Arnold had to work extra hard on his legs for his lower body to match his upper body. Discover how to get big legs fast with Arnold’s top tips.
The front part of the thigh is made up by the quadricep muscles.
The quadricep muscle works as the extensor of the leg.
The quadricep gets its name from the four muscles that make it up:
- Rectus Femoris: The inner part of the front thigh.
- Vastus Intermedius: The central part of the middle front thigh.
- Vastas Medialis: The inner part of the thigh.
- Vastus Lateralis: The outer part of the thigh.
The basic function of the quadricep is to extend and straighten the leg.
The biceps femoris muscles make up the back part of your leg which include the hamstrings.
The basic function of the biceps femoris is to curl the leg back.
Legs are the biggest and most powerful muscle in your body.
Sports such as baseball, golf, and boxing all involve strenuous effort from the legs.
When it comes to weight lifting, most power lifting movements such as the Power Clean, Clean and Press, Deadlifts, and squats all require intense effort from the legs.
Legs make up half of your body’s mass and training them should not be overlooked.
A prevalent issue amongst many gym-goers today is an underdeveloped lower body.
Legs are your foundation, and if you really want to develop a complete physique do not neglect the importance of training your legs.
(P.S. To make the most out of Arnold’s leg workout, use it in combination with my free guide: Macro-Muscle Solution)
Demands of Leg Training
Many experience lagging leg development because they find it difficult o put in an all out effort.
Arnold recalls that he himself experienced lagging lower body development.
He remembers that he would do 5 sets of Squats when he should have done 8.
Arnold soon realized that in order for his leg workouts to be effective they would also have to be brutal.
It takes a lot of physical effort to train legs, but the mental side of things are just as important.
Its easy to become intimidated by a barbell loaded with multiple 45lb plates.
Arnold says that if you really want to boost your lower body development you will have to overcome your inhibitions and mental barriers that are holding you back from exerting full effort.
Doing heavy squats can be scary.
Arnold stresses the importance of having a training partner present for a spot so that you can train past failure.
When training, Arnold would ask himself:
Is it true that I really cannot do another rep.
He usually found it in him to usually always do at least one more.
As with all things, there is a right way and a wrong way to do things.
If you put in a lot of effort but go about it in the wrong way, you will experience stagnated results.
Really attempt to master proper form and technique so that your efforts to develop a massive lower body are not in vain.
Physical proportions have a part to play when it comes to training legs.
Arnold mentions that his training partner, Franco Columbu, who had very short legs found doing Squats very easy and his results showed it.
His short legs allowed for a mechanical advantage that made it easier to execute squats with very heavy weights.
Arnold himself was over 6 feet tall.
His lower back would get involved when he did squats.
But Arnold worked hard to develop a strong lower back and was able to work his way up to lifting very heavy weight on the squat as well.
A tip from Arnold is to put a low block under your heals to improve the balance and feel of the exercise.
Arnold also recommends practicing squats on the smith machine as to rid the fear of having the bar slide off your shoulders.
Building The Quads
You will want to build your quads to a size that is proportionate to your upper body.
Size is accomplished by compound movements such as the Squat and Leg Press.
If you want legs that stand out from the crowd you will need to work on bringing out that definition as well.
Squats are the fundamental lower body movement.
At the start of the squatting movement your quads bear most of the effort. As you proceed with the movement, the stress gets transferred to the hamstrings. At the very bottom of the movement your buttocks take most of the strain.
As mentioned earlier:
Your particular body proportions may alter the effectiveness of the Squat for you.
Implementing Front Squats is a good way to decrease the involvement of the lower back and bring further strain on to the quads.
The muscle separation of your legs will be determined by your body fat levels.
For fully developed quads you must do exercises like:
- Leg Extensions
- Leg Curls
- Hack Squats
Building The Hamstrings
The more developed your hamstrings are the more your legs will meet in the middle and touch each other.
Well developed hamstrings have a distinct separation between the back of the leg and the front of the thigh when observed from the side.
Fundmanetal exercises for building the hamstrings include:
- Leg Curls
- Straight-Leg Deadlifts
- Good Mornings
Hamstrings respond well to Shocking Principles like the Stripping Method, partial and forced reps, and supersetting.
The more you shock your muscle the more muscular development you will see.
