How to Bulk Up Your Legs

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The best way for you to bulk up your legs is by increasing their muscle mass, and the best exercise to help you achieve this goal is the squat. According to Randall J. Strossen, author of "Super Squats," doing squats can help you gain significant muscle mass in your legs in only six weeks. Author of "Mass Training Tactics," Steve Holman says, "The squat is responsible for building more muscle than any other exercise in bodybuilding history." For the exercise to have maximum impact, you need to execute it properly.

Things You'll Need

  • Squat rack
  • Olympic barbell
  • Assorted weights
  • Lifting belt
  • Full-length mirror
  • Use correct style. As Holman warns, never allow yourself to "get sloppy" simply to increase the poundage you're able to lift. "Such cheating is usually disadvantageous," Holman says, because you're shifting some of the work to other muscle groups and, thus, not effectively targeting your leg muscles. According to Arnold Schwarzenegger, seven-time Mr. Olympia, correct style involves keeping your back as straight as possible as you bend your knees, slowly descending until your thighs are parallel and then "exploding" back into the starting position.

  • Select proper poundage. According to Holman, if you haven't trained in some time, you should begin with a moderate weight, then gradually increase the poundage. However, he categorizes a moderate weight as one that "allows you to perform all your designated repetitions in immaculate style and without busting a gut." Once the load becomes easy to lift, increase the weight because you must continually challenge muscles if you expect to experience significant and continued growth.

  • Stretch before beginning. Holman says that a common mistake people make is thinking they don't need to stretch. You need to stretch because, as Schwarzenegger says, "When you use a muscle, the temperature actually rises, allowing you to contract the muscle more forcefully," which makes it possible for you "to train more intensely and to derive more benefit from your workout."

  • Do two warm-up sets. According to Schwarzenegger, a proper warm-up helps prevent too much stress on your body and reduces the chances of injury. More specifically, he says, "When you do a set or two with higher reps and less than maximum weight, your muscles are then prepared to deal with the greater intensity generated by heavier weights." He also suggests that you do at least two warm-up sets, using relatively light poundage, before increasing the weight and getting down to the serious business of squatting.

  • Perform six sets of squats. Schwarzenegger explains how you should execute a squat properly to achieve maximum benefits and, subsequently, maximum muscle growth:

    1. Put on a weightlifting belt, and fasten it snugly.

    2. Place an Olympic barbell on the squat rack.

    3. Load it with a weight that will allow you to execute at least 12 reps, although Holman says you should shoot for 20 reps.

    4. Step under the barbell, and put it onto the mid-trap line across your back.

    5. Keep your feet apart and just beyond shoulder width, toes angled slightly outward.

    6. Inhale, taking at least two deep breaths, and then inhale once more as you begin descending.

    7. Keep your back straight and eyes focused on yourself in the mirror.

    8. Keep descending until the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor.

    9. Explode upward---don't bounce---out of the squatting position.

    10. Shove the barbell back into position on the squat rack.

    11. Rest for a few minutes, then execute another set.

    12. Complete six sets, each one progressively heavier.

Tips & Warnings

  • Execute squats in front of a full-length mirror because it allows you to observe your form and also helps you maintain balance.
  • Don't hold your breath. Holman also says you should never take less than three deep breaths between repetitions. Some hardcore bodybuilders puff like steam engines.

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References

  • "Mass-Training Techniques;" Steve Holman; 1995
  • "Super Squats"; Randall J. Strossen, Ph.D.; 1992
  • "Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding"; Arnold Schwarzenegger; 1995
  • Photo Credit bodybuilder 13 image by Paul Moore from Fotolia.com
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