Short but Effective Leg Workout Routine

Rear view of bodybuilder's muscular legs

 John M Lund Photography Inc / Getty Images

One of the biggest myths in the world of bodybuilding is that you need to be in the gym virtually 24/7 to achieve bodybuilding results. Many times we have been in situations when we do not have a lot of time to train. In cases like this, you need to make sure that you:

The Routine

  1. Perform a routine that stimulates as many muscle fibers as possible within the short amount of time that you can spend at the gym.
  2. Leg Extensions: 5 sets of 13-20 repetitions
    Our first exercise is leg extensions. We start with a light weight for 18-20 repetitions feeling each repetition as we work on getting some blood into the muscles. We then increase the weight for the first working set, in which we perform 20 more repetitions this time to failure. Each repetition was paused at the top for a one-second count and the last repetition of each set was held for as long as possible at the top contracted position. We keep increasing the weight on each set until the last two sets which were performed with the whole stack of the machine for 13 solid repetitions. The rest period was around 1 minute in between sets.
  3. Full Squats (going below parallel): 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions.
    Since we do not have much time we decided to do full squats as opposed to squats to parallel. This was done in order to engage the hamstrings more at the bottom of the movement and thus maximize results in the whole leg. Since the squats were done through the full range of motion, until the calves were tightly pressed against the hamstrings, the weight used was lighter than the one we would have used for the parallel squats version. We held the bottom position for a second and then pressed with the ball of the foot to bring yourself up while keeping the torso as straight as possible. For this exercise, we rested around 90 seconds.
  4. Walking Lunges: 3 sets of as many steps as possible.
    We finalized the upper legs workout with walking lunges. Our legs were so beat from the previous 2 exercises that we could not use any weights. What we did for this exercise is that we lunged to one side of the gym by pressing with the ball of the foot (in order to emphasize the quads), and on my way back to the point we started, we pressed with the heels (in order to emphasize the glutes and hamstrings). For this exercise, we rested around 75 seconds.
  5. One Legged Machine Calf Raises: 4 sets of 18-20 repetitions.
    We performed the one legged calf raises on a calf raise machine and used a weight that would allow us to do between 18-20 good repetitions emphasizing the stretch component of the exercise (spending 1 second at the stretch position) and then pressing with the ball of the foot to lift the weight up remaining at the contracted position for a second as well. This exercise we performed non-stop just alternating one leg and the other until all sets are done.​
  6. Ensure that all sets are performed with impeccable technique and taken to failure since workout volume (the total amount of sets done) will be small; muscular failure being defined as the absolute last repetition that can be performed in good form.
    We recently came across such a situation, and thus, had to make the best out of things. The body part that needed training was legs. Because time was limited, we decided to choose exercises that offered the highest neuromuscular stimulation. In addition, we pre-exhausted the muscles with an isolation movement in order to not only warm-up the area but also to create a mind to muscle connection that would enable us to really concentrate on using the muscles that we wanted to use on the multi-jointed movements.

Short But Highly Effective Leg Workout RoutineConclusion

As you can see, there is no need to spend all day training at the gym to get a good workout. By using the right exercises, creating a good mind to muscle connection, emphasizing technique and form, and taking all sets to failure you can maximize bodybuilding results while minimizing your time at the gym.