T Nation

Leg Specialization Program


I was hoping to get some input on developing a leg specialization program. Not that my upper body is all that great, but my legs have always lagged; they're naturally long and skinny (thanks Ma!) so I've always looked top-heavy. So I want to embark on a six week specialization to try to bring them up a bit. I know there are some routines posted here, but none have really jumped out at me as the route I want to take (though one from Dan Trink from 2012 gave me a few ideas).

I'd like to work them three days per week (MWF) with T, Th dedicated to upper body maintenance, and weekends off.

I am not sure whether to break them up by muscle focus each workout day (Quads, Hams, Glutes...I know there would be overlap) or work all groups each day but break it up by intensity (heavy, medium, light)... or some third way. I would like to incorporate compound, isolation, unilateral and explosive movements each workout if at all possible.

A few things to note:

Equipment: I workout at home. I have a squat rack, bench with curl/ext attachment, adjustable dumbbells, and a leg press/hack squat machine. I have a decent amount of weight but not enough for lower rep leg press.

Strength: I'm weak as shit. My squat max is probably around 285. Deadlift...really no idea, but would guess 350 or so. I have tried lower volume with heavier weights and I just don't seem to ever feel trashed after those kinds of workouts (although my CNS does). So I am leaning towards a higher volume program. I am not afraid of overtraining; if I feel I am, I will back off.

MMC: I don't have a very good mind-muscle connection with my legs. I certainly will feel my quads after high rep leg press or glutes after lunges, but I rarely feel the muscle contract when performing the exercise unless it's a true isolation movement (this is another reason I'm leaning towards a higher volume approach).

I work calves separately and often, before my main workout (about 4x/week). I know my strength sucks, but I am 43 and am not willing to embark on a pure strength routine at this point; I want to focus on hypertrophy.

I am not asking for anyone to design a program for me. I am more looking for input on how to set it up (CC?) and if one way over another has worked for you in the past. I have a long list of exercises to incorporate that will definitely cover the bases. That will be my next challenge after I determine the structure. Thanks.


This works....


front squats, 10x10, minute rest in between. Finish off with as many sets of leg curls as you can handle.

  • There is no magic program or exercises
  • "Specialization" just comes down to higher volume/week than usual
  • Figure out some reasonable value of high volume (for you)
  • How you distribute that volume across the week, exercises, set&reps doesn't really matter all that much
  • Keep shit simple; don't do a large number of fancy exercises; just use squats/leg press for quads (& glutes) and SLDL/GMs/leg curls for hams


Doesn't sound reasonable for almost all lifters for obvious reasons.



which are?


At what % of the lifter's 1RM do you think is the place to start?


I think a 20RM is a good start when you first give it a go. The first few sets feel really light but once you're 5 in then the short rests really catch up with you. You've got to really be strict: one minute, no more, no less.

To progress I like to alternate weeks of going a little heavier and doing an 8x8, then try and get the 10x10 with the weight you used for the 8s the week after. You'd do the 10s for a couple of weeks first to get the feel for what you can handle, then add in the 8s to mix it up.

Obviously you'll never actually get all ten (or 8) or else the weight was too light.

I stole the idea from Poliquin (who I think stole it from Gironda) and really like it. The only thing that puts me off is the DOMs is crippling.


Let's see if somebody on this forum can figure it out first.

ps: I take it you actually did it. What weights were you using?


Sure did, done it a few times. It's really just the old GVT routine.

I used all of them.


Thanks....hadn't seen that article. I wouldn't be able to do the heavy leg presses, but I could perhaps swap for hack squats. Also it's not clear how many times per week you're working legs. I need to read more in depth...

Edit: Wow...20 rep lunges. Makes me nauseous just thinking about it.


Eh....I've never really liked front squats, but I am not 100% sure I've given them an "honest" go before. My trunk always fatigues first and my form goes to shit before I really feel it in my legs.

It's been awhile since I've gone for higher reps on those, so I will test them out. The weight I would use would be laughably light, but I don't really care if it gets the job done.

Thanks for your input.


no worries mate, give it a try and see what you think. In my experience trunk fatigue isn't really an issue because the weights you're using are (relatively) light, but then front squats are the only squat variation I ever do so maybe I'm just a little more used to it.


What is the point then?

Telling a beginner who can back squat a shitty 285 (shows he must have shitty form) to focus on front squats, let alone for high reps, to bring up his legs is just stupid. Even people with stellar front squat technique (which the OP is certainly not) who can as a result load their quads with enough weight to create sufficient muscular tension to elicit hypertrophy will have a hard time performing sets of 10 reps.

@OP: To keep shit simple, I would just have you do the Smolov base cycle with leg press instead of squats (back squats would be nicer, but I'm pretty sure your technique/setup sucks) + some hamstring work afterwards. That will have you train legs hard 4x/week.


Does your leg press not hold a lot of weight or is it a $$ thing. You can almost always find plates cheap.


EDIT: actually fuck it, I'll start a new thread on the topic to see what everyone thinks


I've been keeping my eyes open for plates at a good price, but people usually want $.75 - $1/lb and I will need a lot. Don't have the funds right now for that unfortunately.