We’re sure leg day isn’t one of your favorites. Most leg exercises are brutal, exhausting the whole body.
And the most effective leg workouts aren’t usually fast. But if we tell you that in 15 minutes you can work your legs as effectively as possible, will you believe it? Well, we’ll explain it to you here.
This training combines leg work with high-intensity interval training. Specifically, it involves doing the training Tabata of intervals.
This form of intervals makes you work for 20 seconds and rest for 10. Complete 8 series cycles of this working relationship rest of 20 / 10.
That means it takes you 4 minutes to complete each exercise. With three exercises – squatting, leg extension and femoral flexion – that’s 12 minutes of exercise time.
You rest 1 minute between each of them, which means you do them in a quarter of an hour. And when you’re done, we promise, you’ll barely be able to move your legs.
Table of Contents
- 1 Tabata interval training
- 2 Squat
- 3 Machine Extensions
- 4 Lying femoral curl
- 5 The weight of the squat
- 6 Old school squatting leg routine
- 7 Getting Results with a Swiss Ball
Tabata interval training
Originally designed by Dr. lzumi Tabata to better train Japanese speed skaters.
With the squat you work almost the whole of the undercarriage.
He discovered that when athletes did 8 cycles of 20-second intervals of intense exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest, their aerobic capacity and anaerobic capacity increased.
The extensions focus the work on our quadriceps.
As Tabata training favors explosive energy – that used in a typical bench press series – it allows you to do more repetitions with the same weight or use a greater load for a specific number of repetitions.
Lying femoral curl
With femoral flexion all the emphasis is on the hamstrings.
And that not only provides more strength, but also more muscle development, as a higher load on the muscle translates into greater development.
And the benefits don’t end there. Since you’re doing quite high repetitions and get very little rest between sets, you not only increase growth hormone levels but also the amount of veins (vascularization) that feed your muscle fibers.
This allows you to provide more nutrients, oxygen and anabolic hormones to the muscles, which means more energy during training, and better recovery and growth after you have finished training.
Finally, Tabata training also boosts endurance, which means increasing your body’s ability to burn fat, something that allows you to forget about traditional aerobes.
The weight of the squat
You will determine it through trial and error until you find the one that works for you. If you discover that a weight allows you to complete 20 seconds of repetitions during the first 5 or 6 series, but not to finish with the last 20 seconds, you have found the perfect weight.
This allows you to set the goal of completing the 20 seconds of repetitions in all series before increasing the load. For squats, we suggest that you start by using only your body weight.
Once you are able to easily complete the 8 cycles of Tabata intervals with your own weight, start using an empty bar. As you progress, slowly add weight to the bar.
Old school squatting leg routine
Training legs used to be very hard. Really. Until 50 years ago, there were no dietary supplements or devices, even just exercises.
However, those who devoted themselves to weights managed to develop athletic and muscular physicists based on high-intensity training sessions based on functional movements such as squatting and military press.
Change your leg routine
If you regularly do squat with a bar, and you want to increase your power and your strength, change your leg routine for three weeks to this one of old movements.
When you go back to your usual program, you’ll find that the mileage you use in the squat is much higher. Don’t abandon your legs. Go back to the glory days using these simple movements that exemplify hard leg training.
Sumo squat with bar
Do 4 series of 8 to 12 repetitions, deadweight with sumo style bar
- START: Place a loaded bar slightly below your usual posture, so that it rests on the back of your posterior deltoids. Spread your feet wider than your shoulders and point them slightly outwards.
- MOVEMENT: Descend until your thighs reach the parallel with the ground, leaning forward a little more than you would in a front squat. From there, extend your knees and hips, pulling through your heels to return to the starting point.
Squat with dumbbell above head
Do 4 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions (2 sets with each arm holding the weight)
Squat with dumbbell
- BEGINNING: Carry a dumbbell and raise it above your head. The arm should be stretched out at the top.
- MOVEMENT: With your feet slightly wider than the width of your shoulders, pull your hips back and bend your knees to flex your thighs until they reach parallel to the floor while keeping the dumbbell above your head. From there, extend knees and hips to return to the starting point.
Hack Squat with Bar
Do 4 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions, after 2 sets of light squats as a warm-up.
- START: Using a prone grip, hold the bar behind your thighs with your arms outstretched and your hands shoulder-width apart.
- MOVEMENT: Keeping your feet flat on the floor, torso upright and shoulders back, flex your legs until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Return to the starting point by extending your knees and hips and exerting pressure through your heels.
Getting Results with a Swiss Ball
I don’t think I have to convince you that strengthening your legs is a good thing. But just in case you don’t care about the extra flab on your legs, working on building up your lean muscle means you can eat more and burn it off more easily. And if that doesn’t do it for you, how about just being able to do simple tasks better, like lifting the laundry, groceries, or moving your furniture? Here are some great ways to get your legs in shape with only an exercise ball as equipment.
These are amazing for your thighs. You will feel the burn and see the results in just a few weeks of doing these consistently. Just take your exercise ball, put it behind your back against a wall (e.g. a wall that is not a door or decorated with something that can fall off on you).
The ball should be wedged between your lower back and the wall, while your legs are shoulders width apart and extended forward just enough to put pressure on the ball to stay upright. Plant your heels and bend your knees to a 90-degree angle. If this is too hard to do, than just go as far as you can.
Remember, if any exercise hurts you more than the ‘burn,’ than stop it immediately. However, even if you have knee trouble you should still be able to do this without pain if you are relying on your thigh and buttock muscles, rather than on your knee joint. To ensure this, make sure your heels are planted and when you bend your knees and raise yourself up to a standing position again you will be pushing up on your heel.
You will know that you are doing this correctly if you feel a pull in the muscles on the top of your thighs. Squat up and down for at least 10 times a set, with 3 sets per exercise session. Always make sure you are doing this slowly and using the proper muscles, not the momentum, which will do nothing for you.
This works on your inner thighs and outer thighs. Lie on your back on a rug or floor mat. Put the exercise ball between your legs and squeeze your legs together as much as possible and then release.
If your exercise ball is for your full body it might be awkward to get it between your legs comfortably. In this case, just do the best you can without straining the muscles at the joint of your hip, as this can be quite painful. If it still doesn’t quite work, than you can use a few pillows. Either way, do 3 sets of at least 10 reps.
Not everyone can do this move the first time they attempt, so don’t worry if you have to do it modified for a while because it will still be beneficial. Lying on your back with your legs extended, place the exercise ball under your ankles.
Keep your feet together and roll the ball towards you using your feet. As you roll it closer, lift your hips off the ground and hold it with your feet flat on the ball. If the ball is too high, you will have trouble sustaining it. However, if you can’t do this, than do the modified version. Just put your legs over the ball, with your knees at the top and legs draped. Lift your hips off the ground, keeping your back straight.
You will likely be using the muscles in your buttocks the most to do this. Repeat whichever exercise best works for you a minimum of 10 times and at least 2 sets. This activity will improve the strength of your thighs even if you do the modified version.
You can do these against your exercise ball or against a wall. Place your exercise ball against the wall with your body facing the wall. Put your hands in a pushup position against the ball, and while pushing against the ball with your upper body, stand on your tiptoes.
Hold this position for about three seconds before bringing your feet flat against the floor again. When you hold the position it helps you to remember that it is by focusing on your muscle, not by momentum that you should do the exercise.
Do this for only about 10 times as it works your calves out well enough to sustain you until next session. Try to do 2 sets of it every other day or twice a week and you’ll start to see those “W’s” forming in about a month’s time.
Remember, if you want to see results you need to do this consistently. With your exercise ball and a little work, you can get the legs you’ve always wanted.