Building/Maintain Leg Mass At Home – NoN Approved Workout (simple, powerful, logical…painful)

| by Truth Seeker |

By popular demand, I decided to engineer a super simple leg workout that can be done at home.

Many natties reading this site have decided that they want to focus primarily on upper body muscles as suggested in many articles on here and maximization.

Why? Because those are the “visual impact” muscles of a man. No one is going to ask you to flex your hamstrings for the camera. But your arms, back, and chest are always analyzed to determine your lifting status.

As long as your legs aren’t comical (I’ve seen it) then putting them second is not a problem,

The most ideal exercises for leg growth can only be done at the gym (squats, hack squats, leg presses…you know it.)

Nonetheless, a lot can be done at home.

The secret ingredient is – Elevated Bulgarian Split Squats With a Dumbbell or EBSSWD (lol).

You will need the following equipment:

1. A support for the rear (non-working leg) – ideally a bench. A chair will often be too high.

2. A block of wood to put under the front foot (this is where “elevated” comes from). You can also use books or a plate.

3. A chair

4. A Dumbbell

> Place the chair on the side of the working leg.

> Grab the dumbbell with the arm corresponding to the non-working leg. (So, if you’re lifting with the left leg, grab the DB with right arm).

> Place your work leg on the platform/block.

> Place your non-working leg on the bench behind.

> Squat down until the knee of the non-working leg touches the floor.

>Hold the chair with your “non-working” hand at all time.

Done.

Why elevated?

The goal is to increase the range of motion and the involvement of the quads.

Without the elevation, you can’t break parallel (the hip crease going below the knee), and thus the glutes do a lot of work whereas the quads might get a bit sleepy due to the small flexion of the knee and reduced ROM.

Why the chair? The goal is to kill the balance requirement. This isn’t training for “sports”. If you want to train your balance, go do an actual skill, not an exercise.

I warn you that this exercise is not easy and you should first master it without the dumbbell. Some people may not even have the mobility. In that case, skip the block. But chances are, most healthy dudes can do this safely.

How many sets?

3-5 sets per leg or 6-10 total.

And this my friends, is why I hate unilateral exercises – because you have to repeat everything twice. In other words, the CNS is working twice as hard.

But this is the only way to overload the legs in a home setting (unless you have a massive gym).

Progression

Keep it super simple. Start with a weight that allows you to perform 6-8 reps and build up to 15 reps per leg. Then add weight.

Eventually, you will see that this movement will improve your overall conditioning.

What about the calves?

Well, we can pretend that you can magically turn garbage calves into monsters, but it’s an uphill battle and impossible for the most part.

You can get average calves to something decent, but models with ultra-short muscles are simply destined for the stick look. And I don’t care what the liars say.

That’s the damn truth. Of course, even in that case, there are benefits to training your calves (stronger connective tissues, better ankle stability…and other copes).

Training calves at home is super easy.

Get a square and flat block of wood that’s like 5-10cm thick. Place it next to a wall. Do calf raises on it. Pause at the bottom to kill the stretch reflex.

Do 5 sets of as many as you can with a full range of motion. If you have good genetics for calves this workout will be enough. Seriously. Do it 2-4 times a week, and they will blow up if they are destined for greatness.

Forget about the story of how Arnold would do 1000lbs calf raises while Regg Park was ‘miring.

The truth is you don’t need that weight. Just do the full range. Pause at the bottom.

After you can do 5×20. Start with 1-2 sets of 20 as a warm-up and then try to perform 5-8 reps with a single leg.

I can guarantee you that this will be hard. Most people can’t do a full range of motion single-leg calf raise. That’s a fact.  But with time, you will of course improve. And once you get to something like 15 reps per leg with full ROM, your calves will be bigger if they could be bigger.

Later, you can start holding a DB. The progression is endless.

Always do this movement while using a wall (or something as stable for support). You are not doing this to become a better ballet dancer so the balance requirement is simply an annoyance.

And there you have it.

Two exercises – elevated split squats + calf raises on a block.

What about the hamstrings?

You have two options.

Option 1 – don’t train them at all. They will get some stabilizing work from the squats. This isn’t a bad choice. Because, honestly, do you care about the size of your hamstrings? Be real.

And no. I couldn’t care less about “imbalances”. That’s some nonsense for the most part. The body regulates itself. What I mean is this – you can’t have big quads and zero hamstrings. It’s physically impossible.

Option 2- Romanian deadlifts with a dumbbell (or better yet a T-handle) on a platform. The goal is to increase the range of motion.

So, here’s a complete workout:

BSS – 3×8-15 (each leg)

DB Romanian deadlift – 3×8-12

Calf raises – 5×20

Done. Repeat 1-3 times a week and your leg base is covered at home. The rest? You can go for back, chest, or arm specialization but ultimately,  the choice is yours, bro.

– Natty

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17 comments

  1. Aoi

    Who cares about legs? I train only upper body! And skip rope, or ride my bicycle , and my calfs are ripped and have veins. Funny thing about my body is that my legs are bigger than my upper body, even though I train for years and I am around 14% bf … At the end of the day FRAME > TRAINING

  2. Jase

    Hey Brother!

    Glad to see you posting again! Really loved your books! Will try my hand at the newer ones as soon as possible.

    Am burnt out from lifting weights and am planning to start bodyweight training. Would you please consider writing posts on skill based calisthenics or even a book? (would surely buy it).

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Thank you.

      I have a lot of articles on pull-ups, dips and push-ups. I will write new ones if I come up with something interesting.

