Lower Body Barbell Workout

As we already know, serious muscle growth requires well-dosed, heavy weights, circling around 65-85% of your one repetition maximum, with the repetitions being anywhere from 6 to 15, depending on the muscle group that you are training.

However, many people think that isolating cable exercises will be the key factor to real muscle growth. We from MeanMuscles though, know for a fact that you cannot really go heavy on isolated exercises.

This is simply because, these are the exact exercises that require the work of only one muscle group. And as we know, the musculature is stronger when it works in synergy, instead of isolation.

Which means that if you want serious gains in the quadriceps area, leg extensions are not the best tool to use.

Of course, isolated exercises have their place in the workout routine, but they are mainly used to shape up the musculature during the fat-shredding period, rather than gaining mass during the off-season.

For that same reason, we have prepared for you a full-blown, compound, barbell-only workout for the lower body, which, if done correctly, will spur the growth of your legs.

Besides that, these heavy, compound movements which you will go through during the workout, will boost your endocrine system. What this means, is that the production of hormones will be more prominent, leading to a better well-being overall.

The workout

This workout begins with 10 to 20 minutes of warm up. The warm up includes light cardio like rope jumping or jogging, as well as stretching and breathing exercises.

After you are completely ready and focused, you can proceed to the workout.

Exercise Number of Sets Number of Repetitions Muscle groups involved
Body-weight squats 4 15 Quadriceps primarily, hamstrings secondarily
Barbell squats 5 12,12,12,10,8 Quadriceps primarily, hamstrings secondarily
Barbell walking lunges 3 15 Quadriceps, hamstrings
Barbell Romanian deadlift 5 10 Hamstrings, glutes, calves are stretched
Barbell hip thrust 5 12 Glutes primarily, hamstrings and quadriceps secondarily
Barbell standing calf raise 6 15 Calves

Body-weight squats

The point of doing body-weight squats after stretching and warming up, is to adapt the leg musculature to the movement pattern of the movement itself.


  • Stand up straight with your hands reaching forward
  • Place your feet at shoulder width and open your toes slightly
  • Keep your knees slightly bent, without locking them out
  • Squat down until your legs are parallel to the ground, or even lower if you can keep balance


Keep a moderate, even pace and avoid bouncing/locking out your knees.

Avoid letting your knees go in front of the line of your toes.

Barbell squats

This heavily compound movement engages the whole body, with the focus, of course, being on the quadriceps, while the hamstrings and glutes are secondarily involved.

It is recommended that you progressively increase the weights throughout the 5 sets, with the last, 8 repetition set being the most challenging one- Failure can be reached.


  • Rack the barbell at around shoulder height
  • Get under the bar grab it wider than shoulder width and center it perfectly on your trapezius so it doesn’t fall on neither side
  • Unrack the bar
  • Get into a squat stance- Feet at shoulder width with toes pointing slightly diagonally
  • Squat down until hamstrings are parallel to the ground, or lower- Ass to the grass depth can be reached
  • Squat up and drive the tension through your heels, so that your quadriceps are engaged more- Avoid squatting on your toes, as that can lead to serious injury.


Do not lock out the knees and if you do, do it gradually.

Keep moderate pace and constant tension throughout the whole movement, do not bounce on the way up.

Barbell walking lunge

This barbell exercise emphasizes on the quadriceps, but also stretches out the hamstrings and secondarily involves the glutes.

It is especially effective as the balance required during the movement is higher, meaning that the musculature is under greater tension.


  • Place the barbell on your trapezius and grab it with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width.
  • Slightly bend your knees, avoid locking them out.
  • Step forward with your right leg and go down, barely touching the ground with your left knee.
  • Move up and proceed to the next repetition, on the opposite leg respectively.


Avoid hitting the ground with your knees, as that may lead to serious patella (kneecap) damage.

Keep a moderate pace throughout the whole movement and keep as much balance as possible.

Barbell Romanian dead-lift

This intense exercise engages the hamstrings primarily, while stretching out the calves and involving the glutes and lower back secondarily.


  • Place the barbell on the ground (DEADlift- you have to lift the weight off of a dead position, not from a rack)
  • Step behind the bar, slightly bend your knees
  • Bend over and grab the bar with an overhand grip, at shoulder width
  • Keep your back straight and start driving the tension through the hamstrings
  • Lift the weight up, while keeping your back straight
  • At the top of the movement, contract the glutes


Do not overextend the movement at the end of each rep- Each rep ends when your torso is at a 90-degree angle.

Keep a moderate pace, so that constant tension is maintained upon the hamstrings.

Barbell hip thrust

This exercise targets the glutes primarily, while the hamstrings and quadriceps are secondarily involved. It is a perfect tool to use, that will help you shape up your glutes, which are a huge part of the lower body.


  • Place the barbell on the side of a bench
  • Lay on the side of the bench with the upper portion of your back and get under the bar
  • Place the barbell on your hips
  • Keep the knees bent and feet placed at shoulder width, as illustrated
  • Lift your butt off of the floor
  • Thrust up, contracting the glutes
  • Hold the contraction for a split second and return to the original position, without sitting on the ground


Do not use excessive force on the way up, as that may cause the barbell to lift off of your hips, and then damage you by falling on your hips.

If needed, place a pad in the middle of the barbell, so that the movement will be more comfortable.

Barbell standing calf raise

This last exercise engages and stretches the calves and allows you to achieve perfect contraction if done with an appropriate weight and form.


  • Place the barbell on your traps, perfectly centered to achieve maximum balance
  • Step with your toes on a ledge
  • Lift yourself up on your toes, contracting the calves
  • Hold the contraction, then go all the way down, stretching the calves
  • Proceed to the next repetition


To maintain better balance, the exercise can be done on a smith machine.

Keep a moderate pace and focus on contracting and stretching the calves- Usually, if you are not genetically gifted, calves are a stubborn muscle group, so the focus put in during this exercise should be as high as possible.


This lower body workout, that focuses on free weight exercises, using only barbells will spur the growth of your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves.

Not only that, but exercises like squats and dead-lifts will help you develop core and lower back stability and strength, mainly because the core and lower back musculature are responsible for the stability during the movement.

Let us know how you felt after this workout- If, of course, you are able to walk home. If you want to focus your upper body, then read Barbell Upper Body Workout article. A more specific type of barbell workout would be the Ultimate Guide for Barbell Overhead Press. Do not miss that article!

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