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  1. #1
    Registered User perspica's Avatar
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    Routine Help for Bigger Legs?

    I'm a 5’5-5’6, 125 lb 18 yo female. I’ve been lifting consistently for the past couple years (save for COVID) and really need help with getting bigger legs. I workout in a home or school gym without machines, so I can really only use dumbbells, and barbells and plates. I’ve cobbled together the following full body routine (3x-4x weekly), and am looking for advice on how to improve it; especially in regards to my legs! It definitely has less upper body stuff, but to be honest, even with this routine, my back and shoulders seem to dwarf my legs. I had an imgur album with photos, but I don't think I can post links while my account is so new so I've added them as attachments.

    I sleep 10-13 hours a night (yes, really) and track macros. I usually get 150-250 grams of protein (excessive, but I honestly just really love greek yogurt and chicken) My weight has gone from 115 lbs (when I couldn't lift due to covid) and up to 135 lbs (minor bulking in the past) but I’m most comfortable arounddd 125. Yes, I know I will need to gain weight to get bigger. I was 115 lbs when gyms were closed, and shot up to 125 lbs the first month they reopened. Obviously, it was not all 10 lbs of muscle, so since then I've been maintaining and will continue to do until my lifts stop progressing.

    My school had gyms closed due to COVID and only opened ~2-3 months ago, so I’ve been regaining my lost strength and adding weight to all my lifts fairly quickly. For example, I’ve been adding 5-10 lbs to my squats for reps every lift session, and I expect to get to 170 lbs for reps in about 3-5 weeks at this bodyweight, then progress will probably slow. Deadlifts have seen similar regular improvement.
    I do:

    4x10 20 lbs bicep curls
    4x10 25 lbs barbell shoulder press

    10 reps x 115 lbs squat
    5 reps x 150 lbs squat (I add weight to this every session, and generally keep the 10x115 consistent for volume)
    ^repeat above 4 times (60 total reps squats)
    I added the 10 reps x 115 lbs for extra volume when I was looking to regain strength/weight ASAP after not being able to lift due to COVID. I think my squat routine pre-COVID was 5x10 ~165-175 lbs pre-COVID, but I don't exactly recall.

    4x5 70 lbs bench (any accessories for bench also appreciated :/)
    3x3 170 lbs deadlifts
    Sometimes for deadlifts I do:
    3 reps a lower weight deadlift, then 2 reps a higher weight deadlift 3 times for a total of 15 reps
    3x100 115 calf raises

    IF I HAVE TIME/ENERGY (about half the time)
    4x5-10 60 lbs shoulder press
    4x20 75 lbs romanian deadlift (helps me activate my glutes)

    Any advice that will basically help me get bigger legs (or improve bench but that's not as much of a priority) is appreciated!

    Back photos basically just show my back/upper body; legs1 is my legs unflexed/posed; legs2 is more posed to look proportional, legs3 is after a lifting session with a pump.
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  2. #2
    Registered User paulinkansas's Avatar
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    Good post for a persons first post. You are on the right track with what you are currently doing.
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  3. #3
    Registered User WolfRose7's Avatar
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    You look fairly proportional, and definitely low body fat so no worries about slowly gaining some more either.

    Things i would consider doing for Lower body hypertrophy though
    More variation in the middle rep ranges,
    Sets of 8 RDLs for example instead of 20, deficit deadlifts in the 3-6 rep range.
    A belt or hack squat in the 8-12 rep range for some more quad work.
    DB lunges of similar single leg variation.
    Back extensions on a glute ham raise, if you have access to one.

    For bench my advice is always lots of hard variations, long pauses on chest, chest level pin bench, feet up bench. Don't have to do all these at once though, could pick 1 or 2 assistance movements for a cycle and see how far you can take them.
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  4. #4
    Time is Muscle ECGordyn's Avatar
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    Bret Contreras has some good leg and glute development programs.

    Why do you alternate between 1x10 and 1x5 on squat? Most people do the heavy sets first and volume work after.

    Barbell squat and barbell deadlift of some kind will be your money makers on legs. Then use some unilateral/single leg accesories. Next thing you should think about is programming. Many people move to Heavy-Light-Medium when they start stalling on linear progression.

    There are many lower body exercises you can choose from:
    Squat and variations
    Deadlift and variations
    Hip thrust
    Glute bridge
    Kickbacks
    Clam (for hip flexors)
    Lunges
    Split squat
    Step ups
    Single leg RDL
    Kettlebell swings
    Goblet squats
    Etc.

    Work in different planes/different angles. Squatting and deadlifting are just vertical movements.
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  5. #5
    Han shot first! TolerantLactose's Avatar
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    While I would keep deadlifts in, I would make RDLs a priority.

    You could also add a unilateral squat variation as well.
    I can tell time. Time cannot tell me.