  3. Dogman

    Hey TruthSeeker,

    I feel like we’re friends. Your Arms book was awesome. I’ve been training mostly arms for a couple of months and can actually see a noticeable difference – THANK YOU!!! My arm improvement got me thinking about legs so this article was perfect timing I was going to start doing legs with high volume squats but will try this instead. Did you ever try 5/3/1 or do you have an opinion on Jim Wendler and his training. Thank you so much for all your articles!!! Seriously Dude, you are awesome.

    1. Truth Seeker Post author

      Thank you for the support. Never did 5/3/1. It probably works, but I don’t care about conventional lifts anymore.

  4. peketudo

    argh, i did bulgarian squat without a elevated platform. I guess i must start from zero again. (But hey, at least i can chill out about holding heavy dumbbels)
    About calves, i guess i must restart at some point in my life…

    1. Fanofthesite

      I did an 8/5/3/1 (8 rep sets week 1, 5 rep sets week 2, etc working up to a 1rm attempt) back in unoversity with a couple feiends. By the end we all increased our 1rm by quite a lot.

  5. MB

    You can also add stiff legged deadlifts for hamstrings.
    Or is that the same than Romanian deadlifts?

  6. Juanjo

    I didn’t try elevating the leg to involve the quadriceps, what I did try for a few months was training my legs with lunges or Bulgarians, whatever you want to call them, with large dumbbells and it is a terrible exercise for the quads (I lost my leg).

  7. Guille

    Nice work…
    Could you speak about benefits of circuit work?
    Could you give an example in the gym and in thr house? Thanks

  8. SamS

    This is so true:” And this my friends, is why I hate unilateral exercises – because you have to repeat everything twice. In other words, the CNS is working twice as hard.”. Many years ago, when I was still messing with weights, I never did back and legs on the same day because I was worried about the overall abuse it would do to my body, CNS mainly. Then I switched to progressive calisthenics, and because of an unknown reason, I started to do back and legs on the same day. And I kept doing that for years.

    What made this pretty bad as time went on, was the fact that I chose not to use any external weights, so the progression came by moving to harder variations of exercises. With basic calisthenics exercises (pushups, pullups and squats) this usually means unilateral work. Then the problem eventually is that if you do for example 3 work sets of pullups, you’ll have to do 6, because you need to do 3 sets for both sides. Because I did back and legs on the same day, just doing 3 sets of pullups and squats meant 12 sets in the end, 3 for both hands and 3 for both legs.

    And as Truth said, this really burns you up. I still don’t know why I kept doing that kind of split. Also, I don’t even know how to explain how I felt and still feel about this. Because already at the time when I still was training like that, I almost always felt bad when I knew I had to do two unilateral exercises on the same session or day. Then again, other days when I only did one unilateral exercise and rest were bilateral stuff, those days never felt that bad, let alone days when I didn’t do any unilateral stuff.

    I still feel shitty with unilateral stuff even though I currently do a very abbreviated split routine and the only unilateral thing that I do is the Bulgarian split squat. I still train daily with one off day a week because I feel it helps me with my depression. Although I only do those squats twice a week, I still kind of feel bad because I know that it will take a lot from my system. Thought of adding unilateral pullups and pushups in to the mix makes me vomit. Sometimes I wonder what did I broke in me.

  9. Fanoftthesite

    Little story about the futility of calf work.

    When i was in university we had a standing calf raise machine that went up to about 400lbs and also had pegs on the side of the shoulder harness to add direct weight. I would routinely do sets of 10 with the full stack + three 45 lb plates on each side with ROM well below 90 (bssically until my calf was completely extended). So thats about 600-700 lbs (not real lbs, but machine, you know what i mean).

    I weighed 165 lbs at the time

    This was MAGNITUDES more than even the biggest guy in the gym could move. My buddies and I always wondered why i was able to.do this, because it made no sense. Finally we looked at the structure of my calves vs other peoples. My soleus muscle was like 3 times as deep as everyone elses for.some reason. Mind you i hated leg work and avoided it like tge plague so it had to be genetics.

    Funny thing is my gastro muscle on the calf is super high and short, so no matter howuch weigjt i could move, my calves remained super thin looking because the soleus adds very little to the size pf your calf compared to the gastro heads but contributes massively to the strength.

  10. conflagration

    Why would CNS work twice as hard? I do kettlebell presses unilaterally, currently 24kg on my left first and then right. Pressing 48kg barbell is harder on my CNS, e.g. because my legs needs to work harder.

  11. Paul

    Good stuff. I do pretty much the same but with lower reps, 3 x 8 – 12 instead of 15. I find that my form and endurance just tanks after 12. I also do legs once a week.

    What do you do for back and shoulders? I know you do incline DB and pullovers for chest but do you do DB rows for back? I know pullovers can technically hit the lats. Do you do lateral raises for shoulders?

    Could you give us a routine for Back and Shoulders?

    1. mattsk1

      You could aslo pick anything 1/2 or more your body weight and lift it over your head to work your Back and Shoulders. I don’t say this as a joke. I have a salvaged piece of concrete that is about 50kg that I pick up from the ground, get it to my chest and press it over my head with doing six sets of three last week.

  12. mattsk1

    What I got out of the “CNS works twice as hard” is that Bulgarian split squats with weights sucks more that barbell squats because you have to do it twice the volume because your working one leg at a time and working leggs is not fun. Its easier to work one side at a time for pulling and pushing because its funner to do. 5 reps or less sets at maximal weights with compound movements are what taxes your CNS and why you have to talke long breaks between sets because CNS is restored in about 20min to be able do the next set. No one trains that heavy unless the compete in strongman, powerlifting, and olympic weight lifting for maximal weight.

  13. JER

    Hi, and thanks again for a very interesting article. I particularly noted your comments regarding calves. I have managed to work up to 20 one legged calf raises but no improvement in calf size…..I think I will start focusing more on some other more responsive body part !!

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