Just like any other muscle group, going hard with heavy weights on the compound lifts like front and back squats, weighted pistol squats, and even heavy leg presses will have you moving in the right direction towards bigger, more muscular legs. I’d even go as far as to say that if you were to only focus on getting progressively stronger on back squats, making it priority to add 5-10 pounds to your work sets with each training session and simply ended your leg workout there you’d be good to go and probably have better leg development that most of the gym.
While this is fun and will get you far, there’s still times where the bodybuilder in me likes to break up the monotony and throw in some pump work in the form of high rep workout finishers. All of these finishers are tried and true, whether from former workout partners and I or Rhianna-who actually does A LOT of high rep lower body work and has killer legs to show for it. A word of caution though.. these leg workout finishers are not for the faint of heart!
1. 20+ rep squats
There’s nothing that gets your legs feeling big and full like a high rep set of squats. For this finisher you’ll want to use anywhere from 30-40% of your one rep max.
Just unrack the weight and squat. And squat some more. And when you feel like stopping, hold the weight at the top of the squat and hold for 5 seconds or so and grind out a few more. I like to shoot for at least 20 reps.
I don’t know what it is about going higher reps on the squats but they’re absolutely killer. I haven’t done these in some time I can recall the feeling of all the noise in drowning out busting out rep after rep with only 135 pounds.
These can also be done as teardown sets or as a rest pause finisher.
2. The quad killer trifecta
The quad killing trifecta is a finisher that couple training buddies and I came up with one day when we all needed to get as much gym work done as possible
in the shortest amount of time.
Basically what we did with this one was after a few sets of heavy front squats, hit the rest of our workout in a giant tri-set with sets and reps as follows:
- Back squats 3×12,10,8
- Leg press 3×12,10,8
- Leg extensions 3×12,10,8
For all exercises, choose a weight that you can comfortably do a set of 12 with for the first set. Rest times are as long as it takes to get from one machine to another between exercises with 1-2 mins rest between rounds. Follow up with an explosive bodyweight leg exercise or some calve work and you’ll be ready to call it a day.
3. Glute and hammie trifecta
Glutes and hamstrings are equally important for good leg development so what leg day is complete without a couple movements that’ll have them feeling pumped up and strong.
Similar to my previous finisher, the glute and hammie trifecta is another tri-set with sets and reps as follows:
Dumbbell or machine hamstring curls x 12,10,8
Stiff leg dumbbell deadlifts x 12,10,8
Glute bridges x 20
Complete 3 rounds of each using moderate weights. Rest times are as long as it takes to move from one exercise to another with 1-2 minutes between rounds.
If you’ve never done dumbbell hamstring curls, they’re a hamstring curl variation where you lie facedown on a bench and have a partner position a dumbbell between your feet.
Holding feet together tightly, perform lying leg curls. These are great because in order to get a good set, you have to go light and slow really squeezing the hamstrings at the top of every set. This will keep the muscles under tension for a good amount of time which is perfect for building muscle. Just be careful not to let feet loose and drop the dumbbell on yourself if you decide to try them.
4. High rep prison squats
If there could be one takeaway from my workout finisher series thus far it’s this: don’t doubt the power of bodyweight exercises for building up a strong muscular physique!
This one is real simple, just follow up a heavy leg workout with one giant set of bodyweight squats. Shoot for at least 50 here. And if you still have the some left on the tank after 50, press on. Pumping out a set 100 to even 200 reps of these is a sure fire way to blast the quads, glutes, and hammies in a sick way.
Yeah I know.. 200 reps sounds nuts. But I did a year long stint of crossfit 3 or 4 years ago and one workout that always sticks out to me was one consisting of pullups, pushups, sit-ups, and air squats for 200 reps a piece for time. So I know from experience that it’s not only possible, but a great way to build muscularity and endurance.
The key to this one is to keep them moving at a steady tempo, turn off your brain other than counting, and pump out rep after rep like a squatting machine.
5. Lower body tabata
Another great way to finish up a big leg training session is with lower body focused tabatas.
If you’re unfamiliar with tabatas, they’re a form of high intensity interval training (HIIT) where you’ll pick anywhere between one and eight exercises and go all out in intervals of 20 seconds on and 10 seconds off. Repeat for 8 rounds for 4 minutes of intense muscle building and fat burning.
You can use any exercise for these really, but I prefer explosive plyo exercises such as jump squats, jumping alternating lunges, box hops, tuck jumps, etc. Explosive leg exercises are perfect for making the legs defined, as well as building explosive power and strength. But that’s just me, any lower body exercises will work great!
An added benefit to including tabatas or another form of HIIT to your workouts is that they make for great cardio. Finishing up a leg workout this way will add a cardiovascular aspect to your training, making this finisher not only great for developing strong, muscular legs and calves but will also speed up fat loss. Just be sure to push hard on these and give it your all.
Sample Tabata Finisher:
Go all out on each exercise for 20 seconds with a 10 second break. Complete one cycle through, rest for 3 mins and repeat these 4 minutes of pain as many times you feel necessary.
- Jump rope
- Air squats
- Box jumps (choose a medium sized box and step down with each set to save the knees)
- Jump squats
- Glute bridges
- Jumping lunges/jumping split squat
- Tuck jumps
- Jump rope
This is sure to have the legs pumping, lungs working, and fat melting.
Sample leg day workout:
For this workout, my main lift was my front squats followed up with the leg press. I was feeling like pumping up my hamstrings today, so I decided on a leg finisher that’d have them good and worked over, the glute and hammie trifecta. I followed these up with a few good sets of calves rest pause style and called it a day.
- Front squats RPT 3×5,6,8
- Leg press RPT 3×6,8,10
- Glute and hammie trifecta (tri-set of hamstring curls, stiff leg deads, and glute bridges)
- Calve presses on leg press 3 sets rest pause style
Of course don’t neglect a proper warm up on leg day or any other training day and be sure to follow up with a cold shower and one of our world famous Sweet Machine Fitness recipes! And don’t forget to share this article with a friend! Thanks for stopping by.
Check with a physician or qualified healthcare provider before embarking on any changes made to lifestyle, training, supplementation, or eating.