Just like ice cream, your leg workout should have a different flavor each time you train. Some days you hit it hard and heavy and go deep into the pain cave, and others you want to turn ’em till you burn ’em with some high-volume programming. These two leg complexes are perfect for the latter scenario, giving you that high-volume blaze using only your bodyweight or lightly loaded exercises arranged in circuit format. Best of all, all you need to do them is a set of dumbbells and a box or a bench.
But even though you’re not edging toward your one-rep max here, you’re still building muscle and training your central nervous system: Research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that lifting a lighter weight to failure or near failure produced gains in size and strength similar to those produced by lifting a heavy weight to failure. High-volume, high-rep work also improves power and endurance with the addition of a speed or explosive component, and it can make you feel as if you’ve just squatted super heavy without ever putting a bar on your back.
These two complexes hit your entire lower body, but each has a more targeted focus — either glutes or quads. Choose a challenging weight that allows you to complete the minimum number of reps while maintaining good form, and perform the moves back-to-back in a circuit with no rest in between. Repeat the complex one to five times, depending on your ability and endurance, and rest two to five minutes between rounds to recover.
Use one of these complexes as a finisher after a heavy lower-body sesh, or use it on a total-body workout day. One thing to note, however: Don’t use both leg complexes in the same workout. Because of their high volume, one program is plenty!
The Glute-Focused Complex
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