leg extensions

by Jason Stallworth

November 2, 2016

Before I write this, please understand that I’m an advocate for lifting heavy weights with lower rep ranges to build size, strength, and dense muscle mass. That will never change. 

However, I’ve found that training legs require a different approach. And in this post, I’m going to share why I do high reps for legs.

You’re also going to get 3 different leg workouts using high reps that you can try.

And after you read this post, go do one of these workouts and leave a comment to let me know what you think! 

What Exactly is High Reps?

When I say high reps, I mean anywhere from 12 to 20 reps per set. 12 is the absolute minimum. And at times I’ll go higher, like 25-30 reps. But it’s usually around the 20’ish rep range. 

Over my years (or I should say decades!) of bodybuilding and weight training, I’ve found that doing high reps for legs literary works like magic for building huge quads and hamstrings.

This simple technique develops both the size and shape of your legs, especially that teardrop in your quads.

Why Low Reps Suck for Legs

leg extensions

In my younger years, I remember trying to squat heavy. I got stronger in the sense that I would move up in how much I could squat. But the size of my legs never matched the amount of weight I could squat.

Now let me take you an extremely familiar scene in the gym…

Have you ever noticed that there are many guys who will load up the leg press with as any 45 lbs plates that will fit?

Yes, we’re both laughing right now…

And I’m sure you also noticed that the majority of these people have mediocre legs, at best. There’s no massive development or shape to their legs.

Part of that is because of the crappy range of motion most use, specifically on the leg press machine. But it’s more so that they’re not stimulating the right muscle fibers in their legs

The Exception: Squats

Let me back it up before I get crucified…there is an exception for squats (in my opinion). I do believe in doing heavy squats, and you should, in fact, start your workout with these. This will build your foundation of strength, size, and power.

Heavy squats will also naturally boost your testosterone. But after your heavy sets of squats, it’s time to kill the rest of your workout with high reps. 

Benefits of Training Legs with High Reps

Before we get into the high rep leg workouts, I want to learn the benefits of training legs with high reps. The reason I’m harping on this so much is that this was the time when I really started to see massive leg growth! So yeah, it’s time for you to get excited!

Here’s what you can expect from training your legs with higher reps:

  • Extreme pumps in your quads and hams
  • Faster gains in overall leg size and mass
  • High reps will bring out those striations in your legs
  • You’ll burn more fat from the increased volume of your workouts

Leg Workouts

Now I’m going to give you 3 high rep leg workouts you can do.

  • High Rep Leg Workout: Your new go-to high rep leg workout
  • Quick 350 Rep Leg Workout: Works great as a 2nd leg workout for the week, and if you have limited gym time
  • Alternating Quads and Hams Workout: Based on training agonist and antagonist muscles together

It’s probably obvious that these are also high volume workouts. On that note, make sure you’re rested and have the energy to plow through these. And a powerful pre-workout drink like 4 Gauge will also help. 

High Rep Leg Workout

Most of my leg workouts start with leg extensions, and these should be super light. This is a great way to warm up those quads and get your blood pumping. 

In this workout, you’ll do some 12-rep set squats and follow that up with even higher reps on leg press. From there, it’s the basic extensions and curls, but not so basic with the extreme rep ranges. Get ready! 

Exercise Sets x Reps
Leg Extensions 4 x 20
Squats 4 x 12
Leg Press 5 x 20
Single-Leg Extensions 4 x 12-15
Leg Curls 4 x 12-15
Calve Raises 5 x 15

Quick 350 Rep Leg Workout

You’ll love this high rep leg workout if you’re short on time. It should only take you about 30 minutes to complete. And you’ll be doing an insane amount of overall reps…350! 

You may be wondering where the squats are. I did not include squats in this particular workout as the focus is on quickly getting in and out of the gym, and hitting a massive amount of reps.  

Another thing you’ll notice is 10 x 10 (10 sets of 10 reps). This technique is based on the German Volume Training style. Staying on one exercise for 10 sets will allow you to plow through your workout even faster. And you’ll get a tremendous leg pump!

Now, I know I said earlier that high reps start with 12 or more. But it’s the overall reps in the workout that counts here. And think of the fact that you’re doing 100 reps for an exercise (10 x 10 for those mathematically challenged!). 

*This works as a great second leg workout for the week. And I’m a huge fan of training legs twice a week. In fact, when you’re done with this post, read my post: Training Legs Twice a Week: How to Build Bigger Legs

Exercise Sets x Reps
Leg Press 10 x 10
Leg Curls 5 x 15
Leg Extensions 10 x 10
Stiff-leg Deadlifts 5 x 15

Alternating Quads and Hams Workout

This last high rep leg workout is based on training agonists with antagonist muscles, which in this case, quads, and hams.

Of course, most leg workouts are a mix of exercises for both quads and hamstrings. But in this workout, you’ll be alternating these exercises with supersets.

This is based on one of my programs that focuses on getting lean and strong. You can read more about that program here: Lean Muscle Building Program

Exercise Sets x Reps
Squats – superset with below 4 x 6-8
Lying Leg Curls 4 x 15
Leg Press – superset with below 4 x 25
Stiff-leg Deadlifts 4 x 15
Leg Extensions – superset with below 5 x 20
Seated or Standing Leg Curls 5 x 20
Calve Raises 7 x 15

High Reps Doesn’t Mean Light Weight

Let’s clear the air on one thing. High reps for legs doesn’t necessarily mean going light. Granted, you’re not loading up the usual amount of 45’s or doing the whole stack, but you still need to pick a challenging weight. 

If you haven’t done high reps for legs, I encourage you to try it for your next leg workout. Start with the first workout I gave you above called High Rep Leg Workout.

Train with Passion,

Jason

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