Killer Leg Workout Routine

A great leg workout routine will do more for your overall strength than just about anything else. A lot of guys like to train the upper body and neglect the lower body.  This is a very serious mistake because the most strength you can have will be in your back and legs. Lying on your back pushing up a weight will get you strong but consider this:  It’s your legs that get you around so that you can push and pull things with your upper body.  This is not to knock the Bench Press but if you had to choose between doing a set of Deadlifts or Squats and a set of Benches, you should choose the Deads or Squats.

Here is one of the best leg workout routines.  The protocol is taken more or less from Max-OT in that you:

1)      Work only a couple muscle groups in a workout.leg workout routine

2)      Perform more than 5 but less than 10 heavy sets per muscle group.

3)      Keep to a rep range between 4 and 6.

4)      Rest a few minutes or a little less in between sets.

5)      Workout less than an hour.

6)      Train a muscle group once a week.

7)      Avoid burnout by taking a rest of a week or so every couple months.  Also switch exercises (see Summary).

All compound exercises (except for calves) are used in this workout:



To Failure



Back squats




2 min.

Front squats




2 min.

Box squats




2 min.

Forward lunges


Near failure


2 min.

Romanian Deadlifts

2 (1 heavy-1 drop set)


3-5 then 8-10

3-5 minutes

Standing Calve Raise




You should rest about 2 minutes between sets and about 3 to 5 minutes between exercises.  Every exercise is taken to momentary muscular failure except for lunges and deadlifts.  You do only one set for calves.

Exercise Done First–Back Squats:

Many call the Back Squat the king of all lifts.  It’s a major lift that affects the whole body.  In fact there’s an expression, “If you want to increase your arm size, squat more.”  When you squat, it’s best to use a squat rack.  If you lift heavy, use spotters.  If you don’t have spotters, use a squat rack that has safety bars on both sides so, if you have to, you can dump the weight.

  1. Stand with feet about shoulder width.  Unrack the bar.  High bar or low bar squats do not matter.  If it is high bar, it rests on traps.  If it is low bar, it is carried across your shoulder blades.
  2. Keeping an arched, neutral back, sit back and down into squat position.  Go down as far as you can.  Pause for a brief second at the bottom and then drive upwards with your heels.  Your head should move up first before your hips.  This is important.  Otherwise, you will be using too much of your lower back which can lead to injury.
  3. After you are straightened up to the top position, repeat.
  4. You should inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up.

Example of Back Squats:



Second Exercise—Front Squats:

There is no exercise that develops the quadriceps better than the Front Squat.  You might think that all you’re doing when changing from the Back Squat is moving the bar from the back to the front of your neck at the clavicle but the mechanics are changed completely.  This lift requires greater frontal abdominal stability rather than lower back strength.  You must squat with your torso as upright as possible.  Any leaning forwards and the bar will fall off.  This exercise is great for developing the quads and the stomach muscles.

  1. Stand with feet shoulder width apart and unrack the bar so it rests on your front deltoids near the clavicle (collar bone).  It might take some time to develop the flexibility in your wrists and fingers as they are pulled back to stabilize the bar.
  2. Keep as upright as possible and squat down as low as you can.  The great thing about the Front Squat is that there is no way to cheat.  If it is not done right the bar will fall off.
  3. Pause a moment at the bottom and then drive up with your heels.
  4. Repeat.

Example of Front Squats:


Exercise performed third—Box Squats:

Many people do not get the full benefit out of the box squat because they do not perform it properly.  The box squat is actually meant to be like a standing up leg curl with a barbell.  It is meant to primarily work the posterior chain such as hamstrings, glutes, and lower back.

  1. With a moderate to light weight barbell on your traps as if doing a back squat, stand with feet much wider than shoulder width.  Your legs should be spread eagled as far apart as is comfortable.
  2. Sit back and down onto a box or platform.  The ideal height of the platform should be more or less the height of when your thighs are parallel to the ground at the bottom of the squat.
  3. When you sit down on the box, your shins should be perpendicular to the ground or even past that, meaning, the angle of your knees are greater than ninety degrees.  This means you must make a great effort to sit down and back as far as you possibly can.  Remember, this exercise is for the posterior chain.
  4. You have the option to barely touch your rear end to the box before driving upwards or else sit down completely on the box.  If you sit down on the box, you will be taking the stretch reflex out of the movement and develop the concentric part of the lift.  It’s up to you.

The main mistake people make on the Box Squat is that they don’t sit back and down onto the box with their shins perpendicular to the ground.  The probably reason why they do this is because they want to push up very heavy weights.  You should use a much lighter weight for this exercise in order to do it correctly.

