The Most Grueling Leg Workout of All Time


Fair warning: This isn’t a typical workout that you should be doing every week. It’s also not for every guy: It’s for advanced lifters who have experimented with different intensity techniques and have good lifting technique. More of a beginner or intermediate lifter? Check out The Beginner’s Guide to Weight Lifting or work on mastering some of the 30 Best Leg Exercises of All Time first.

If you’re still with us, you know that every once in a while, you need a workout to test yourself, to see how far you can push and how much you really have in the tank. This is one of those workouts. 

But it’s not a risky, pointless plan. Anyone can have you ‘squat until you puke’ but that doesn’t mean the workout was effective, beneficial or safe. This workout will minimize your chances of injury while giving you one hell of a workout. Ready?

The workout:
1) Lying Leg Curl: 2 sets of 20 reps to warmup, followed by 2 x 15 reps, rest 30-45 seconds between sets
2) 1.5 rep Back Squat  — 4 x 8 reps, rest 2 minutes between sets —> Video
3) Front Foot Elevated Bulgarian Split Squat— 3 x 12 reps each side, rest 60-90 seconds between sets —> Video
4) Constant Tension Leg Press — 3 x 20 reps, 1 x 35 reps, rest 2 minutes between sets
5)  Sumo RDL — 3 x 10 reps, rest 60-90 seconds between sets —> Video
6) Goblet squat — 1 x 60 reps, take as little rest as possible to complete all the reps

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1. Lying Leg Curl

You are going to start your workout by pumping some blood into those hamstrings of yours. Start with 2 sets of lighter weights for 20 reps, keeping the reps smooth and under control. After the 2 add some weight and get 2 ‘working set’s of 15 reps. Make sure you are moving under control and you are not swinging or heaving the weight up here. 

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2. 1.5 Rep Back Squat

The back squat is a staple for a great leg workout but also one that, no matter how strong you are, can leave you wobbling away. Add in the intensity technique of 1.5 reps and you will look even more like a baby deer. Constant tension and not locking each rep out increases the time your muscles are working. The weight here will be lighter than what you would typically back squat for 8 reps. Perform the 1.5 rep squat by performing a ‘pulse’ at the bottom for the movement. 

How to: Set yourself under the bar with a tight grip. Brace your core, ‘quarter squat’ the weight off of the pins and walk the weight out under control and in as few steps as possible. Set your feet hip- to shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly pointed out. Start the movement by pushing your hips back and bending your knees at the same time. 

When you reach the bottom of the squat, reverse the movement by driving your feet into the ground, but come half way back up before lowering yourself back into the bottom of the squat, now stand all the way up. Check out a video demo here.

That’s 1 rep, complete 7 more of these for 1 set.

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3. Front Foot Elevated Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian split squat is a grueling single leg exercise. Elevating the front foot on a box or plate that is 2-4” makes the movement even more difficult. Elevating the front foot increases the range of motion and the stretch of the muscle at the bottom of the movement. This results in more muscle growth. 

How to: Place you foot flat/laces down on a bench or squat stand (shown here). Lower yourself under control by bending the front knee. Keep the majority of your weight on the heel and middle of your front foot, the back leg (the one on the bench) should just be keeping you stable. 

Stop right before your back knee touches the ground and then reverse the movement by standing up. Be sure to keep your knee in line with your toes during the exercise and don’t let it drift side to side.

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4. Constant Tension Leg Press

This is a similar feeling to the 1.5 rep back squat but this time with more stability because you are on the leg press. Perform each rep like a ‘pumping motion’. Your knees will stay bent throughout the set (like you are performing 3/4 reps). Keep a slight bend in the knee at the top of the movement, which will keep the muscles working the whole time. 

Perform 3 sets of 20 reps and then drop the weight 30% and complete 1 set of 35 reps using the same technique. Keep your core tight, braced against the pad and lower the weight under control.

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5. Sumo RDL

This is like a Romanian Deadlift except with your feet spread out wider in a sumo deadlift stance. So this will have a bit of a different feel than what you are used to. (Check it out here.)

How to: Take a wide stance with your toes slightly pointing out. While keeping your back straight lower yourself down to the bar and grab it with a tight grip. Lift the bar by driving your feet into the ground. Finish the movement by standing straight up and squeezing your butt. 

DO NOT finish the movement by leaning back and overextending your lower back. From here push your butt towards the wall behind you and lower the bar to knee level. Make sure to keep the bar against your legs the whole time and keep a straight back. From there, reverse the movement and stand back up.

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6. Goblet Squat

The goblet squat is a squat variation that will strengthen your upper back, core and test your legs at the end of this workout. Grab a weight that you can do for 15-20 reps, but you are going to complete 60 reps with that same weight resting as little as possible throughout this set. 

Set up with you feet around hip to shoulder-width apart with your toes pointed slightly out. With a straight back, crouch down to pick up the weight (dumbbell or kettlebell). Hold the weight at chest height with your elbows pointing down towards the ground (not out to the sides). You should really feel your upper back working. Start the movement by pushing your hips behind you and bending your knees at the same time. 

Go as low as your body will allow as long as you keep a straight back. Push your feet through the floor and squeeze your butt to stand up.  Lower yourself for another rep. 

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