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When setting up a suitable workout routine, I often stumble upon routines that feature two or more exercises per training day for Quads and Hamstrings (e.g. Squats and Bulgarian Split Squats or Romanian Deadlifts and Leg Curls, respectively). Compared to upper body work that seems like a lot more volume.

Simplified, a push day out of such a workout routine (that makes me wonder and therefore ask this question) might look like this:

  • Back Squat
  • Bulgarian Split Squat
  • Calf Raise
  • Bench Press
  • Overhead Press
  • Lateral Raise
  • Biceps Curl

As far as I see, this would result in a lot higher volume for the Legs (in this case Quads) than for Chest or Shoulders. This sort of routine would be placed in a Push Pull workout for people with about 1 year of training experience.

So what is the reasoning behind that? Is it because the Quads are bigger muscles then Chest or Shoulders? Will one training with the mentioned above routine see greater muscle growth than one only training Squats on Push Day 1 and then Bulgarian Split Squat on Day 2 for example?

To clarify, the overall goal is muscle gain and therefore hyperthrophy in the most efficient way, yet in a recoverable manner.

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"As far as I see, this would result in a lot higher volume for the Legs (in this case Quads) than for Chest or Shoulders."

That really depends on how you want to look at it.

Let's assume each exercise you listed the same sets and reps. For simplicity, we'll say 10 reps each.

In that case, we have 20 reps of quads (squat and split squat).

But for the shoulders, broadly speaking, we have 30 reps. (bench press, overhead press, lateral raise). Note I say broadly because you could get more technical and try to break this down by specific parts of the shoulder, but for most, saying these all work the shoulders is good enough.

It is true the chest doesn't get as much work though, as really only the bench press would be classified as a chest exercise.

In general, it is accepted the legs can handle, and thus end up needing, more volume than the upper body in order to grow. If you've ever been on a crutches for an extended period, where you are more or less walking with your arms instead of your legs, you quickly appreciate how much of a beating your legs get from daily life. This is at least the common rationale given behind why the legs need more volume.

It's a bit of a rabbit hole. Many think they don't actually need more volume, rather people need to actually do the volume harder. For instance, people tend to get after it more with a bench press than a squat, because, well, squats hurt.

Still, you go all the way back to Arnold's days, you'll see those guys doing 20 rep squats. They even have a bit of a mystique in the bodybuilding world (primarily because they're so terrible to do!)

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Yes, your leg muscles are general bigger than those of your upper body. Only Latissimus dorsi and Pectoralis major are comparable to your leg muscles in strength and endurance.

Your leg muscles are mainly used for walking, running and climbing in that natural life, your body is genetically optimized for. This means they are prepared for an endless number of repetitions - many more than your upper body.

Whether you do back squat or bulgarian split squat wont make any big difference. However, mixing two exercises in one day often help you to do a higher volume simply because other parts of your body than the target muscles are subject to a different load. When you feel like you can not do any more repetitions, then it is not just because of the limits of your quads and glutes. Stabilising muscles and tissue gets tired too.

If your overall goal is generally gaining muscles mass (weight) then it would be advisable to include as many different exercises as possible like you do in Crossfit, Calisthenics, Parkour etc to target the largest possible number of auxiliary muscles as well.

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