To Squat or Not

arnold squatting

Do You Need To Squat?

I have written a lot about building up your upper body (1, 2, 3), and building a nice V-taper body. I have not neglected legs on purpose, but I have not yet covered them.

Let me get this out of the way up front.

I do train legs! I do recommend and include leg training in any program or workouts I design.

skinny leg big upper body

Don’t be this guy!

BUT I have found that the majority of men do not have a lot of trouble building their leg muscles. This is not a bodybuilding site or about looking like one, so I recommend you train and build your legs up to a decent natural level of size, then from there, focus on keeping them functional and athletic.

Having too big of legs limits your selection of nice fitting pants and leaves you stuck wearing big baggy pants. You can have nice muscular legs and wear nice Slim Dark Denim, it’s the BEST of both worlds.

Need To Build A Set Of Wheels?

BEST Exercises:

  1. SquatsThe squat is the king of leg movements. There’s no two ways around it. Whether building extreme leg strength, size, or aesthetically pleasing legs (our goal), squats will be in your routine.
    • 3 sets of 4-8 reps – focus on getting stronger over time in this rep range and your legs will be strong and of ample size.
  2. Sumo Deadlifts – I like the sumo deadlift for legs over the deadlift because it puts more emphasis on your legs and ass rather than your back like a tradition deadlift.
    • 3 sets of 4-8 reps – focus on getting stronger over time in this rep range.
  3. Standing Calf Raises – Don’t neglect your calves, the calves are usually what really give the appearance of “chicken legs”
    • 3 sets of 8-12 reps – I like to give a little more volume to the calves as they tend to have more slow-twitch fibers.

If you follow the above 3 exercises and focus on progressive overload (getting stronger) your legs will become strong and will grow. You can continue to do this till you are satisfied with your leg size.

I recommend building your legs till they look athletic and balanced.

Think of professional soccer players, NBA players, or MMA fighters. These athletes have enough size without compromising their athleticism.

leg muscle

Good Muscular Development – but not overkill

Maintaining Your Legs Size

When you are satisfied with your leg development you can switch to a maintenance mode for size and switch your focus to strength and explosion. This is when leg training gets fun in my opinion because you can really start to get explosive and athletic.

I would focus on doing a few exercises with low reps (1-3) with heavier weights for 2-3 sets. And really focus on exploding in the concentric part of the lift.

These are the lifts I would utilize for maintenance

  1. Pistol Squats
  2. Sumo Deadlifts
  3. Lunges

Pick two or three from the above list and you can maintain your size while building up your strength and explosiveness.

*** I think you should continue to train calves as normal as I find it rare for a guy to have overly developed calves, especially as a natural (no steroids) lifter. And for a lot of people, calves are hard to grow and tend to always lack behind in development compared to the rest of their body.


Building your legs isn’t exactly rocket science. You’ll get great results if you stick to the above exercises and rep ranges. And when you’re happy with your leg size switch your focus over to maintenance and developing your strength and explosiveness.

This is how you develop great looking legs that allow you to still wear stylish pants.

Be Fit. Look Great!


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