All about leg muscle building and workout routines targeted and building the muscles in your legs. Often ignored for vanity exercises like the bench press, your legs hold a large percentage of your overall muscle mass and are far more important in overall body building than arms or other muscles that “look good”.
Leg muscle building is the most neglected form of bodybuilding. On any given day, you can walk in to a gym and find room to do squats or leg extensions, but good luck finding room on the bench press!
We can often show off our upper body in public places and most mirrors are limited to the upper body, so we tend to lose focus on the legs.
There are many benefits to leg muscle building, however. First of all it avoids you being the guy that everyone laughs at for having huge arms, a big chest and puny matchstick legs.
Secondly, the legs contain huge muscles that when built properly, increase your overall lean muscle mass and make it easier to burn calories, build muscle and produce testosterone.
On top of all that, almost every sporting activity heavily involves the leg muscles in one way or another.
Your legs can really take a beating, so your leg workout days should be approached with a combination of excitement and dread. On one hand, you should know that your next leg workout is going to feel amazing. On the other hand, you know you are in for some hard work and deep, burning muscle pain.
When you do these leg exercises, make sure you always keep perfect form. Many leg exercises place stress on the spine if done improperly. You have to be careful that you do all lifts with perfect form so that you protect your back and receive the full benefit of working out.
This is probably the second-most neglected exercise in the gym after deadlifts. The squat is a great exercise for building overall mass and turning you into an immovable oak tree.
It can also be a dangerous exercise so make sure you use strict form and get help from a personal trainer the first couple of times you perform squats. Reading descriptions online is not enough to learn perfect squat form.
The squat is performed inside a squat rack and with safety bars engaged so that you can drop the weights if necessary. Place the barbell on the rack in front of you at about shoulder height. Now step beneath the bar and let the bar rest across the top of your back and along your shoulders, just beneath your neck.
Keeping your entire back straight, use your legs to lift the bar up off the rack. Take a step or two back and stand with your feet at about shoulder width or slightly wider and toes pointing slightly outwards.
Now lower your body by bending your knees and sitting back with your hips until your upper legs break the parallel plane. Maintain strict spine posture the entire movement. Now push down into the floor and press upwards to lift the weights and your body back to a full standing position. That is one rep.
This exercise is performed at a leg press machine. It mimics the motion of the squat except it is performed while lying on your back. Load the machine with the appropriate weights, sit in the seat and then place your feet on the press plate with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width.
Keep your back and the back of your head against the padding the entire time.
Extend your legs so that you are supporting the weight fully and disengage the locking mechanism. While keeping your back straight, slowly bend your knees and lower the weight towards your body.
You should lower the weights until your hamstrings and calves create an angle that is slightly less than 90 degrees. Now extend your legs and press the weight away from your body and back to the starting position.
This exercise is performed at a leg curl machine. Some machine have you sitting down while others have you laying face down. In either case, adjust the machine so that the back of your ankles rest against the ankle pad and so that the axis of rotation of the machine is directly aligned with the axis of rotation of your knee.
Now lift the weight by curling your leg so that your ankle moves towards your butt in a circular motion.
Make sure you use appropriate weight for this exercise at all times. The rest of your body should not be squirming around while you do this weight. You should be in complete control the entire time. Improper form can lead to hamstring and lower back injuries.
This exercise is performed at a leg extension machine. Sit down on the chair so that your back and head rest firmly against the padding. Now place your ankles beneath the ankle pad and adjust the length of the machine’s arm so that the axis of rotation of the machine is directly aligned with the axis of rotation of your knee.
Lift the weights by extending and straightening your legs. Use slow, controlled movements and keep your upper body still. Use the grip handles to help stabilize the rest of your body. Also make sure that at the staring position your upper and lower legs create a 90 degree angle. If you begin with your knees more forward than your toes, it will place unnecessary stress on your knee joints.
Single Leg Calf Raises
This deceptively simple looking exercise can actually be quite challenging. If you have problems building calf muscle or getting your calves sore, give this one a try. Find a stepping board or stair and stand on it so that the ball of your foot rests on the stair and the back of your foot hangs off in the air. Keep your other foot in the air by either holding it behind you or crossing it behind the working ankle.
Now lift your body by extending your ankle to the maximum point and either hold it there or bounce twice at the top. Lower the body all the way down until your ankle reaches its maximum point at the bottom. Repeat this exercise by alternating sets with each leg.
You can perform this exercise the easiest by placing the stepping board near a wall and facing the wall. Place your hands lightly against the wall and above the level of your head. This will help provide balance without cheating.
Other Leg Muscle Building Exercises
- Front Squats
- Hip Sled
- Dumbell Lunges
- Kettlebell Lunges