5 Powerful Lower Body Strength Routines

Tom Kelso

Contributor - Strength and Conditioning

Strength and Conditioning

leg workouts, lower body workouts, lower body strength, strength workouts

 

As I mentioned in the first installment – five effective and simple upper-body strength routines - there are many ways to resistance train. As I alluded to, if you work hard, use safe modalities, document the results, recover properly between workouts, and train progressively, you will see results.

 

 

Similar with the upper-body, training the lower-body offers a variety of tools and overload protocols that can target the large muscles of that area: the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and low back. There is squatting, deadlifting, leg pressing, ang lunging. And these can be performed with barbells, dumbbells, selectorized and plate-loading machines, and done for high, medium, and low repetitions - or a combination of them - using various overload protocols.

 

So with all these possible variations, I present you with five quality lower body routines that can be a part of any strength, power, weight-loss, and/or general fitness program. I’ve also attached recording forms for you to log your workouts. (Click here to download them.)

 

General workout guidelines

  1. Complete the workout in the exercise order format listed (note examples A & B). INSERT YOUR EXERCISE CHOICES ON THE WORKOUT FORM.
  2. Work to achieve muscular overload with a resistance that fits the exercise prescriptions (Rx) listed.
  3. Record the training date ("DATE"), the resistances ("WT") used and the repetitions ("REPS") achieved for each workout performed.
  4. Attempt to progress each workout in terms of doing more repetitions and/or using more resistance according the exercise prescription (Rx).
  5. The "NOTES" section on workout form: space to record machine seat/back/handle settings, the device used (i.e., barbell, dumbbell, or machine) or other pertinent information that facilitates the proper performance of the exercise.
  6. Use proper exercise technique and be safety conscious. Use a spotter on certain exercises and stop when safe exercise technique cannot be maintained.

 

Workout #1: 50–40–30–20–10

A lower body workout consisting of five different multi-joint exercises done for 50, 40, 30, 20, and 10 repetitions to volitional muscular fatigue, followed by a hamstring and abdominal exercise.

 

Specifics:

  • Use five different multi-joint exercises for the sets of 50, 40, 30, 20, and 10 repetitions to volitional muscular fatigue.
  • Choose any hamstring and abdominal exercise to complete the workout.
  • Rest 3:00 between exercises.

 

Exercise order format: Example A: Example B:
MULTI-JOINT LEG PRESS SQUAT MACHINE
MULTI-JOINT SMITH MACHINE SQUAT BARBELL SQUAT
MULTI-JOINT DEAD LIFT LEG PRESS
MULTI-JOINT BARBELL SQUAT DUMBBELL SQUAT
MULTI-JOINT DUMBBELL LUNGES BARBELL LUNGES
HAMSTRINGS LEG CURL STIFF-LEG DEAD LIFT
ABDOMINALS WEIGHTED SIT UPS ABDOMINAL MACHINE

 

Workout #2: 15 – 10 -5

A lower body workout consisting of three multi-joint exercises, a hamstring, and an abdominal exercise done for three rounds of 15, 10, and 5 repetitions to volitional muscular fatigue.

 

Specifics:

  • Use the same three multi-joint, hamstring and abdominal exercises for the rounds of 15, 10, and 5 repetitions.
  • Do all five exercises in order for 15, 10, and 5 repetitions to volitional muscular fatigue.
  • Rest 3:00 - 4:00 between rounds.

 

Exercise order format: Example A: Example B:
MULTI-JOINT BARBELL SQUAT LEG PRESS
MULTI-JOINT LEG PRESS SQUAT MACHINE
HAMSTRINGS LEG CURL STIFF-LEG DEAD LIFT
MULTI-JOINT DUMBBELL LUNGES DUMBBELL SQUAT
ABDOMINALS WEIGHTED SIT UPS ABDOMINAL MACHINE
MULTI-JOINT BARBELL SQUAT LEG PRESS
MULTI-JOINT LEG PRESS SQUAT MACHINE
HAMSTRINGS LEG CURL STIFF-LEG DEAD LIFT
MULTI-JOINT DUMBBELL LUNGES DUMBBELL SQUAT
ABDOMINALS WEIGHTED SIT UPS ABDOMINAL MACHINE
MULTI-JOINT BARBELL SQUAT LEG PRESS
MULTI-JOINT LEG PRESS SQUAT MACHINE
HAMSTRINGS LEG CURL STIFF-LEG DEAD LIFT
MULTI-JOINT DUMBBELL LUNGES DUMBBELL SQUAT
ABDOMINALS WEIGHTED SIT UPS ABDOMINAL MACHINE

 

Workout #3: Leg Press Strip Sets

A lower body workout where a leg press is performed in strip-set overload protocol: four consecutive sets to volitional muscular fatigue using reduced resistances on the second, third, and fourth sets. A multi-joint leg, hamstring and abdominal exercise complete the workout.

