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Natural Bodybuilding w/Monica Ewing


Target Area: Legs

We at Body Builders Network welcome your requests for advice. Go ahead, ask us for advice by emailing us at You will find our advice replies to you requests here, in our Advice Column.

Q: What's a good regimen for targeting the legs?

Quad Training

Using the tri-set method for the quads and two exercises for the hamstrings completes the "basic-training" leg routine. Begin with squats, followed by leg extensions, and finish up the first part of this routine by limping your way through a set of lunges. After taking a five-minute break, complete the "basic-training" leg workout with a stiff leg barbell/dumbbell deadlift and a lying/standing leg curl. We suggest performing 4 sets of each exercise.


Let's begin with what many consider the king of all leg exercises—squats! There is no exercise that generates as much pain and FEAR in a person than squats. Many would prefer to scrape their nails on a classroom blackboard than go through the grueling pain of squatting.
Utilizing the proper technique is paramount when performing squats. We recommend a shoulder-width stance with your toes pointed slightly outward. Place the barbell behind your neck across your shoulders and resting on your trapezius (traps) muscles. Keep those eyes straight ahead and focused. "It's important that you look directly ahead during the entire execution of the squat" states Dr. Michael Yessis, a training consultant to the LA Raiders and the US Men's Olympic Volleyball team.
Yessis continues, " Some people look at the ceiling as they do this exercise in order to keep their back arched. However, when you do this you lose perspective of your body's position (and place unnecessary stress on the neck). You must have some orientation to your surroundings for stability, which is very important to this exercise." Slowly begin your descent into the squat position. Take 4-6 seconds to go down with no pause, and 3 seconds to come up. Do 8-12 reps.
Wobble immediately, I mean walk over to the leg extension machine take a seat, a deep breath, and GET BUSY!

Leg Extensions:

After completing your last rep of squats, immediately jump on the leg extension machine and perform 10-12 reps of extensions using 6-8 seconds to complete each rep. While performing the extensions, look straight ahead and to don't grip the side handles too tight. This may increase blood pressure and cause dizziness, (unless you want to wake up receiving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation from "CUDA" of the hit TV show, "Battledome.").


As you stagger off the leg extension machine the high levels of lactate acid in your legs will have them feeling numb and unresponsive. You're thinking, "This @#$%^&#^ hurts! I quit." Come on now—we have faith in you. Crank up the volume and "mega-bass" on your portable CD player and blast through the next exercise!
Lunges are great for developing the vastus medialis and vastus lateralis muscles. These muscles create the much-desired "quad sweep." Use a shoulder width position with your eyes straight ahead. Take a deep breath and step forward. Keep your back in a slightly arched position. Take a comfortable stride forward bending your front knee and slowly descending to the floor. You can either perform all reps on the right or left leg first or you can alternate back and forth.

Hamstring Training

Stiff Leg Dumbbell Deadlift:

This is an excellent exercise for developing the hamstrings. Use a shoulder-width stance with eyes straight ahead. With a dumbbell in each hand bend your knees slightly and lean forward at the waist. Slowly begin to rise up into an erect position with chest out and shoulders back. Repeat this routine for 4 sets of 10-12 reps.


Leg Curl:

The leg curl can be done lying face down or standing. When using a lying leg curl machine, the back of your lower leg should rest comfortably against the underside of the rollers. Hold the grips along side the bench and slowly curl the weight toward you. Remember to concentrate on the eccentric portion of this exercise and use enough weight to stimulate the muscle. (6-8 sets of 4-6 reps).
Some of the hardest muscles to develop are the hamstrings. According to Olympic strength coach, Charles Poliquin, the following tips may dramatically increase the size and appearance of your "hams:"
Train one leg at a time. Various tests have shown that many top-level athletes show a strength disparity of up to 20% in the dominant leg.
Use eccentric (the lowering of the weight) training. The hamstrings respond well to eccentric training. Triple jumpers and long jumpers are known for their hamstring development due to the high impact landings which prompts high levels of eccentric contractions from the hamstrings.
Due to the fast twitch muscle fibers of the hamstrings, high repetitions and lightweight do not stimulate them. You must train the hams intensely with heavy weight, low reps (4-6-rep range) and multiple sets (6 sets or more).
Because each exercise offers a unique pattern of overload, use a variety of exercises for maximum hamstring development and change your routine on a frequent basis.
Allow plenty of time for recovery. Since the hamstrings consist mainly of fast-twitch muscle fibers that take longer to recover. You should train them every 4-5 days.
Knee problems are a serious set back to leg training and a main reason more athletic careers have been cut short in their prime. In the next section we'll cover a few simple and easy to follow ideas to help you prevent a knee injury.

How to Prevent Knee Problems

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, more than 4.1 million people seek medical care each year for a knee problem. Some knee problems, such as those resulting from an accident, cannot be foreseen or prevented. However, following these suggestions may prevent many knee problems:
Warm up by riding a stationary bicycle for approximately 5 minutes. Then, do stretches before exercising or participating in exercise. Stretching the muscles in the front of the thigh (quadriceps) and back of the thigh (hamstrings) reduces tension on the tendons and relieves pressure on the knee during activity.
Strengthen the leg muscles by doing specific exercises (for example, by walking up stairs or hills, or by riding a stationary bicycle). Weight training is an excellent way to strengthen the leg muscles that benefit the knee.
Avoid sudden changes in the intensity of exercise. Increase the force or duration of any activity gradually. Wear shoes that fit properly and are in good condition to help maintain balance and leg alignment when walking or running. Knee problems may be caused by flat feet or over-pronated feet (feet that roll inward). People can often reduce some of these problems by wearing special shoe inserts (orthotics).
Maintain appropriate weight to reduce stress on the knee. Obesity increases the risk of degenerative (wearing) conditions such as osteoarthritis of the knee.
In conclusion, you can be provided with the best routine of all time but it won't work if you don't put in the dedicated, consistent effort. It's all up to you! So as 80's rapper, Tone "Wild Thing" Loc would say, "Legs do it!"

How can I build my legs without doing huge weight squats?

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