this part of the workout, you are going to do ramps. Work up over several sets of 5 reps until the sets of 5 get extremely tough. At this point, switch over to triples. Once it becomes near impossible to get a triple, switch to singles. Stop when you hit a near max.
Currently, my weight progression in the bottom-position squat would look something such as this (just to give you an idea):
Bar x 2 sets of 5 reps
Your bottom-position squat should start right below parallel (for most lifters). Here is a video of me hitting 405 for a single:
For the second exercise, you are going to perform deficit sumo deadlifts. After squats (in all of the multitudinous squatting varieties), I think this is the best exercise for building muscle and strength. It works your legs—particularly your glutes and hamstrings—hard, but it is also equally as mass-producing for your lower back, traps, and mid-back muscles, plus it works the grip hard, as well.
Work off of a box that is between 4 and 5 inches in height (on average).
Once again, you are going to use ramps, but this time you are going to perform double ramps. Also, you are going to use 5 reps, and only 5 reps, all the way to your 5-rep max (or damn close to it) for the day.
Here is what my typical double ramp of 5s would look like:
And, yes, I’m well aware that this is 30 sets of squats and sumo-deficit deads, and we’re not even done yet. Don’t worry, it is not too much. The truth is, the weaker you are, the less sets you will have to perform to get to your max weights, and the stronger that you are, the more sets you need to perform in order to bump up your volume and intensity.
Now, for the last exercise: backward sled drags. This exercise will be a great way to finish the workout. First, it fries your quadriceps. And this is a good thing, since our first two exercises are a bit more hamstring and glute happy. Second, it’s primarily a concentric exercise, and this means that it won’t make you near as sore as the first two exercises.
|C.S. performing a backward sled drag|
Here you are going to perform 2 sets—and only 2 sets—all-out. Load your sled with 5, 6, 7, or 8 45-pound plates (less if you’re not very strong, I suppose), and drag until you just can’t drag anymore.
Yes, this workout was simple.
Yes, this workout was hard.
And, yes, this workout will produce awesome results!
To capsulate the whole thing, this is what it should look like:
- Bottom-position Squats: ramps of 5, 3, and 1 reps
- Deficit Sumo Deadlifts: double ramps of 5 reps
- Backward Sled Drags: 2 max sets
- Eat a big steak and drink a lot of beer when you’re finished, followed by a nap.