The One Exercise That’ll Give You Huge Legs – Warning: Nobody Does It Because It’s Very Tough
If you want big, strong legs, you’ve got to put in the work. Specifically, you have to squat. And not just squat – you have to squat with weight. Then, when you get used to the weight, you have to add more weight.
After a while, you should see those quads starting to stand out. You might see that butt start to lift. And maybe that’ll be enough for you. But for those who want truly killer legs – the ones that might burst from your pants at any moment to head-lock somebody – you have to dig deeper and go harder.
The following exercise set will feel like it’s destroying your legs in the gym. But hey, what doesn’t kill your quads only makes them stronger. Or, at least, that’s the hope…
Say Hello To 20-Rep Squats
This will soon become your best friend and worst enemy. All you have to do is squat three times a week. One set of 20 reps – of your normal 8 to 12 rep max.
That means if you normally squat 100lbs twelve times and that’s all you can do, you’re about to do more. Each time, squat until failure. Then take a few deep breaths and do as many more as you can. As you go, take a little more time for rests in between sets.
- 8 reps – take two deep breaths
- 4 reps – three deep breaths
- 4 reps – four deep breaths
- 2 reps – four deep breaths
- 2 reps – done!
But, as you may have guessed already, you’re not really done.
Wait two days and let your legs recover, then add 5lbs to the bar and do it again. And again. For six weeks.
Why It Works
Your muscles are complex mechanisms. They’re made up of different fibers that work together to make your skeleton move and do things. Basically, slow-twitch fibers account for strength, and fast-twitch fibers help with endurance. Everyone has a different ratio of slow-twitch to fast-twitch fibers, based on factors like genetics and physical habits, and that ratio correlates to whether you respond better to heavy weight training or heavy rep training.
The good thing about the 20-Rep Squat program is that you don’t have to spend years discovering which works best for you.
The first few reps work the fast-twitch fibers of the leg muscles – and you need endurance to get through eight. Then, because we switch to less reps, the slow-twitch fibers are triggered. You need strength for only a short period to get through.
Every muscle fiber in your legs will be screaming and adjusting while building themselves up. Because you’re adding more weight each session, your muscles won’t hit any kind of plateau, and will continue to grow stronger and more defined.
Keep In Mind
This program isn’t for someone new to the game. It takes a while to get the hang of proper squat form, and really make sure you’re targeting the correct muscles. Improperly done, squats can ruin your knees and lower back. Work with a trainer for a few sessions to get some coaching on proper form if you can.
Always use a squat rack or have a spotter. If things get too intense, you’ll want to be rid of the weight quickly to avoid hurting yourself. Keep in mind this is a 20-rep set with small breathing breaks. Even if the last five reps are done one at a time, get the full 20 in.
It’s also important to warm up properly beforehand. Jumping rope or light jogging will help to warm up the leg muscles, and reduce the chances of injury. Be prepared for delayed onset muscle soreness, and if you find the program is destroying you, go ahead and take an extra day between sessions to recover. Always listen to your body.
Pay attention to your sleep and nutrition. Sleeping seven to nine hours a night – and making sure you’re eating well and supplementing – will help to speed up your recovery time and make that grueling session in the gym easier… a bit easier, at any rate.
The 20-Rep Squat is brutal. You’ll be drenched in sweat when you finish a session, and it’ll be tough to get out of bed every morning. But if you want Hercules’ legs, you’ve got to train like Hercules.