The 20 Best Leg Exercises for Muscle and Strength

You didn’t hear it right here first, but it surely bears repeating: prepare your legs. Leg day is usually a painful, DOMS-inducing experience, however ignoring your decrease half additionally robs the physique of extra muscle, enhanced motion, and elevated calorie burn. Additionally, do you wish to look like Hercules upstairs and Hen Little from the waist down?

Past aesthetics, leg training is integral to your efficiency should you play, effectively, nearly any sport on the market (strength-focused or in any other case). Your leg muscle tissues produce energy on the lifting platform and propel you ahead on the sector. 

A person doing leg workout on a gym equipment.
Credit score: Ok-STUDIO / Shutterstock

To additional enlighten you to the advantages and, dare we are saying, the enjoyable of coaching your legs, we compiled a listing of the best leg exercises. Additional down, we additionally dive into the advantages of leg coaching, the way to prepare your legs correctly, and an entire lot extra. Let’s get into it. 

Greatest Leg Workouts

Editor’s Notice: The content material on BarBend is supposed to be informative in nature, but it surely shouldn’t be taken as medical recommendation. When beginning a brand new coaching routine and/or weight loss program, it’s all the time a good suggestion to seek the advice of with a trusted medical skilled. We aren’t a medical useful resource. The opinions and articles on this website should not meant to be used as analysis, prevention, and/or therapy of well being issues. They aren’t substitutes for consulting a certified medical skilled.

Again Squat

The back squat — also known as the king of lower body exercises — is a compound train that challenges each muscle within the legs. It additionally requires muscle tissues within the higher physique to stabilize the load and shield the backbone — making it one of the crucial efficient full-body workouts you are able to do. 

The again squat results in energy and muscle acquire and reinforces movement patterns we have interaction in each day, awarding it the triple crown when selecting an excellent train.

Advantages of the Again Squat

  • The again squat permits for extra loading in comparison with many different leg actions.
  • The again squat recruits the core and strengthens your postural muscle tissues.
  • This train results in a acquire in practical energy, permitting lifters of all ages to reap the advantages.

How one can Do the Again Squat

Set a barbell in a power rack to shoulder peak, loaded with an acceptable quantity of weight. Get below the barbell, set the bar throughout your higher traps, or set the bar throughout your shoulder blades should you’re performing low-bar squats

Brace your core and carry the burden out of the rack. Take small steps again one foot at a time to get your self into place. Along with your chest up, squat down till the bottoms of your thighs are parallel to the ground. Now, drive again up by pushing your ft by way of the ground.

Coach’s Tip: Your squat stance and approach is extremely particular person. Take time to work out your most comfy and sustainable posture.

Units and Reps: Use the again squat to construct energy and muscle concurrently. Go for 3 to five units of 4 to six reps. 

Entrance Squat

The front squat is usually a great substitute for the standard again squat. In case you discover that the barbell again squat aggravates your decrease again or you might have a shoulder damage, this entrance squat variation could swimsuit you as an alternative. 

Since you hold the barbell in entrance of you, this squat variation challenges the higher again and torso muscle tissues — shifting the load from the again to the entrance. This additionally requires more thoracic stability and forces the lifter to be upright, higher for core recruitment and posture.

Advantages of the Entrance Squat

  • The entrance squat will be extra comfy on the again for some lifters than a again squat as the burden is loaded in entrance of the physique. 
  • The front-loaded place recruits extra of your core and strengthens your upper back muscles to assist improve your posture, too.
  • This transfer doesn’t permit lifters to load the train too heavy, enhancing their skill to concentrate on correct approach.

How one can Do the Entrance Squat

Set a barbell in an influence rack to shoulder peak, loaded with an acceptable weight. Prolong your arms immediately out in entrance of you in order that your arms are touching the bar. Place your center three fingers on the bar, after which drive your palms up. Deliver your elbows beneath the bar in order that they’re pointing straight ahead. 

Step again, so the bar is out of the rack, and preserve your elbows pointing ahead. Along with your chest up, squat down till the bottoms of your thighs are parallel to the ground and drive by way of the ground along with your ft to the highest.

Coach’s Tip: If the entrance rack place is uncomfortable, it’s possible you’ll must stretch your lats or mobilize your thoracic backbone.

Units and Reps: Begin with 3 or 4 units of 5 reps.

Bulgarian Cut up Squat

Elevating your leg on a bench creates instability and will increase the train’s vary of movement. The Bulgarian split squat’s instability forces you to steadiness, which recruits smaller stabilizing muscle tissues in your hips and quads.

Squatting with a extra prolonged vary of movement will increase the muscle’s stretch — enhancing your mobility and the muscle-building stress positioned on the glutes, hamstrings, and quads.

Advantages of the Bulgarian Cut up Squat

  • The elevated vary of movement for higher mobility and extra muscle recruitment.
  • The unilateral (single-sided) setup helps construct coordination and improves steadiness.
  • The Bulgarian break up squat creates instability, which recruits smaller stabilizing muscle tissues.