Example of a Box Squat:


The Fourth exercise—Forward Lunges:

It is important to have some type of unilateral leg exercise in your routine because many real world lifting movements require lifting something while leaning to one side or the other.  Also, working out the legs separately will bring out any uneven strength issues.  It’s best to use dumbbells for this exercise.

  1. Stand with feet together with dumbbells in both hands.  Take a long, controlled step forward (lunge) with your right foot.  Keep your torso upright while you kneel down onto your left knee.  The length of your step forward is determined by your right thigh being parallel to the floor.  If it is parallel, then you have taken the correct length of stride.  It is important that your lead knee is over your foot–never before it.
  2. From this kneeling position, shift your weight forward onto your right foot and drive upward with your right leg.  At the end of this motion you stand up straight as you pull up your left foot to once again be beside your right foot.
  3. Repeat this time with the left foot stepping (lunging) forward.

Example of  Walking dumbbell Lunges:


The Fifth Exercise–Romanian Deadlifts:

This is a very much misunderstood exercise.  Most people do not know the correct way of doing it.  You be using far less weight than the conventional Deadlift.

  1.  Stand with your feet about shoulder width apart.  The barbell is resting on the floor near your shins.  Using an overhand grip with both hands and elbows straight, Deadlift the weight up so the bar is at your mid-thigh.
  2. Keep your back straight and lean forward at the hips while sticking out your rear-end. Bend your knees slightly when you do this.
  3. When the bar reaches below knee level and when you feel some stretch in your hamstrings, reverse the motion by squeezing your buttocks and lift/pull the weight up.  Remember always to retain a neutral back.
  4. Repeat.

You kind of “sit back” into the lowering movement in order to stretch your hamstrings.  The errors that many people make are that they:

  • Don’t keep an arched back;
  • Keep their legs straight when lowering the bar;
  • Go down too far when stretching downwards.

When you do this exercise you need to feel the stretch in your hamstrings and squeeze your glutes when pulling the weight up.  It’s best to use a lighter weight and slowly work up over time to a heavier weight.  If you’re too greedy in this exercise you are likely to tear a hamstring.

Example of Romanian Deadlifts:



Sixth Exercise—Standing Calf-Lifts (with a dumbbell):

Calves are always said to be very stubborn muscles to develop.  They are very tough, very dense.  If you care more about developing the strength in your legs in order to squat more weight but think that the aesthetic look of well developed calves are not for you, then consider this:   As your squat weights get heavier, there will be more stress put on your ankles.  You will need strong calf muscles to support your ankles.  That’s why you need a good calf exercise.

  1. Stand on your right foot only on a stair step with the only the ball of your foot on the step.  The rest of your foot with the heel is hanging off.  A stair step is used only as an example.  Any type of sturdy platform will do.  Your left hand steadies your body by pressing against a wall.  A dumbbell is in your right hand hanging down at your side.  Your left knee is bent with your left ankle touching against the back of your right knee for stability.
  2. Rise up on the ball of your right foot counting to 4  and contracting your calf muscles.  Hold for a count of 4.  Lower heel slowly as far down as possible for 6 counts.  Keeping your calf muscles stretched in this down position and hold for 8 counts.  Rise up again for 4 counts then hold for 4, let down slowly for 6 then hold stretched down for 8.  Do as many reps as you can to failure.
  3. Repeat on left foot for left calf muscles.
  4. Yes, it hurts.  And one set is all you will need for this.

An example of a One Legged Standing Calf Lift:




In Summary

A couple hours after you do this workout you’ll feel as if you got hit by a truck but after a good night’s sleep and some wholesome food your legs should feel okay.   In fact, after a few days you’ll be bounding up stairs. You may think that there is too much volume in this workout but you will quickly adapt to it.  And the protocol is not set into stone.  You can alter it quite a few ways.  For instance:

  • You can switch Romanian Deadlifts for Conventional Deadlifts every other week.
  • You can rotate the order of exercises.  The second week, Back Squats are done last and Front Squats are first.  Every week after that the next exercise will be the first one.
  • You can workout with lighter weights and not train to failure—if you want to train the legs more than once a week.  One day a week you can use this workout for General Physical Preparedness then on the second day of the week you can do a maximal squat or Olympic lift.
  • Take a week or two off every two or three months.  During this time, either don’t train at all or lift very light weights—it’s up to you.

As you perform this workout over time it will evolve as you see what works for you.  A good leg workout routine is one in which you can see positive results for you efforts and this one, if you give it some time, fills the bill.

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