Sometimes the harder you look for something, the more it eludes you. Sometimes, however, the answer is right in front of you.
That's the lesson here when it comes to novel ways to build bigger, stronger legs. We've found five Health members—men and women whose profiles are just a mouse-click away—who've crafted lower-body routines to create some of the best legs online.
If you're looking for a new training stimulus or simply want extra motivation when it comes to leg day, try one these members' workouts, or sample one of the hundreds of thousands from other members on Health. If you're hurting for original ideas on leg day, you're just not looking in the right places.
No matter what your goal is—size, strength, athletic performance, or general health—MuscleTech athlete and pro trainer Marc Megna will be the first to tell you that, by ignoring leg training, you're ignoring the body part that can lead to the greatest improvements. He trains his lower body twice per week to get the best results.
"Starting each leg workout with a heavy, two-legged (bilateral) exercise will get your hormonal system primed for big gains," Marc says. "I always progress my workouts from the exercises that use the most load, muscle mass, and number of joints to the least. This will ensure your training session is effective and efficient."
As a former NCAA volleyball player, Alli was already quite the athlete when she transitioned to training for physique competitions. She became a Health member less than two years ago and already benefits from everything the site offers.
So, how does training for volleyball differ from training for physique?
"My volleyball training consisted of mostly plyometric-based training, focusing on explosiveness," Alli says. "These days, most of my leg workouts consist of heavy squats, lunges, and kickbacks with some quad and hamstring isolation work, twice a week.
However, I still save one day a week for sports-oriented training, utilizing some plyometric work as a portion of my leg days. This includes box jumps, sled pulls, weighted vertical jumps, and the speed ladder."
Kizzito is a 2010 Health Spokesmodel Finalist, cover model, martial arts instructor, and soon-to-be gym owner. He's also a training machine. If you want to see a guy who tears it up in the gym, just take a look at his workout tracker.
Tracking your workouts serves many purposes. Most importantly, it reminds you exactly what you did during your last session so you can achieve more next time. Kizzito updates his tracker daily with sets, reps, weight, and anything else he may want to know the next time he goes head-to-head with the iron.
Take a look at this sample leg workout from last March, and notice that he fatigues the quads first with eight sets of leg extensions in a pre-exhaust before moving on to multi-joint movements. Kizzito isn't shy of demanding exercises either, including all manner of free-weight squats and trap-bar deadlifts to blister his thighs. His normal approach entails increasing the weight on each set in pyramid fashion.
Maik is a personal trainer, nutritionist, and fitness model based in New York City. He's been a member of Health since 2005. His goal? To look like Bob Paris. Good choice, Maik.
Maik actually breaks leg training into two days per week: one to focus mainly on the quads and another that emphasizes the hamstrings and calves. Subtle shifts in foot placement—such as switching from high on the leg press to low and close—allow Maik to shift the emphasis from the hamstrings and glutes to the quads.
Maik also uses a number of techniques to make the target muscles work overtime, including one-and-a-half reps (a full-range rep followed by a partial rep coming only halfway up, which counts as only one rep). He also does trisets and giant sets (3-4 exercises in back-to-back fashion with no rest in between), and manipulates rest intervals.
Subtle shifts in foot placement—such as switching from high on the leg press to low and close—allow Maik to shift the emphasis from the hamstrings and glutes to the quads.
Leg day, Elissa tells us, is her favorite day of the week. An IFBB Figure pro, she knows how important leg training is to her success onstage. To keep the intensity high, Elissa incorporates supersets and dropsets while keeping rest to a minimum.
"Most weeks I split my lower-body workouts into two days," she explains. "My first workout targets the entire lower chain, with more emphasis on my quadriceps. On the second leg day, I focus more on the posterior muscles: the hamstrings and glutes."
Alli is no stranger to injury, having overcome two knee surgeries and a broken ankle. "Prior to any workout, a good stretching and foam-rolling session will assist in preventing further injuries," she says. "I foam-roll my quadriceps, hamstrings, IT band, piriformis, and gastrocnemius on leg days to break up any adhesions and trigger points in those muscles. Then I follow that with a dynamic warm-up/stretch, such as bodyweight squats and lateral lunges, to increase body temperature and range of motion.
"I like to incorporate a triple set at the end of my workout to get the ultimate muscle fatigue and increase fat-burn. Ideally, you want to keep rest periods shorter, but it's vital to maintain proper form throughout each activity to prevent injury. At the end of all my workouts, a quick foam-rolling and stretching session is a must to improve muscle recovery and flexibility."