This one is not for the anti-leg-day crowd! (Sorry, folks, the door’s over there ↖.)
Everyone else, welcome! If you want to add mass, definition, and vascularity to your wheels to turn those lame-o bean poles into ripped tree trunks, here’s how:
Table of Contents
What Are Ripped Legs?
Real talk: if you’ve ever seen a fellow dude’s legs and had the immediate internal thought of “ok, lol,” those were probably ripped legs.
Ripped legs are not only visibly muscular, but they also add crisp definition between the nine-plus muscles in the legs.
To name a few …
The thickness in the quads adds noticeable width to your upper legs, the hamstrings bulge without flexing, and the gastrocnemius (calf) assumes its naturally diamond shape.
Aside from all that, they share all the hallmarks of an otherwise ripped body — veins pulled closer to the surface, clear lines between muscles, and (ideally) sub-10% body fat.
Step 1 – Reshape Your Diet
Many industry experts dub it the “80/20 rule.” AKA: Your progress in the mirror or on the scale is supposedly about 80% nutrition and 20% exercise.
We can’t confirm those numbers exactly. But studies — like this one from 2011 — reveal that diet is more effective for weight loss than basic cardio training (-8.5% vs. -2.4% in 12 months).
To be extremely clear, there’s no “secret” diet for taking your legs to ripped status, nor is there a single superfood or supplement out there that’ll leave you with Arnold-sized wheels.
But here’s how bodybuilders to fuel pre-competition (cutting fat while preserving lean mass) and in the off-season (bulking to maximize muscle) to achieve a stage-ready ripped physique:
(Source: Macronutrient considerations for the sport of bodybuilding)
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Step 2 – Add “Ripped” Supplements to Your Routine
We’re not going to recommend garbage supplements like ZMA or testosterone boosters. But if any two supplements will work on your mission toward ripped legs, it’s fat burners & creatine.
One 2016 study shows that thermogenic fat loss supplements can increase resting metabolic rate (or RMR) by 6.9–9.1% in the three hours post-ingestion. The more calories you burn at rest, the higher your caloric deficit, and the quicker you’ll reach 10% body fat (within reason!).
(Yes, fat burners are also somewhat controversial, and there’s little research proving you’ll lose a substantial amount of fat.)
On the other hand, creatine is like the golden child of sports supplements. These days, hundreds of studies link this essential amino acid to improved workout performance, muscular hypertrophy, strength, and fat loss.
So if you’re especially thin, creatine can help to add some pounds to a skinny body type.
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Step 3 – Perform HIIT Workouts to Uncover Definition
The “cardio can burn lean mass” crew loves to shout their hatred for aerobic training into the void of online forums (which is more like an echo chamber).
But then there’s high-intensity interval training (or HIIT). This short-burst cardio is equally effective for overall weight loss as moderate cardio and can also burn up to 28.5% more absolute fat mass (study & study).
That brings us to step #3: twice weekly cycling HIIT sessions.
Turn up the resistance and alternate between 20 seconds of high-intensity cycling sprints and 40 seconds of lower-speed “rest” blocks. These sessions will burn body fat efficiently, while the resistance will increase your lower half’s size, strength, and definition.
Step 4 – Use Leg Resistance Training Workouts to Build Mass
Not skipping leg day is only half the battle. Dedicating two weekly training sessions to heavy-duty, badass resistance training is what separates the men from the boys.
Try this lower-body routine built on the pillars of maximum hypertrophy:
- Hack squat – 3 x 12, 10, 8 [120 seconds rest]
- Stiff-legged deadlift – 3 x 12, 10, 8 [120 seconds rest]
- Machine leg extension – 2 x 10–12 [60 seconds rest]
- Machine lying leg curl – 2 x 10–12 [60 seconds rest]
- Dumbbell Bulgarian split squat – 3 x 15 [60 seconds rest]
- Barbell standing calf raise – 2 x 25 [60 seconds rest]
- Dumbbell seated calf raise – 2 x 15 [60 seconds rest]
This plan combines compound lower-body exercises with isolation training that targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves individually to enhance growth and definition.
Step 5 – Rely on Lower-Body Circuits for More Variety
Resistance-based circuit training is yet another method for building lower-body lean mass while incinerating body fat sheathing your quads, hamstrings, and calves. Research from 2021 also connects this style of training to -4.3% body fat and +1.9% muscle mass.
Once a week, swap out one of your HIIT or leg workouts with this circuit:
- Kettlebell goblet squat – 45 seconds [15 seconds rest]
- Box jump – 45 seconds [15 seconds rest]
- Jumping squat – 45 seconds [15 seconds rest]
- Dumbbell side lunge – 45 seconds [15 seconds rest]
- Dumbbell pulse squat – 45 seconds [15 seconds rest]
- Step-up – 45 seconds [15 seconds rest]
- Physioball leg curl – 45 seconds [15 seconds rest]
- Repeat for 2–3 rounds
How to Get Ripped Legs Conclusion
Getting ripped legs can feel like a looooong journey and one requiring strategic dieting and training to increase lower-body size while simultaneously shredding fat.
If we had to knock it down to five steps:
- Reshape Your Diet
- Add “Ripped” Supplements to Your Routine
- Perform HIIT Workouts to Uncover Definition
- Use Leg Resistance Training Workouts to Build Mass
- Rely on Lower-Body Circuits for More Variety
Now, it’s time to stop making excuses and blaming genetics and finally work toward a pair of ripped legs worth sharing on Instagram.
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