Do you want bigger legs? Then you better get ready for the squat – at least if you want to do the routine below from U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Nathan Rumbaugh. “This is the killer leg day workout I used during my last combat mission overseas,” he says.

No wonder the United States has the strongest military in the world. And with this workout, you’ll soon have the strongest legs in your gym.

Recommended trainer: Staff Sergeant Nathan Rumbaugh is a gun loader for the 180th Fighter Wing based in Toledo, Ohio. Nathan has been a freelance photographer and designer since graduating from the University of Cincinnati. As a photographer for Bravo Sierra, he is able to combine his passions of military service, fitness and photography in one. When he’s not working on the airline, traveling, or taking photos, Rumbaugh is working on his private pilot’s license in hopes of flying for the Air Force soon.

Equipment needed: Barbell, squat rack, dumbbells (glute ham raise and calf raise machine optional)

Time required: About 45 minutes, depending on the rest times

Training overview: The best way to describe Rumbaugh’s leg workout is squats, squats, and even more squats. Literally three different squat variations right away: the classic barbell squat, followed by grueling pistol squat and then dumbbell front squat.

After the squat trio, follow a few sets of kinking lunges to hit the glutes, adductors (inner thighs), and abductors (outer thighs) in addition to the quads. Then finish with one of the toughest hamstring exercises in the world (glute ham raise) topped with calf raises.

“If you’re trying to grow meaty quads while building some key core-stabilizing muscles, this workout is for you,” says Rumbaugh. “Compound movements are very important for building functional strength and stabilizing muscles that not only support balance and control, but also protect you from injury while lifting.”

Nathan Rumbaugh’s Leg-Day Crusher workout

Warm up: After 5-10 minutes of low-intensity, low-intensity dynamic stretching cardio for the lower body, do 3 sets of 20 reps of bodyweight lunges and 3 sets of 12 reps of Good Mornings with an empty 45 pound Olympic bar.

“That gentle warm-up will get the blood flowing,” says Rumbaugh, “and the good mornings will wake up your back and core stabilizer muscles and be ready to nag this day.”

The workout
a practicesentencesRepetitions
Squat with a barbell4th8, 12, 12, 25
Heel-high pistol squat3rd12 per leg
Dumbbell front squat3rd8, 12, 12
Dumbbell Curtsy Lunge3rd8, 12, 12
Glute-ham raise
-Super-substitute with-
Calf raises while standing or sitting3rd12th

Cardio: “It’s rare that I have time to do cardio right after the weights,” says Rumbaugh, “so I break my workout into two segments: cardio in the morning before breakfast (either a 3-mile run or 20 minutes on the stairmaster). ) and weight training later in the afternoon. My goal is to do at least three cardio sessions a week, or four if my cheat meal happens to include a pepperoni pizza. “

Rest periods: Rest 1-2 minutes between sets. The first three exercises in particular are very strenuous compound moves, so most people are advised to take a full two minutes. Since the two exercises are superimposed, do not rest between glute ham raises and calf raises; Rest for a minute after the calf raise.

Exercise Notes

  • Squat with the barbell: The reps in this workout are an inverted pyramid, where you start with the lowest reps and finish with the highest. If the first set of 8 reps is challenging, you will likely need to reduce the weight for the next two sets (12 reps); However, if the first set didn’t run close to failure, you can likely use the same weight for the 12-rep sets. The last set (25 reps) should definitely be done with a lighter weight than the previous two sets of 12 reps, ”says Rumbaugh.
  • Pistol squat with a raised heel: Raising the heel puts more emphasis on the quads than on the glutes. Pistol squats are a very advanced movement. Most people who are able to do this need only hold on to body weight, if not a light dumbbell. If you can’t do standard gun squats even with body weight, scale the exercise by holding onto a sturdy structure with one hand to help you ascend. Other less difficult versions of the one-legged squat are Bulgarian split squats and one-legged box squats.
  • Front squat with dumbbells: This is simply the dumbbell version of the classic front squat. Either hold the dumbbells in front of your shoulders or rest on the front deltas with a neutral grip (palms facing each other). Make sure your quads are parallel to the floor on each rep, keeping your back flat and torso upright.
  • Kinks with dumbbells: Stand upright, with a pair of dumbbells by your sides, step back one foot and cross it behind the other leg. Drop your back knee on the floor, then reverse the motion to return to standing. Repeat on the other side, alternating sides on every other repetition.
  • Glute-Ham Raise: If you don’t have a glute ham raise machine, perform the exercise kneeling on the floor with your feet pinned under a sturdy structure. This is a very advanced exercise; If you can’t do 12 reps on the floor version, push your arms down off the floor to create upward momentum. Over time, use less and less torso support.
  • Standing or Sitting Calf Raises: Use the variant / machine you prefer. If you have both available, alternate every other workout. If you don’t have either machine, do standing calf raises with a block or step to raise your foot and hold a dumbbell for resistance.


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