Are you tired of futile attempts to build bigger legs? As desperate as you may be though, working your legs every day is not the solution. Today I’ll be explaining why it can be bad to do legs every day.
In general, it is not recommended to train the legs every day. Beginners risk overtraining if they do legs every day, which is counter-productive for muscle growth. Instead, it is recommended to do legs 3 to 4 days per week to reach the required training volume for hypertrophy.
The legs can be one of the hardest muscles to build. And especially so for skinny guys. I’ve been there, and know it’s frustrating. But I can tell you now that training any muscle 7 days a week is not recommended!
That’s why I want to share my research and experience with you.
So let’s jump right in.
- Heavy Leg Days Every Day Are Not Recommended
- Daily High-Intensity Leg Workouts Are Wasted
- Doing Legs Every Day Can Be Productive If Done Correctly
- Equate Training Volume To Effectively Train Legs Everyday
- How Many Times A Week Should You Do Leg Workouts?
- My Leg Transformation Before & After
- How You Can Build Bigger Legs Fast
Heavy Leg Days Every Day Are Not Recommended
The effectiveness of doing leg workouts every day will depend largely on your training goal.
That’s because your goals determine the intensity (weight) used to train your legs.
If your goal is to increase general fitness, then training your legs everyday at low intensities (low weight) would be acceptable.
However, if your goal is more ambitious- to increase leg size and definition- then daily leg workouts would not be beneficial.
The stimulus-recovery-adaptation curve (SRA) below explains why:
You can see that high-intensity training results in a damage and recovery phase in the muscle. And it’s only after the muscle recovers to baseline, does it begin to adapt and grow in size.
If you perform heavy leg workouts every day, you deny the muscles a chance to recover. And when you deny recovery, you also deny the legs the potential to grow bigger. This is called overtraining.
The generally recommended rest period is 24 to 48 hours per muscle between workouts. And if you’re hitting your legs with heavy reps and high sets, you are strongly advised to follow this recommendation.
Take home message- it’s bad to do legs everyday if you’re lifting heavy!
Check out my other article to determine the ideal weight to lift!
Daily High-Intensity Leg Workouts Are Wasted
Troy Adashun’s experiment is an example of the low efficiency of doing heavy leg workouts every day.
He did high-intensity leg workouts (many to failure), for 30 consecutive days.
And these are Troy’s results:
Although his leg strength and recovery rates increased significantly, his upper thigh (thickest part of the leg), only increased by 1/4 inch (0.63cm) in 1 month.
This is not very much considering the effort he put in. And you can certainly get faster results by training smarter (see workout at the end).
Furthermore, Troy is clearly a fairly well trained weight lifter.
For the average beginner, working your legs every day at a high intensity will likely result in overtraining. And this would be counterproductive to making muscle gains.
You may not not necessarily lose muscle size, but your muscle gains will certainly not be proportionate to your efforts either.
In other words- you’ll be working your ass off for not much returns.
Doing Legs Every Day Can Be Productive If Done Correctly
So the science and case study suggests it’s not ideal to do legs every day.
But there’s an exception to the rule.
I tracked down two Quora polls which asked:
And here are the results:
Only 8% agreed that you can do legs every day.
In contrast, the majority 44% did not advise doing daily leg workouts.
Furthermore, 12% stated that you can work legs every day, but it’s pointless (as per previous explanation).
Finally, 36% said that you can work your legs every day if you train smart.
So what does it mean to train your legs smartly? How can you effectively work your legs every day?
Equate Training Volume To Effectively Train Legs Everyday
This 2019 meta-analysis led by Brad Schoenfeld sheds light on what it means to train your legs smartly.
According to Schoenfeld, the number of training days is irrelevant to inducing hypertrophy (muscle growth). Instead, the important factor to consider is to equate training volume.
Resistance training frequency does not significantly or meaningfully impact muscle hypertrophy when the volume is equated.Schoenfeld et Al. 2019
What does this mean?
Training volume refers to your total weekly workload, and it’s defined as a total number of sets x rep x weight x training days.
Through the power of basics math, you can now see how training volume can be equated:
By altering the number of sets, reps, and/or weight, you can safely workout your legs every day and benefit from maximal muscle gains.
Equated training volume is probably how Xenios Charalambous made size gains from his 30-day leg workout:
As with Troy, Xenios also saw a large improvement in leg strength. But he also states that his legs grew considerably (unlike Troy).
One important point to note- Xenios doesn’t specific his exact training volume.
In fact many of his leg workouts seem to be performed at around 60kg (40% of his 1-rep max).
Therefore, I can only conclude that he made his leg gains by equating his training volume by decreasing the weight lifted.
