Express Leg Workout

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Does it sound familiar? Time is ticking: you have an appointment in 2 hours. Or, you have to do overtime today, but you also want to get a good night’s sleep or cook your food later tonight. Many (including myself) solve this problem on the expense of workout. This is OK every now and then, but not the smartest solution. And it is the most typical in the case of leg day. I can tell it from my own experience: I am most likely to skip leg day. As for myself, I am still afraid of a tough leg workout. It is not because I am afraid of getting injured. Nor because I am a pussy. I just know how exhausting it gets when you put 100% in this workout. At times like these it is even OK to throw up at the end.

Still it feels good once the whole thing is over. So, below you can read about a method which is guaranteed to get me on my knees in the men’s room.

The number of exercises is not overdone. There are only 4 exercises, which is actually 3, after a slight modification: leg extensions, leg curls, lunges and squats. Whaaaat? No leg press? Yes, you’ve heard it right: since we are short of time, we will let the good old leg press machine rest now. However, this will not have an adverse effect on our workout. Because, the focus is on squats, with an edge. And the base concept is the largest possible motion range, the strongest possible focus and, last but not least, wrecking your legs like hell. If you do it right, you will not be in the mood for anything else after the squats, except for some walking lunges maybe.

Let’s start with the commonly used leg extension-leg curl combo for warmup and pre-exhaustion. Doing so, you will not only warm up the target muscles, but your knees too, so you don’t need to worry (much) about injuries either. You might “pump” a little bit in this set, but hold your horses: a good workout will do you much better than jerking.

Next comes the squat.

The secret lies in the following: After 2 or 3 warmup sets, choose a weight which is equivalent to 50-60% of your one-rep maximum. You will do the work sets with this weight, as follows: You do one rep, followed by one second of rest. Then come two reps with two seconds of rest, followed by a “threesome”. Do it until you reach 8 reps. This alone is quite challenging because of the short rest times, but the worst is yet to come. Once you made the 8th repetition, you will go on the other way around: 8 reps, 8 seconds of rest; 7 reps and 7 seconds of rest and so on, until you get to 1 rep. It is recommended to make 2 or 3 of this pretty little cycle.

Actually, you don’t need to do the traditional squats: you might do front squats; or you might do them in a wider stance (sumo wrestler style), or with your feet facing outwards. Do it in a way that allows you to feel your thighs the best during the exercise. Try to position the lowest point as low as possible; try to “sit” as deep as possible with the weight. You might speed up performance a little bit, but this shall not adversely affect strict form. Do the negative phase in a slow and controlled manner so your muscles can do as much work as possible. This means, even 5-6-second negative phases can be reasonable to that end. On the other hand, the positive phase is the opposite: you’ll have to perform it as explosively as possible.

And, last but not least, here comes the coup de grâce: the lunges. Your legs must be trembling of exhaustion: now it is best to wreck ‘em with something to make your day. Now this will be the walking lunge. I know it by experience that this is the most painful way to finish off your leg day: I prefer to do it without weights, as you need no extra load, provided that you are doing it right. Since you won’t be using any extra load for this exercise, and you should be able to carry your own weight, this “chillout” exercise will not only challenge your muscles but your will-power as well.

What you can expect from this approach:

  • Due to the intense load, your muscles will be pumped like hell. This means that more blood will get to your muscles. And more blood means more oxygen and more nutrients, too. Should this not be enough, you might top it by consuming 4-5 grams of arginine and 2-3 grams of citrulline malate about 30 minutes before workout.
  • The short rest breaks will also put your cardiovascular system to the test. So, this is also a great way to train your lung capacity and vascular system.
  • Let’s face it: not many work out like this, so this method can be great for a “shock therapy”. And of course, it works not only for squats. You can apply it to virtually any muscle group or exercise.

As you can see, there is no big “trade secret”. But it works. After a leg day like this, you will most likely wake up with mixed emotions. On one hand, you will be satisfied because you’ve made it. But, on the other hand, you might feel a little bitter, for you can hardly get out of bed. I am only asking one thing from you: the morning after, please do not call me the offspring of a female dog. ;)

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