image shows barbell with two weights on the end and someone about to deadlift it

The best exercises to try next leg day

Blog | Justin Shaw, Sports Development Coordinator

The lower body is the foundation of our entire body. Obvious… I know, but it’s important to remember that the legs have some of the largest and strongest muscles in our whole body. The term “leg day” may have some negative connotations in gym culture, but secretly, we all love it and can’t wait for the next burning session. There are SO many ways that people train legs, such as supersets, circuits, volume on volume, or even splitting up leg sessions over multiple days (those are some brave people)!

This is a good place to start with a Leg Workout – its nothing too crazy, but this is a session that your legs will be reminded of over the next 2-5 days. Your legs may need a ‘flammable’ warning label, but this workout is something beginners can start with, and seasoned leg-day lovers can use it to reset and get back to basics.

Without further ado, here’s my take on a simple and VERY effective leg workout.

Leg Burning Workout

My Leg day follows a ‘3C 2xI 1ab 1ad’ structure. Yes I know, this sounds like the default password on the bottom of your Wi-Fi router but I promise it will all make sense shortly.

A good, simple leg day will hit all the major muscles of the legs. I aim to hit the glutes, quads, hams, calves, adductors, and abductors. I also try to make a conscious effort to work on my stabilisers and support muscles.

diagram of the lower body indicating where major muscle groups are

I start with a pretty comprehensive warm-up. The worst thing you can do is go into a workout cold. I try to hit every muscle group in the warm-up at least once. I will outline the full session below with their primary lower body muscle groups added next to each exercise just for fun.

Once I’m warmed up I go straight into 3 heavy compound lifts (3C), the reason being I want to have as little fatigue in my muscles as possible when I attempt heavy lifts. If I was to leave the heavy lifts until the end, my legs be jelly and I just wouldn’t get the reps out cleanly, if at all. I usually rest around 60-90 seconds between these sets  I try to make these heavy lifts predominantly glute focussed while activating and working other muscle groups as well. The glutes are the strongest singular muscle we have, so in my mind, it makes sense to use them for the biggest efforts. And, everyone likes a big strong bum – so that’s a bonus.

After the heavy stuff, it’s into the isolation exercises. I try to do 2 isolation exercises per major muscle group (2xI). Because my glutes have already been roasted in the heavy work I leave them off this list, and they will work to a lesser extent in most of these exercises anyway. I usually proceed in descending order of muscle size and strength, so I do 2 quad isolation exercises, 2 hamstring, and 2 calves. I try not to rest more than 30 seconds for these exercises.

Lastly, we have 1 abductor and 1 adductor exercise (1Ab 1Ad). These are just to work those outside hip muscles before heading into the stretch room. Again, less than 30 seconds rest is enough. I tend to hit these muscles with more volume than intensity.

See a breakdown of the warm-up and workout below 

Warm-up

  • 5 minutes Treadmill, Bike, or Stair Master
  • 20 Bodyweight squats
  • 20 Lunges
  • 20 Side Lunges
  • 20 lateral leg swings each leg
  • 20 Rear Lunges
  • 20 Calf raises
  • 1 minute single leg balance each leg

Workout

  • Squats 12,8,5,5,5 (Glute, Quads, Adductors)
  • Deadlifts 12,8,5,5,5 (Glutes, Quads, Calves, Lower back)
  • Barbell hip thrusts 12,8,5,5,5 (Glutes, Hamstrings)
  • Quad machine extensions 12,12,12 (Quads)
  • Upright Sissy squat 12,12,12 (Quads) (You may need a picture)
  • Hamstring Machine Curls 12,12,12 (Hamstrings)
  • Raised single leg glute bridges 12,12,12 (Glutes, Hamstrings)
  • Weighted Calf Raise 20,20,20 (Calves)
  • Toe Raises 20,20,20 (Tibialis Anterior)
  • Cable abductors 20,20,20 (Each leg, Abductors)
  • Cable adductions 20,20,20 (Each leg, Adductors)
  • Stretch it all to avoid delayed muscle soreness.

This workout usually takes me around an hour to complete, depending on how motivated I am. That seems like a lot I know, but you can pick and choose as you see fit. You can cut it back to 2 compound and 1 isolation each and get through it in half an hour. However, this would be like watching an IMAX movie on your phone. If you want the full experience, you’ve got to work for it! Give it a go next time you’re at SportUNE and let us know how you go. See you in the gym!


Looking for that extra bit of motivation?

We have a range of weekly group fitness classes on offer, check out our classes here. Or to learn more about fitness and wellbeing and connect with like-minded people, visit the Wellness Hub.

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