A huge and well-developed pair of thighs is a prerequisite for bodybuilding. In fact, leg development of current bodybuilders is what separates them from yesteryear champions. Legs are a massive muscle group and can contribute significantly to the overall lean mass that a bodybuilder can carry. Chicken legs not only butchers your machismo but also costs significant points in competition by spoiling the aesthetics of X-frame down below.
Here are three of the best methods to develop a lagging pair of legs and transform them into humongous oak trunks. These methods have proved their worth time and time again.
1. High Rep Squats
Most people are instinctively aware of the importance of squats for leg development. But usually, they focus on heavy squatting. Though heavyweights also lead to hypertrophy; heavy lifting also has a neural component to it.
When you expose your body to heavy loads, it tends to find the easiest and efficient most way to complete this task. Building more muscle is not the most efficient route here, instead, your body opts for nervous system efficiency. The more “efficient” is the nervous system in recruiting muscle fibers; the more strength you have. Building big legs through this route may require you to lift really BIG weights for quite a high-ish volume. For eg, Olympic lifters have particularly big thigh muscles, but they squat tremendous amount of weight for lots of singles and doubles in their training.
Pure strength route is an “inefficient” means for a bodybuilder. Here, the same term and physiological process may connote differently in different sports. Efficiency for a power-lifter is inefficiency for a bodybuilder. This is the specificity of training. So a bodybuilder may need to milk a certain weight for reps to get best hypertrophic results because hypertrophy is an aggregate of myofibril size, sarcoplasmic factors and hormonal environment (not necessarily pharmaceutical).
And that’s where high rep squats really shine. They create a milieu of growth factors which increase hypertrophy really fast. Here’s a four-week plan to introduce them into your routine:
8 X 2 (8 sets of 2 reps) at 80% of 1Rep Max (RM)
1 X 20 with 60%.
8 X 3 at 80% of 1RM
1 set of 20 reps with 65%.
6 X 2 at 85%
2X Max reps with 65%.
5 x 1 at 90%
3 X Max reps with 70%.
2. Front Squats and Bulgarian Split Squat Superset
Front squats work phenomenally good for the quadriceps. They’re a big reason why Olympic lifters have such well-developed thighs. But the problem with front squats is that it is not possible to perform them for high reps with any good load due to tiring out of supportive musculature. You drop the bar before your legs have fatigued completely.
One way to get around this problem is to use the smith machine for front squats. But here’s a better way. Combine heavy fronts squats performed explosively, with Bulgarian split squats (BSS) done in a controlled fashion with constant tension. BSS are a movement which reduces the compressive stress over the front of the knees and create activation at the proximal hamstring. This makes it quite a knee-friendly exercise.
Here’s the exact superset.
A1. Front Squats 5 reps X 80% of 1 RM
A2. Bulgarian Split Squat 12 reps each leg using a weight with which you can get about 15 reps.
Repeat this superset 5 times total.
3. Leg Press Demolition Sets
Leg press is very popular among bodybuilding community. It is an exercise which bypasses normal liabilities like lower back strength, ankle mobility, and cardiovascular fitness etc. which cause a normal lifter to withdraw a set of squats prematurely. A lifter is able to extend the set to complete leg exhaustion without worrying about stability or technique. This allows better focus on muscles instead of movement.
Here’s an effective method to utilize leg press for thigh development. This method employs 30 rep sets with rest-pause technique. You will need a partner to quickly slide plates on the machine to allow you to continue the set without losing energy and focus on change over. You will make weight jumps according to your strength with either 10, 15 or 20 kg plates. Perform each rep in a smooth piston-like motion. Do not lock out at the top, and keep your thighs under constant tension.
- Start with 1 plate each side and complete 10 reps, rest 10-15 seconds while your partner adds one more plate each side. Perform 10 reps again, rest for 10-15 secs and add one more plate each side. Perform 10 final reps. This completes your first 30 rep set constituting of 3 mini sets. Rest for about a minute.
- Next set, start with your second mini set of two plates each side and perform 10 reps, add a plate each side and so on till you complete your 30 reps.
- You continue to perform sets in this fashion till you fail to perform 10 reps in any of the mini set.
- When you reach failure to perform 10 reps, start descending weight in the drop set fashion with one plate each side drop. Continue till you drop down to single plate each side. Perform as many reps as you can on each drop continuously with no more than 10-second break. It will be a big single drop set.