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Muscle-Building Workout and Diet

What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, Breaking out the muscle markers, yet again,
to continue the perfect workout series. This time, hitting the legs. Guys, as always in our perfect workout series,
what we’re trying to do is construct a workout that is damned close to perfect as possible. Realizing that there are a lot of ways to
skin a cat. But if we can choose one way, what would we
do, and why would we do it? That’s what’s most important here. Why are we selecting what we’re selecting? To do that we always start with the anatomy
because we want to understand the function of the muscles we’re trying to train. When we look at the quadriceps, we know that
because of the name ‘quadriceps’ it’s got four components here. It’s got a medial component on the inside
of the knee called the vastus medialis. We have a lateral component on the outside
of the knee called the vastus lateralis. Go figure, we have one in the middle of the
knee that’s not seen here because under the muscle that is seen is called the vastus
intermedius. The one that is seen here is called the rectus
femoris and unlike the other three components of the quads, this one does have an attachment
above the hip, allowing us to have some function on the hip, in terms of its ability to lift
you into flexion. It’s a weak flexor at that, but at least
it has something unique about it that we want to make sure we consider. The other three muscles, however, are able
to, and are really good at extending the knee. That is their main focus. They start in the femur, they end across the
knee joint, and they are able to extend that knee. Now, whether that means we’re sitting down
doing a leg extension – I don’t like when you do leg extensions – or you have your
feet in a closed chain environment with your feet in contact with the ground like a squat
– I like squats – that will give you the same opportunity to extend your knee. We want to make sure we’re training that. On the other side we have our hamstrings. We know with the hamstrings there are different
components to this as well. We have something that’s a little more medial. We have something that’s a more lateral. The biceps femoris on the outside, the semitendinosus
on the inside, and then we have even more on the inside of the semimembranosus. A lot of different names, guys, but we have
reasons for wanting to approach them in a strategic way. We’re going to do that for you in this workout. Then, of course, you can’t always focus
on just the sagittal plane. I know we like to walk and move in this direction,
but we can’t ignore the other planes of motion. Mainly, the frontal plane and the transverse
plane. We want to make sure we’re including exercises
to do that. Squats alone, no matter how great they are,
they won’t train your hips in that way. So, we’re going to do exercises to make
sure we’re hitting the hips, the glutes, the hamstrings, and the quads. By the way, guys, there will be no muscle
markers for the glutes. I know Jesse volunteered. He’s been in these videos naked before. It ain’t going to happen, guys. Use your imagination. I’m going to show you why and how it is
so critical that you get the glutes and hamstrings to function together if you want the perfect
leg workout. With that, let’s get started. Breaking it all down, one by one. So, with all of our perfect workouts we kick
this thing off with a good, compound exercise. The best, when it comes to training the legs. That is the squat. What we do here with the squat is work our
way up in a warmup fashion. In the warmups I never want you to exhaust
yourselves in warming up. To do that, what I recommend is working your
way up through some submaximal sets. If you can do half of what your working weight
is going to be, then use about 20% less than what you’re working weight is going to be. Just do a few reps with each weight. Enough to – we call it ‘grease the groove’. To prepare yourself for the working sets. What I like to do individually when it comes
to the squat is something we call a ‘touchup set’. With a touchup set we’re trying to overreach
with 10% of what we’re going to do in our first working set, to our five-rep max. What we do is a box squat. The box squat will allow us to get down there,
to feel the safety, to have the confidence that we have a bottom point. It will give us that biofeedback to know ‘that’s
what I’m heading for’. Give it a one or two rep touch, come back
up, then start your working sets. What does that do, neurologically? That overreach allows us to feel more ready
and able to attack our working sets with a lighter we fight. This, what would normally be our heavier weight,
has now become lighter by the performance of that one set. Neurologically, it’s a powerful tool. So now I go in a 5-5-10-25 format. We’re starting with our heavier sets here
and what we do is work ourselves up to a 10 rep, and then a ball-busting 25 rep max because
it’s important. Training your legs to higher reps is something
you’re always going to want to do if, for nothing else, to train your mental fortitude. But we want to get our heavy training in as
well. So, I like to scale it up in this way. In between sets, one of the best things we
can do, as I’ve covered in our perfect back workout, is have some compression going on
because of the loading of the squat. We can get a decompression component by hanging
from the bar in between sets for about 30 seconds. You’re going to rest about three minutes
