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Leg Development

I’ve been training legs for around 8 months now and have seen some good development and strength gains. The problem I have is that most of the visible development is around the upper leg area and not closer to the knee. I want my legs to look impressive in shorts, but at the moment I just have a big ass and upper thighs.

My leg training is: (working sets)

Front squat 110kg x 5 (working set)
Hamstring curl 50kg x 10 (x4)
Leg press 100kg (max weight on press) x 10 (x4)
Single leg press partial 100kg x 10 (x4)
Leg extension 100kg x 10 (x4)
calf push on leg press??? 100kg x 10 (x4)

Does this look ok or should I change some exercises?

I started at 132 pounds, now I’m almost 170, so I’m happy with my 8 month weight gain, but I want more aesthetic legs.

I can add photos if required, maybe i’m off base. My family leg genetics are abysmal though, so I don’t have much hope.

How are you performing the front squats since they are usually good for development near the knee. I see that reps you do in leg training is quite low esp front squats, try higher reps for a while as legs seem to respond well to that, also try lunge variations and for the front squat and lunges make sure you feel a stretch in the muscles near the knee and that they are working.

[quote]JoabSonOfZeruiah wrote:
How are you performing the front squats since they are usually good for development near the knee. I see that reps you do in leg training is quite low esp front squats, try higher reps for a while as legs seem to respond well to that, also try lunge variations and for the front squat and lunges make sure you feel a stretch in the muscles near the knee and that they are working. [/quote]

I’ve only been doing front squats for about a month so it will probably take a bit of time before I see any results. I have been thinking about doing lunges, I will look into it.

Thanks for the advice.

This doesn’t really pertain that much to your specific question, but you have 4 quad-dominant exercises and 1 hamstring-dominant one. Not good

[quote]Gmoore17 wrote:
This doesn’t really pertain that much to your specific question, but you have 4 quad-dominant exercises and 1 hamstring-dominant one. Not good[/quote]

What would you suggest I do? Should I add in lunges and remove another exercise? I deadlift 165kg so would that be hitting my hamstrings? They feel pretty strong.

I will put up pics later to show the issue

This is something that I actually know a little bit about.

Your leg has four main flexers - the rectus femoris and the three vastus muscles, lateralis, medialus and intermedius.

The RF is responsible for almost the entire range of motion in the squat or leg extension. The vastus muscles are only responsible for the last 15 degrees or so of movement.

To train them, consider doing leg extensions with a range of motion of only the last 30 degrees or so to lockout. Remember to really squeeze at the top and hold it for a second or so. You should feel it in the lower part of the quad on the outsides. The leg extension machine at my gym has a setting that allows me to do this. I usually do squats, then 4 sets of leg extensions, then two or three sets of these if I feel like it.

I hope this makes sense. Good luck.

[quote]flightspeed wrote:
This is something that I actually know a little bit about.

Your leg has four main flexers - the rectus femoris and the three vastus muscles, lateralis, medialus and intermedius.

The RF is responsible for almost the entire range of motion in the squat or leg extension. The vastus muscles are only responsible for the last 15 degrees or so of movement.

To train them, consider doing leg extensions with a range of motion of only the last 30 degrees or so to lockout. Remember to really squeeze at the top and hold it for a second or so. You should feel it in the lower part of the quad on the outsides. The leg extension machine at my gym has a setting that allows me to do this. I usually do squats, then 4 sets of leg extensions, then two or three sets of these if I feel like it.

I hope this makes sense. Good luck. [/quote]

Cheers for the advice. The problem I have is that I can comfortable do a leg extension with all the weight on the machine so I could do with adding more weight if I’m going to do some partials.

[quote]HiFiBoy wrote:

[quote]Gmoore17 wrote:
This doesn’t really pertain that much to your specific question, but you have 4 quad-dominant exercises and 1 hamstring-dominant one. Not good[/quote]

What would you suggest I do? Should I add in lunges and remove another exercise? I deadlift 165kg so would that be hitting my hamstrings? They feel pretty strong.

I will put up pics later to show the issue[/quote]

A few RDLs never hurt anyone.

[quote]HiFiBoy wrote:

[quote]flightspeed wrote:
This is something that I actually know a little bit about.

Your leg has four main flexers - the rectus femoris and the three vastus muscles, lateralis, medialus and intermedius.

The RF is responsible for almost the entire range of motion in the squat or leg extension. The vastus muscles are only responsible for the last 15 degrees or so of movement.

To train them, consider doing leg extensions with a range of motion of only the last 30 degrees or so to lockout. Remember to really squeeze at the top and hold it for a second or so. You should feel it in the lower part of the quad on the outsides. The leg extension machine at my gym has a setting that allows me to do this. I usually do squats, then 4 sets of leg extensions, then two or three sets of these if I feel like it.

I hope this makes sense. Good luck. [/quote]

Cheers for the advice. The problem I have is that I can comfortable do a leg extension with all the weight on the machine so I could do with adding more weight if I’m going to do some partials.
[/quote]
Try working on feeling it in the right places first for leg extension. For your main exercises this may mean you will have to work on mobility and letting your knee shoot forward on front squats and the leading leg for lunges. How do you do your front squats?

