Jay Cutler Endures a High-Volume Leg Workout for Hypertrophy

Jay Cutler's leg workout

Cutler believes the dumbbell stiff leg deadlift is the best movement for your hamstrings. 

If you want to get legs like four-time Olympia champ Jay Cutler, you should try out his favorite workout routine for leg day. As any bodybuilder will tell you, skipping leg day is a big no-no. That’s why focusing on those hamstrings, glutes, and quads with squats, deadlifts, and lunges is necessary to build a strong, well-developed lower body. Here are some crucial takeaways from Jay Cutler’s brutal leg training session.

Many people consider Jay Cutler a bodybuilding legend, and when you look at his career, it’s hard not to agree. He’s a four-time Mr. Olympia winner and the only Men’s Open bodybuilder to come back and win the title again after losing it. Jay Cutler also has three Arnold Classic titles and remains active in the sport even though he retired in 2013.

Another great thing about Jay Cutler is how open he’s been with his bodybuilding journey. Now mind you, he insists he isn’t returning to actively competing, but he recently started a challenge to transform his physique for turning 50. Since then, fans have gotten a sneak peek into his routines for muscle-building on his Youtube channel, and this Jay Cutler leg workout is one of them. In this post, we look at his leg workout and share some important tips he gives about competing. 

Full Name: Jason Isaac Cutler
Weight Height Date of Birth
260 – 310 lbs 5’10” 08/03/1973
Division Era Nationality
Men’s Open 1990s-2010s American


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A post shared by Jay Cutler (@jaycutler)

Jay Cutler Pre-Workout Supplements

Jay Cutler starts the video by taking a pre-workout supplement, and he says taking creatine is important as a bodybuilder. Creatine is one of the most popular bodybuilding supplements because research shows it’s great for building muscle and strength (1). Jay Cutler says,

“I was just saying the other day on YouTube, I had a YouTube video I just launched that I think everyone should use creatine whether male [or] female… So if you’re not using creatine then you’re missing the boat.”

Jay Cutler on Effectively Training In Season

Next, Cutler talked about the training he recommends for active bodybuilders. He says he did double split training in his late 20s. Double split training splits workouts into two sessions a day and is a great way to work out with maximum intensity and focus for each session. 

Experts recommend this training style for in-season training because the workouts are shorter and less tasking. For many bodybuilders, in season is when they cut out the carbs, which generally means reduced energy levels (2). Non-bodybuilders can also benefit from this training method since it’ll give their muscles more volume. Of course, it’s recommended for advanced lifters, and you should be wary of overtraining

“I was doing a lot of Double Split training, and I do recommend that, like when I was in my late 20s, like ideally, that was for me because listen, I was paid to be a pro bodybuilder. I mean, I did a morning and afternoon workout… So I’d split my legs, and I’d do quads and hamstrings the same day, but I would do hamstrings in the morning at, like, probably 7:30, 8 o’clock, and I would go home, and I’d nap and eat my meals and everything else, and I go back to the gym at like 2:00, 2:30.”

Jay Cutler’s Leg Workout

Seated Leg Curl 
Standing Single Leg Hamstring Curl
Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift
Barbell Walking Lunges
Leg Extension Machine Leg Curl
Leg Press
Unilateral Leg Press
Roger Squat

Jay Cutler announced that his leg workout mainly focuses on working his quads and hamstrings. He stated that the seated curls, standing curls, stiff-legged deadlifts, and lunges he’s doing are all for the hamstrings. Read on for a closer look at his exercises, their target muscles, and some tips he shared.

leg day

Seated Leg Curl

Not many exercises can activate the hamstrings, like leg curls. This simple and beginner-friendly routine induces muscular hypertrophy for that muscle and strengthens your posterior chain. For this routine, Jay Cutler does two warm-up sets first and then three working sets. He also did a pyramid scheme – increasing from light to heavy weight – with weights peaking at 180 lbs.

“For some reason, with my leg, the way my body was made up, the [seated leg curl] always felt better than the lying leg curl. I was always in search to find a leg curl that felt good for my body. the seated always worked. I’ll tell you, for years, this has been my starting movement, and I feel one of the most beneficial.”