between these work sets, and then you move onto the next component here. Now we’re going to hit the posterior chain. We have two options here. Number one: the barbell hip thrust. Again, a compound movement to hit the glutes
and hamstrings in one, powerful movement. What this exercise does is allows us to load
up pretty heavy. In comparison to what your option is, that
is the glute-ham raise. I know not a lot of us have the glute-ham
raise machine which takes it off the table right off the bat. But if you do have it, I’m going to explain
why it provides some additional benefits. Although, it’s at the expense of your ability
to load it with a lot of weight like you can a barbell hip thrust. What we do is, first and foremost, if you
choose a barbell hip thrust your rep sequencing here is 25-10-5-5. We’re working backward. Why are we doing that? 25 reps, when it comes to this movement pattern,
the most important thing you can do when you’re training your posterior chain is initiate
with your glutes. Get your glutes to be the main driver of the
movement. Then allow the hamstrings to assist. A lot of us do not have good control over
our glutes. We have to face facts. So, what we do is take the lighter weight
to start and really try to establish that mind-muscle connection. Try to establish that purposeful movement,
initiating with the glutes, and then squeezing with the hamstrings. We can do that with a lighter weight that
allows us to get into the movement pattern. Then as we get more comfortable here, we get
locked in. Then we want to start adding weight. That’s why we start high and go low, as
opposed to the other side with the squats. Now, if you were to choose the glute-ham raise
as your alternative you would still use the same rep scheme, but you’d have to load
yourself appropriately to do that. To do that you might have to use an assisted
version, using your hands to creep yourself up during the first portion of this exercise. Or as you got into the heavier ranges you
might want to include some weight held across your chest to allow you to fail in these heavier
ranges. But what is the difference here? The difference is that we’re getting active
knee flexion here in the glute-ham raise that we’re not getting in the barbell hip thrust. There’s a lot more of an isometric component
to the knee flexion of the hamstrings in the barbell hip thrust. So, you’re going to feel this more directly
in your hamstrings when you do this exercise. However, you will also feel this in your glutes
if you do it right. That’s the driver out of this flexed position. It’s the initiation of the move back to
the top by squeezing your cheeks together as hard as possible. And there’s a possibility you might not
even need to load this exercise as natural fatigue starts to drop your reps considerably
as you go from your first set to your last. But I will say this: because of the fact that
you’re never going to be able to load as much as you can with a barbell hip thrust,
particularly through hip extension, if your main goal is training for strength, I would
opt toward the barbell hip thrust over this alternative. But never overlook the value of this exercise
as it’s one of my favorites, especially for athletes. Moving on, one of the things I preach all
the time as a trainer to athletes is the value of single leg training. You get an additional benefit, especially
for athleticism and training single leg that we want to make sure we don’t overlook. It incorporates more hip stability in that
frontal plane. As I’ve said, most people overlook that
valuable element, opting for all bilateral training. This is one of the things you get from it. So, we do a dumbbell Bulgarian split squat
in a high-low fashion. What does that mean? It means we can load this more through our
quads, or we can load it more through our glutes and posterior chain, depending upon
the angle of our torso on each repetition. So, if I were to drop straight down, I know
that I’ve effectively loaded the quads predominantly on this exercise. Initiating the liftoff from the bottom of
this exercise through the quads providing most of the overload there. But if come back up and then the next rep,
I go down into what we call a sprinter lunge position. That’s immediately loading the posterior
chain by placing the glutes under enormous stretch. So, what I do is alternate repetitions to
failure. So, if I’m doing 12, I have 6 done straight
up, 6 done bent over, and I’m going to keep that going. Now, when we’re done with these two sets
there’s one more thing we want to do before we call it quits and move onto the next exercise. That is a bodyweight plyometric version of
this exercise. Why? Because we know two things are going to happen
here. Number one: you should always try to speed
up what you slow down. When you train slow you eventually become
slow unless you try to become more explosive and deliberate with your movements. This is a great opportunity for us to do that. But second, back in the intro I mentioned
to you that the different elements of our quadriceps muscles – especially the vastus
medialis. Its main role there is for stability of the
knee, particularly in landing situations. So, what we can do is help that. We can try to train that more effectively
by including some sort of a jumping exercise. Especially a unilateral jumping exercise like
this one, to make sure we’re not overlooking that key function. And again, it allows us to become a little