How one can Do the Bulgarian Cut up Squat

Hold a dumbbell in every hand and stand a few foot in entrance of a bench. Place one foot, laces down, on a bench. Brace your core and squat down till each of your legs bend to 90 levels. You possibly can squat down a bit additional, however don’t let your knee contact the ground. Maintain this down place for a beat after which drive again up. 

Coach’s Tip: The nearer your working foot is relative to the bench, the extra emphasis you’ll place in your quads through ahead knee journey.

Units and Reps: Pump your legs up with 2 or 3 units of 8 to 12 reps. 

Leg Press

The leg press doesn’t have you ever load your torso with weight and your again braces towards a pad, which supplies you extra driving power. Because of this, you may load this train up with extra weight relative to most leg workouts. This issue makes the leg press an ideal accent to getting bigger and stronger thighs.

It’s additionally safer as you may rack the sled just by turning the handles out and in. As a bonus, you may load and unload the leg press extra shortly, making it helpful for drop units. You possibly can carry out a high-rep set, strip the weight plates, do one other set, strip the plates, and so forth.

Advantages of the Leg Press

  • You possibly can press heavier weights with simply your legs.
  • The leg press lets you basically carry out a squat however with out the burden bearing down in your backbone or torso. 
  • It is a nice motion for high-rep units and drop units. 

How one can Do the Leg Press

Sit within the leg press seat, and place your ft in the midst of the sled, about shoulder-width aside. Press the sled out of the rack, decrease the security bars, after which slowly decrease the sled in the direction of your chest till your thighs break 90 levels. Press the sled again up however don’t lock out your knees. In case your decrease again or hips carry off the seat as you drive the burden again up, you’re going too far down.

Coach’s Tip: Strive a barely wider foot placement to keep away from having your thighs collide along with your torso.

Units and Reps: Go arduous and heavy with 3 or 4 units of 8 to 10 reps. 

Hack Squat

The beloved brainchild of George Hackenschmidt, the hack squat has advanced to develop into one of the crucial in style and efficient machine variations so as to add severe energy and muscle to your legs. Sharing attributes with the again squat, this train reinforces the squat motion sample to build strength that interprets into numerous different lifts. 

As a bonus, the machine creates exterior stability, safeguarding towards damage and serving to work round pre-existing accidents because it has a predefined motion sample.

Advantages of the Hack Squat

  • As a result of it’s a machine, the hack squat supplies extra stability in comparison with free-weight squat variations.
  • This transfer’s predefined path safeguards against injury and helps work round pre-existing accidents.

How one can Do the Hack Squat

Your stance on the foot platform will intently mimic that of your again squat stance. You need your ft barely exterior shoulder width with ft angled barely outward — they need to be consistent with the knee because it tracks ahead in the course of the descent. 

Your torso needs to be steady along with your abdominals engaged and your decrease again flat on the again pad. Preserve a impartial head place as you decrease your physique till the bottoms of your thighs are parallel to the foot platform and drive by way of your ft to the highest.

Coach’s Tip: It’s best to be capable to sink right into a low squat right here even should you can’t throughout a free-weight squat. 

Units and Reps: Strive 3 units of 12 reps right here with a average to heavy weight. 

Romanian Deadlift

This deadlift variation is almost equivalent to the standard deadlift, besides that you simply decrease the barbell to mid-shin degree by driving your hips again whereas conserving your core engaged with stress in your hamstrings and glutes.

The Romanian deadlift is thought to be among the finest physique improvement variations, serving to you build muscle, enhance your common deadlift, and strengthen your hips and lower back, leading to a lesser probability of damage performing related actions. 

Advantages of the Romanian Deadlift

  • The Romanian deadlift particularly targets the hamstrings, a muscle that flexes the knee joint.
  • The Romanian deadlift forces you to carry lighter weight with extra management, strengthening your hips and decrease again.
  • This transfer will carry over to your conventional deadlift.
  • The gradual and managed motion will assist to construct extra hamstring muscle and energy. 

How one can Do the Romanian Deadlift

Load a barbell up with much less weight than you’ll for a traditional deadlift, however get in the identical deadlift place — ft shoulder-width aside and arms gripping the bar simply exterior the knees. Elevate your chest up after which drop your hips and pull-up on the bar till your hips are absolutely locked out. 

Now, push your hips again and decrease the bar till it’s in the midst of your shins. It’s best to really feel a stretch in your hamstrings. End by driving your hips ahead, bringing the burden again as much as the beginning place.

Coach’s Tip: Your knees needs to be unlocked all through the set, however don’t bend them on objective.

Units and Reps: Begin with 3 units of 6 to eight reps. 

Nordic Hamstring Curl

This bodyweight hamstring curl has you kneel, along with your ft anchored behind you, and decrease your physique in the direction of the bottom by flexing solely your knees. This places the onus on the hamstrings, and the hamstrings alone, to support your body weight. The Nordic hamstring curl is a wonderful transfer to construct muscle and stop damage. 

