If you are wanting to start leg day workouts but are unsure where to start this post is for you! This post assumes that you will have access to gym equipment or the majority of standard weight training equipment. In the example we will plan for two days per week of leg training.
With training lower body twice per week, you should train a non-consecutive days. For instance, you will not train on Monday and Tuesday. In separating your days or spreading them out over the course of a week this will mean that you can go heavier on your exercises chosen. As an effect of this added intensity- you will need to also be able to recover as these exercises and repetition ranges may seem difficult- especially for beginners.
My recommendation is to use a split in your training program. Monday and Thursday workouts would work well as could Tuesdays/Fridays as well as Wednesdays/Saturdays. What you choose will depend on your schedule. The main thing you want is to make the most of each day!
The first thing you will want to determine when starting this program is your main exercise. The main lift for each day will depend on your training experience.
For Day 1, you should plan to perform a bilateral lower body movement. A bilateral movement simply means a movement that is performed on two limbs at the same time. For example, a bilateral lower body movement would be a back squat, front squat, trap bar deadlift, barbell RDL, pin squat, box squat etc.
I want you to choose an exercise that requires loading heavy weight on both feet. The bilateral movement will form the foundation for your Day 1 leg day.
Now that we have the bilateral exercise covered, we will move onto the accessory or assistance movements that should be performed each day.
You will want to have a quad-based movement a hamstring-based movement and either a glute or groin-based movement within your accessory or assistance movements each day.
Within the two day training program you should have a maximum of 4 to 5 exercises each day. Some people seem to think that you need hours of training and lots of fancy exercises to have the best leg day workouts. The reality is that you do not need to perform 8 to 10 exercises each day to make progress. All it takes is 3 to 5 exercises periodized and prioritized in a correct sequence.
Day 2 will form a similar structure in that you will perform at main movement as well as some assistant and supplemental movements. However, you should plan to perform a unilateral or single leg-based movement for your first or main exercise. Single leg or unilateral exercises include rear foot elevated split squats, barbell lunges, kettlebell split squats or heavy single leg RDL’s for example.
As previously mentioned, the accessory movements on both days will cover a quad, hamstring, groin and glute-based movement. The hamstring muscle group serves two functions: knee flexion and hip extension. On Day 1 we will cover knee flexion-based exercises for the hamstring and on Day 2 we will cover hip extension-based exercises for hamstrings.
For quad-based exercises on day one we will cover the stability aspect. This is typically a lighter weight exercise where your stability or core strength will be challenged. On Day 2, the quad-based exercise will be a strength-based exercise. This should be an exercise that has a fixed range of motion and something that affords the opportunity to increase weight and go heavier versus the quad based exercise on Day 1.
For example, you could perform at single leg step down or single leg squats for stability-based movement for a quad muscle group on Day 1 and on Day 2 you could perform a strength-based movement. Rear foot elevated split squats, lunges or even leg presses will work well here.
For hamstring-based exercises you will perform leg curls or flexion-based movements on Day 1. On Day 2 you will perform a hip extension-based movement. You are probably familiar with some of the more common hip extension movements for hamstrings. These include kettlebell swings, barbell, dumbbell as well as bodyweight bridge variations.
If you want to make this a specific leg workout for soccer you should also plan to perform groin-based movements or lateral plane movements each day or at least once per week. To cover your groin exercise, you should plan to perform exercises such as lateral lunges or a crossover step-ups. Most of these exercises can be found on my YouTube channel HERE.
The final exercise that we will cover will be a glute-based exercise. I typically like to program glute exercises as isometrics or holds, but they can also be concentric or eccentric-based exercises as well. You could perform bridge variations, clamshell holds or anything that works hip abduction. Hip abduction is anything it is pulling your leg away from your body.
As a bonus, you could include calf-based exercises in your lower body training program. For calf exercises the two staples are standing and seated variations. If you want to include calf raises in your program my recommendation would be to perform seated calf raises on Day 1 and standing calf raises on Day 2 as this change will be enough to increase the stimulus for your body and allow your muscles and tendons to strengthen.
|Day 1||Day 2|
|Bilateral based movement||Unilateral/Single leg movement|
|Knee flexion||Hip extension|
|Quad- Stability based exercise||Quad- Strength based exercise|
|Groin exercise||Glute exercise|
|Seated calf exercise||Standing calf exercise|
In summary- your training program should look like the table above. If you need some ideas for leg training check out my YouTube channel where I have over 150 exercise demonstrations. With keeping this template in mind, I am confident that you will have a lot of good leg workouts for the next few months!