For beginners Arnold recommends just three basic exercises:
- Leg Curls
Squats and Lunges work well together to build up both strength and size of the quads and glutes.
Leg Curls are a direct developer of the hamstrings.
These exercises are fundamental to lower body development and will remain in your training routine even after you have a couple years of training experience under your belt.
Arnold recommends incorporating different variations of Squats as you become more advanced.
Variations include Front Squats and Hack Squats.
Front Squats force you to keep your back straight and therefore work the muscles in a different way.
With Hack Squats there is a deeper range of motion. This works the lower part of the quads and promotes separation between the quads and the hamstrings.
Lower Body Training takes a lot out of you and therefore requires a certain amount of conditioning.
As time proceeds and your body gets stronger your movements will become more controlled and you will be able to follow through with your routine.
Weak Point Training
The lower body is large and comprised of many different muscle fibers.
It is likely that any gym-goer is going to experience weak points when it comes to lower body development.
Arnold recommends the following exercises based on your particular weak points.
Lower Quad Development
The lower part of your Quad takes up the most strain when the knee is fully bent.
Arnold recommends the following exercises with three quarter movement in which you go all the way down but only three quarters of the way up.
- Hack Squats
- Leg Presses
- Leg Extensions with focus on letting the legs go all the way back and stretching out the thigh to the point where the lower thigh is working the hardest.
Outer Thigh Development
- Front Squats
- Hack Squats
- Leg Press with narrow stance.
Inner Thigh Development
- Straight-Leg Deadlifts
- Leg Press with wide stance and toes turned slightly outward
Front Thigh Development
- Hack Squats with a block under the heels to further stress the quadriceps.
- Sissy Squats
Varying Your stance
For Overall Development
- Shoulder-width stance
- Toes turned slightly outward
For Outer Thigh Development
- Narrower stance
- Toes pointed straight
For Inner Thigh and Front Thigh Development
- Relatively wider stance
- Toes pointed out at a wide angel
Arnold’s Favorite Lower Body Exercises
In The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding Arnold reveals the exercises he used to really bring out his legs to match his upper body.
Technique will vary based on your particular proportions.
Arnold recalls that based on his height he was forced to bend forward quite a bit. This put stress on his lower back as well.
Aim to perform Squats with as straight a back as you can.
Smith Machine Squats work the quads with less stress on the knees and lower back.
Hack Squats are good in developing the lower area of the thigh and great for working the lower range of the pressing motion.
Arnold recalls that the only disadvantage of Squats is the pressure on the lower back.
Leg Presses are a way around this that allow you to bring the sole exertion of the exercise onto the quads to lift some heavy weight.
Lunges work great to develop the front part of the thighs and glutes.
Leg Extensions are an exercise that work to bring out further definition in the front part of your thigh.
Arnold credits these for getting a deep definition in his quads in the area around his knees without the sacrifice of size.
As mentioned earlier, these are great for bringing out the hamstrings.
You can even perform Leg Curls using a standing machine which forces you to train one leg at a time forcing isolation.
Straight Leg Deadlifts
Straight Leg Deadlifts are a great compound exercise for the hamstrings which also work the glutes and lower back.
Arnold’s Leg Workout
Arnold was noted for never keeping his routine the same for too long.
This sample of Arnold’s leg workout according to FlexOnline.com:
How To Get Big Legs At Home
So you don’t have access to a gym and are looking to build bigger legs at home?
There is only one exercise you can do:
Start off by doing 100 of these a day.
Overtime start adding heavy books to a backpack and wear the backpack to make the squats that much harder.
How To Get Big Legs Without Squats
Once in a while I come across someone who asks this question.
This is a very bad question in that Squats are the best exercise to get massive legs.
That being said, if you absolutely have to avoid Squats for whatever reason, then Leg Presses are the best exercise to gain mass on your legs.
(P.S. If you’d like to download 19 tips to radically enhance muscle growth check out my free guide: Macro-Muscle Solution)
What Does All This Mean For You?
Lower Body Training does not have to be a complicated ordeal.
As you can see Arnold used merely fundamental movements to build his massive legs.
What it came down to for Arnold was training himself to push past failure when training his legs.
This is a challenge because training the lower body just takes so much out of you.
What it comes down to is how bad you want it?
If you really want to build those monstrous quads, then you will find a way to do it.
Arnold has given his tips, it is now time for you to put them into application!