[quote]Haavik wrote:

[quote]HiFiBoy wrote:

[quote]Gmoore17 wrote:
This doesn’t really pertain that much to your specific question, but you have 4 quad-dominant exercises and 1 hamstring-dominant one. Not good[/quote]

What would you suggest I do? Should I add in lunges and remove another exercise? I deadlift 165kg so would that be hitting my hamstrings? They feel pretty strong.

I will put up pics later to show the issue[/quote]

A few RDLs never hurt anyone.[/quote]

This. Replace something like single leg partials with RDL’s or stiff leg DL’s. Also find a leg press machine that allows you to use more weight, or else soon all the things you do on that will be pretty much useless.

THats not a leg workout. THats a quad workout with a hamstring exercise randomly thrown in.

How deep are you front squatting?

I tell a lot of beginners to video their squat form, whether its back or front, and check to see when their tailbone starts to round. When you learn what that point is put a box or milk crate or whatever a bit above it (an inch or so) and use that as a guide to teach yourself proper depth.

In the mean time you should also work on flexibility so you learn to squat a little deeper. Not everyone will be able to squat ATG without their tailbone rounding but almost everyone can add some depth from where they start off. Dont confuse this for a box squat, dont rest all of your weight on the box.

Just touch it slightly and then squat back up. Its there for a guide not to do an actual box squat. Eventually you’ll learn what proper depth is and you can remove the box.

Deep front squatting should give your lower quads a serious burn.

After your sets of 5 add in a 20 rep set. Lower the weight obviously. BUt not so much that 20 is easy. It should still be CLOSE to impossible. You can also do a day with less working sets and try a “widowmaker” set. Google it.

If you like doing unilateral stuff sub in a split squat or lunge or step up instead of the single leg press.

Awesome advice here guys, thanks a lot.

I’ve got my legs day on monday so I’ll give some of the ideas a try. I’m still learning front squat form, so I should be able to go a bit lower once I get my balance sorted. Front squat is a lot harder than back for me but my ass was getting dissproportionate so I nedded a change.

I don’t know exactly how you cycle your deadlifting but putting in snatch grip deadlifts and trap bar deadlifts could offer a nice change of pace and helped with my leg development. Just my two cents.

[quote]HiFiBoy wrote:
I started at 132 pounds, now I’m almost 170, so I’m happy with my 8 month weight gain, but I want more aesthetic legs.

I can add photos if required, maybe i’m off base. My family leg genetics are abysmal though, so I don’t have much hope.
[/quote]

132 lbs to 170 lbs. Impressive. Let’s see the pics!


Here is a pic.

As you can see, the upper part of my leg has gained some thickness, but I don’t seem to have any quad hang at all. Maybe it’s just the lack of training duration, my legs were literally like pencils when I started.

I have just started training calfs as they are terrible, I guess that’s what happens when you live your life at 132 pounds.

Today I squatted as deep as humanly possible, I had to take 10kg of my normal max and got crushed on my last rap. Thank God for safety bars.

Cool what did you do differently with your leg workout than you usually do?

OP, your legs are simply all around small. It’s good you’ve gotten them bigger and stronger, but part of the problem is sheer size. Having said that, two things I’ve found to hit the teardrop of the quads well:

Narrow stance ATG front squats (yes, getting proper depth will take a lot of practice…videotape yourself)

Backwards sled dragging ('nuf said)

And don’t blame your legs on bad family genetics, how could you even know that if none of your family was serious about lifting? Or are they?

[quote]JoabSonOfZeruiah wrote:
Cool what did you do differently with your leg workout than you usually do?[/quote]

I just added in some atg back squats and focused on depth for my front squats. I also spent more time on my calves.

Yea stop worrying about shape at this point. Just get bigger. Your legs look fine for the stage youre at. Narrow stance stuff is nice but do not neglect your adductors. I found out the hard way via two separate groin tears that imbalances are not that hard to develop when avoiding wide stance stuff.

[quote]hungry4more wrote:
OP, your legs are simply all around small. It’s good you’ve gotten them bigger and stronger, but part of the problem is sheer size. Having said that, two things I’ve found to hit the teardrop of the quads well:

Narrow stance ATG front squats (yes, getting proper depth will take a lot of practice…videotape yourself)

Backwards sled dragging ('nuf said)

And don’t blame your legs on bad family genetics, how could you even know that if none of your family was serious about lifting? Or are they?[/quote]

Yeah, I realise they are small, they were my weakest part by a long way so I’m happy with their progress. I’m trying to be objective about lifting and have been reading a lot, so I’m aware that a good physique isn’t built over night.

I’m in no way dejected about my progress, I haven’t really missed a day in the gym in 8 months apart from a holiday so I know I have the commitment to keep progressing.

I don’t mean to blame genetics, that wasn’t my intention, but I am jealous of some people who seem to have awesome calves with little or no training. My family were all miners and manual workers so they have always been strong, not that that would workout legs, but they all have tiny legs. I know I can beat my genetics, or die trying.