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Keep Your Leg Progress on Track
With This Challenging Home Routine

Goals: Power, Strength, Detail
Bodypart: Legs

When it comes to building legs worth showing off - the kind whose size and detail speak to their power and strength - there is no substitute for the squat. Regarded by many as the king of all lifts, the squat allows you to overload the quads and glutes in a way that no other exercise can. But sometimes, life happens and you're unable to head to the gym for your customary 60-90-minute, leg-shredding tussle with the iron. That doesn't mean that you can't - or shouldn't - bridge the gap to your next workout with a time-efficient, zero equipment leg routine in your man cave. With a little creativity and the implementation of a few basic, proven training techniques, your legs won't know what hit 'em and your growth cycle won't miss a beat.

As we stated before, there is no substitute for the squat. However, it's important to note that continued growth hinges on the basic idea that you must break down muscle tissue to grow it. One way to do this is to simply alter the way your muscle fiber is being recruited. Another way is to continually alter the variety of exercises used in your routine. Volume is another key factor - more sets and reps is the equivalent of a muscle fiber wrecking ball. Finally, there is the concept of muscle failure. When you take a muscle to the breaking point, then push it a little further, you are setting off a slew of anabolic activity that leads to bigger, stronger muscles.

So for this routine, you'll begin with a short warm-up. Running in place for 2-3 minutes and doing jumping jacks for 2-3 minutes will suffice. Then, you'll get right into the meat and potatoes of your workout.

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Fiber recruitment. In a non-squat rack environment, the best you can do is to trick your muscles into working harder. One way to do this is to take advantage of post-activation potentiation, which holds that if you train a muscle explosively first, you will convince your nervous system to call more total muscle fibers into play on exercises that follow. In this case that will mean four sets of five jump squats, where you will descend into a deep squat with your chest high and back straight before exploding as high as you can on each rep. Rest about two minutes between sets. This will get your muscle fibers and nervous system good and fired up for the work ahead.

Volume. Here's where the sets-and-reps pain comes in. Using only your bodyweight, you'll perform four sets of bodyweight squats to absolute failure. For some guys, this could mean as many as 100 reps but chances are if you're doing that many, your reps aren't as technically perfect as they can be. Keep your rep pace the same as you would if you had 315 pounds on your back - 2-3 seconds down, 2-3 seconds up, coming to a completely erect position on each rep. Rest one minute between sets.

Failure. With your quads and glutes sufficiently fatigued from your earlier work, you'll begin with some single-leg exercises, which will challenge your muscles within more traditional muscle-building rep ranges. On each single-leg step-up, your goal will be to control the descent enough that your  "off" leg barely touches the floor - you don't want to bounce up into each rep. Essentially, this becomes a single-leg squat. Don't take any rest between legs but rest 1-2 minutes between sets. You'll finish the day by dropping into a deep squat - parallel or just below is your standard - and holding that position until you can't anymore. Collapsing to the floor in a sweaty mess is perfectly acceptable at this point - there are no fellow gymgoers there to see you.

Exercise Sets/Reps
Squat Jump
4 / 5
Bodyweight Squat
4 / to failure
Single-Leg Step-Up
4 / 10 (each leg)
Squat Hold 1 / to failure