Building Big Legs With The Deadlift

1,2,3, Go!

The deadlift is a classic. Advanced bodybuilders need weeks to recover from heavy deadlift sessions. It’s one of the compound exercises that allow you to lift the most weight. It builds your lats, spinal erectors, hamstring, glutes, forearms, traps…etc.

Unlike the squat the deadlift has a shorter range of motion. That’s why the squat is considered the better leg mass builder. However, sometimes you just can’t squat. Here’s a routine that will build stronger and bigger legs – all you need is a barbell, weights, motivation and will power. Some protein will help too.

In order to hit every portion of the leg properly we are going to use different deadlift variations. The routine consists of two exercises – the sumo deadlift and the Romanian deadlift.

Building big legs with the deadlift.


The sumo deadlift is a variation of the lift done with wider stance. This allows you to assume a starting position similar to the squat. The range of motion (ROM) increases and with that the involvement of the quadriceps as well. This is good because the quadriceps operates over a very ROM small during the conventional deadlift. Another benefit of the sumo deadlift is that your adductors (inner thighs) will also be activated during the movement. Good luck walking the next day.

To summarize: the sumo deadlift allows you to put a lot more “leg” into the lift.

Start with the sumo deadlift and perform 3-4 sets between 8-10 reps. This is a tough work and assumes that you are not squatting or doing leg presses. Otherwise that amount of deadlifting will just kill you. After you are done with your sumo deadlift perform 3 sets between 8-10 reps of Romanian deadlifts. Use a very modest weight and focus on proper execution of the exercise.

You want to strengthen your hamstrings and glutes and return back to starting position under control. Keep your back straight. This part of the workout is meant to hit the posterior chain – hamstrings and glutes.

This is it. The workout should not be done more than once a week. On another day during the week you may perform a light leg workout to build up some volume. However, repeating the same routine will soon overtrain you. The deadlift knows NO mercy. It requires a lot of time to recover, especially if you are advanced and lifting more weight. As a beginner you may get away with two or even three deadlift session a week, but as the weight goes up – you will know what we are talking about.


Q: How should I progress on this workout?

A: Start very light and gradually build up. A good approach is to start with a weight you can do 15 reps with. Every time add between 5-10lbs until you are doing sets of 8. At that point reduce the working weight to what you have initially started with + 10-15 pounds. So, you if start with 200 lbs (90 kg), build up and then restart with 210 lbs (95 kg). This is called cycling. You start light, you build up up to a personal best and then start again but this time a little heavier. This will help you avoid injuries.

Q: How big will my legs get?

A: It depends on your genetics, diet and training. However, unlike the muscles magazines we are not promising you that you will have the legs of Kali Muscle, if you follow this routine. As a natural bodybuilder you have to settle for much less. Here’s what you can expect:

How Big Can You Get Naturally Without Steroids?

Q: How long should I do this routine?

A: Technically you can do it indefinitely, if you cycle. However, keep at it at least for a few months before changing it. Listen to your body.

Q: How long should I rest between sets?

A: About 3-8 minutes. If you are still lifting lighter weights, you will need less rest.

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