I get asked a lot how I am able to lift legs three days a week. How am I not sore all the time? How do I not get over trained? Did I always train legs three times per week? Why do I train legs so often?…And the list goes on.
I like having bigger, strong legs. I do not have the genetics for big strong legs. I have to work at that, and they need to be trained often to retain their size and strength. How do I know this?
That is where training age comes into play. I have been at this for a solid eight years now. Not as consistently as I would like, but still, I have eight years of trying different methods of training – different weekly volume, daily volume, training twice a day, playing with exercise selection and set and rep schemes and so on.
Let’s assume you want gorgeous quadzilla legs and a booty. Great. We’re on the same page.
**Note: your genetics will determine how easy it is for you to gain strength and size in different areas of your body. For instance, it is insanely hard for me to put on size and strength in up upper body.
As a rule of thumb you should not go more than five days without working the same muscle group. If you are training legs at least twice a week you should be safe.
If you are only training legs twice per week, you need to go higher in your daily volume and stress the muscles more than if you were to train three or more days per week.
If you are jumping on my leg-train (like most of my clients) and training legs three days per week, I suggest using a method known as daily undulating periodization (DUP). Don’t go running on me here. I’ll explain.
Going balls to the wall three days per week on one muscle group just isn’t sustainable and will likely cause more damage than growth. Your body needs time to recover so it can come back stronger #success.
So you need to stress the muscles differently – with different sets and reps at each session and different accessory work (example: quad dominant, glute dominant or hamstring dominant). With DUP the goal is a high weekly volume. The accumulation of all three workouts is a lot, but you are not completely thrashed after each lift. Are you with me?
If you are trying to up your squat, deadlift, or both, you should be working those movement patterns two to three times a week each. You could do this using the DUP method, having a:
Strength day (4-5×5 – 20-25 total reps),
Hypertrophy day (4×12 – 48 total reps), and a
Power day (7×2 – 14 total reps).
Those set and rep schemes are just examples; there are many different set/reps you could chose from. You would of course have specified tempos and rest periods for all of those as well. The accessory work would need to compliment each lift with the other leg days in mind.
For example, it would be ridiculous to squat on day one with a bunch of accessory posterior chain work like RDL’s and high volume hamstring curls if you are supposed to deadlift in one or two days (when you’ll likely be the most sore). The deadlifts would feel terrible due to the damaged hamstrings and glutes from day one’s accessory work.
With all that said, lifting legs (or any muscle group) three or more days a week is doable, but not necessarily easy. It’s definitely not easy for someone who does not have an educational background in physiology or A LOT of lifting experience. That is not to dis anyone, it is just a calculated process if it is to be done well and produce results.
To put it as simply as possible, you need to have different set and rep schemes for your main lift, and make sure accessory work is scheduled in a manner that won’t screw you over for your next leg day. It’s all about the big picture.
Want to lift legs three days a week, do it right, and get kick-ass results? Check out Built By Annie, a monthly subscription to a strength and hypertrophy (muscle growth) based program that progresses month by month. You can cancel any time, and registration for the next round closes in THREE DAYS on the 20th! Click below to learn more.
I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.
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