Leg day is one of the most revered training sessions of the week. It’s hard, takes everything out of you when done properly and has sent more than one person to the puke pail or porcelain telephone.
With so many new machines available to you for training legs, many people have forgotten about old school proven movements that were responsible for building some of the greatest legs we have ever seen in this sport.
I’m not talking about standard back squats here because every article you read regarding leg training mentions them.
I’m talking about exercises that are rarely seen in the gym anymore that perhaps should be.
Ultimate leg development takes time, patience, determination and a plethora of exercises to engage every single muscle fibre in that area.
Perhaps your current leg training program is missing that one thing that could take them to the next level.
So I challenge you to take a look at the following three forgotten leg exercises that could potentially add inches where you need them the most should you decide to incorporate them within your schedule.
The Jefferson Squat
This one definitely falls into the old school category and is rarely seen being used by regular gym members.
As unorthodox as it may look, it does offer a unique way of performing squats and has elicited excellent results for those who have chosen to incorporate it in their workouts.
Not only does the Jefferson squat offer quality resistance for developing the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes, it also requires tremendous core strength to keep the bar balanced when holding it between your legs with a front body and behind body hand grip.
Make sure you take a wider than normal stance when straddling the bar so you don’t crush your groin on the way up.
I would suggest that you experiment quite a bit with this exercise until you find a stance/position that elicits the best feeling for you.
Play around with the width of your stance, you may even want to try a staggered stance where one foot is slightly ahead of the other and then switch that up.
Try maintaining the pressure on your heels for the duration of the set and then try it where the majority of the pressure is on the balls of your feet.
Try a full range of motion and then try with some pulse reps ( a very short and faster type style of reps).
However you end up doing it is most likely going to be completely different from what you have been doing so no one way is the right way when initially experimenting with the Jefferson squat.
Bulgarian Split Squats
Unilateral training isn’t an uncommon sight in the gyms but Bulgarian split squats are.
Lots of people I know would consider this exercise as a waste of time for building the quads; wrong!
By focusing on one leg at a time and throwing in the whole balancing act of the exercise in general, Bulgarian split squats are a great finisher to any hardcore leg workout.
They’ll add volume, separation and overall sweep to your quads that many other leg exercises won’t.
The easiest way to set up to perform this exercise would be to use a smith machine and flat bench.
The smith machine will eliminate the need to concentrate on your balance and the flat bench is there to rest one leg on with the bench positioned back behind you.
Keep the foot you have on the floor positioned ahead of you just enough so that when you bend at that knee, your knee doesn’t travel over and ahead of your toes (this puts undue stress on the knee joint itself).
Go as low as you can go and then press back up. Complete an entire set on one leg prior to switching legs.
Other ways you can perform this exercise with considerable effectiveness is by using a simple free weight barbell or a pair of dumbbells-one in each hand or one in the hand on the same side as the leg being worked.
Donkey calf raises
No doubt you’ve seen the pictures of one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time performing these with up to three women (plus his training partner) sitting on his back.
Donkey calf raises offer the unique stimulus of having the calf in a fully stretched position when in the “resting” position.
The weight is closer to the calf (generally the person sits on the lower back with the person performing the exercise bent over making a 90 degree angle with their upper and lower body) and some feel this makes the exercise more calf concentrated with less body parts taking up the strain.
If you’re lucky enough and still train at one of the remaining hardcore gyms, you may actually have access to a donkey calf machine which would be awesome!
If you don’t, simply find someone willing to sit up on your back or have someone place a plate or two on your lower back and just help you make sure they don’t fall off.
With calf development seemingly becoming less and less important on a physique stage, I say to heck with that, don’t shy away from training them, get the lower half of your leg looking impressive and give donkey calf raises a try.
Sometimes your training regime just needs a change for hypertrophy to continue.
These three exercises could be exactly what your future leg development is in need of. At the very least, you’ll be giving your training some variety so that your leg workouts don’t become stagnant.
Best case scenario you’ll experience a whole new level of leg development and a whole new outlook in your approach to training legs.
As I mentioned earlier, complete leg development requires you to attack these muscle groups from all different angles.
Throw one or all of these exercises into your program from time to time or make them a mainstay; however you go about it I can almost guarantee you’ll be pleased with the results.
Author: Dana Bushell
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