Standing Single Leg Hamstring Curl

The standing single-leg hamstring curl is another hamstring builder. However, since you do this exercise standing, it also recruits your glutes. This exercise increases your stability, hamstring strength, and balance. Unilateral training, like the standing single-leg hamstring curl, can help you fix leg imbalances. For this movement, Jay Cutler does one working set on each leg. 

Dumbbell Stiff Leg Deadlift

The dumbbell stiff leg deadlift is an effective hamstring, glutes, and lower back builder. However, it’s an isolation exercise that majorly works on your hamstrings. Jay Cutler did three sets of 10-12 reps for this one while pyramiding up the weights. 

“I’m going to focus now on stiff leg deadlifts now. I mentioned when I was doing the seated leg curl this is probably the best exercise for the hamstrings. I’m gonna focus on dumbbells, and with these, you know, I’m still going to do 10 or 12 repetitions, but I just feel it’s different with the dumbbells. I try to place a lot of pressure [on the balls of my feet], and that’s what’s nice about wearing, you know, my sneakers with the very little limited sole. I’m going to put most of the pressure on the balls of my feet, so I really get that stretch.”

This study shows that shoes can affect performance during deadlifts (3).

Barbell Walking Lunges

Barbell walking lunges are a great way to build your lower body muscles. They work primarily on your quads but also recruit your hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, and hip adductors. This unilateral movement trains each side of your body to address any muscle imbalances present. 

Cutler started and ended with 70 lbs for this routine, aiming for 8-10 reps per leg. He says while others do this movement for the quads, he has a different approach. According to Jay Cutler, 

“So a lot of people do this for quads. I actually do them for hams and glutes. I think you know the lunge is going to engage a lot of the hamstring and glute tie-in, so it’s beneficial for the males and the females. Beneficial for me because once again, I’m turning 50, and uh, I want to try to keep some of my development back there.”

Leg Extension Machine Leg Curl

Initially, Jay Cutler wanted to do lying leg curls at this point, but the machine was out of service. He says he would have started with 125 lbs and ended with 125 lbs. Instead, he did a no-rep count leg curl on the leg extension machine to warm up his legs. The goal was to get a pump, and he did two sets. 

Leg Press

The leg press was the first power exercise that Jay Cutler did for this leg day workout. This effective exercise builds your quad, glute, adductor, and hamstring muscles. Jay Cutler did three sets of this exercise with 10-12 reps on an inverted leg press machine. He says that although the reps look short on the machine, it helps because it switches the blood flow. With an inverted machine, the blood will come down, and Cutler believes that helps with leg growth. 

Unilateral Leg Press

Next, Jay Cutler did more leg presses, but this time on a unilateral 45-degree leg press machine, working one leg at a time. He says that the leg press helped him to fix a leg discrepancy. Cutler does two sets of 10-12 reps for this routine and shares a tip on how he uses the machine to target his imbalance

“So since this is counterbalance and one of my legs is weaker than the other, I’m going to do one plate on this side [he adds a plate on the right side]. So most of you guys probably don’t know these machines are kind of balanced.”

Squat on the Roger Squat Machine

This is the last workout Jay Cutler does for this leg day video, and he does two sets of squats with 9-12 reps during each set. Doing a squat on this machine helps your form and works on your glutes and quads. While using this machine, Jay Cutler holds at the bottom for the movement to further induce muscle strength and growth.

Watch his workout below:

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  1. Buford, T. W., Kreider, R. B., Stout, J. R., Greenwood, M., Campbell, B., Spano, M., Ziegenfuss, T., Lopez, H., Landis, J., & Antonio, J. (2007). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: creatine supplementation and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 4, 6. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-4-6
  2. Chappell, A. J., Simper, T., & Barker, M. E. (2018). Nutritional strategies of high level natural bodybuilders during competition preparation. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 15, 4. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-018-0209-z 
  3. Valenzuela, K. A., Walters, K. A., Avila, E. L., Camacho, A. S., Alvarado, F., & Bennett, H. J. (2021). Footwear Affects Conventional and Sumo Deadlift Performance. Sports (Basel, Switzerland), 9(2), 27. https://doi.org/10.3390/sports9020027
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.