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  6. #6
    Registered User Taatz's Avatar
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    If u want muscle forget squats .. squats are more for strenght..
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    Registered User safcpaul's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Taatz View Post
    If u want muscle forget squats .. squats are more for strenght..
    Op just completely ignore this post. Strength is correlated with muscle
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  8. #8
    Registered User Taatz's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by safcpaul View Post
    Op just completely ignore this post. Strength is correlated with muscle
    Hehe wrong my wife never squats and she have better legs and ass than most squat gurus o seen soooo many ppl ruin their back and legs with squats .. ofc if u wanna be strong bulky who lift for numbers or compete squat is must be.. but just for muscle there are way better exercises. And girls who lift for ass just hipthrust and ur ass grow like monster.
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  9. #9
    Moderator SuffolkPunch's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Taatz View Post
    Hehe wrong my wife never squats and she have better legs and ass than most squat gurus o seen soooo many ppl ruin their back and legs with squats .. ofc if u wanna be strong bulky who lift for numbers or compete squat is must be.. but just for muscle there are way better exercises. And girls who lift for ass just hipthrust and ur ass grow like monster.
    You are mixing up bodyfat distribution with actual muscle.

    Squats work the quads - they will make them bigger.

    You don't have to squat to work the quads but it remains a great option
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  10. #10
    Registered User Taatz's Avatar
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    Yes i know squat build muscle just saying if u want just muscle there are better saffer options..
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    Registered User safcpaul's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Taatz View Post
    Yes i know squat build muscle just saying if u want just muscle there are better saffer options..
    You just said above that squats don't build muscle and that they only build strength. Squats are safe if performed with proper form. No particular exercise is necessary and of course there are other exercises that can be used to build a particular muscle but you're spreading misinformation
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  12. #12
    Registered User Taatz's Avatar
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    Lol i didnt say squat wont build muscle.. i said squats are MORE for strenght ofc they build muscle but if ur goal is only muscle gains then there are better and safer options.. ppl always overrate squats and think if u dont squat ur weak or chiken legs.....WRONG!
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  13. #13
    Registered User BeginnerGainz's Avatar
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    I think what taatz is trying to say is squats (I’m assuming he means with a barbell done for 6 or fewer reps) are more for getting a neurological stimulus due to the weight. But, that weight over time will wear out the back and joints, so there are better option for getting bigger legs (which there certainly are).

    Hack squats, goblet squats, leg press, split squats, sissy squats (these can be hard on the knees), et al are a much better and yes, safer, long term option for quad growth. Just like there are better options for posterior chain mass building than deadlifts off the floor. It all depends on the goal of the lifter.
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    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    I think what taatz is trying to say is squats (I’m assuming he means with a barbell done for 6 or fewer reps) are more for getting a neurological stimulus due to the weight. But, that weight over time will wear out the back and joints, so there are better option for getting bigger legs (which there certainly are).

    Hack squats, goblet squats, leg press, split squats, sissy squats (these can be hard on the knees), et al are a much better and yes, safer, long term option for quad growth. Just like there are better options for posterior chain mass building than deadlifts off the floor. It all depends on the goal of the lifter.
    Completely agree mate. I personally only front squat as my long legs make back squats more of a lower back exercise for me. Only issue I have with his comment is making a blanket statement that people should avoid squats if muscle growth is their goal
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    Registered User leidenesLK's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    I think what taatz is trying to say is squats (I’m assuming he means with a barbell done for 6 or fewer reps) are more for getting a neurological stimulus due to the weight. But, that weight over time will wear out the back and joints, so there are better option for getting bigger legs (which there certainly are).

    Hack squats, goblet squats, leg press, split squats, sissy squats (these can be hard on the knees), et al are a much better and yes, safer, long term option for quad growth. Just like there are better options for posterior chain mass building than deadlifts off the floor. It all depends on the goal of the lifter.
    This line of thinking is definitely logical and I agree with it (mostly). For hypertrophy, definitely agree that relying on lower rep work to induce stimulus is poor fatigue management and not conducive to sustained growth. There’s a little more nuance on the injury front, though.

    The majority of injuries in weight training are due to overuse, which is more synonymous with higher rep training (eg. 8-20). Overload (acute) injuries are more synonymous with lower rep work (eg. <6), but actually aren’t as common and are usually a result of form breakdown, due to greater form demands of higher intensity, rather than from wear. However, it’s typical for an overuse injury to present itself as an overload issue - i.e. higher rep work beating the joint and it eventually fails under the heavier load of the lower rep work, but ultimately it was the higher rep work doing most of the damage. This makes sense because the more volume you do, the more work that’s being done. 3x5 for 300lbs is less total work than 3x10 for 250 or 3x15 for 200. Total work is a good metric in determining whether something carries greater injury risk or not, provided form is identical in either case, which would rule out the main cause of overload injuries, leaving overuse the subject of debate. Overuse is the killer, typically.

