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I have read through the numerous answers on this site for getting bulkier legs. It seems that it is largely based on genetics, aided by the type of exercise. However, I do not have access to a gym and yet, I would like to increase my leg size. My plan is to do high intensity squats. By that I mean, doing full sit-down squats 40 times in a minute and repeating this 4 or 5 times. I'm trying to replicate a sprinting uphill type scenario while I'm at home during study breaks.

Will this be helpful? Or should I employ a different method to gain leg mass? I am a vegetarian, so other things I'm doing to gain mass are drinking milk and whey protein. Any tips here also?

  • Jump lunges would be a good way to build more size/explosiveness if you don't have weights you can incorporate. Step forward into a lunge, then you switch to lunging with the other leg by jumping into the air from the lunge position, switching legs in the air, and landing, going down into the deep lunge on the "other" side. – PoloHoleSet Sep 26 '16 at 15:26
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I think short max effort sprints would definitely help increase leg mass. It will promote skeletal muscle growth, and testosterone release. It would also develop fast twitch muscle fibres.

These sprints could also be performed on a bike aswell as running. For instance look at the size of the legs of a pro track cyclist - Sprinters like Chris Hoy and notably Robert Forstemann!!

Pair this with a solid bodyweight routine including movements like:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Calf Raises
  • Pistol Squats
  • Donkey Kicks
  • Box Jumps
  • stiff legged dumbbell deadlifts (if you have any dumbbells)
  • slosh pipe lunges

and I think you'll be on your way to gaining some good lean mass without going to the gym.

Remember to always eat well with plenty of protein and drink lots of water to help repair muscles and promote growth post workout.

And you're doing the right thing by drinking Whey. You could also supplement Creatine (5g per day) to help with water retention to assist with muscle repair. BCAA's to help your body synthesise new proteins. Glutamine 5g directly after workout and 5g before bed also possibly a half scoop of whey with half scoop of casein before bed as a slow release protein shake to keep you fuelled throughout the night.

But to take it to the next level and see real leaps in size, you really do need a good gym with a squat rack/power rack for squats and deadlifts.

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You should do that. The high intensity squats you describe are typically bodyweight training. The biggest advantage of it is that you can build muscles and get super fit - in only a really short amount of time. If you put your muscles to pressures they are not used to they get bigger. I do that too and I am drinking much milk, as well. Furthermore, I eat cheese, two eggs a day and every evening I eat a lowfat quark mix. Bodyweight training is perfectly suitable for your goals, as it requires a minimum of time and brings you maximum of results - no matter what your goal is. I recommend you the book “You are your own gym“ by Mark Lauren. He describes the backgrounds and advantages of bodyweight training, gives you a lot of exercises you could do (of course, for all parts of the body) and explicitely tells you why you don't need a gym at all to get fit and to build muscles (at least not to build them to an extrem level like some bodybuilders do, which is normally naturally impossible for the body).

I don't know about your fitness level, but if you are able to do that many squats, then why not? Keep in mind that three to four days a week is enough if you exercise hard enough, which is required to actually build muscles doing bodyweight training (If you only want to train your legs, once or twice is enough). You should work out until your muscles can't work anymore. I can't stress enough how important resting is afterwards! Also keep in mind that you should do different exercises for the same muscles. Change them every four weeks - that way your body has to get used to the new pressures (even if it requires the same groups of muscles) and can build muscles, so that you can increase your leg size.

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  • From Mark Rippetoe: "Correctly designed barbell training programs take advantage of the fact that barbells can be incrementally loaded and gradually made heavier, thus forcing the body to gradually become stronger at a rate that can be supported by each individual. If you only use your own bodyweight for the resistance, it severely limits your ability to tailor the resistance to meet your current level of adaptation, and to gradually increase that adaptation so as to improve your strength in a predictable, directable way". – Gunge Sep 26 '16 at 14:12
  • M Lauren responded in kind to Rip and agreed on his points. Basically, you cannot progressively overload and develop muscle mass and strength through repeating the same bodyweight exercise as effectively as following a barbell routine. reddit.com/r/Fitness/comments/n13d8/… – Gunge Sep 26 '16 at 14:16
  • 1-2 days a week is not enough on bodyweight squats to develop legs significantly, because it's certainly not enough for a barbell program. – Gunge Sep 26 '16 at 14:17
  • Mark Lauren also focuses more on building STRENGTH and not muscle size. OP seems to only care about size. – Gunge Sep 26 '16 at 14:18
  • I agree, too. But what is the use of massive legs without any strength? I am saying that it is possible to get both power and size. (I know barbells would also help increase the strength, but not as much as bodyweight training does). I know about the effects of barbell training, but from my experience bodyweight training is still better. And as I said, as long as you don't want to get extremely massive, bodyweight training can help. You can vary every exercise to maintain the possibility for the body to adjust. – Harmless Psycho Sep 27 '16 at 4:38
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Background/Qualification: I'm 5ft 5in, 25 years old and I have a 3 plate, 3 rep squat maximum (3 reps @ 140kg/315lb) at 75kg bodyweight. My thighs/quads are BIG, if i'm standing straight with my legs together then my quads are wider overall than both my waist and hips. I don't know anyone my age and height with legs comparable to mine (who isn't obese/powerlifter), i'm hovering at around 17-20% bf (estimated).

If you want big thighs then you need to eat big and squat big. I can guarantee you aren't eating enough.

Provided you are starting lean (<20%bf) and have the ability to eat around 3000 calories a day and workout for a hour and a half 3 times a week then you are all set:

To improve your muscle size, you need a equivalent to a barbell program. Grab a piece of scaffold and tie on some water jugs or grab a heavy object and do front squats. The key is that you need something you can add a small amount of weight to every time you work out:

"Correctly designed barbell training programs take advantage of the fact that barbells can be incrementally loaded and gradually made heavier, thus forcing the body to gradually become stronger at a rate that can be supported by each individual. If you only use your own bodyweight for the resistance, it severely limits your ability to tailor the resistance to meet your current level of adaptation, and to gradually increase that adaptation so as to improve your strength in a predictable, directable way". Mark Rippetoe

Bodyweight and barbell programs will both make you strong, there are many stories of people who don't weight train and end up lifting very large amounts their first time out, due to body weight skills. Here is a video of Ross Enamait deadlifting 495lbs (at 170lb body weight) with no deadlift skills and a primarily bodyweight-only training routine.

But to get BIG you need a barbell (or equivalent) and a big diet, this is why bodybuilders do mostly barbell work and not mostly bodyweight work. Take supplements (creatine/protein) if you need it but you should be tracking your diet and understand you macronutrient breakdown to see if you do.

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  • Can you please clarify the difference between body weight and barbell? By bodyweight you mean pushups, squats without weights kinda thing right? – Jonathan Sep 26 '16 at 18:48
  • bodyweight would be push-ups, burpees, bodyweight squats, horizontal row, etc. Go google a "barbell" – Gunge Sep 27 '16 at 6:44

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