One examine within the Journal Physiotherapy had 50 elite soccer groups in Denmark full their ordinary hamstring coaching for 10 weeks throughout a mid-season break. Half of the groups added two to 3 units of 5 to 12 reps of Nordic hamstring curls one to 3 classes per week. Throughout that season, the group that added the Nordic curls had 15 whole hamstring accidents in comparison with 52 within the non-Nordic curl group. (1)

Advantages of the Nordic Hamstring Curl

  • Extra muscle as you’re concentrating on your hamstrings primarily along with your physique weight.
  • Much less threat of hamstring damage as eccentric (or reducing) energy has been linked to more healthy hamstrings.
  • It may be carried out wherever you may anchor the foot.

How one can Do the Nordic Hamstring Curl

Anchor your ft beneath one thing sturdy — a loaded barbell, a bench, the legs of a cable machine — and kneel on an exercise mat. Prolong your arms out in entrance of you, preserve your torso straight, and bend on the knees to slowly decrease your self in the direction of the ground. The decrease you get, the tougher the transfer will really feel as you’re farther from the anchor level. Catch your self along with your arms, after which push your physique again as much as the beginning place.

Coach’s Tip: Chances are you’ll wish to place a small mat or cushion on the ground in entrance of you for consolation.

Units and Reps: Work your endurance on this one by doing 2 or 3 units of as many reps as attainable with good type. 

Landmine Goblet Squat

The landmine goblet squat is a superb beginner-friendly squat variation that may be performed wherever you may access a barbell. The load is loaded within the entrance, which forces your again to remain upright (in any other case, you’d collapse ahead). The arc that the bar travels lets you get into the underside of the squat simpler whereas staying upright within the torso, constructing and strengthening the quads.

These are nice for lifters with mobility points or for including quantity with out the compressive load of the barbell in your again.

Advantages of the Landmine Goblet Squat

  • The arc of the barbell and the anterior load permit lifters with mobility points to get into squat place.
  • Much less compressive load on the backbone permits the lifter to build up extra quantity with a decrease threat of damage.
  • The upright place takes some strain off the low again.

How one can Do the Landmine Goblet Squat

Set one finish of a barbell into a landmine base and relaxation the opposite finish on a coaching bench or a plyo box. Load the elevated finish with 45-pound plates. Be certain that the field is low sufficient so to squat to at the least parallel with out the plates bumping into the field or bench. Don’t begin this train from the ground; it’ll pressure your decrease again. Seize the barbell’s sleeve in each arms, get up in order that it’s off the field, after which carry out a normal squat.

Coach’s Tip: Take into consideration sitting again a bit greater than you’ll throughout a normal squat.

Units and Reps: Go for larger reps right here; 3 units of 12 to fifteen reps. 

Reverse Lunge

Like several lunge, the reverse lunge is a unilateral exercise, which implies it really works one aspect of the physique at a time. This alone is beneficial because it permits the goal muscle tissues (glute, hamstrings, and quads) on both aspect of your physique to catch up to one another if there’s an imbalance in energy or dimension. 

The reverse lunge can also be extra steady than the ahead or strolling lunge as you’re not being thrown off steadiness by ahead momentum. As an alternative, the reverse lunge is mostly a extra managed motion.

Advantages of the Reverse Lunge

  • It’s simpler to regulate in comparison with other lunge variations, making it beginner-friendly. 
  • You’ll work one aspect of the physique concurrently, permitting lagging muscle tissues to play catch up.
  • Superior lifters can load up this lunge variation extra safely than others because it’s steady.

How one can Do the Reverse Lunge

Stand along with your ft collectively, and preserve your arms at your sides or in your hips. Take a step again with one leg till it’s behind you and your knee is an inch or so above the ground. Your entrance leg ought to bend at a 90-degree angle as effectively. Maintain your chest up and dealing with ahead. Now, drive by way of the balls of your entrance foot and stand again up with management. 

Coach’s Tip: You possibly can step backward and barely out to the aspect to enhance your steadiness.

Units and Reps: Strive 3 units of 10 to 12 reps right here with a lightweight weight to start out. 

Barbell Hip Thrust

There are a number of main advantages to the barbell hip thrust. For one, you may immediately goal your glutes, that are normally an auxiliary participant in strikes just like the lunge, squat, and deadlift. Additionally, it helps strengthen your hip extension mechanics since that’s the first operate of the motion.

Lastly, stronger glutes imply you’ll rely much less closely in your decrease again for many associated workouts, and so you need to scale back your probability of low again damage.

Advantages of the Barbell Hip Thrust

  • You possibly can immediately goal your glutes, extra so than every other train, which is able to carry over to different workouts that require glute energy.
  • Stronger glutes will take a number of the mechanical stress off of your decrease again, which may scale back the possibility of damage.
  • Seeing because the barbell hip thrust is a hip extension train, you’ll get much better at hip extension — and that additionally advantages different strikes just like the deadlift and squat.

How one can Do the Barbell Hip Thrust

Load a barbell with rubber bumper plates (if attainable), as you need the bar larger up off of the bottom. Now, roll the barbell in the direction of you, so it’s sitting in your hips. Place your higher again on a bench and bend your knees along with your ft flat on the ground. Squeeze your glutes and drive your hips up, holding onto the barbell with each arms to forestall it from falling till your physique is in a straight line from knee to chin. Maintain this place for a beat after which decrease the burden again down.

