Anyone who has been resistance training for awhile is most certainly familiar with the fact that not all of us develop each muscle at the same rate. What I mean when I say this is that despite our great intentions and training efforts, some of us struggle to develop certain muscle groups. The fitness community has even developed words and phrases to describe those of us afflicted with a “lagging body part”, phrases like “bird chested”, “noodle arms”, and the like. The most common one that I am hearing these days is “chicken legs”. If you are someone with “Chicken Legs”, We are about to dive into a foolproof plan to fix that problem, but before we do we have to address the root cause.
When a body part is underdeveloped you want to know what the number one exercise is? Genetics. When a body part is well developed you want to know what the number one reason is? Hard work and effort. If you want to change the way your “lagging” body parts you need to first eliminate any excuse you have concocted for having them. Yes, genetics do play a role, but do you really believe you have a disproportionate amount of growth ability in all the tissues BUT the ones you think are “lagging”? That’s where I call bullshit.
Here are the facts, if you like the way a muscle looks you probably train it hard as hell every time, and if you don’t like training a muscle ( legs being by FAR the most anecdotally reported least favorite muscle to train) its probably not going to develop as well as the ones you love training. So, if you want to bring up your legs the way you do the rest of your body – you need to fall in love with being under the bar. There is no substitute for squats when it comes to leg development, and volume is key – to paraphrase Dan John, “find me a guy with small legs that can squat 225 for 20 – you cant,” and he is completely correct! If you want your legs to grow you need to make an effort to squat, and squat often. Movements like deadlifts, lunges, Romanian deadlifts, and other variations of the squat are great, and you’ll need to fall in love with them too if you want to maximize your leg development but it all starts with the squat.
In terms of how often to train your legs if you want them to truly develop, I am a firm believer that you should aim for a frequency of three times per week. From my experience with both myself and my clients a higher training frequency is better for development then a higher training intensity. For example:
Now, I can tell you for a fact I have yet to find someone squatting 3-4 times a week that suffers from chicken legs. The majority of people don’t have stubborn muscle groups, they have stubborn egos. Don’t be afraid to change your approach if what you are doing is not working!