 

Specifics:

  • First set of leg press: use a resistance that allows for volitional muscular fatigue at 10-14 repetitions.
  • Immediately reduce the resistance 25% (50-250 lbs., depending on the initial resistance) - rest no more than :10-:15 - then perform a second set to volitional muscular fatigue ("MAX REPS").
  • Perform a 3rd and 4th set by reducing the resistance 15-25% (20-150 lbs.) between each set - rest no more than :10-:15 - then perform the next set to volitional muscular fatigue ("MAX REPS").
  • It is recommended to have a training partner make the resistance reductions so the trainee can stay focused.
  • Rest 2:00 - 3:00 between exercises.
  • Use any multi-joint, hamstring, and abdominal exercise to complete the workout.

 

Exercise order format: Example A: Example B:
LEG PRESS x 4 consecutive sets LEG PRESS x 4 cons. sets  
MULTI-JOINT BARBELL SQUAT DEAD LIFT
HAMSTRINGS LEG CURL LEG CURL
ABDOMINALS WEIGHTED CRUNCHES ABDOMINAL MACHINE

 

Workout #4: One of Everything

A combination of high, medium, and low repetitions in a lower body workout consisting of ten different exercises performed to volitional muscular fatigue, including the abdominals.

 

Specifics:

  • Goblet squat = Deep squat while holding a single dumbbell at chest level, maintaining an upright back position.
  • Plate squat = Deep squat while holding a weight plate at chest level, maintaining an upright back position.
  • Squat = any barbell, Smith machine, or other standing squat.
  • Stiff-leg dead lift = barbell, dumbbell, or plate-load machine.
  • Lunge = barbell, dumbbell, or Smith machine.
  • Dead lift = trap bar, dumbbell, or machine.
  • Calves = any calf exercise.
  • Rest between sets = 2:00 - 3:00.

 

Exercise order format: Example A: Example B:
GOBLET or PLATE SQUAT DUMBBELL GOBLET SQUAT

 

WEIGHT PLATE SQUAT
DEAD LIFT TRAP BAR DEAD LIFT MACHINE DEAD LIFT
LEG EXTENSION LEG EXTENSION LEG EXTENSION
SQUAT MACHINE SQUAT BARBELL SQUAT
LUNGE SMITH MACHINE LUNGE DUMBBELL LUNGE
CALVES DUMBBELL CALF RAISE CALF MACHINE
LEG CURL LEG CURL LEG CURL
LEG PRESS LEG PRESS LEG PRESS
STIFF-LEG DEAD LIFT D.B. STIFF-LEG DEAD LIFT BAR STIFF-LEG DEAD LIFT
ABDOMINALS ABDOMINAL MACHINE MEDICINE BALL SIT UPS

 

Workout #5: 3 x 3

A lower body workout performed by alternating a multi-joint, hamstring, and another multi-joint exercise to volitional muscular fatigue for three rounds with no rest between each exercise and a 1:00 rest between rounds. An abdominal exercise completes the workout.

 

Specifics:

  • Use either the same three exercises in the 3 rounds (Example A) or use three different exercises each round (Example B).
  • No rest between the 3 exercises each round.
  • Note the repetition range decrease from 10-14 to 8-12 and 6-10 when selecting appropriate resistances and working to volitional muscular fatigue.
  • Complete the workout with an abdominal exercise.

 

Exercise order format: Example A: Example B:
MULTI-JOINT SQUAT MACHINE BARBELL SQUAT
HAMSTRINGS LEG CURL LEG CURL
MULTI-JOINT LEG PRESS LEG PRESS
MULTI-JOINT SQUAT MACHINE LEG PRESS
HAMSTRINGS LEG CURL STIFF-LEG DEAD LIFT
MULTI-JOINT LEG PRESS DUMBBELL LUNGES
MULTI-JOINT SQUAT MACHINE DUMBBELL SQUAT
HAMSTRINGS LEG CURL GLUTE/HAMSTRING RAISE
MULTI-JOINT LEG PRESS DEAD LIFT
ABDOMINALS ABDOMINAL MACHINE WEIGHTED SIT UPS

 

Remember to click here to download your workout recording forms!

 

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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