3 Challenge workouts for gnarly leg gains

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Shutterstock.com/ Jasminko Ibrakovic

Your legs are the most powerful muscles in your body. When it comes to overall capacity for work, legs are an extremely impressive muscle group. Most people vastly underestimate the amount of damage that your legs can sustain and recover from quickly. Many people avoid leg workouts because they can be particularly fatiguing — a heavy set of squats can leave you feeling like you just ran a sprint. Because of the challenging nature of leg workouts, it can be easy to under-do it. At some point, you’re going to have to stop squatting in the Smith machine and get serious. With that in mind, below are 3 challenging leg workouts to ramp up your gains:

1. The 20-rep set

Can you burn out your legs by doing just one hard set of back squats? You sure can. That’s what I discovered one late night at the gym when I decided to try this workout. You start off by warming up thoroughly and properly, making sure to do some squats with the empty barbell on your back. Here’s the fun part: Load up whatever weight you would normally use for a hard set of 10. You’re going to squat that weight for 20 reps.

While it might sound ridiculous, your legs are pretty incredible. You can pretty much always do one more rep of squats. The key to completing this workout is to leave the barbell on your back and take as much rest as you need in between reps. Once you get to about ten reps, you’ll need to take about five deep breaths before each rep.

2. The 8-minute set

This workout consists of eight minutes of continuous reps. You can use it for barbell back squats, dumbbell goblet squats, or lunges. If you’re not comfortable with barbell squats, try starting off with a dumbbell. Once you’re warmed up, complete as many reps as possible in an unbroken manner for eight minutes. You’ll need to pick a pretty lightweight, we’re talking warmup weight.

3. Smith machine drop set finisher

This is a great one to throw-in at the end of a workout. Start off by loading up a smith machine with your max 10-rep weight. Rep out to failure, then have one or two training partners strip off a pair of plates from each side. Rep out to failure one more time, and repeat until the machine is empty. This one is brutally simple.

Try incorporating one of these workouts into your next leg day. Remember, pushing through pain and utilizing a challenging workout every once in a while is always worth it.