Leg Extension

The leg extension will get lots of hate. Some folks assume it creates an excessive amount of power on the knee and that it’s dangerous. The leg extension is a stellar train to hone in in your quads when carried out with management and correct type. 

Different advantages: It’s simple to study and execute (there’s virtually no studying curve), it doesn’t load your backbone in any approach, it requires much less weight to be efficient, and it targets the rectus femoris muscle in its shortened place — a quadriceps muscle that crosses the hip joint and performs an necessary position in serving to stabilize the pelvis in other strength training exercises.

Advantages of the Leg Extension

  • You possibly can immediately goal your quadriceps whereas avoiding including extra quantity to different tissues.
  • Helpful for coaching the quadriceps with out the necessity to load the backbone.
  • It hundreds the rectus femoris.

How one can Do the Leg Extension

Alter the again pad on the machine and line your knee up with the axis of rotation (signified by a dot or marker on the machine) and alter the ankle pad, so it rests in your shoelaces to the touch simply above the shoe. Prolong the knee to maneuver the ankle pad, then speed up into the rep till you attain the tip vary of the knee extension. Guarantee your ankle is in dorsiflexion — toes pointed straight forward or barely up. Decrease weight again down with management.

Coach’s Tip: Seize onto the handles of the seat and actively attempt to pull your butt into the pad your entire time.

Units and Reps: Do 3 units of 12 to fifteen reps for a severe quad pump.

Prowler Push

You most likely assume that the prowler push is strictly for conditioning. On the very least, even when you recognize of its lower-body advantages, you’re most likely questioning what it’s doing on our greatest leg workouts listing. The driving power behind a prowler push is your legs. In case you load up a prowler with heavy weight, you’re taxing your legs and eliciting a strength and hypertrophy response

It’s additionally much less taxing in your again, as you’re bracing towards the prowler along with your higher physique — nothing is sitting on you. Pushing a prowler additionally interprets on to your ability to sprint and run as you’re in the identical place whereas pushing the prowler.

Advantages of the Prowler Push

  • Means that you can tax your legs with heavy weight with out stressing your decrease again. 
  • Improves your sprinting mechanics as you’re strengthening your legs in a extra pure working place and practising a powerful leg drive.

How one can Do the Prowler Push

Load a prowler up with as a lot weight as you may deal with for a number of units of pushes. Stand in entrance of the poles, lengthen your arms, and seize them along with your arms. Now, lean into the prowler along with your arms bent to round 90 levels. Your physique needs to be at an angle along with your ft behind you as should you have been leaning right into a dash. Drive the prowler ahead by pushing with your legs, and proceed to maneuver your legs in a gradual and rhythmic movement.

Coach’s Tip: It’s best to keep a straight visible line by way of your arms, elbows, shoulders, backbone, and hips. 

Units and Reps: Use this as a warm-up or finisher by doing 3 or 4 rounds, pushing so far as you might have free area in your gymnasium. 

Seated Leg Curl

This seated leg curl variation is an effective way to problem the hamstrings and calves. The pad on the machine helps create exterior stability — rising stabilization of the pelvis — making it an ideal choice for newbies. The elevated stability permits for decrease rep units with lots of weight. It’s additionally viable for higher rep sets which can be taken deep into fatigue.

Advantages of the Seated Leg Curl

  • Creates a safe environment for beginners to build up quantity on the hamstrings.
  • Elevated stability permits for units to be taken deeper into fatigue whereas sustaining type.
  • Challenges the hamstrings in a stretched place (hip flexion and knee extension).
  • Trains the calves of their position of knee flexion.

How one can Do the Seated Leg Curl

Alter the again pad on the machine and line your knee up with the axis of rotation (signified by a dot or marker on the machine). Alter the thigh pad to the touch simply above the knee. The decrease leg pad needs to be simply above the shoe on the again of the leg. 

Begin the motion by flexing on the knee. Proceed the repetition till you attain the tip place. Guarantee your ankle is in dorsiflexion — toes pointed straight forward or barely up. Management the burden as you come to the beginning place.

Coach’s Tip: Actually emphasize the eccentric portion right here so you may really feel your hamstrings stretching out.

Units and Reps: Do 2 or 3 units of 12 to fifteen reps with a average weight. 

Mendacity Leg Curl

The mendacity leg curl provides a singular profit: It lets you absolutely isolate your hamstrings — which will be nice for added muscle features.

Preserving your abs and lats engaged all through the vary of movement helps stabilize your higher physique, making it simpler to create extra power within the decrease physique and preserve the concentrate on the hamstrings. 

Advantages of the Mendacity Leg Curl

How one can Do the Mendacity Leg Curl

Alter the leg pad on the machine and line your knee up with the axis of rotation (signified by a dot or marker on the machine) and alter the ankle pad to the touch simply behind the ankle. Engage the hamstrings and convey your heels to your butt. Guarantee your ankle is in dorsiflexion — toes pointed straight forward or barely up. Management the burden as you come to the beginning place.

