Putting together a leg routine for a natural bodybuilder requires careful planning and balance. You have to push your leg muscles hard enough to stimulate them to grow but leave enough energy to recover. To find that balance you need to find the best combination of exercises, sets and reps.
What is Natural Bodybuilding?
Some professional bodybuilders use performance enhancing supplements that help them build muscle, but natural bodybuilders aren't allowed to use them. They're drug tested before competition to make sure that they're not using anything that would give them an unfair advantage.
With the help of supplements, you can recover faster from workouts, so you can make each lift more intense and train more often. Natural bodybuilders don't have that advantage, so their training is more conservative.
Natural Bodybuilding Training
A natural bodybuilder has to monitor how hard their workouts are so that they can recover enough to build muscle. In your leg workout, you should try to hit one or more muscle groups in the same workout and then leave at least one day after your workout to recover.
For your leg exercises, choose a combination of compound movements and isolation. Compound movements, like squats, use multiple muscles at once. Isolation exercises let you dial in on one muscle.
Since natural bodybuilders are judged on stage by the symmetry of their muscles they need to make sure that one particular muscle isn't lagging behind the others. That's why they use isolation exercises to target specific muscles. Leg extensions and leg curls are two of the best isolation leg exercises. They isolate the quadriceps and hamstrings, respectively.
Opt for weights that feel hard by the last couple of repetitions in each set. Rest 60 to 90 seconds between sets to maximize performance.
Stand under a barbell with your spine in the center. Grip it with your hands wider than shoulder-width apart. Stand up straight with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and turn your toes out slightly. Squat down by sticking your butt back and keeping your chest out. Keep your spine flat as you go down.
Stand up by pressing your heels down into the ground and driving your hips forward until you're standing up straight with your knees locked out. Perform three sets of eight reps.
Romanian Dead Lift
Stand up straight, holding a barbell in front of you with your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Your arms should be straight and the barbell resting against the front of your hips. Stick your butt back and slide the barbell down the front of your thighs, past your knees, and down to mid-shin level.
As you go down, keep your weight on your heels, chest out and back flat. Once you reach the bottom of the movement, stand back up by driving your hips forward. Do three sets of 10 reps.
Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat
Stand in front of a bench or chair, facing away from it. Stand on one leg and put your other foot up on the bench behind you with the top of the foot resting on the bench. Keep your other foot planted on the ground three or four feet in front.
Lower your back knee down towards the ground until you're an inch from touching it. Stand back up, keeping your back foot on the bench and driving through the front foot. Hold one dumbbell in each hand to add weight to the exercise. Do four sets of 12 reps on each leg.
Sit in a leg extension machine and with the pad against the bottom of your shin and your back flat against the back of the chair. Extend both legs out until your knees are straight, then lower the pad back down. Do three sets of 15 reps.
Start in a leg curl machine with your legs straight. Pull your heels in towards your butt as far as you can, then slowly let your legs straighten. Do three sets of 15 reps.