Pairing legs and arms on the same day, while not the most common training split, can be great for a muscle growth split.
Structuring leg and arm training together on the same day provides lifters with an opportunity to bump up training frequency to facilitate further growth, helps to improve recovery (when paired with higher training frequencies), and can improve the quality of work sets for both muscle groups (when compared to parining arms with other upper body muscles).
But, how do you pair leg and arm workouts together on the same day? You would start by doing 2-3 legs exercises, followed by 2-3 arm exercises, with the most compound exercises first, followed by isolation movements. Ideally, you would perform 8-12 sets of leg exercises and 4-8 sets for both biceps and triceps. The maximum total work sets should be 20 for both legs and arms.
In this article, I’ll give you a sample program that will lay out the exact details to show you how to integrate leg and arm exercises on the same day, without impeding muscle growth and strength development for either.
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3 Benefits of Training Legs and Arms on the Same Day
The three benefits of training legs and arms on the same day are:
Increase Training Frequency
Minimizes Excessive Single Day Volume
Train For Growth without Fatigue
While this is a very beneficial way to maximize workout efficiency and growth, it is not the only way.
Regardless of what workout split you choose, it is important to remember that the best workout split is the one that gets done consistently.
INCREASE TRAINING FREQUENCY
For optimal results, it is generally recommended to train a muscle group at least two times a week, sometimes three depending on recovery, total work sets per day, and weekly volume.
For most people, training legs twice per week is ample. Arms can often be trained two to three times per week. If you are someone who trains legs once per week, you will find it beneficial to spread out the weekly volume across two or three workouts, rather than one (as cramming all that volume into one hellish workout, while “tough” could actually be minimizing your ability to recovery properly and maintain high muscle stimulation for all reps and sets).
When you train, for example, all 18 sets of quadriceps (upper limit of weekly volumes) on one day, you will 100% not be able to walk tomorrow and will often have the last 4-6 sets of that workout be generally fatiguing with low levels of muscle stimulation, simply due to excessive work done on a single day.
Related Article: Should You Train Chest & Triceps Together?
MINIMIZES EXCESSIVE SINGLE DAY VOLUME
Cramming your entire weekly training volume for a muscle group into one singular session can often lead to decreased recovery, excessive soreness, and low levels of stimulus to fatigue ratios during a workout session (usually occurred after 8-12 hard work sets for a given muscle group).
In short, the goal of a muscle growth program is to stimulate as much muscle growth within a session via direct muscle training, while also minimizing systemic fatigue to allow for optimal recovery. Too much stimulus often leads to excessive stress on a muscle and decreased recovery, which leads to decreased muscle growth and potential injury.
On the other hand, too little stimulus correlates to little fatigue (good), however there is no stimulus and stress that the body needs to recover from, so little growth occurs as well. Therefore, understanding the optimal ranges to work within to maximize muscle stimulus and not impede recovery and growth is key.
For example, let’s say you train 18 sets of quads (upper end of total volume for weekly growth) on a single day (5 sets of hack squats, 4 sets of high bar squats, 4 sets of split squats, and 5 sets of leg extensions).
Aside from being a long and grueling workout, you will most likely find that the back half of the workout will have you feeling low energy, beat down, and menally and physically tired (and if you are not tired at that point, you clearly did not train hard enough with the hack squats and back squats).
Instead, you could split this workout into two separate days, performing the hack squats, split squats, and leg extensions on one day (and couple this with some arm exercises), and train the back squat and splits squats later in the week (paired with some more arms, and maybe some hamstrings work).
By spreading volume across the week, rather than on one day, you can often perform higher quality work, and more of it (since your recovery will be improved). Both of those lead to increased muscle growth and decreased injury risks.
Related Article: Rep Ranges For Arm Workouts: Everything You Should Know
TRAIN FOR GROWTH WITHOUT FATIGUE
Leg day is typically reserved for exclusively training legs. This is a no brainer since most leg days require the utmost focus, motivation, and energy. Leg training is exhausting, and by itself humble even the hardest of lifters.
In most typical splits, however, arms are often trained with other upper body muscle groups, which may in fact compromise your ability to maximize arm growth while also minimizing excessive fatigue that may be holding back other muscle groups as well.
Let’s take a classic, back and biceps split for example.
The biceps are used in essentially every upper body pulling movement, such as rows, pull ups, and pulldowns.
While this can be helpful to get some arm training in without devoting a lot of time to train them directly, it may not be the most effective way to maximize arm growth (unless you start with training the biceps, but then the back will be hindered later in the session).
By training arms on leg day, there are no conflicts of competing muscle groups being exhausted prior to their dedicated and isolated work sets. This could mean increased
biceps and triceps growth, improved upper body strength, and lower body leg development, all by simply modifying your training splits and pairings.
Related Article: How Often Should You Train Arms? (5 Things To Know)
Why Should You Train Legs and Arms on the Same Day?
When looking at what muscle groups to pair together on the same day, you need to be cognizant of the impact training one may have on the other if it is trained directly afterwards.
