Full Legs: Alternating Quads and Hams Workout

It’s all about sets, reps, volume and intensity when it comes to leg day. And I love it. But one of the common problems after a leg workouts it that we may only walk away with sore quads because we didn’t focus enough of our hamstrings.

I want to share my leg workout from this morning, which addresses this problem. It’s actually a simple answer.

Alternating Quads and Hams

Rather than doing the typically ‘quads followed by hamstrings’ workout, I alternated my quads and hams. So basically I would do a hamstring exercises after each exercise for quads.

Now the beauty of training legs is that your compound exercises work most, if not every muscle in your legs to some degree. Perfects examples are squats and leg press. But remember, your quads are the dominant muscles in these exercises. Your hamstrings may need more stimulation to keep up.

Quads and Hamstrings Workouts

  • Leg Press
    • 7 sets x 20 reps
  • Hammer Strength Leg Curls
    • 5 sets x 12 reps
  • Squats
    • 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Seated Leg Curls
    • 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Leg Extensions
    • 4 sets x 12 reps
  • Stiff Leg Deadlifts
    • 4 sets x 10 reps

* This is the leg workout I did this morning (the day of writing this)

Full Leg Development

I touched on the fact that your hamstrings are involved somewhat in compound exercises such as squats and leg press. But being that your quads take the brunt of the load, you need to do exercises that target your hamstrings directly. The goal is what I like to call full leg development.

Making sure you work your hamstrings hard gives you that full leg development. It’s sort of like the balance of having a built chest and back. If one lacks, then you’ll only look one-dimensional. This is true for legs as well.

Direct Hamstring Exercises

I know that some of you may be limited in what direct hamstring exercises are available to you. I remember visiting a gym about a year ago and they only had one hamstring exercise (and it was a crappy one at that). My first thought is to simply find a new gym but I realize that’s not always a feasible option.

There are a couple approaches to this. One is stiff leg deadlifts. Even if you have fifty hamstring exercises in your gym, I encourage you to make this one of the core exercises for hams in your leg workouts. In my opinion, nothing targets your hamstrings better than stiff leg deads.

Another option is to simply do more sets of the same exercises that are available to you. You can also perform most hamstring exercises with unilateral or with one leg at a time. Let’s say you only have one direct hamstring exercise in your gym. You could perform the exercise with both legs and again with one leg at a time. You could also throw in stiff leg deadlifts. This gives you a total of three hamstring exercises.

Here’s an example of a workout for hamstrings:

  • Lying Leg Curls, 4 x 12
  • Stiff Leg Deadlifts, 4 x 10
  • Single-Leg Lying Leg Curls, 4 x 15

Final Note of Alternating Quads and Hams

I actually haven’t done this in a while and forgot how great it felt. The most important point to alternating quads and hamstrings is it ensures you get an adequate workout for your hams. Many, myself included, are guilty of hitting are quads hard only to merely go through the motions when it’s time to work our hams.

Another thing I like about alternating quads and hamstrings is it gives you a little break between quad-based exercises. This allows you to go back and work your quads even harder on the exercise following your hamstrings.

Try this workout on your next leg day. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it, so feel free to post a comment.

Train with Passion,


* Be sure to check out my workout programs. Click here for details.



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