Pump Up Those Chicken Legs!

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Question: I would like to build better legs which might stop people from telling me to look out for Colonel Sanders, because I have chicken legs. My calves are especially weak. What is a good routine for building legs?
Answer: Simply stated to build good legs step away from the machines and step up to the squat rack. Prepare yourself mentally to deal with the discomfort of lactic acid buildup and soreness for a couple of days after you have trained. Break your training into three main groups: quads, hamstrings and calves. Each of these groups is composed of several different individual muscles that are typically worked as units. You stated your calves were especially weak and we’ll make those and your hamstrings a priority since they are often neglected or put on a back burner in favor of quad training.
Begin with Lying Leg Curls performing three to four sets of 8 to 12 reps per set. Alternate those sets with a Standing Calf Raise either on a calf machine or a Smith machine. Use substantial weight and do 15 to 20 reps on the first two sets. The key to calf training is to use a strong contraction driving your foot up centering the force on the ball of the foot just behind your big toe. Stretch down on each rep but not necessarily into a deep completely full stretch during the exercise. Your calves should burn intensely during the set and as soon as the set is completed, the burn should increase for a second or two more. When you are out of the machine, go to a block about 3 to 4 inches high and set the ball of your foot on the edge of the block. Lock your knee and pull your hips forward keeping your knee locked. This will intensely stretch your calf as you hold it for 5 to 10 seconds. Then switch calves and repeat. On the final two sets of calf raises, increase the weight to allow only ten good reps, decrease the weight by 30% and do another ten. Remember to stretch after each set.
Now that your knees are warmer from the leg curls and your pain from calf training has you fully awake, proceed to squats. If you haven’t been doing squats, for the first three workouts keep your reps at 10 per set because you will be sore enough from that without making it more intense. After your break-in period work up to 15 to 20 reps for the first set. On the second, increase the weight to one that you can only get 8 reps. Reduce the weight on the third set but make it heavier than the first and do another 20 reps. On the fourth set add 10% more weight than the second set and do another 8 reps.
Squats are done for now and it’s time to do lunges. There are several forms of lunges but you’ll begin with the simple Walking Lunges. These are done by holding a dumbbell in each hand, taking a large step, keeping your weight centered and over your hips, not leaning forward with your weight over your knees, lowering yourself until your rear leg almost touches the floor. Then push upward and forward keeping your front heel flat and take another large step with the opposite leg leading. You should do 8 to 10 steps on each leg for 3 sets. Complete your training with two sets each of Stiff Leg Deadlifts and Leg Extensions. Do 8 to 10 reps on each set alternating between the two exercises. After your training you should stretch your quads and hams for a few minutes. Leg training is difficult but rewarding and with this routine I promise you’ll build the legs you want.
God bless and keep training,
Daryl

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