more athletic in our training, which should always be a goal of yours. Speaking of that inside area of the knee,
one of the things that people have mistaken, in terms of training your knee, is that terminal
knee extension is incredibly important for working or isolating the interior portion
of your quad. That teardrop vastus medialis. That’s not true, guys. You can’t isolate that area of your quads. However, what you can do is influence its
ability to contract fully, by making sure you go into full extension. What we can do here is do that, not having
to jump on a leg extension machine to do it. I prefer closed chain environments, where
my foot is in contact with the floor. That is how athletes train. So, with this setup here, we have a TK Drop
lunge. I grab some weights here, I put them in my
hands, so I have some load, and we can go heavy. What I do is put the band behind my knee and
I’m resisting. It’s pulling my knee forward. When I get up from that drop lunge and I come
up to the top I drive my knee back as hard as possible, into full extension. There’s no danger in driving your knee into
full extension. There’s a myth about lockout, being some
sort of damaging component of a joint’s function when it’s a complete function of
a joint. Take it through its full range of motion. Do two to three sets with a 10 to 12 rep max
in your hands for the drop lunge on each leg, and we continue. Now we get into the other component here where,
again, a lot of guy’s workouts would end here, or they would say the rest of it is
unnecessary. As a physical therapist I will tell you that’s
not the case because I say it all the time: all muscles matter. Just because we want to train quads and hamstrings
doesn’t mean that’s all we have to train, or all we should be training. We need to train the muscles on the inside
and outsides of our legs as well. There’s where the adductors come in. This exercise is an incredible way to do this. It’s a dumbbell goblet adductor lunge. What we’re doing is performing a side lunge
but look what I’m performing it on. Some sort of a slick surface. Here I have a slick board. You can do this on a floor, on a hardwood
floor with your socks on. What you’re trying to do is, when you drop
straight down into that side lunge, how are you initiating the return? Don’t just pull it or step it back to the
middle. What you need to do is pull it and slide it
back to the middle, activating those adductors that we looked in the beginning of this video,
on the inside of your leg. That’s what is driving you up. You’re almost squeezing your legs together
on the floor, as opposed to lifting it. There’s a major difference in terms of the
recruitment of the muscles in your legs when you do this. So, I want you to do two sets of 10 to 12
on each leg to make sure we’re hitting these key muscles. Particularly when we know that we overlook
these muscles quite frequently. Finally, if we want to burn this thing out,
we’ve got to make sure we work on the muscles on the outside. The abductors of the hips. Here’s where this hip-band ladder finisher
comes in really, really well. You’re going to hate me for it. I promise you. But what you do is take a band, anchor it
against your arms like I’m showing you, on the outsides of your feet. The key is to not allow your toes to start
drifting and turning outward because you start to use muscles as a compensation, rather than
the abductors that we’re trying to use here on this hip, by doing it this way. Now, what you do is simply step out in ladder
fashion. One step to the right, one step back to the
left. Two steps out to the right, two steps back
to the left. Three steps out to the right, three steps
back to the left. All the way until you reach a ladder of 10. Now you’ll be burning in an incredibly bad
way by the time you’re done, but it should be a great indication to you of something. There’s not a lot of resistance here and
you’re burning like hell. Why is that? Because these muscles are chronically weak. Make sure you add at least one of these. If you want to be psychotic you could add
a second round of this as well, but make sure you don to overlook this. It’s a key aspect of completing the perfect
leg workout. There you have it, guys. Another perfect workout in the books. As you can see here, all sets, and all the
reps laid out for you as promised so you can follow along and try this for yourself. I’m telling you, if you haven’t done this
already, you’re in for a treat. Or at least you’re going to hate me. And that would be a good thing because you’re
going to feel things you’ve never felt before. You’re going to train like an athlete, you’re
not going to overlook any of the muscles that need to be trained here, if we’re going
to call something a perfect leg workout. Guys, if you’re looking for the rest of
the workouts in this series, the first thing you need to do is make sure you’re subscribed
to this channel and turn on your notifications, so you never miss one of the videos when they’re
published. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a
step by step program that lays all of it out step by step with the science behind exercise
selections, as we have here, and the reason we do what we do; all of those are built into
our programs. They’re available over at If you’ve found the video helpful make sure
you leave your comments and thumbs up below. Let me know what else you want me to cover
and I’ll do my best to do that for you in the days and weeks ahead. All right, guys. See you soon.

100 thoughts on “The PERFECT Leg Workout (Sets and Reps Included)

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  2. Squat: 2:52
    Barbell hip thrust: 4:50
    DB Bulgarian hi/ low split squats: 7:35
    Bodyweight Plyo squats: 8:43
    DB Banded drop lunge: 10:03
    DB goblet adductor lunge: 11:15
    Hip band ladder finisher: 12:09

  3. So confused does he means 4 sets of 5 reps another 4 sets of reps with 4 sets of 10 reps and 4 sets of 25 reps?

  4. I have a question. When you are doing your squats what weight should you be doing? Should you be using using a heavy weight for your first sets, then lighter weight for your last two sets?

  5. I like squats.

    Back squats, low bar squats, high bar squats, front squats, overhead squats, atg squats, partial squats, hungarian split squats…

    Jeff opens gym called Bubba squats

  6. Disapointed not all of us can do squats for health reasons. Spinal or knees
    Please do an alternative leg workout for people like me with spinal and knee issues

    A professional can do alternative approaches

    Look forward to your new video including those of us with permanent injuries

  7. Can you talk more about the later movements and other type of movements from the legs and in seperate videos and get in depth in each muscles of the leg and their function

  8. 56 years old, i was doing squats with my son about 6 months ago and only had 1 fortyfive pound plate on each side. after a warmup set, i attempted to start working sets, went down to begin first squat when i felt and heard a pop in my inner thigh close to groin on inside of my leg. instantly felt weaker on that leg. i got the weight back up but discontinued the exercise. over time i have felt better but feel that i dont have full mobility in that area. i can run no problems, i play basketball no problems except for defensive stance, harder to squat low for me now. any recommendations? love you channel and videos, keep up the great work. thank you

  9. Hey Jeff, I suffer from a condition called Knocked Knee (Genu Valgum) and I was wondering if targeting the Vastus Lateralis would help in anyway?

  10. Just did this workout and it was great! I couldn’t do the sliding abductor goblet squat because of my sweaty socks but everything else was challenging and my legs feels pumped 👌🏽

  11. Hey Jeff!

    I've got one question/issue regarding my legs/hips:
    When im doing certain exercises where I need to pull up my knees/legs (Mountain Climbers, High Knees, Butterfly Heel Tabs, Hands Off Tucks), I get really sore around the front area where my legs connect to my hip (slightly above the height of the crotch).
    Even though these exercises dont really focus on legs at all, it seems as if some weak muscles connecting to my legs limit my ability to pull them up as much as I wish. As a result of the fatigue/soreness there, I hit my limit earlier than I should in these exercises even though the muscle group I am actually focusing on still has some energy left.
    Any Idea on how I can adress this issue and maybe train on those weaknesses correctly?

    Thanks for all your help through your videos.

  12. Hey Jeff, I love your videos and I’ve learned a lot, so my question is, when I’m doing my reps, sometimes I tend to feel something in my lower back along with everything else, I was just wondering if I’m maybe doing something wrong

  13. I Jeff , like you videos,

    if you want to read, here is my experience in training hipertofia legs in mine 41 years old, I have poor blood circulation in my legs, after training my legs after 3 years of a full week of suffering for training the quadriceps and hamstrings on the same day and feeling very bad, I changed, because perhaps blood should circulate so much for the leg, that I lacked in my brain and it became dizzy,almost fainted, but just in the seconds days after worckouts, so I started now to train the front and the back legs on different days and stretching, and I am feeling good man, more development than before and without suffering so much, not even a day , just a little pain, thanks for the video.Good trainings.

