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How to Build Leg Muscle in your Fifties and Sixties E-mail
Written by Lynn Glenn   

When, we get older our joints, hips and lower back sleg_muscletart to show signs of wear. They become more fragile and susceptible to injuries. Joints, hips and lower back all have taken their toll over the years, especially if you were involved in sports or a job that required manual labor.

At 60 I still wanted to be able to train my legs using heavier weights. I started to think about what if something would happen and I injure myself!

I am a very active person with various types of activities requiring me mobile. What would I do, if I were to lose that mobility? Suddenly, I found that free weights and squatting with 400 plus pounds did not make sense anymore! One wrong move or losing my balance could result in a serious injury. To avoid hip replacement, bad knees or having lower back problems, I had to find a safer method for building legs.

This article I will explain how to make training legs safer with less of a chance of injuries. The workout that I will be explaining will have your back supported and with a more controlled range of motion. I have completed this workout routine, with variations, for over a year now. My legs are growing and stronger than ever, but without the fear of injury.

If you still want to do squats with using free weights, then it would be better to use the Smith Machine. The Smith Machine is defiantly a safer piece of equipment than loading weights on a barbell. If you are unfamiliar with this equipment, it mimics squats using the barbell with plates, but with cables and safety devises on both sides. The main difference with this equipment, you do not have to worry about balancing the weight.

Muscles Used
  • Quadriceps
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Calves

The Equipment

Gyms have various types of equipment and brand names that will be similar to the ones that I will be mentioning. Hammer Strength, Universal, Pro Fitness, Maximus, Flex, LifeFitness, Nautilus, Power Strength, Body Solid, FreemMotion, Smith Machine, are some good examples of plate loading and cable gym equipment.

Leg Building Strategy

Your legs have very strong muscles. You'll find that you can lift heavier weights during your leg workouts than with other routines, and for that reason proper form is important so not to injure your back and/or your other joints.

With that being said, you'll often find that you can make bigger and quicker gains with your leg workouts. For example, over the course of a few months, you might find that you're increasing your weights on a weekly basis. When this happens, you really notice your legs taking shape!

The key to staying injury free and making gains is to use good form, and not to over train your muscles. You need to let your muscles rest in between workouts. Give them 3 or 4 days to rest before training them again. Follow up each workout with a protein shake and your legs will never be the same.

My Leg Building Workout

I train legs once a week in the middle of the week. This way it gives my upper body a day to rest before resuming. You can perform the leg work twice a week if you can or able to. I have found that it takes me a minimum of 3 days to recover from the workout I am about to discuss.

Warming up

Over a year ago I found out that it takes more time for my legs to warm up. To start with squats, like I use to, did not work for me anymore. Now I start with my calves, a little unorthodox I know but it works for me. My theory behind this is that your calve muscles are one the most used muscles in your body.

From the time you crawl out of bed in the morning until you are back in bed that night your calves are being use. With this theory in mind, when I get to the gym I work my calves first. My calves have already warmed up from using them throughout the day. I work them hard and burn them out before I attack the larger muscle groups. By now my heart is pumping, body has warmed up and blood is circulating. Now I am ready for my larger leg muscles.

The Leg Workout

Your calves along with your quads have three muscle groups each inner, outer and medial. Make sure your workout hits all muscle groups. The workout that I use and will explain below, will do that either individually or as a group.
  • The leg and calve workout along with most of my other workouts is done once per week. 
  • All reps mentioned here after are to failure, which means you cannot lift anymore weight after completing the last rep.
  • Quads, complete 4 sets each exercise, between 8 to 10 reps.
  • Hamstrings, 3 sets each exercise, between 8 to 10 reps.
  • Calves, 4 sets each exercise, between 10 to 12 reps. 

Calve Workout

With all calve exercises, it is not the weight being use that is as important as using proper form. You want your heels to go down as far as they can for the stretch.  Next, rise up on ball and toes of your feet as high as you can. Too much weight can prevent you from accomplishing this movement.

  • Seated calve press:  Start by using a calve press machine. I like using the LifeFitness Machine for this. You are in a seated position with the ball of you feet resting on the bar with legs slightly bent. With the ball of your feet you push forward until your toes end up on bar and then back down. Repeat. If your gym does not have similar equipment, you can use a leg press machine. Put just the ball of your feet on the leg press machine with your heels hanging off. Follow the same motion of movement as you would with the calve press machine.standing calf press
  • Standing calve raise: I use the LifeFitness Calve Raise Machine for this. There are other machines that are the same. This machine has pads for your shoulders press up against and bars for your hands to hold on to. Adjust the shoulder pad height then start with your legs slightly bent and heels hanging off the platform. Drop your heels down as far as they will go for the stretch, then up on ball and toes of your feet as high as you are able. Repeat.
  • Seated calve raise: Now, we will finish our calves off will seated calvseated calf raisee raises. I use the Hammer Strength plate loading equipment for this. I like completing this exercise last. It hits the medial calve muscle, a smaller muscle, the most. With the pads on top of your legs near your knees and your heels down from the bar as far as they will go. Now, left up until you are on ball and toes of your feet. Repeat. 

Quadricep (thigh)  Workout

There are lot theories in the order for which to complete your quad exercises. Find out which one works for you and follow it or change them up. Below I will be explaining one order of performing these exercises.

  • Squats:  There are many pieces of equipment at the gym that are made for squats,squat-2 with hand grips and where your back is supported. With weight added, back against the pad and hands on the grips, squat down to where your legs are at a 90 degree angle and then back up. Do not go below a 90 degree angle, this will put strain on your knees and may cause knee damage. When you are standing do not lock your knees keep your legs slightly bent and weight on your quads.
  • Leg Press: I like the Hammer Strength plate loading equipment for this. In a sitting position with your back against the pad, push your legs forward, stop before locking your knees with keeping the weight on your quads. Now lower the weight until your legs are at a 90 degree angle then push back up. Repeat.
  • Seated leg extensions: All gyms have seated leg extensioman using a leg extension machinen equipment. With weight added, adjust the pad height on your shins to where it sits just above your ankle. In a seated position with back supported lift your lower legs up to just before full extension and then back down. Repeat.

Hamstring Workout

I use two pieces of equipment for my hamstrings.

  • Lying reverse leg curl: Lay down with pad adjusted to where it rest on the back of your legs just above your ankles. Grab thewoman performing a seated hamstring curl hand grips by your head now curl your legs up to where the pad just about reaches your hamstrings. Now slowly straighten your legs and lower the pad back down. Repeat.
  • Seated reverse leg curl: Sit down with the pad adjusted behind your legs just above your ankles. With your back supported against the pad bring your legs to a 90 degree angle then slowly back to the starting position with legs slightly bent. Repeat.

In conclusion

Most of these exercises your back is supported, hands are on grips for balance and performed with a controlled range of motion. Be sure not to hyperextend your legs or bend your legs more than a 90 degree angle. You can complete these leg exercises indefinitely with only some weight modifications.

About the Author

Lynn GlennLynn Glenn is a 61 year old natural athlete who started training at the ripe young age of 48. Lynn lives in Southern California, and serves as a tremendous inspiration for many "mature" weightlifters in the gym that are trying to look better, feel better, and beat the crap out of father time. To contact Lynn, visit Lynn at

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