The muscles of the legs are difficult to pump. Even professionals in this muscle group can have bottlenecks. Get answers to theory and practice questions about pumping your legs. All athletes know how difficult it is to swing their legs. Even professionals often have many bottlenecks in this muscle group. Today we will answer the basic questions of theory and practice, how to pump up your legs.
Spot the Differences in Leg Exercises
The first step is to learn the features of the anatomy of this muscle group. The legs have three joints: the hip, knee and ankle. Each of them serves its own muscles. For this reason, for a full pumping of the legs, you should load them completely along the entire length, without forgetting about any of the joints mentioned above. Unfortunately, the choice of exercises for this is not the largest - leg press and hack squats, as well as options for these movements.
When extending and bending the legs, only the knee joint is connected to the work. The calf raises involve the ankle. Probably many athletes believe that more effect can be obtained from isolated exercise. For example, when squatting with a barbell, the load is distributed over all the muscles of the leg, and when doing extensions, only the quadriceps are involved. However, in practice, the situation is different.
A person can squat with a lot of weight and the quadriceps have a large load compared to the extension. Many people may have a completely fair question - why, in this case, perform extensions? There are two reasons for this:
- The first is that with the help of extensions, you can give a load to the quadriceps, which is useful in the case when they are behind in development.
- The second reason - thanks to the extensions, you can give a rounded shape to the quadriceps, which cannot be achieved with squats.
To put it simply, basic exercises contribute to rapid mass gain, and with the help of isolated movements, the muscles can be given the desired shape.
Remember to warm up before leg workouts
Most athletes are sure that a warm-up only helps prepare the joints for serious stress. Of course, this is quite true. When the temperature rises, the joints and ligaments become more elastic, which reduces the risk of injury. At the same time, it can be assumed that when performing exercises aimed at developing the legs, a small amplitude is used and injury is unlikely. By not doing warm-up exercises, the athlete will be able to save energy for the main training. Thinking in this way, athletes do not pay due attention to the warm-up. But recent studies have shown that the effectiveness of exercise is directly related to the power of the nerve impulses that are transmitted to the muscles. In this case, strength and power should not be confused. The power indicator of the nerve impulse increases gradually, obeying certain laws. In the muscles, there are a kind of "generators" capable of first accumulating energy, after which it will be sent further into the tissues.
This has nothing to do with the strength of the muscles, however, after a couple of warm-up approaches, the athlete can safely go to a personal record and beat it. At the same time, it will not bring much benefit to building mass. To put it simply, before doing the exercises, the muscles should be warmed up at idle speed. This activates neuromuscular networks, which will significantly increase efficiency.
And now about how to do the warm-up correctly. You should start with a short aerobic exercise. 10 minutes of exercise on a stationary bike will be enough. In this case, it is necessary to give such a load that sweat appears slightly. Then do two or three light exercises to stretch your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. In this case, the muscles should be kept in a stretched position for 20 to 30 seconds.
Often, athletes include extensions in the warm-up, but in this case, only the quadriceps will be involved. It is enough to perform three sets with a low working weight during the warm-up. The total number of repetitions should be between 15 and 20.
Leg training should start with mass-building exercises
After warming up, you should move on to serious loads. Start with classic squats, leg presses, or hack squats. But still squats in the classic form are more preferable. When performing them, balance should be maintained, which implies additional stress on a large number of muscles. Since squats are considered potentially dangerous for the lower back, a Smith machine can be used.
Choose a second basic leg exercise
It should be remembered that the legs are a large array of muscles. For this reason, one basic exercise will clearly not be enough for its full swing. If you chose the classic squat as your first exercise, then the next exercise can be hack squats or leg press. It is important to follow the basic principle of leg training here: first should be an exercise with free weight, and then in a simulator.
All free weight exercises should be performed only when the body is not tired of the stress. This reduces the risk of injury and allows you to perform the movement with full dedication. For the muscles of the buttocks, dumbbell lunges are the best exercise. It is better to use this sports equipment rather than a barbell.
Do lunges by swinging your legs
Lunges are a very good basic exercise. When it is performed, almost all the same muscles are involved in the work as when squatting, but the main load falls on the buttocks. There are many variations of this exercise and you have a lot to choose from.
The second most important exercise is lifting on a support. To perform it, you need to put your foot on a bench and use the force of one leg to rise on it. You should start with a small weight and gradually increase it.
Use isolated movements when training your legs
When the basic exercises have been completed, you can move on to the isolated ones. For pumping your quads, the best movement is leg extension. It should be noted that the most important phase of the movement in terms of gaining mass is lowering the legs. The rise should be carried out with a sharp movement, but everything should be lowered slowly.
That's all the answers to the theory and practice questions of how to pump up your legs that I wanted to give you.
Learn about leg workout from Jay Cutler in this video: