Double Your Results Using Varying Workouts: The Upper Legs

By: Jon Huston

For most of us, training the upper legs, the quadriceps and hamstrings, are one of the hardest programs we have. It is the most energy-depleting as well as painful workout in our repertoire.

Perhaps the most difficult part about training legs is the low success rate for improving size and strength. Hopefully, this article will give you a few ideas to improve your overall size in the upper legs.

For review, here are some terms:

High-Intensity Training (HIT):

Method of training using heavy weights, lower repetitions (6-10), and explosive movements using a large amount of energy over a brief period of time.

HIT focuses more on the larger Type II-b fibers that give your muscles a more voluminous appearance. These fibers fatigue more quickly but produce the greater amount of force compared with Type-I fibers.

Volume Training:

Method of training using medium weights, higher repetitions (12-15), and more succinct movements using a similarly large amount of energy over a more extended period of time.

Volume training focuses on the smaller Type-I fibers that give your muscles a harder, more defined look. These fibers have a greater longevity for training and are more associated with cardiovascular training.

Upper Legs Anatomy Lesson:

The upper leg is comprised of the following muscles: the quadriceps (made up of the rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, and vastus intermedialis), the hamstrings (made up of the biceps femoris (medial and lateral), semitendonosis, and the semimembranosus), as well as the adductor muscles, and the glutes (which aren’t included in this series).

The quadriceps muscle group functions to extend the knee and is associated with knee extensions, squats, leg press, and sissy squats, to name a few. The hamstring muscle group functions to flex the knee and is associated with leg curls, straight-legged dead lifts, to name a few.

The actual kinematics are a bit more involved but this will suffice for the purpose of this article.

Sample HIT Programs

HIT Program 1:

Double Knee Extensions: 3 sets of 15 to warm up
Leg Press: 650 x 10, 740 x 10, 830 x 10, 920 x 10
Double Knee Extensions: 220 x 10, 240 x 10, 260 x 8
Smith Machine Squats: 315 x 10, 405 x 8, 495 x 6
Double Leg Curls: 210 x 10, 230 x 10, 250 x 10, 270 x 8
Straight Leg Dead Lifts: 225 x 10, 275 x 10, 315 x 10
Single Leg Curls (double leg shown) with 3 second pause at full contraction: 110 x 10, 120 x 10, 130 x 10

HIT Program 2:

Dumbbell Leg Curls: 80 x 10, 90 x 10, 100 x 10, 110 x 8
Stiff-Legged Dead Lifts with Dumbbell (using sumo stance): 110 x 15 for 3 sets
Single Leg Curls: 130 x 10, 140 x 10, 150 x 8
Double Knee Extensions: 220 x 10, 240 x 10, 260 x 8
Free Squats: 315 x 10, 365 x 10, 405 x 10, 455 x 8
Leg Press: 650 x 10, 740 x 10, 830 x 10, 920 x 10

Sample Volume Programs

Volume Training Program 1:

Double Knee Extensions: 3 sets of 15 to warm up
Leg Press: 450 x 15, 540 x 15, 630 x 15, 720 x 15
Super set with
Double Knee extensions: 180 x 15, 190 x 15, 200 x 15, 210 x 15
Sissy Squats: 3 sets of 15-20
Walking Lunges: 3 sets of 150′
Double Leg Curls: 150 x 15, 160 x 15, 170 x 15, 180 x 15
Straight Leg Dead Lifts: 185 x 15, 205 x 15, 225 x 15
Single Leg Curls: 70 x 15, 80 x 15, 90 x 15

Volume Training Program 2:

Dumbbell Leg Curls: 50 x 15, 60 x 15, 70 x 15, 80 x 12
Super set with
Stiff-Legged Dead lifts with dumbbell: 90 x 15 for 4 sets
Single Leg Curls: 70 x 15, 80 x 15, 90 x 15
Double Knee Extensions: 180 x 15, 190 x 15, 200 x 15, 210 x 15
Leg Press: 450 x 15, 540 x 15, 630 x 15, 720 x 15
Sissy Squats: 3 sets of 15
Super set with
Step Ups on Bench: 3 sets x 1 minute

Depending upon the quality of your gym, there might be a lot more exercise variations that you can perform. My gym is quite limited so this is what I have to do. If you have access to Hammer Strength equipment they have a very good Standing Leg Curl Machine and Supine Squat Rack that are good to use.

I don’t like the angles on their knee extension or leg curls as they tend to pull you forward out of the seat.

So add this program to your current program and let me know how it works for you. Just be sure to keep some knee wraps and ice handy.


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