How often should I squat each week to gain leg strength?
This is the nineteenth question that I’m answering this month of the 24 most commonly asked questions Mark and I receive.
The Short Answer
Squat heavy at least once a week.
Back squat, front squat, overhead squat, and lunges are all variations of a lower-body press. Do one of these heavy at least once a week. Then do the others at whatever intensity you choose.
The Long Answer
Is the phrase “gain leg strength” an objective goal (i.e. back squat 200-lbs)? If this is the case, you should be squatting heavy more than once a week. A periodized squatting program would be ideal while also following a diet plan closely.
Or is the phrase “gain leg strength” a subjective goal (i.e. you just want to feel stronger in your legs)? If this is the case, you should stick to the short answer above — choose one of the squat variations listed above and perform the lift heavy at once a week. Then do the other variations at a lighter weight throughout the week.
With that being said, recognize that you have posterior muscles that make up the overall strength of your leg (i.e. hamstrings, glutes, calves). It would be unwise to train the anterior muscles (quads and hip flexors which are dominant in the squat) at the exclusion of the posterior muscles.
So you should also add in variations of “lower-body pulls:” conventional deadlift, sumo deadlift, single-leg deadlift, and sprints (running). Do one of these heavy and then the others at a different level of intensity once a week.
You simply can’t develop a strong leg without training both the front and back muscles of the leg.
For these reasons, squat and “pull” heavy at least once a week. Then sprinkle in variations of that lift throughout the rest of the week at lighter loads.
You will be pleased with the results.