The Muscle Beach Leg Workout | Gavin Matthews

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In this timeless pre-exhaust lower-body workout, you’ll frontload the volume so you can get the most out of some hard squats at the end. Build your legs the old-school way at Muscle Beach.
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When you visit a historic, iconic gym like Muscle Beach Venice, in California, it can be tempting to simply stand along the sidelines and watch. At this gym, unlike anywhere else in the world, athletes are onstage 365 days a year, many doing crazy stunts on the pull-up bars or tossing around weights to earn applause from bystanders.

But on the flipside, the great physiques of Muscle Beach’s past were forged through hard work, and hard workouts, on the simple machines and free weights along the boardwalk. And the best tribute you can give to bodybuilding history is to fearlessly step up and get under the bar yourself. That’s the route that Gavin Matthews, a Muscle Beach Nutrition athlete, takes on his high-volume leg day.

There’s nothing exotic in this workout. It’s all time-tested movements like the leg press, hack squat, lunge, and squat, in a classic pre-exhaust model. You won’t need more than 45-50 minutes to knock the whole thing out if you keep the rest periods short, but it’ll be the most intense 45 minutes of your week.

Don’t expect anyone to clap when you finish that last set of squats with a weight far below your max. But expect to feel like you’ve accomplished something, and like walking to the locker room is a serious challenge.

| The Muscle Beach Leg Workout |
1. Leg Press: 4 sets, 20 reps
2. Hack Squat: 4 sets, 15 reps
3. Dumbbell Walking Lunge: 4 sets, 15 reps
4. Giant Set
a. Stiff-Legged Dumbbell Deadlift: 4 sets, 10 reps
b. Dumbbell Sumo Squat: 4 sets, 15 reps
5. Barbell Squats: 3 sets, to failure

| Leg Press |
“This is going to warm up all of our joints, our hips, our knees, going to get blood flow to the glutes, the hamstrings, and the quads,” Matthews says.

But don’t just toss on a plate and go to town for 20 reps. Matthews has a very specific protocol in mind.

Start by doing 5 reps with your feet wide on the platform and a slow, controlled pace of 3-second negatives and 3-second concentric contractions. Then, immediately move your feet to a neutral, hip-width stance and do another 5 reps focusing on 5-second negatives with explosive concentrics. Then, move your feet to the middle of the platform, in a narrow stance, and do the last 10 reps, focusing on keeping the muscle contracted the whole time. This is pure time under tension, so no locking out those knees!

Add weight each set if you can, and rest for no more than a minute between sets.

“Keep fighting through it and pump all that blood into that muscle,” Matthews says. “That way, it’ll warm you up for the next exercise.”

| Hack Squat |
Unlike the leg press, where you were alternating tempos and stances, you’ll just hit your reps here with perfect, identical form.

“Keep a neutral to narrow stance, focusing more on pressing through the midline of our toes down to our heels, pushing all through our quads to pump them up,” Matthews says. “Push through the ball of the foot. Keep the chest out and the back flat on the pad. Focus all your attention with the machine just on the muscle you’re working.”

As they get fatigued, many lifters find they end up on their tippy-toes toward the end of their sets on the hack squat, but Matthews says to focus on staying flat-footed. If these burn your quads like crazy, you’re on the right track.

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