Fitness YouTuber Jeff Nippard recently shared the third installment of the six-part push, pull, leg series. Nippard is a Canadian natural bodybuilder, powerlifter, and fitness trainer. He won the Mr. Junior Canada title in 2012 and held the Canadian National Record for bench press in 2014. Nippard’s fitness and bodybuilding expertise comes from a bachelor of science degree in biochemistry and years of training. He has trained many natural bodybuilders in women’s and men’s divisions as well as powerlifters.
The Canadian fitness expert is a popular content creator in the YouTube fitness community and has over 3.5 million followers on his YouTube channel. Nippard’s content revolves around science-backed effective ways to make gains. Over the past few months, he has made several videos on topics like minimalist training approach and sustainable weight loss methods.
On Feb. 23, 2023, Jeff Nippard shared the third episode in his six-part series that aims to achieve complete strength and muscular development with minimalist training principles. In the first two episodes of the series, he has shared the push day and pull day workouts. So without further delay, let’s see what Jeff Nippard recommends for your lower body workout.
Jeff Nippard shares leg workout
Nippard advised starting the training session with this compound movement. The push, pull, leg series is based on the minimalist training approach for strength. Therefore Nippard included only one heavy set of barbell squats in the workout.
“We’re using a minimalist approach to strength and an optimization approach to hypertrophy. So for the squats, bench press and deadlift, we’re using just one hard set per week and then we’ll do two back-off sets with some variation for each lift,” Nippard added.
He suggested paving the way up to the working set through five warm-up sets. The fifth warm-up set should be done with a weight suitable for one rep max. The working set should ideally be done with 85 to 90 percent of the weight used for one rep max.
“This shouldn’t be an RPE 10 max effort that should be something around an RPE of eight or nine. You don’t want to leave more than one or two in the tank. Remember, we’re doing only one set so it does need to be challenging,” he added.
Two back-off sets should follow the heavy top set and Nippard advised to do pausing squats in these sets. The weight for these sets should be 75 percent of the weight used for the top set and you should ideally pause for one second at the bottom of every rep.
If hypertrophy is the primary goal and not strength, replace the squats with hack squats or the Bulgarian split squats. Another way to make the exercise more hypertrophy-focused is to increase the rep range to four to six.
Barbell Romanian Deadlifts
This variation of deadlift should follow the barbell squats on the leg day. The standard deadlifts are upper body strength exercises. However, the Romanian deadlifts work the entire posterior chain muscles and most notably the hamstrings and glutes in the lower body.
Nippard demonstrated the technique to perform the RDL and advised moving the bar up and down in a straight line to avoid the lower back muscles from taking over the load from hamstrings.
“Obviously the spinal erectors have to contract on RDL to prevent you from curling over. So it’s impossible to completely take your back out but you can shift the emphasis to the hamstrings a bit more.”
Three sets of eight to ten reps should be enough to get the maximum benefits.
Dumbbell Walking Lunges
Three sets of 10 reps per leg (total of 20 reps per set) of dumbbell walking lunges should follow the barbell Romanian deadlifts. Nippard cautioned about remembering three important things while doing this exercise. He said:
“First, avoid cutting that depth short. Notice that on each and every rep my knee softly makes contact with the floor. It’s very common for people to start limiting their depth toward the end of the set once the set starts getting really hard…”
“A lot of people try to rush through their lunges because they’re a fairly gruesome exercise. Despite that, you should think of them like you should any other hypertrophy focused movement where you’re actively taking control of the movement. If you’re letting gravity take over on negative, then you’re missing the most important aspect of the lift.”
“The third thing to avoid is letting your grip strength limit the load that you can use. A lot of people go way to light on walking lunges. They end their set once they feel fatigued but don’t actually approach muscular failure. One of the main reasons for this is that they just pick up a relatively light dumbbell that they can grip easily… So if your grip is a limiting factor, I definitely recommend strapping in and using the dumbbells that will actually get your legs closer to failure by the end of the set.”
Seated Leg Curls
Nippard cited a 2021 study that found that seated leg curls led to about 56 percent more muscle growth than lying leg curls as they worked the hamstrings from a more lengthened position. To get the most benefit from seated leg curls, the Canadian fitness expert suggested starting with the proper seat position.
“If you don’t feel the stretch in your hamstrings in the starting position, you may not have the seat up far enough or you may want to lean forward on the machine a bit until you feel that tug of passive tension in your hamstrings.”
He advised doing 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps of seated leg curls to work the hamstrings before taking up the next exercise of the day.
Leg Press Toe Press
Nippard suggested taking up this exercise next to target the calves. Since this is a high-volume leg training session, the Canadian feels it is a good way to give the back and other muscles a little bit of rest while you work the calves.
Decline Plate Crunches
The push, pull and leg split does not have a dedicated slot for abs or core. Nippard personally likes to combine the abs workout with lower body as most abs exercises also work the hip flexors.
While speaking about the correct technique to target the abs, Jeff Nippard stated:
“You wanna hold a plate to your chest and focus on squeezing your abs together. Don’t just hinge at your hips. That’ll mostly target the hip flexors. Instead, allow your lower back to round as you squeeze your six-pack together.”
Nippard advised doing 3 sets of this exercise for 10 to 12 reps to end the training session.
Overall, the workout should include:
- Treadmill or Stairmaster – 5 to 10 minutes
- Front to Back Leg Swings
- Side to Side Leg Swings
- Side Lying Twists
- Step Throughs
- First warm-up set – 45 lbs for 10 reps
- Second warm-up set – 135 lbs for 5 reps
- Third warm-up set – 225 lbs for 3 reps
- Fourth warm-up set – 275 lbs for 2 reps
- Fifth warm-up set – 315 lbs for 1 rep
- Working set – ~85 to 90 percent of 1 rep max for 2 to 4 reps
- Back-off sets – 2 sets of paused squats for 5 reps at 75 percent of the top set weight
- Barbell Romanian Deadlifts – 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps
- Dumbbell Walking Lunges – 2 sets of 10 reps per leg
- Seated Leg Curls – 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps
- Leg Press Toe Press – 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps
- Decline Plate Crunches – 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps
Jeff Nippard has started the minimalist principle-based push pull leg training series for people that see bodybuilding not as their life but as a part of their life. The purpose of these training sessions is to make the maximum possible gains with the least amount of time spent in the gym. So head out to the gym and make fitness training a part of your life. You now know what to do on a leg day without having to spend hours and hours in the gym.
You can watch the full video here, courtesy of Jeff Nippard’s personal YouTube channel: