So how I want to post my current lifting routine is by going step by step on what I do on each day and go into details on why I do what I do. This is going to be a multi-post thing. Every post will be each day of my routine split with a quick view summary at the top and then an in depth analysis into how and why. After those, I will go over dieting and other parts of my routine.
It’s important, in my opinion, to understand that a routine isn’t just a list of motions to do. It’s almost a lifestyle you perform in and out of the gym. You can’t just go – “Oh give me your routine.” and copy another successful person’s lifting routine. You need to understand why and how to do the routine correctly too.
For these first few posts, I will go over my routine in the gym. Third post now…
Wednesday and Saturday – Legs and Abs (Leg Day)
I split my lifting days into 2 split sets of 3 days, Monday – Saturday, 6 days at the gym. The third day of the set is Legs and Abs which I do every Wednesday and Saturday. I go for about 1.5 hours.
Here’s a quick overview of how today looks for me:
- Leg Press – 4-6 sets x 12-30 reps
- Alternative or Additional lift: Squats (Barbell + Squat Rack — You should have 2 spotters) [Alternative does not replace Leg Press, put Leg Press somewhere else]
- Ab Torso Rotation Machine – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Alternative Exercise: Weighted Floor Oblique Twist
- Leg Extensions – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Leg Curls – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Calf Raises – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Seated Ab Crunch – 4 sets x 10-14 reps
- Alternative or Additional Exercises: Weighted Decline Crunches, Hanging Leg Lifts
- I do not do HITT Cardio on this day. If you’re able to walk out of the gym without looking funny, you didn’t do leg day well enough. You definitely shouldn’t be doing or able to do cardio.)
That’s what a Wednesday and Saturday lift day looks like to me. Read on more for the details, I recommend doing so ->
The muscle groups for this split day
Leg day will work…the Legs. That includes Quads (Front Leg Muscles Labeled Rectus Femoris and Vastus Medialis), Hamstrings, Glutes, Calves, Abs, Obliques.
Please don’t skip leg day. You’ll look silly with small legs on a built body. Your legs should match.
I chose to do Legs on my third day and dedicated almost entirely to Legs. Legs are over half of your body. And if you count in that we’re doing core (abs) then that’s a lot of the body to do.
In my opinion it doesn’t take as many lifts to target legs and abs. Additionally your legs should fatigue easier if you’re lifting with decent intensity.
For many people, Legs are the most painful muscles to workout. People resist the pain and won’t push themselves past the pain thresholds to make progress. Do not falter in your Leg Day lifts from the pain.
Sets and Reps (and the warm ups)
Notice how I do at least 4 sets for each exercise. What I do for every exercise is I do about 30% less weight on my first set and pump out 14-20 reps. It doesn’t matter to me if I am fatigued or not at the end. I want to get the blood flowing into the muscles before I start. The blood flow will allow me to 1. Lift more 2. Recover faster (even start recovery between sets).
The mystical Pump Arnold talks about has other benefits besides feeling really good. More blood flow helps get nutrients to the muscle to recover between sets and the long term recovery. Recovery is the key to fitness. A muscle’s recovery starts as soon as your set is done. To help with getting the most out of my sets, the warm up set gets my muscles ready to take on the heavy load and recover faster.
Each set, I aim to do 10-14 reps. This means I am not lifting 100% of what I can do. In fact it’s not even 80% of what I can more. Hypertrophy happens best at higher reps between 8-14 reps. So I use whatever weight I can use to make sure I stay in that range. But I always do as many reps as I can put out. I always go to failure basically. If I hit 10, I hit 10. If I hit 8, I hit 8. But I shouldn’t be going below 10 before Set 2 & 3. That means it’s too heavy. I want to touch on this on a later section. It’s important.
I take a certain amount of rest between sets. Most recommend 1min between sets. I do 1 1/2 minutes. This gives my muscles ample time to go a good full round next and enough blood to flow around. If I wait too soon, I feel I am not rested enough to take on the next set with the amount of reps I want to do.
Specific to Leg Day: Always always always do a light weight warm up on Leg Press or Squats (or Deadlifts). You need to warm up and do light weight motion before going heavy. And I suggest you gradually ramp it up.
Separating the lifts
I don’t know if you noticed, but I do each exercise basically in isolated groups. I give time for a muscle group to rest before working it again in the same session. But that’s not all I do. The very first lift I do at the gym will be my main and biggest lift, always. It takes the most energy and it is the most demanding lift of the night so I need to do it first or I won’t be able to do it well at all.
So here we have first exercise being Leg Press. This is my main focused lift of the session and the most demanding one. Then the second lift is not a leg exercise, I do an abs exercise then to give my legs some recovery time before going to the focused lifts later.
But for Leg day, I’m honestly NOT worried about the order or alternating of exercises or muscle groups. It really doesn’t matter that much on this day. But if you can, try to put a buffer between Leg Press and the next Leg lift.
Why I chose these specific exercises and tips on doing them
NOTE: I am still refining and tweaking this routine. It is very easy to swap out these lifts for other lifts. But I am satisfied with my progress on it so far and any Starter or Intermediate or even an early Advanced lifter could benefit from it most likely.
