Fix Your Chicken Legs: Embrace Leg Day

I will never forget my uncle ridiculing men at the gym with big torsos and little legs. He called them “dipstick legs.” If this image makes you stand in front of the mirror and ask yourself if you are “that guy,” don’t panic. I’m here to teach you how to do leg day the right way.

Legs are the new abs

Just in case you haven’t heard: chicken legs are out, big thighs are in. I won’t lie to you, you’re in for hard work, but you’re going to come out looking like a Greek god. Here’s what you need to be doing:

Kanye’s new leg day plan

Always start off with a good warm-up. Personally, I recommend 5 minutes of cardio followed by Joe DeFranco’s Agile 8. Now that you’re loose, here are the exercises you will do in this order.

1. Squats

I could spend days discussing proper squat form, but no one wants that. Instead, I highly recommend you watch this video.

The most important thing about squats is that you hit FULL depth.[1]

If you cannot safely hit depth with the weight on your back, it is too heavy. Check your ego and lower the weight.


2. Split squats

Set up a bench about 4 feet behind you. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, lift up one leg and bring it back so that your toes rest on the bench. Now squat to parallel (watch). Hit your prescribed number of reps (more on that later) on this leg, and then do the other leg. That’s one set.

3. Seated hamstring curls

Hamstring curl machines, found in every gym, specifically target the hamstrings, which make up the bulk of your thigh. Be sure to bring the weight up slowly to accentuate the tension on the hamstring.

4. Hip abduction

Wait, Ben, you mean that machine that’s only used by hot girls in yoga pants? Yes, that one. Strong hips are key to a strong lower body [2]. This is where you put in the work to avoid injury and push through those tough squat sets. Thank me later when you’re dominating your office flag football league.

MRW my little nephews think they're tough and want to switch our football game from flag to tackle.


I would be remiss if I gave you all of this information and didn’t tell you how to use it correctly. This progression is simple:

  • Week 1 – Find a weight that you can perform correctly and safely for 12 reps. Do 3 sets of 12 reps for each exercise listed above.
  • Week 2 – Add a set to each exercise. That means you are doing 4 sets of 12.
  • Week 3 – Add another set! 5 sets of 12, you are a monster.
  • Week 4 – Add 5 pounds to your squat and bump up the weight as you see fit for the other exercises. Go back to 3 sets of 12. Next week you will do 4 sets of 12, then 5…repeat the process until none of your pants fit.

Putting it all together

Face leg day with these tools at your disposal and you can’t go wrong. Add plenty of protein and carbs to your diet so that your body can build the muscle you need to crack sidewalks. Now get out there and get under the bar!

None animated GIF

Leg Day Schedule 


[1] Effect of Squat Depth on Lower-Body Postactivation Potentiation

[2] Core Strength and Lower Extremity Alignment during Single Leg Squats

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