Coach’s Tip: Maintain your pelvis firmly locked into the pad your entire time.

Units and Reps: Strive 2 or 3 units of 12 to fifteen reps. 

Standing Calf Elevate

The standing calf raise will be performed utilizing a machine, standing with a barbell on the again, or holding a pair of weights to the edges. For the reason that lifter is standing, the knees are prolonged (not locked out), which targets the gastrocnemius and soleus of their position of flexing the ankle.

Strengthening the calves may help deliver extra stability across the ankle and knee and translate into compound workouts just like the again squat and walking lunge.

Advantages of the Standing Calf Elevate

  • Strengthens and provides dimension to the calves.
  • Stronger calves add stability across the ankle and knee.
  • Straightforward to load and carry out.

How one can Do the Standing Calf Elevate

Arise straight along with your legs prolonged (slight bend on the knee) with the balls of your ft on the step and the load atop the shoulders. Unrack the burden and slowly decrease your heels so far as attainable to the ground. Then carry your heels so far as attainable, squeezing your calves on the high of the motion. Slowly decrease down and repeat.

Coach’s Tip: Pause on the backside of every rep to take away momentum from the equation.

Units and Reps: Go for larger reps right here; strive 3 units of 15 reps. 

Assault Bike

The machine that everybody likes to hate. Take one good take a look at dash cyclists like Robert Förstemann, and also you’ll notice how efficient biking will be for constructing decrease physique energy and muscle dimension. When used together with the remainder of the workouts on this listing, sprints on the assault bike add extra direct coaching quantity to the quadriceps, glutes, and calves. 

The bike can also be nice for building up aerobic endurance and rising how a lot lactic acid your physique can deal with throughout coaching — also called your lactic threshold.

Advantages of the Assault Bike

  • Low impression approach of constructing muscle, energy, and endurance.
  • Builds muscle in quadriceps, glutes, and calves.
  • Straightforward to arrange and carry out for are ages and talent ranges.

How one can Do the Assault Bike

To set your seat up, place the ball of your foot on the pedal. After adjusting your seat peak, sit down on the seat, inserting each ft on the pedals with arms greedy the handles. Don’t lock out your legs on the backside of a revolution. Pedal and drive your arms forwards and backwards in sync along with your leg drive. The legs are what needs to be producing essentially the most energy, not your arms.

Coach’s Tip: The assault bike is a test of willpower as a lot as it’s a leg-worker. Place it on the finish of your session as a finisher.

Units and Reps: Two or three rounds of intense pedaling for about 30 seconds ought to torch your legs. 

Kang Squat

An excellent leg train needs to be each stimulating and mobilizing. The Kang squat hits each marks after which some; it’s equal elements squat and good morning, making it an superior train for coaching your muscle tissues and making you extra versatile.

Advantages of the Kang Squat

  • Nice for warming up your hips firstly of a leg exercise.
  • Requires little or no weight to be efficient.

How one can Do the Kang Squat

Unrack a barbell as should you have been going to carry out a normal again squat. Assume your footing after which sit down so far as you’re comfortably capable of. From the underside of your squat place, intentionally shoot your hips out behind you. Your torso needs to be virtually parallel to the ground. From right here, get up.

In your subsequent rep, start by taking pictures your hips again and tipping over into morning. Then, sit down into your again squat backside place. That’s a Kang squat. 

Coach’s Tip: Your greatest guess is to make use of the Kang squat as a warm-up previous to your first compound leg train.

Units and Reps: Go for two or 3 units of 5 reps with the empty barbell. 

Kettlebell Swing

Chances are you’ll consider it as, primarily, a conditioning instrument, however don’t get it twisted. The kettlebell swing is a superbly viable leg train should you’re trying to break a sweat and construct up your posterior chain on the identical time. 

Advantages of the Kettlebell Swing

How one can Do the Kettlebell Swing

Take a shoulder-width stance, or barely wider, with a kettlebell on the ground between your ft. Hinge down and seize the deal with of the bell. From right here, sweep it again between your legs to ascertain momentum.

Prolong your hips to thrust the bell ahead and up. Because it descends once more, fall again right into a hinge place. When you get right into a rhythm, you need to be capable to swing the burden by snapping your hips into extension.

Coach’s Tip: Maintain your arms tucked to your sides on the high of every rep; the bell ought to swing as much as concerning the peak of your navel. 

Units and Reps: Strive 3 or 4 units of 20 swings with a moderately-heavy kettlebell on the finish of your exercise. 

Bike owner Squat

In case you’ve ever squatted whereas sporting weightlifting shoes, you know the way a lot of a game-changer it may be to raise your heels. The bicycle owner squat takes that concept to the subsequent degree; by inserting a excessive wedge below your heels, you may hammer your quads and take different muscle tissues out of the equation virtually completely. The bicycle owner squat is among the greatest quad-focused squat variations on the market. 

Advantages of the Bike owner Squat

  • Locations virtually all stress immediately onto your quads.
  • Will be efficient even with very gentle weights.
  • Works great as a finisher movement after you’re performed squatting. 

