Search icon

Fitness & Health

24th Aug 2018

Why you can still train legs when the squat rack is busy

A busy gym is frustrating - but that doesn't mean you should skip leg day

Alex Roberts

If all the squat racks at your gym are taken, that isn’t reason to skip leg day

With minimal equipment, you can still achieve all the leg growth you desire without a barbell in sight.

Leg presses and Bulgarian split squats are proven but under-utilised exercises for adding size to your quads, glutes and hamstrings. They’re also compound exercises, in much the way the barbell squat is.

Leg Press

While it may not appear to be as demanding as the standard barbell squat, the leg press provides all the same benefits. Your quads, glutes, hammies and the smaller stabilising muscles will all feel the burn.

That’s what you want, right?

Place both feet shoulder-width apart on the leg press. Release the weight and lower your legs toward your chest in a slow and controlled manner, keeping tension on all the target muscles.

Pause at the bottom of the movement, just before your knees touch your chest. Hold for 1-2 seconds and then press the weight back up, focussing on flexing through the quads.

You can even emphasise different muscles by alternating your foot position. The higher your feet on the platform, the greater the focus on glutes. The lower you place your feet, the more quad involvement.

Pressing with just your toes will see the calves take the full force of the lift. You’ll have to lower the weight somewhat for that variation though.

Bulgarian Split Squat

Ray Buckton, PT at Gymbox, has outlined how to perform the Bulgarian split squat and crucially, why you need to integrate it into your workout plan.

As the clip above depicts, all you need is a flat bench and a set of dumbbells.

With each dumbbell in hand, stand about two feet away from the bench, and place the top of your foot onto the bench behind. Keeping your back straight and chest upright, lower until your quad on the opposing side is parallel to the floor.

Hold at this position for 1-2 seconds and then return to the start position, keeping all tension on the quads and glutes. Your supporting foot should remain flat on the floor at all times, allowing you the ability to drive through the heel.

Once you’ve hit your target number of reps, simply switch legs and repeat on that side.

You can make the split squat tougher by placing your back leg on a higher platform. This move is an underrated core builder, too – requiring great stability to ensure you’re well-balanced throughout each part of the lift.

Read more on how training legs can even build your chest and back