If you look around for workouts and training programs online, you’ll find that most – if not all – of them split your muscle groups in such a way that you never hit legs and chest on the same day, and there’s a reason for that.
Your legs and your chest are the two biggest muscle groups on your body, followed by your back. As the size of the muscle increases, the more energy is needed to power through the workout, so it makes sense to keep major muscle groups separated to avoid running out of steam.
However, by having just one really intense session for each muscle group per week, you’re actually missing out on muscle growth! Studies have shown that no muscle building (muscle protein synthesis) goes on 48 hours after a workout, so ideally you’d hit every muscle at least once every two days.
There are two ways to get around this and maximize the toning and muscle growth.
- Upper lower splits
- Full body workouts
Today, I’m gonna talk about the latter. It’s my preferred way of training, not just because I find it more fun to have a bit of variety every workout, but something else.
What’s the worst part about conventional leg days? The soreness! If you BLAST your legs once a week, you’re probably gonna be sore up until your next leg day.
However, if you hit your legs with slightly less intensity but more times per week, you won’t be sore, and you’ll also grow more!
With that in mind, I’m gonna show you guys one of my chest and leg workouts that I’ve been running recently with great results.
Getting Started With My Legs & Chest Workout
There are a few things that I want to note first before you get started trying my personal chest and leg workout.
Working Out Your Full Body
Now, I can’t stress this enough, you CAN’T workout your legs and chest with the same intensity you would on a regular split. Otherwise, your muscles won’t be able to recover for your next workout and you won’t grow at all.
So, what you do is workout enough to stimulate growth, but not enough that your muscles need a full week to recover. That’s why it might seem like there’s “not enough” exercises for each muscle, especially so if you’re used to typical one-muscle-per-day splits.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, since we’re talking about big muscle groups here, you won’t be able to go all out on both on the same day. If you start with legs and do some heavy squats, there’s no way you’re gonna be doing heavy presses, you just won’t have the energy.
That’s why I switch around the “priority” from workout to workout, one day I’ll focus on legs as my primary exercise, and chest will be my secondary exercise. On other days I’ll switch it up and prioritize my chest, then do legs with lighter loads.
Ideally, you want at least one heavy day for chest and one heavy day for legs per week, but you can run this setup up to three times a week if you’re up for it. Which one you’ll workout more depends on your individual circumstances, like if you have any lagging body parts or which one needs more work.
However, make sure you’re not neglecting any other body part just to hit the chest and legs 3 times a week, two times each is plenty and will get you some sick gains.
About Warm Ups
An often neglected but extremely important part of any workout, especially a chest and leg workout when dealing with heavy, compound exercises..
A proper warm up will not only protect you from injuries like tears and sprains, but it actually makes you stronger.
Think about it this way, if you don’t warm up, when you’re trying to exert as much strength as possible your muscles are still trying to “turn on” so to speak and can’t give out everything they’ve got.
General Warm Up
For starters you wanna do any form of light cardio that will get your heart rate up. Light jogging, biking, jump rope, pushups, indoor rowing, even an elliptical machine or a treadmill, any full-body workout machine..etc. Don’t go too crazy(like what I did when I tried doing 500 pushups a day), just 5 to 10 minutes to get the blood flowing.
Once you’re done with that, just run through the following:
Front/Back Leg Swings
A pretty simple exercise, just stand up straight next to something solid you can hold on to, swing your leg forwards as high as you can and then swing it backwards as far as you can (you can bend your back forwards as you move your leg back).
That’s one rep, do this 12 times for each leg and move on to the next one.
Side to Side Leg Swings
Pretty much the same thing, just side to side this time. You’ll probably be more comfortable standing with your back bent forward this time. Hit 12 reps for each side and you’re good.
Cable Internal Rotation
With a cable hooked to something sturdy like a squat/power rack or power tower, stand up straight with your arm next to your body. Hold your elbow at 90 degrees and pull towards your body. Repeat this 15 times for each arm.
Cable External Rotation
Almost the same exercise, stand up straight, elbow at 90 degrees, but this time your arm will be crossed over your torso and you’re gonna pull AWAY from your body. Once again, repeat this 15 times for each arm.
Exercise specific warmup
What we did above is a great way to prime your body for exercise, your joints and small muscles are now ready for what’s coming. However, larger muscle groups still require a bit more to “turn on”.
For the first exercise of each body part, do a basic pyramid warm up too. That means doing a couple warm up sets in which you start with almost no weight and work your way up. Remember this is a warm up too, so it shouldn’t be tiring in a way that could impact your performance later.
My Personal Chest and Leg Workout
You’ll notice the rep count is really low for this one, that’s so you can go HEAVY. Now more than ever, it’s important that you warm up properly. I usually do 3 to 4 warm up sets where I gradually increase the weight, before I get to the real heavy lifting.
Barbell Bench Press 1×3
Yes, you read that right, it’s just one set for three reps. Don’t worry though, you’ll do more bench pressing, but first you gotta go heavy on your bench too. Once again, these are WORKING SETS, you still gotta warm up before you lift. Use the weight of the bench press bar or low weight. If this is too hard pick up a pair of cheap dumbbells and try doing dumbbell floor presses until you get in shape to do the barbell bench press.
Barbell Bench Press 2×10
Told you we’d do more bench pressing, now is time to lower the weight and get a lot more volume in. Growing in strength is only one way to grow muscle, higher rep ranges have their place too!
Hip thrusts 3×12
I added this exercise to my workouts after a coach told me the lack of progress on my squat was due to weak glutes and it’s been a mainstay in my routines ever since. I wanted to get a little bubble to my butt so these were a perfect exercise for me. It’s a compound exercise that isn’t talked about enough, and that most men can benefit from doing.
Hip Thrusts in Motion:
Skull Crushers 3×12
I know this isn’t a chest or legs exercise, but since you’re hitting your triceps while doing chest, you might as well do some more.
As the name suggests, the EZ bar might fall on your head if you’re not careful. So be conservative with the weight on this one.
Standing Calf Raise 3×15
DON’T SKIP CALVES! You do not want to have small calves. I did it for ages and I’m still paying the price for it. If you want to take it a step further, have a 1-3 second pause at the bottom of each rep and make sure you have full range of motion.
If I wanted to do a deep dive into the intricacies of deadlifting, stances and minute adjustments that you can do to optimize the movement for your specific anatomy, we’d be here for ages.
I know for a fact there are entire videos and articles dedicated only to the angle at which you flare your foot when deadlifting.
However, that’s for the pro’s to get into, for our purposes, a quick guide, lots of practice and maybe some help at the gym will do the job.
If you’ve never deadlifted before, be sure to consult a coach or trainer at your gym for some advice as well. While the internet is a great resource, there are some times where it can’t beat real life.
How to deadlift:
- Stand with the bar placed on the ground, over midfoot
- Bend at the hips and grab the bar at shoulder width.
- Bend your knees until your shins touch the bar
- Straighten your back
- Take a big breath, brace your abs and PULL the weight of the bar.
One final tip, it’s important to focus on driving with your legs, push up with your legs as you pull. It’s a full body motion.