How one can Do the Bike owner Squat

You’ll must prop your heels up onto an elevated floor for this one, resembling a bumper plate. Something that’s at the least an inch or two in peak. Place your ft shut collectively and stand absolutely upright.

From right here, slowly sink down right into a narrow-stance squat by permitting your knees to journey far in entrance of your toes. It’s best to be capable to simply compress your hamstrings onto your calves. Pause for a second on the backside after which flex your quads to return to the beginning place. 

Coach’s Tip: There’s such a factor as an excessive amount of heel elevation; should you really feel your self falling ahead on each rep, you’re probably utilizing an excessive amount of.

Units and Reps: Begin with no external weight and do 2 or 3 units of 10 to fifteen reps. 

Belt Squat

When you’ve got entry to a belt squat machine in your gymnasium, you’d be silly to not make use of it. Whereas considerably uncommon, the belt squat is a useful instrument for constructing your legs. The defining characteristic of the belt squat is that as an alternative of the burden pushing down in your backbone, it pulls down in your hips. 

This makes the belt squat a tremendous workaround should you’re nursing an damage or wish to squat with out fatiguing your posterior chain in any respect. 

Advantages of the Belt Squat

How one can Do the Belt Squat

When you’ve got a belt squat station in your gymnasium, this train is fairly grab-and-go. If not, you may wrangle it with a dip belt, some weight plates, and by standing on two excessive bins. Assume your regular squat stance or barely wider and sit right into a deep squat by permitting the resistance to tug your pelvis immediately downward. 

Coach’s Tip: Keep away from gripping the handrail too tightly and utilizing it to tug your self up out of the squat. Let your legs do the work.

Units and Reps: Accumulate quantity right here with 4 units of 6 to eight reps. 

How one can Heat Up Earlier than Coaching Legs

A well-designed warm-up helps scale back the chance of damage and improves readiness heading into your coaching session with out producing extreme fatigue. Elevated physique temperature, an activated (excited) nervous system, and a prepared mental state may help improve readiness for the upcoming day of coaching. 

An excellent warm-up protocol has two phases; basic and particular. Your general warm-up is about psychological preparation for the exercise, getting your head within the sport, and rising your core temperature. It’s best to break a lightweight sweat, however that’s all.

Afterward, proceed to your particular warm-up; drills or workouts that put together you for the duties at hand. On leg day, this typically takes the form of dynamic mobility work, maybe some pre-activation, after which ramping up toward your working sets. 

Pattern Leg Day Heat-Up

The quantity of “work” you do during your warm-up needs to be sufficient to organize you to coach, however not tire you out in any respect. In case you’re wholesome, versatile by default, or not performing many intricate actions on leg day, you needn’t spend 20 or half-hour on the point of carry.

Run by way of this protocol and modify it as wanted to match your degree of health. In case you’re feeling chilly or sluggish, add a number of extra minutes of cardio. In case your squats or deadlifts really feel out of whack or inconsistent, add a pair additional ramping units to dial in your approach:

  • 5-10 minutes of sunshine cardio (stair-stepper, incline treadmill, elliptical, or sled push)
  • 1-3 dynamic mobility drills (excessive knees, leg swings, kickbacks, or Cossack squats)
  • 1-4 ramp-up units of your first compound train, starting with the empty barbell and slowly including weight. Carry out only some (1-5) reps per set. 

How one can Construction Leg Coaching

The leg muscle tissues give energy and construction to the decrease physique. As such, you’ll both wish to prepare your legs on their very own or paired with a few your higher physique exercises. Listed here are three benchmarks for leg coaching — it’s as much as you to resolve the way to combine them into your routine.

Units and Reps

Performing 12 to 18 units per week is probably going an ideal start line for anybody trying to develop their legs. Extra superior trainees may doubtlessly exceed 18 units per week if their purpose is to grow a specific part of the legs over one other. Select three to 4 workouts from this listing and divvy up your training sets equally amongst them. Attempt to steadiness actions that target hip flexion/extension and knee flexion/extension for equalized improvement and stimulus.

A person doing a Bulgarian split squat.
Credit score: tsyhun / Shutterstock

Keep in mind, there’s a restrict to how much you can do per workout whereas nonetheless being productive. In case you discover your efficiency dropping off, it might assist to separate up a number of the coaching quantity to a day later within the week. A training frequency of two to 3 classes per week has been really helpful to assist maximize muscle progress. (2)

Train Choice

The workouts you select play a major position within the muscle tissues that bear essentially the most load. Your leg muscle tissues work in synchronicity to attain a variety of motion patterns. Subsequently, totally different muscle tissues shall be biased extra relying on the actions being carried out. When selecting workouts to carry out, you wish to decide workouts that:

  • Give enough load to the muscle with out extreme stress on the encircling joints.
  • Line up the resistance with the muscle(s) you wish to prepare. 
  • Work round pre-existing accidents or limitations.
  • Will be carried out with the gear in your gymnasium area.

On the subject of coaching the legs, there are various nice choices for workouts and instruments to get the job performed — together with cables, machines, free weights, and even your personal physique weight.

Train Order

It’s not solely about what you do and the way you do it; it issues when. Putting compound workouts first in your exercise is smart, particularly for newbies. It’s because the extra fatigued you get, the more severe your approach will probably develop into, limiting your capability for high-quality units. 

Putting workouts like deadlifts and different barbell variations — that demand extra out of your physique — towards the beginning of your exercise will improve the effectiveness of your coaching. Right here’s an instance of how it’s possible you’ll order the workouts in your subsequent leg exercise:

  • Again Squat
  • Romanian Deadlift
  • Leg Extension
  • Seated or Lying Leg Curl
  • Prowler Push or Assault Bike

The heavier, extra challenging compound lifts are carried out first when you’re good and contemporary, tapering all the way down to focused isolation work in the direction of the tip of the session.

Leg Coaching Suggestions

When training your legs to grow or get stronger, there are a handful of guidelines that may enable you enhance your efficiency whereas limiting the chance of damage.

Breathe and Brace

When loading heavy weight in your again, respiratory and proper bracing develop into important to your skill to securely and successfully maximize efficiency. The extra you sharpen this talent, the extra rhythmic and pure it turns into. 

For free weight exercises and machines, it’s a good rule of thumb to breathe in earlier than you begin the movement or undergo the eccentric portion; breathe out as you push by way of the concentric a part of the train. To stay braced, keep engagement of your core all through your reps.

Your Approach Issues

You received’t be capable to reap the advantages of leg coaching with out having correct approach. Poor type results in different muscle tissues compensating for those that needs to be working. Somebody with weak hips, for instance, could hinge ahead throughout a squat, inserting undue stress on their decrease again.

If you end up performing any of the actions listed above with poor type, the answer is almost certainly to lighten the load and build good habits earlier than returning to a heavier weight.

Select the Greatest Workouts for You

Finding exercises that work well for you — your talent degree, construction, and mechanics, alongside your purpose — is necessary for maximizing your coaching expertise. As you may see, there are various other ways to coach your legs. 

If, for instance, you might have been injured performing the again squat prior to now, there are different methods to imitate this identical stress on the physique, such because the hack squat or leg press. There aren’t any absolute must-do actions in the case of leg coaching. 

Advantages of Coaching Your Legs

There are many causes to coach your legs: Leg coaching improves one’s skill to blow up; leg workouts burn more calories; leg muscle is aesthetic, and the entire actions on this listing will enable you move better overall. Right here, we’ll dig deeper into the the reason why you shouldn’t skip leg days.

You’ll Turn out to be Extra Highly effective

Nearly each full-body movement begins from the bottom up — sprinting, leaping, even throwing a punch. So it causes that strengthening your legs will lead to simpler motion throughout. 

One examine revealed within the Journal of Sports activities Drugs had 20 athletes carry out 4 units of 10-rep max again squats twice per week for six weeks to see the way it affected their energy and energy output. After six weeks, the topics improved their leg press energy, countermovement squat bounce efficiency, and dash. (3

You’ll Burn Extra Energy

There are a lot of elements in play when figuring out how many calories a person burns per train — like their weight, peak, physique fats share, how arduous they’re working, and so forth. It seems, which train you select issues, too. 

A 2017 examine within the journal PLOS One measured the calorie-burning effect of eight workouts (three lower-body strikes and 5 upper-body strikes). The researchers divided 58 males into 4 teams and assigned two workouts per group.

The themes carried out a five-minute-long fixed depth set with as a lot as 24% of their one-rep max. They then carried out “exhaustive bouts” with 80% of their one-rep max. The outcomes confirmed that the leg exercises (half-squats, leg press, and leg extensions) carried out with 80% of 1’s one-rep max produced as much as 20 energy burned per minute. (4)

You’ll Be Extra Symmetrical 

You don’t want a elaborate examine to let you know that should you don’t train your legs, they received’t develop — after which, what, you’ll be the man with biceps the scale of his thighs? Even should you by no means plan to compete in a bodybuilding show, there’s an aesthetic profit to having muscular legs to associate with your chest, again, shoulders…you get the concept. 

Leg Coaching Can Enhance Your Potential to Transfer

Except for shifting extra shortly and powerfully, coaching your legs can improve your everyday mobility. Although you assume you’re solely hip-hinging or squatting once you’re within the gymnasium, that’s not the case. Any time you bend over to select one thing up, you’re hinging on the hips. In case you rise up and down from a chair, you’re squatting. Heck, strolling down the steps is actually a lunge. See the purpose?

The squats, lunges, and deadlifts you carry out within the gymnasium will, over time, make you stronger and more adept on the actions you have interaction in each day. That is very true as you age. Older people are topic to muscle and energy losses, in addition to a reduction in flexibility and general mobility

An evaluation of research on PubMed that explored the consequences of energy coaching within the aged concluded that energy coaching within the senior inhabitants may scale back sarcopenia (or muscle loss) and retain motor operate. (5)

Anatomy of the Legs

Realizing concerning the muscle tissues in your legs and their capabilities could enable you perceive the way to higher prepare your decrease physique. Listed here are the key muscle tissues concerned in most traditional leg workouts.


