Is your roster of go-to leg workouts getting a little stale? It’s easy to fall into a rut and do the same workout week after week, but the problem is that your body adapts quickly to a repeated stimulus. Eventually, you’ll find yourself atop the dreaded plateau, or worse — get sidelined with an injury because of overtraining. If that happens, your dreams of stronger legs will be in the rear view.
Using periodization helps you formulate a well-rounded, progressive plan, allowing you to reach your goals within a certain time frame while also allowing for adequate rest and recovery. There are different ways to approach periodization, but in a study published by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, women who used undulating periodization — a model that changes the training variables within a relatively short time frame — saw a greater increase in lower-body strength than women who used other methods of periodization.
This 12-week lean-and-mean plan starts with a month of stabilization, ramps things up with a strength phase, then launches into four weeks of undulated lower-body training designed to get you the best legs of your life. Each phase uses familiar lifts and exercises that are specifically arranged to keep your muscles stimulated. At the end of the three months, you can cycle through the program again. Just be sure to increase your weight or make the movements more challenging. If you want stronger legs, you’ve gotta keep the workouts spicy.
STABILITY PHASE: Weeks 1-4
This phase is the foundation of your training, working to correct muscle imbalances and prepare the joints and connective tissues for more rigorous work. You’ll keep the resistance light and the reps high, but don’t let the lack of heavy weights fool you — these moves will challenge your balance and fire up your quads, hamstrings, glutes and core, and each exercise quickly becomes a barnburner as you progress through the sets.
Allow 90 seconds of rest between sets for adequate recovery.
For the step-ups and touchdowns, use a platform that is 12 inches or higher for best results.