  14. Why do you not like leg extensions? I am trying to find different ways to work my thighs. And inner thighs. I do lunges squats and I have hard time with balance because of feet surgery on both. Some small bones are missing on outside of the foot now. So I was thinking of doing leg extensions with ankle weights till I can make my lower back strong enough to not hurt a bit, and I again get sick of squats, and I can’t go heavy because lower back. Lunges, are hard because balance but I do them. I do all of them.

  15. Don't wait for the maximum if you do the minimum!Charity collecting on the equipment-WebMoney WMID 879329632430 Z721659873225



  16. Hey, Jeff. What are your thoughts on Leg Curls? Do they help in increasing the diameter of the leg I mean how it looks from the side? If not, then what exercises can I do to achieve just that?

  17. Do you have a workout regimine for those with physical limitations? I have back and knee injuries that limit what excerices I can safely do (squats, for example, are almost off limits)?

  18. I cried two times in my life: when I was 8 years old and got hit by a truck and now at 36 after I finished the TKE drop lunge.

  19. The other exercises are fine, but what is the best alternative to the barbell squat for somebody like me, who is still actively working on wonky shoulders/neck following an injury? Goblet squat? Or should i just use a leg press machine for now?

  20. Hey Jeff Cavalier, Athlean X, I know you use washable markers but how long does it take for you to clean it all off??

  21. This was amazing! easy to follow and I could feel every workout and in the correct muscles also.. Thank you!

  22. I love hip thrusts but its so annoying to set up the position with a big ass weighted bar and lean back from a squat

  23. first i skipped about 30 seconds in and i thought , nah , that’s 30 seconds of mental gains im missing,

    my mans jeff deserves full respec

  24. My god I can barely walk after this workout lmao 😂 I did a few sets of calf raises/declines after just to balance it out and by the end of the workout I was so sweaty I looked like I had taken a shower hahaha beast workout Jeff, thanks for the knowledge!! 🙏💪😂

  25. Thank you for the best freaking leg workout ever! Just finished it to a T! I've never felt anything so…stimulating…the activation is….heavenly. I can't wait to be sore 🙌💪 THANK YOU!

  26. Took me a few weeks to workup to doing the full workout and i gotta say. It's badass. Finally incorporated the single leg slide squats and i gotta say my legs are pood. Great video man really helping me make some gainssssss

  27. This routine, It’s actually garbage, and every credible REAL strength coach would agree. Way too much volume and it’s way too retarded. After all those RM squats you’re done… no strong person actually trains this way. Here’s a better workout to perform twice a week:

    Back Squat: 3×6 (Heavy), 3×8 (Light)
    Stiff-leg Deadlift: 3×6 (Heavy), 3×8 (Light)

  28. Lockout of joints under load IS dangerous. Especially for repetition training. Combine that with people being able to lock beyond 180' and you will snap your shit.

  29. Hi, I am a bigginer and wants to train my self for reducing weight from 100kg as per my height 172 cm. Suggest me how should I need to start my workout plan.

  30. Hello Jeff,
    I really enjoy your videos and advice you give, and you also seem to know really well the human body.
    I need some help for legs workout and I am sure you will know best.
    I used to play basket ball and I got injured in my knee. I had two surgeries a while ago (cruciate ligaments and mesniscus). Now my legs got skinnier and can't put much tension on my knee (no runing or jumping)
    I would like to build up legs again and specialy muscles around the knee without puting much tension on it.
    Can you help me please with some exercises.
    Thank you

  31. Should one muscle group be targeted on a single day? Or could you perform this leg workout and accompany it with a shoulder workout as well in the same day? It's because I remember someone told me that a workout should be no more than 1hr to 1hr and 30mins. A well satisfying answer would be highly appreciated, thanks a lot!

  32. DB gobleg abductor lunge seems pretty dangerous. You should have added more word of caution and proper way of doing it correctly.

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