Image Map

girl standing on squat bar

What Are Great Leg Exercises

People are often confused on how they should set up a great leg workout. To truly write a great leg workout, you need to do so from a standpoint of what you need to address the most. Are your quads strong and your hamstrings weak or vice versa. Once you ascertain what your needs are, you need to then decide what exercises will give you the best results. Once you have the exercises picked out, you need to decide what amount of volume (sets and reps) will suit your purpose. Once you decide all this, you are ready to go. In the truest sense, the great leg exercises are the ones that give you the most bang for the buck. So depending on what your strengths are, we need to decide whether we need size, shape, or conditioning. Then we need to decide whether we need quad work or ham work.

guy squating

Quadriceps Exercises

The trunk of the quad dominant tree is the squat. The back squat is the number one exercise that you will be able to load the most and theoretically gain the most muscle. From there the various exercise variations are all squat based exercises. Front squats, hack squats, and Bulgarian Split Squats are all great exercises to do as stand alone exercises or in conjunction with the other exercises. I either squat and follow it with hack squats, split squats, or lunge variations or I leg press and follow it with the same secondary exercises. I usually finish with higher repetitions on leg extensions. Down below is a list of the exercises in order from primary, secondary, and tertiary levels.

Primary                      Secondary                      Tertiary

Squats                            Hack squats                       Leg extensions

Front Squats                 Split Squats                       Step Ups

Walking lunges

 

Hamstring Exercises

The hamstrings are usually an afterthought in many peoples programs. Most people do a bunch of squats, presses, extensions and then do 4 sets of lying leg curls and call it a day. Then they have horrible hamstrings with a great set of quads. I would venture a guess that 80% plus of people need hamstrings more then quads. So those people would need to prioritize hamstring work not only via volume but also sequentially. The hamstrings have two functions; knee flexion and hip extension. So in my experience, I pick 2 knee flexion exercises and 2 hip extension exercises. So to understand the hamstring movements, the trunk of the hip extension tree is deadlifts. Many think these are a back exercise, but in reality it hits the whole rear chain hard.

Hip Extension                        Knee Flexion

Deadlifts                                       Lying Leg Curl

Stiff Leg Deadlift                        Seated Leg Curl

Romanian Deadlift                    Standing Leg Curl

Good Mornings

Glute/Ham raise

Sample David Reid Leg Workout

Quad Specific Workout                                            Hamstring Specific Workout

Squats 4-6 sets of 8-15 reps                                              Goodmornings 4 sets 6-12 reps

Hack Squats 4 sets 8-15 reps                                            Glute/Ham Raise 4 sets 6-12 reps

Walking Lunges 4 sets 8-15 reps/leg                              Seated Leg Curl 4 sets 6-12 reps

Leg Extensions 4 sets  8-15 reps                                      Standing Leg Curl 4 sets 6-12 reps

Seated Leg Curl 4 sets 6-12 reps                                      Leg Press 4-6 sets 12-20 reps

Lying Leg Curl 4 sets 6-12 reps                                        Bulgarian Split Squats 4 sets 112-20 reps/leg

RDL 4 sets 6-12 reps                                                          One Leg Extension 4 sets 12-20 reps

Glute Ham Raise 4 sets 6-12 reps                                   High Rep Smith Machine Squats 4 sets 12-20 reps

 

 

×