Brett Wilkin Utilizes Leg Press Variations to Prepare His Lower Body for Olympia

brett wilkin leg press variations
Image via Instagram @brett_wilkin

Wilkin used close and wide-stance variations on the leg press to target different angles of his quads in his hamstring-focused workout. 

Brett Wilkin was the first Men’s Open bodybuilder to qualify for this year’s Mr. Olympia after winning the Bigman Weekend Pro in Spain last year. This has given him a long time to prepare for the coveted 2023 Olympia while working with his coach, Joe Bennett. This post shows Brett Wilkin using leg press variations and hamstring-focused exercises to build his legs.

Full Name: Brett Wilkin (The Butcher)
Weight Height Date of Birth
199 – 280 lbs 5’9” 12/22/1987
Division Era Nationality
Classic Physique, Men’s Open 2010s -Till Date American

When Brett Wilkin (nicknamed “The Butcher”) started his professional bodybuilding journey in 2012, he was more readily known as a partner to IFBB Pro bodybuilder Ivana Ivusic. She had inspired his journey into bodybuilding, and he became immersed in the lifestyle. He’s come a long way from there, starting his professional career in the Classic Physique division before switching to the Men’s Open.

Brett Wilkin has had quite the bodybuilding journey, including a fateful Chicago Pro competition in 2021, where he almost edged Hunter Labrada out of first place. While he didn’t qualify for the 2022 Olympia, he walked away with a 2023 qualification soon after. He’s looking to have a successful Mr. Olympia debut this year.

As part of his preparation, we’ve seen Brett Wilkin talk about his massive 5000-calorie-a-day diet. We’ve also seen him join forces with professionals like Iain Valliere, Nick Walker, and Chris Bumstead to train. This video, uploaded to his YouTube, shows Brett Wilkin training with Martin Fitzwater.

Brent Wilkin’s Leg Day

Superset — Calf Raises & Machine Standing Calf Raises
Seated Leg Curls
Machine Hip Abduction
Standing Leg Curls
Lying Leg Curls
Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlifts 
Barbell Romanian Deadlifts
Leg Press

This leg day is about ten weeks before the Mr. Olympia competition. Wilkin and his training partner train their hamstrings, quads, calves, and other lower body muscles. Wilkin points out that this training aims to hit the hamstrings and discusses engaging the hamstrings and other muscles at the end.

“So it’s gonna be hamstring focus leg day…that is a wrap on hamstring focus day today, so it’s very hamstring focused. We got a little quads there at the end, but like I said, we did quads three days ago when we did a lot of things, eight exercises, so who knows, we are good on quads.”

Superset: Calf Raises & Machine Standing Calf Raises

Brett Wilkin started this leg training with calf raises and standing calf raises. He talks about training his calves at the beginning of his workout so that he can’t “weasel his way out of them.” The calf raises were done on a linear hack squat while standing leg raises were done on a selectorized machine.

Calf raises target the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles of the calves. They’re an excellent routine for working on your ankle stability and balance. You can also use this exercise to stretch the plantar muscles in your foot and make it more supple.

Standing calf raises specifically work on the gastrocnemius but also work on the soleus. It’s a movement that’s great for lower body training. Strengthening your calves is essential as calf muscles strain and tear more easily when weak, leading to injuries (1).

Seated Leg Curls

Brett Wilkin calls seated leg curls the “Bread and Butter” of hamstring development, and they were his following routine. Wilkin states that he favors the seated leg curl over the lying variation and does a couple of light sets to warm up. Then, he does some sets before rounding up with a drop set.

The seated leg curl is an isolation exercise for your hamstring muscles. However, they also works on your hip flexors and glutes. Doing seated leg curls increases strength and size in the muscles at the back of your thighs.

Machine Hip Adduction

Machine hip adductions primarily work on the abductors of the legs. However, this exercise also builds your glutes. They’re done on a machine and work by moving apart your thighs to train the muscles responsible for that action. Brett Wilkin does straight sets before finishing with a back-off set.

Standing Leg Curls

Standing leg curls target your posterior thigh and strengthen your hamstring muscles. When doing the standing leg curl, your abs, obliques, and other core muscles are activated for stability. 

Brett Wilkin went moderate in intensity since he had already hit the hamstrings pretty hard with seated leg curls. He also explains that he and Martin Fitzwater will spot each other here to help them hit the full range of motion. Research shows that full range of motion is more effective than partial range of motion for inducing muscle hypertrophy of the lower limbs (2).

Lying Leg Curls

Lying leg curls primarily focus on your hamstrings and recruit your glutes. They also help to strengthen your glute-ham tie-in, which are the muscles that connect your hamstring and glutes. This routine is usually done on a leg curl machine; however, Brett Wilkin does this using dumbbells and states that this involves the stabilizers more. 

Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlifts

The barbell stiff leg deadlift is called the straight-leg deadlift and targets your posterior chain. Muscles involved include the calves, glutes, hamstring, and back. This exercise also recruits your core muscles to maintain stability. 

For this routine, Brett Wilkin uses a weightlifting belt and wrist wraps for support. He also states that he leaves this until later in his workout because the muscles are sufficiently warmed. Brett Wilkin also sniffs smelling salts before starting out light with this one and does seven reps.

Barbell Romanian Deadlifts

The Romanian deadlift works the same muscles as the stiff-leg deadlift; however, the barbell doesn’t touch the ground during it. This keeps constant tension on your muscles, leading to greater muscle growth. The Romanian deadlift also helps to strengthen your core muscles when done correctly. Brett Wilkin does two sets to failure to finish the major hamstring work for this leg day.

Leg Press Variations

Finally, Brett Wilkin and his training partner do leg press variations on a leg press machine to round up his leg day routine. This exercise targets your quads, glutes, adductors, and hamstring muscles. Brett Wilkin and Martin Fitzwater did heavy sets on an inclined leg press, switching between a close-width and a wider stance. Research shows that the inclined leg press machine primarily targets and builds your quads (3).

You can watch the entire workout below:

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  1. Green, B., McClelland, J. A., Semciw, A. I., Schache, A. G., McCall, A., & Pizzari, T. (2022). The Assessment, Management and Prevention of Calf Muscle Strain Injuries: A Qualitative Study of the Practices and Perspectives of 20 Expert Sports Clinicians. Sports medicine – open, 8(1), 10. 
  2. Pallarés, J. G., Hernández-Belmonte, A., Martínez-Cava, A., Vetrovsky, T., Steffl, M., & Courel-Ibáñez, J. (2021). Effects of range of motion on resistance training adaptations: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports, 31(10), 1866–1881. 
  3. Martín-Fuentes, I., Oliva-Lozano, J. M., & Muyor, J. M. (2022). Influence of Feet Position and Execution Velocity on Muscle Activation and Kinematic Parameters During the Inclined Leg Press Exercise. Sports health, 14(3), 317–327.
Terry Ramos
As a personal trainer and writer, Terry loves changing lives through coaching and the written word. Terry has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and ISSA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He enjoys playing music, reading, and watching films when he's not writing or training.