Take home message- if you do legs every day you should equate training volume by decreasing the number of sets, reps, or weight.
Check out my other article to find out the most effective workout duration!
How Many Times A Week Should You Do Leg Workouts?
In general, you should aim to perform 3 to 4 leg days per week. Each workout should consist of 3 to 5 sets of leg exercises performed with a heavy weight. This is the most time-efficient way to build leg muscle.
Of course you’re free to do legs every day.
But from what you now know, why would you?
In order for daily leg workouts to be productive, you would have to equate the training volume anyway. In the end, you’re not gaining any significant benefits by doing legs every day.
Additionally, you would also add a considerable amount of time to your workouts (warm-ups, travel, equipment setup all require time).
The only viable candidates for doing legs every day would be advanced lifters who need high-frequency training to drive hypertrophy.
But as for the regular Joe, daily leg workouts are uneccessary.
Instead, I would recommend training legs 3 times per week, with 5 sets per workout using a combination of leg exercises.
Training legs 4 times a week would work equally well, but you should decrease to 3 to 4 sets per workout.
This is in accordance with the generally recommended 10-15 sets per muscle group per week for hypertrophy.
Read my other article to determine your ideal number of training days!
My Leg Transformation Before & After
To wrap things up, here’s my own leg transformation before and after:
Before the transformation, I had skinny legs with a 19 inch diameter (across the upper thigh).
After 1.5 years of doing leg days 4 times a week, they had grown to 24 inches. That’s an average gain of 0.7cm per month.
Now compare these results with Troy’s experiment:
|4 Leg Days Per Week For |
1.5 Years (Kal)
|7 Leg Days Per Week For |
1 Month (Troy)
|Before:||19 inch||22 inch|
|After:||24 inch||22.25 inch|
|Gain Rate:||0.7cm / month||0.63cm / month|
As you can see, my legs increased at a slightly faster rate than Troys.
But the best thing?
I didn’t have to spend every day destroying my legs!
Take home message- train smart not hard!
Check out my other article for the squat exercises I used to build my legs!
How You Can Build Bigger Legs Fast
As you can see, you don’t need to do legs every day to get big legs. You should instead concentrate on reaching your training volume in the most efficient way possible.
This way, you can get the same results by training your legs 3 to 4 times per week rather than every day.
Here’s a basic but effective 3-day leg workout programme you can try:
Leg Day 1
- Back-Squat (3 sets)
- Ham-Curl (2 sets)
Leg Day 2
- Deadlift (3 sets)
- Knee Extension (2 sets)
Leg Day 3
- Front-Squat (3 sets)
- Calf-raise (2 sets)
The program combines big compound leg exercises (squat and deadlift) with accessory leg exercises (ham-curl, knee extension, and calf-raise).
Furthermore, each exercise has a preparatory, hypertrophy, and strength phase. This is detailed below.
For the squats and deadlift:
- Begin with 10 reps at 70% of 1-rep max (preparatory phase).
- After a month, do 8 reps at 80% of 1-rep max (hypertrophy phase).
- Last week of every month, do 6 reps at 85% of 1-rep max (strength phase).
For the accessory exercises:
- Begin with 15 reps at 50% of 1-rep max (preparatory phase).
- After a month, do 12 reps at 65% of 1-rep max (hypertrophy phase).
- Last week of every month, do 8 reps at 80% of 1-rep max (strength phase).
Each set should have a 2 minute rest period.
After 2 months, you can increase to 4 training days per week (choose any workout you like).
Additionally, you should substitute the exercises with other variants to maintain variety (this is good for sustaining hypertrophy).
Also, don’t forget to eat a diet conducive for building muscle! This diet should have a 10% caloric surplus and be high in protein (1.5g per pound of lean bodyweight).
Read my other article for nutrition and training tips for skinny guys to build muscle!
Today, I’ve explained with examples, why it can be bad to do legs everyday.
If performed correctly, daily leg training can actually be effective. However, much like a double-edged sword, the opposite also applies.
Many beginners will run the risk of overtraining because they do not know how to structure an equated training volume. And this will be bad for leg gains.
And even if you do structure an effective 7-day leg program, doing legs every day costs a lot of time for not much-added benefits.
Instead, I’d advise you to stick to a 3 or 4-day training split. I’ve even created a beginners programme for you to try!
Will you be trying the Kalibre leg workout?
Alternatively, download the FREE Kalibre Muscle Blueprint to find out EXACTLY how I transformed my skinny body as a hardgainer!
Thanks for reading guys!
(Biochemistry BSc, Biomedical Sciences MSc, Ex-Skinny Guy)