1. Keep it simple…Squat, Squat, Squat!
There is no better lower body exercise than squats. Squats will help develop quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. Plus squatting has a positive effect on your entire body.
2. Train quadriceps and hamstrings during the same workout.
I view the upper leg as one functional unit and due to the amount of hamstring involvement in compound exercises like squats I think it makes the most sense to train hamstrings and quadriceps on the same day. I believe separating the two will lead to over-training.
3. Keep the volume low and the intensity high.
This is a common theme for all body parts and one of the most important. 7-8 total sets for legs (quads and hamstrings) is sufficient. Keep intensity high with heavy weights in a 4-6 rep range.
4. Don’t mess with feet position.
When squatting or doing the leg press place your feet in a comfortable and natural position/distance apart where you feel strongest. Work with your natural mechanics, not against them.
5. Work them once a week only.
Train legs one time per week only to avoid over-training and allow for maximum recovery/results.
(Ladies – you can’t spot reduce fat so training legs/glutes/hams multiple times per week isn’t going to “tone” you up faster.)
You can see an example of an effective leg workout on this FREE Max-OT routine.