Alternative FIRST Lift: Squats (only if you can get 2 spotters)
Leg Press – Leg Press is one of the best leg day workouts. In my opinion it can completely replace the Squat as the main lift entirely. It also benefits people who go to the gym on their own since you don’t need a spotter like Squats do. But for some reason I see people do really dumb things on Leg Press. Please do NOT do more weight than you can actually do. Your motion on the Leg press machine should be from a fully extended leg position to ALL THE WAY DOWN to where your knees are in your chest and the press is practically at the lowest it can be, and you push it all the way back up. People don’t do this and also think they can load the Leg press machine up with a dozen full plates. I have pretty strong legs, I’m not a powerlifter though. But I start at 2 45lb plates on each side and I go to a MAX of 4-5 45lb plates on each side (total of 8-10 plates max).
We’re not here to do a ton of weight and you shouldn’t be doing it either. We want to have a decent amount of weight, ramp that weight up to a capped limit, and pump out 4-6 SETS with 12-30 REPS. You heard me. 30 REPS. We want to ideally hit that even at our top weight cap. The cap is something you’re going to have to figure out. But don’t also think you have to cap the leg press at 10 plates. If you can do 30 reps with 10 plates at full range of motion by set 4 or 5, go ahead, increase the plates. But to be fair, if you’re that strong, why are you reading my guide? :^)
Ab Torso Rotation Machine – I choose this next because it is a good way to get some rest in after blasting legs on leg press. Ab Rotation targets mainly the Obliques.
Leg Extensions – Leg Extensions are an isolation leg machine lift for the quads. Adjust the seating to where your knees stick out, grab the handles, and push your legs up on the bar until they are FULLY extended and up and hold the top for a second and release. For me Leg Extensions are one of the most painful lifts I do all week because of the amount of lactic acid that gets built up doing this exercise. Don’t let it stop you from doing it fully.
Leg Curls – Leg Curls are an isolate leg lift for the hamstrings in the back of the leg thigh. People seem to forget they exist despite them be quite large. There are two machines that do this. One is very similar to the Leg Extension machine where you sit down on it. The other is one where you lay down on your stomach on the machine. I find the second one awkward to use but that’s a personal thing.
Calf Raises – There’s two different machines at gyms to do these on. One is a seated calf raise bench that uses weight plates. The other is usually one you stand on and put your shoulders under a raised padding and you lift your body up on your toes to extend the calfs. Same motion, one is standing vs seated. Honestly I prefered the results from the seated calf raises with the plates. But I don’t always have a choice. Make sure to go all the way up on the balls of your feet and hold it for 1-2 seconds and then slowly come down and go PAST the neutral level to where the heel of your foot is now below your toes. This is your resting position. Your feet should not be apart more than the width of your shoulders.
Seated Ab Crunch – Good way to finish up the session is to do weighted ab crunches. I don’t care if you use a machine like pictured or get on a declined bench and hold onto a 45lb weight on your chest.
You should treat your abs like any other muscle group. That means giving it resistance with weight, sets, reps, and a couple days of rest.
Let me explain something about my Leg Day. In the 4 years I have been actively and seriously training, I have only been doing Leg Day for about 8 months of those 4 years (In 2016, when I started my semester at the University, I started to do Leg Day). Yeah I was a Leg Day skipper.
So my routine for Leg Day is very far from perfect. I have a very confident approach to how my first 2 split days are done and what lifts to do and how my body reacts to those lifts. On Leg Day, it is still in a prototype stage for me. But I am happy with how my legs have grown in those 8 months. This is still a very effective routine for anyone. But an Advanced or Amateur Professional Lifter would probably not see it as well planned.
I don’t do Squats mostly because I do not have a spotter at all. I go to the gym alone so Leg Press is my perfect alternative.
One exercise I am considering adding in is Deadlifts or an alternative to deadlifts. I don’t do anything for my lower back. It’s not a major issue but it is neglected.
Abs aren’t that important to me, but I want to either replace an Ab exercise or add on an Ab exercise with Hanging Leg Lifts. Ab exercises are not too important. You should work them out like normal muscles, but their primary visibility is from low body fat. But athletes should do Ab/Core exercises often, the strong cores are important for athletes.
Some of my explanations or tips for the lifts may be lacking in words. They’re mostly machine motions. They’re hard to mess up. You’ll also notice that people unfamiliar with lifting right use these machines often. They’re that easy.
That concludes this blog post about my lifting routine on Split Day 3. I’ll soon be writing up about Dieting and Supplementation, and one more on Advanced lifting details/mindsets. There’s other stuff I’ll get into too maybe like a Beginner’s/Starter Lifter guide, my experience from moving from Intermediate lifting to Advanced lifting, and more.
These things take time to type up, they are very long, and there is a lot of information to convey. I won’t be able to link in the individual studies and research parts for every why so don’t come to my blog posts expecting BioLayne Norton level PhD discussions on why I do a certain thing. But details do matter, so I will try to explain as much as possible and try to remember the details as I go.
Thanks for reading this post, I’ll get more out as soon as I can and I hope your lifting improves from what I have learned and shared.