The glutes are key gamers in hip stability and energy throughout strolling, leaping, sprinting, and energy coaching. The gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus assist the hip lengthen, externally and internally rotate, and abduct (shifting thigh away from the physique). 

Robust and practical glutes may help alleviate decrease again ache and make on a regular basis actions, resembling standing, strolling, and climbing the steps, that a lot simpler. 


The muscle tissues of the inside thigh — often known as the adductors — adduct the thigh (shifting thigh towards the physique) and act as necessary stabilizers of the pelvis throughout any actions.

A person working on their quads doing squats.
Credit score: DmitryStock / Shutterstock

The adductor magnus (the most important muscle on this group and generally known as the “mini hamstrings”) is a robust hip extensor that contributes to actions just like the again squat and Romanian deadlift. 


The hamstrings connect to the pelvis and run down the again of the leg. These necessary muscle tissues play a distinguished position in hip extension, knee flexion, extension, and knee stability. In case you’re coaching your decrease physique, your hammies are concerned in a technique or one other, even if you’re not dynamically flexing and lengthening on the hip or knee. 


The calf muscle tissues — most notably the gastrocnemius and soleus — flex the foot and ankle. Functionally, the calf muscle assists in knee flexion in actions just like the leg curl and is a crucial muscle in stabilizing the knee throughout loaded carries and sled pushes, like the farmer’s carry and prowler push. (6)


The quadriceps — made up of rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius — flex and stabilize the knee and play a job in hip stability. Throughout strolling workouts just like the farmer’s carry and prowler push, the quadriceps work double-time to assist stabilize the hips whereas additionally extending the knee in the course of the carrying stage. 

Extra Leg Coaching Content material

The advantages of leg day go far past this text. In spite of everything, there are greater than 20 strikes to coach your legs with and a myriad of how to use them to your coaching. Your subsequent learn is true right here: 


  1. Schache A. (2012). Eccentric hamstring muscle coaching can stop hamstring accidents in soccer gamers. Journal of physiotherapy, 58(1), 58. 
  2. Schoenfeld, B. J., Ogborn, D., & Krieger, J. W. (2016). Results of Resistance Coaching Frequency on Measures of Muscle Hypertrophy: A Systematic Evaluation and Meta-Evaluation. Sports activities medication (Auckland, N.Z.), 46(11), 1689–1697. 
  3. Wirtz, N., Zinner, C., Doermann, U., Kleinoeder, H., & Mester, J. (2016). Results of Loaded Squat Train with and with out Utility of Superimposed EMS on Bodily Efficiency. Journal of sports activities science & medication, 15(1), 26–33.
  4. Reis, V. M., Garrido, N. D., Vianna, J., Sousa, A. C., Alves, J. V., & Marques, M. C. (2017). Vitality price of remoted resistance workouts throughout low- to high-intensities. PloS one, 12(7), e0181311. 
  5. Mayer, F., Scharhag-Rosenberger, F., Carlsohn, A., Cassel, M., Müller, S., & Scharhag, J. (2011). The depth and results of energy coaching within the aged. Deutsches Arzteblatt worldwide, 108(21), 359–364. 
  6. Alshami, A. M., & Alhassany, H. A. (2020). Girth, energy, and adaptability of the calf muscle in sufferers with knee osteoarthritis: A case-control examine. Journal of Taibah College Medical Sciences, 15(3), 197–202. 

Trending Merchandise

Add to compare
IRON °FLASK Sports Water Bottle – 32 Oz, 3 Lids (Straw Lid), Leak Proof, Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel, Double Walled…
Add to compare
Add to compare
Water Bottle Insulated 32oz 40oz 64oz 128oz Straw Lid Spout Lid & 3 Lids, Leak Proof, Vacuum Insulated,Stainless Steel…
Add to compare
Add to compare
Venture Pal Large 64 oz/Half Gallon Motivational Water Bottle with 2 Lids (Chug and Straw), Leakproof BPA Free Sports…
Add to compare
Add to compare
Coldest Sports Water Bottle with Straw Lid Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Metal Thermos Bottles Reusable Leak Proof…
Add to compare
Add to compare
H2 HYDROLOGY Adventure Water Bottle with 3 LIDS | Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Wide Mouth | Sports Hot…
Add to compare
Add to compare
H2 Hydrology Water Bottle – 18 oz, 22 oz, 32 oz, 40 oz, or 64 oz with 3 LIDS Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless…
Add to compare
Add to compare
COKTIK 32 oz Sports Water Bottle With Straw,3 Lids, Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Water Bottles,Leakproof Lightweight…
Add to compare
Add to compare
HYDRARANK Half Gallon Water Bottle with Straw and Chug Lid – 2.2L Gym Water Jug with Storage Sleeve and Handle – BPA…
Add to compare
Add to compare
JoyJolt Borosilicate Glass Water Bottle with Strap, Silicone Sleeve and Lid (Grey). 20oz Water Bottles. Reusable Water…
Add to compare

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Register New Account
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Shopping cart