    In saying that, I definitely agree that some exercises carry greater injury risk than others, simply due to the mechanics they force. Eg. Back squats inherently carry more risk than front squats. The spine is much better at handling compression than shear, which the front squat shifts the nature of the force towards. Front squats also provide similar stimulus at ~20% less load than a back squat. Not saying back squats are unsafe by any means, but load does amplify injury risk. Of course exercises that significantly reduce load on the spine (leg press, leg ext, split squat etc) carry even lower risk.

    But that’s the spine. Unfortunately, knees can’t escape that easily and I certainly wouldn’t argue that machines are inherently safer than barbell movements for them, due to both the high rep training tendencies you typically see with machines, potentially hastening overuse, and the forced biomechanics that make lower rep training carry greater potential for overload injuries.
    Last edited by leidenesLK; 01-08-2021 at 09:28 AM.
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  16. #16
    Unregistered User MyEgoProblem's Avatar
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    Joints and your spine ect actually LIKE to be loaded, lockout and move thru range with big weight.
    You actually adapt to the loads and "wear and tear" as people usually think if it, over time generally isn't a thing unless you have a predisposition such as a femur head deformation grinding the cartiledge or a previous injury that's caused a bone spur ect cutting up the labrum.

    Even then soo many have these issues and are asymptomatic and it never causes them problems.

    Don't buy the Nocebo bs the fear mongers like cavalier and other quack 'pt's' chat about.

    Acute:chronic workload mismanagement is far and away indeed the biggest cause of injury..

    Doing too much, too heavy for too long. Or a combination and not paying attention to the feels.


    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    I think what taatz is trying to say is squats (I’m assuming he means with a barbell done for 6 or fewer reps) are more for getting a neurological stimulus due to the weight. But, that weight over time will wear out the back and joints, so there are better option for getting bigger legs (which there certainly are).

    Hack squats, goblet squats, leg press, split squats, sissy squats (these can be hard on the knees), et al are a much better and yes, safer, long term option for quad growth. Just like there are better options for posterior chain mass building than deadlifts off the floor. It all depends on the goal of the lifter.
    Won't argue the efficiency of free weight squat vs machine/uni for quads. It's too individual.

    It Depends more on your anthropometry and how natural of a movement it is for said person than one being superior to another.
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    Registered User BeginnerGainz's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by MyEgoProblem View Post
    Joints and your spine ect actually LIKE to be loaded, lockout and move thru range with big weight.
    You actually adapt to the loads and wear and tear over time generally isn't a thing unless you have a predisposition such as a femur head deformation grinding the cartiledge or a previous injury that's caused a bone spur ect cutting up the labrum.

    Even then soo many have these issues and are asymptomatic and it never causes them problems.

    Don't buy the Nocebo bs the fear mongers like cavalier and other quack 'pt's' chat about.



    Won't argue the efficiency of free weight squat vs machine/uni for quads. It's too individual.

    It Depends more on your anthropometry and how natural of a movement it is for said person than one being superior to another.
    This is why you don’t just stick to one exercise or rep range, weight, etc

    I do heavy squats, then single leg presses
    Trap bar deadlifts or loaded hyperextensions, then some kind of light posterior work. I just keep all my light work relatively heavy as well, in the 6-8 range
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    Unregistered User MyEgoProblem's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by BeginnerGainz View Post
    This is why you don’t just stick to one exercise or rep range, weight, etc

    I do heavy squats, then single leg presses
    Trap bar deadlifts or loaded hyperextensions, then some kind of light posterior work. I just keep all my light work relatively heavy as well, in the 6-8 range
    Yup!...

    Except I hate single leg press xD except on the unilateral machine..

    I do a lot of work in the 1-15 range lol (below is not set in stone ofc. Just what I currently like)

    Primary compound 1-3rep
    Assistance 1-8
    Supp 6-15
    Bands upto 30
    Gpp... Hard to correlate farmers, yoke, carries, sprints ect to 'reps'
    Last edited by MyEgoProblem; 01-08-2021 at 09:51 AM.
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  19. #19
    Registered User readreindeer666's Avatar
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    readreindeer666 is on a distinguished road. (+10) readreindeer666 is on a distinguished road. (+10) readreindeer666 is on a distinguished road. (+10) readreindeer666 is on a distinguished road. (+10) readreindeer666 is on a distinguished road. (+10) readreindeer666 is on a distinguished road. (+10) readreindeer666 is on a distinguished road. (+10) readreindeer666 is on a distinguished road. (+10) readreindeer666 is on a distinguished road. (+10) readreindeer666 is on a distinguished road. (+10) readreindeer666 is on a distinguished road. (+10)
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    Add weight to squats?
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