Use This Old School Technique to Build Serious Leg Mass

Jennifer E. Engen

In modern gyms, it’s not surprising to see dozens of machines designed to target your legs from every angle. Add to these specialty barbells and battery-powered pads designed to stimulate the quads, it’s safe to say that the science of muscle-building has come a long way.

Whilst incredible, all of these developments pale in comparison to the muscle-bound pioneers of old-school bodybuilding, who were carving out ripped physiques, long before the first papers on blood flow restriction training were ever published.

Vince Gironda (who helped to sculpt the body of one Arnold Schwarzenegger, amongst others) was one such pioneer. In fact, he may have been the pioneer. His ‘8×8’ technique was, and still is, brutally effective at adding slabs of hard muscle, fast.

You can read our previous ‘8×8’ workouts, focusing on the pressing muscles of your chest, shoulders and triceps here, as well as an offering for your back and biceps here. But, this workout is the big one, hitting everything below the waist. This is the one we don’t skip. This is leg day.

The original protocol stressed keeping rest time to an absolute minimum for maximum effect. To simplify this, you’re going to be using an EMOM (every minute, on the minute) protocol, performing the prescribed reps at the top of each minute then resting for the remainder. Complete all eight minutes of a movement before moving to the next.

Make a note of your reps, once you can complete all 8 sets of 8, use heavier weights in your next session.

Front Squat x 8 reps each minute for 8 minutes

With your feet at shoulder width, hold a barbell across your chest. Then, lift your elbows high to secure the bar on your shoulders (A). Maintain an upright torso and push your hips back, bending your knees until your thighs pass parallel to the floor (B). Stand back up to the start position.

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Reverse Lunge x 8 reps (per leg) each minute for 8 minutes

Hold a pair of dumbbells with straight arms by your sides (A). Keeping your chest up at all times, take a step backward with one leg, bending your front knee until the back knee touches the ground (B). Stand up explosively, pause and repeat with the other leg. Complete 16 total reps.

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Romanian Deadlift x 8 reps each minute for 8 minutes

Lift a barbell to hip height, feet at shoulder width and glutes tensed (A). With a slight bend in the knees, push your hips back and slowly lower the bar towards the ground (B), pinching your shoulders back and maintaining a flat back. When you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, pause and lift to the starting position.

Goblet Cyclist Squats x 8 reps each minute for 8 minutes

We can’t promise this one won’t burn. Raise your heels up on a weight plate or block, keeping your feet within 6 inches of each other, heels close together. Hold your dumbbell close to your chest. Squat down until your thighs pass parallel to the ground, (A) stand up explosively, stopping just short of locking your legs out to keep the tension on the quads (B). Repeat.

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