5 Old-school Leg Workouts That’ll Work Forever

Deep barbell squat
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Leg Day has become somewhat ceremonial for men. If you’re new to weightlifting, though, is there anything more daunting? Are you doing the moves right? Are you using enough weight? Are you even following a decent workout? It’s a lot to think about.

To make your time in the gym less complicated, more focused, and exponentially more effective, follow the routines on the following slides created by Adam Friedman, a personal training, conditioning coach, and Gold’s Gym Fitness Institute Expert. He’s come up with five different routines to keep in your rotation—indefinitely. 

“What makes these workouts effective is the combination of isolated and compound movements, which effectively taxes your body and causes new muscle tissue to grow,” Friedman explains. You’ll also go through varying combos of straight sets, drop sets, and supersets that help provide constant stimulation to your neuromuscular system, which is necessary to build strength and muscle, he adds.

Recommendation: Do one leg workout per week. You can start cycling through these five, doing a new one each week and then repeating them. “I like to start the week with lower body because it’s when I feel the most energy from my recovery Sunday,” Friedman says. Plus, leg routines typically require the most effort and nervous system involvement, so it’s best to do them when you’re fresh.  

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Workout 1

Directions: Complete the superset, then move through straight sets of remaining exercises.

Superset:
A. Leg Extension 3×15   
B. Leg Curl 3×15 – rest 60 sec  

Back Squat 4×12-15 – rest 90 sec
Inverted Leg Press 4×10-12 – rest 90 sec
Walking Lunges 3×30 – rest 90 sec
Isometric Wall Sits 3×60 seconds – rest 60 sec.
Seated Calf Raises 4×15-20 – rest 30-45 sec.

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Workout 2

Directions: Complete as a straight set. Move through each exercise before moving on to the next.

Leg Curl 3×12-15 – rest 60 sec.
Romanian Deadlift 3×8-10 – rest 60 sec.
Hexbar Squat Deadlift (narrow stance) 4×8-10 – rest 90 sec.
Sissy Squat* 3×8-10 – rest 60 sec.
Bulgarian Split Squats w/ Barbell 4×10-12 – rest 60 sec.
Leg Extension 3×10-12 – rest 60 sec.
Donkey Machine Calf Raises 4×15 – rest 30-45 sec.

*How to do the Sissy Squat: 
1. Stand in a shoulder-width stance with toes pointed out and one (or both) hands holding onto a power rack or squat stand (basically any solid structure) around hip level to keep balanced.
2. Engage your core, bend your knees, and keep your waist aligned with your hips as you lower toward the ground. Your heels will lift off the ground and your knees will push forward as your body leans back.
3. Lower deeper into the squat until your knees are almost touching the floor. Pause briefly, then return to the start, slowly pushing through the floor as your heels come back down and you straighten your legs. 

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Workout 3

Directions: Complete as straight set. Move through each exercise before moving on to the next.

Leg Extensions 3×20 – rest 60 sec.
Supine Hip Extensions off Bench w/ Barbell 3×8-10 – rest 90 sec.
Front Squats 4×8-10 – rest 90 sec.
Split Squats w/Barbell 4×8-10  – rest 90 sec.
Single Leg leg Press 3×8-10 – rest 60 sec.
Nordic Hamstring Negatives 3×5 – rest 90 sec.
Seated Calf Raises 4×15-20 – rest 30-45 sec.

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Workout 4

Directions: Complete the superset, then move through straight sets of remaining exercises. Note exercises in which you’ll complete a drop set, which means you’ll perform an exercise, then drop the weight and continue for more reps until you near or reach failure.

Superset:
A. Hip Abductor Machine 2×15-20     
B. Hip Abduction Machine 2×15-20 – rest 30-45 sec. 

Plie Squat w/Dumbbell Held Between Legs 3×15-20 – rest 45-60 sec. *Complete as drop set*
45-Degree Leg Press w/ Wide Stance  4x15x – rest 90 sec. *Complete as drop set*
Sissy Squats (narrow stance) 3×15 – rest 60 sec. 
High Box Stepups w/Barbell on Back 3×10 – rest 60 sec.
Single leg Romanian Deadlifts w/ Dumbbell 3×6-8 – rest 60 sec.
Single Leg Leg Extensions 2×15-20 – rest 60 sec. *Complete as drop set*
Standing Single Leg Calf Raise 4×15-20 – rest 30-45 sec.

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Workout 5: Push-Pull

Directions: Complete as straight set. Move through each exercise before moving on to the next. Then, perform the superset and end with the finisher. 

Hinge Deadlifts 4×5 – rest 2-3 min.
Front Squats 4×8 – rest 2 min.
Horizontal Leg Press 3×10-12x – rest 2 min.
Bulgarian Split Squat 3×8-10  – rest 60 sec.
 
Superset
Leg Curls 3×10-12   
Leg Extensions 3×10-12 – rest 60 sec.
 
Calves on a 45-Degree Leg Press 4×12-15 – rest 30-45 sec.

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