Oh, yes, another article about leg training… (What can I say! It’s my favorite day!) This time around I’m gonna give you a little tool you can throw into your leg day to mix things up.
When I don’t feel like keeping my rep range beteween 3-6 with heavier squats, I’ll turn to what is known as a “widow maker” set.
The widow maker is brutally named so because of the level of difficulty and intensity it brings along with it. What it is a 20-rep squat performed during your workout. Now, of course, you can always progress up to it or you can find a weight that you can do 20 times. It’s up to you how you want to integrate it into your workout, but believe me, it’ll give your legs a shock, especially if you’re used to a lower rep range.
If a 20-rep back squat seems a bit extreme to you, you can definitely do it with other leg exercises. I’ve seen it done on leg press, v-squats, and hack squats before. These machines are a bit safer than the free weight back squat because of the fact that they have better catches and safety mechanisms. By all means start out with these movements first if it makes you feel more comfortable, and then progress your way to squatting for 20 reps.
I’ve heard of the Widow Maker being called “breathing squats” because your breathing is going to play a huge role in your set. You can either do 10 regular squats, then take the time between each rep to catch your breath and go one at a time, or you can think of each breath as a mini set (i.e. big breath, set of 5, big breath, set of 5, big breath, 2, big breath, 1, all the way up to 20).
Of course this is a more advanced technique, so as always put form before weight. If you can’t do 20 reps, don’t sacrifice your form and technique just for extra reps—use it as a goal and work your way up towards it.
Below is a video of a recent widow maker set I integrated into my leg day. Then of course I had to go a bit heavier just because I like to punish myself on leg day. Widow Makers will tear your legs up and you’ll be walking funny for a couple days, but whatever it takes to get those legs to grow right?
Try these out and let me know how they go. Happy Squatting!
Danny Quach is a senior at the University of Georgia
and he’s studying Health Promotion and Behavior. He’s a powerlifter at heart and has done it for over six years. He just competed in his first bodybuilding show in Summer of 2011. For powerlifting, he holds some Georgia records. In his first bodybuilding competition, he placed 2nd
in Novice in INBF Southern States. On his spare time he’s a part of the University of Georgia’s
cheerleading co-ed squads; his favorite past-time? Throwing girls around and catching them.