A good example of this is when training the chest and triceps on the same day. If you finish you chest exercise (let’s say heavy bench press, some dumbbell presses, and flyes supersetted with push ups), by the time you get to your triceps (weight dips and skullcrushers) your triceps will already be beat up from the pressing.
In this example, you will still find you can get some results and muscle growth just by doing work, however as you advance or as you look to maximize muscle growth (and let’s say specifically triceps size), you will be hindered because you will not be able to push intensities in the beginning of the work set volume for triceps because they will always be pre-fatigued.
Pairing legs and arms together is a great option for most people, since the biceps and triceps are not used (or even really used as secondary muscle groups) during lower body training (exception may be during hinging movements where you need to hold onto a heavy barbell). Due to that, you can often push hard intensities post leg training with the arm exercises and get in high quality work sets.
Secondly, training arms requires much less energy and motivation than a hard leg day. While you could opt to leave the gym after leg day, I suggest you try to spread your leg day out to two workouts per week (just dividend your normal routine into two workouts), and then add a biceps and triceps exercise at the end to both days (training each arm muscle twice per week).
You could then take the other 2-3 days to train the upper body (chest and back one day, shoulders and arms another day, and back and chest another day). That routine would allow you to train every muscle group twice per week, with arms getting slightly more love if you decide to throw an excuse for each muscle group into the shoulder day).
Related Article: How Many Exercises Make An Effective Arm Workout?
How Many Sets of Legs Should You Do on Leg and Arm Day?
Total weekly training volume can vary person to person based on recovery, diet, sleep, and experience levels.
Most people should aim for 14-18 total work sets per week for direct quadriceps training, and 12-16 total work sets per week for direct hamstrings training. Anything above those ranges may or may not actually benefit you or result in more muscle growth (may actually diminish some), and anything lower than that may not be enough stimulus to elicit growth.
Related Article: Outer Bicep Workouts: 5 Exercise Examples
How Many Sets of Arms Should You Do on Leg and Arm Day?
When looking to maximize biceps and triceps size, you want to aim to train them each two or three times per week (sometimes even four). Total training volume can vary person to person depending on the amount of other pressing (triceps) and pulling (biceps) exercises you have in your program for chest, shoulders, and back.
That said, it is recommended that you train biceps and triceps directly with a total of 12-16 total work sets per week, for most people. This can be done by training one exercise per muscle group (biceps and triceps) for a total of 3-5 sets, three times per week (train arms on both leg days, and once again throughout the week).
Related Article: 15 Bicep Peak Exercises (Plus, Sample Program)
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Sample Leg and Arm Workout Program
Below is a sample two-day leg and arm workout program that you can do to increase leg and arm hypertrophy.
Day 1 includes the majority of your direct quadriceps weekly volume, with a third of your arms volume and some hamstrings.
Day 2 includes the remainder of your hamstrings weekly volume, another third of your weekly arm volume, and the final weekly volume sets of your direct quadriceps work.
You could then add 3-4 more work sets for the biceps and triceps on another day throughout the week to hit your total weekly volume landmarks for arm growth.
TOTAL WEEKLY VOLUMES
Quadriceps = 16 total work sets
Hamstrings = 14 total work sets
Biceps = 8 total work sets
Triceps = 8 total work sets
DAY 1 – (24 SETS)
Eccentric-Accentuated Back Squat: 5 sets of 6-8 reps, 2-3 second eccentric
Pause Hack Squat: 4 sets of 8-12 reps
Goodmorning: 4 sets of 6-8 reps
Bulgarian Split Squat: 3 sets of 8-10 reps (per leg)
Machine Preacher Biceps Curl: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
Weighted Dip: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
DAY 2 – (21 SETS)
Stiff Leg Deadlift: 5 sets of 6-8 reps
Leg Press or Hack Squat: 3 sets of 15-20 reps
Hamstring Curl: 5 sets of 10-15 reps
Seated Incline Dumbbell Hammer Curl: 4 sets of 12-15 reps
Skullcrushers: 4 sets of 12-15 reps
Related Article: At Home Upper Body Workouts (3 Workouts)
Combining leg and arm training on the same day is a great option for lifters looking to maximize muscle growth of the arms and legs, without having to compete within a workout with other muscle groups.
By making splits that train legs and arms on the same day, you can help maximize triceps and biceps growth, minimize excessive training volumes being accumulated when training arms on upper body days, and can allow for greater arm training frequency to take place.
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About The Author
Mike holds a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), USA Weightlifting Advanced Coach, and has over 10+ years of experience working with collegiate athletes, national level lifters, and beginners alike. Mike is Founder of J2FIT Strength and Conditioning, a growing global training company with gyms in New York City, Cincinnati, and online offering personal training, online custom coaching programs.
Mike has published over 500+ articles on premiere online media outlets like BarBend, BreakingMuscle, Men’s Health, and FitBob, covering his expertise of strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, fitness, and sports nutrition. In Mike’s spare time, he enjoys the outdoors, traveling the world, coaching, whiskey and craft beer, and spending time with his family and friends.