Top 5 Leg Exercises for Gaining Muscle (Videos)
The legs are one of the most neglected muscles when it comes to muscle building. Proper weight lifters will know the importance of leg exercises when looking to build muscle but most beginners and even some more advanced weight lifters skip leg workouts due to the sheer intensity of them.
Let us take a look at the best leg exercises for mass
There is no doubt about it that leg exercises are tough but they help the body to stimulate more muscle and pump additional blood and nutrients around the body. Leg workouts are also important for all-round muscular development. The muscles that make up the leg are the hamstrings, quadriceps (thighs), and the calves. We may also include the gluteus maximum or buttock muscles in here. The following leg exercises are the most effective for developing each of the above muscles.
1. The Squat
The squat is probably the best leg exercise you can possibly do. The squat will help build quality muscle size in your thighs/quadriceps. Squats can be performed by either using free weights or a squats machine. When using free weights, ensure that you use a power rack as this will safeguard you against any unwanted injuries.
To perform the squat, step onto the rack (if using free weights) and position the barbell across the back of your shoulders whilst placing your feet shoulder-width apart. You can place feet less than shoulder-width apart to put greater emphasis on your outer thigh muscles or place feet wider than shoulder-width apart to work your inner thigh muscle.
Once you are in a position to lift the barbell and you have your stance sorted, raise the barbell up on to the back of your shoulders and move away from the rack so that you have sufficient room to execute the squat. With eyes looking straight forward, keeping your head up and back straight, slowly bend your knees and lower your body until thighs are around parallel or just below parallel to the floor.
Now raise yourself back to the starting position using only your legs muscles, remembering to keep your head up and ensuring the back stays straight throughout the movement. Take a look at how to squat correctly for a far detailed description of how to perform the squat.
2. The Leg Press
The leg press is another great exercise for the thighs and quads. This exercise is performed using machines so it may not be applicable to people looking to work out at home unless you decide to buy one of these machines or a home gym. Once you have specified the amount of weight you’re going to be lifting, sit down and adjust the seat accordingly so that your feet can reach the weight comfortably.
Now slowly bend your knees and allow the weight to lower itself until your knees reach a position of around 90 degrees. Once legs have reached this position, extend your legs once again and push the weight back up.
3. Leg Curls
Leg curls are a great way to blast the back of your legs, the muscle primarily known as the hamstring. Again this exercise is performed using only a machine called the leg curl machine and can be performed (depending on the machine) lying down or standing up.
We shall cover the lying down method as this is the most popular one used amongst machines. Firstly, lie face down on the bench/machine and position your legs under the machines support pads.
4. Standing Calf Raises
The standing calf raise is the best exercise out there to develop and help build quality calf muscles. If you didn’t already know, the calf muscle is the muscle located at the back of your leg and below your knee. To perform the calf raise, you will need to use a calf raise machine.
This is similar to that of the power rack used for squats although this time you have the option of standing on a raised platform/block giving your heels the required amount of room to be lowered and raised using only your calf muscles.
Step onto the machine and place your shoulders beneath the bar with a shoulder-width apart stance. Place only your toes on the raised platform/block allowing your heels to be placed in the remainder of space behind you. Hook the weight off the machine and lower your heels as far as possible.
Knees should be slightly bent when lowering yourself. Now raise yourself back up using only your toes to the point that legs are nearly straight. Lower and repeat.
5. Barbell Stepping Lunges
Another leg exercise worth adding into your training is barbell lunges. The lunge works both the thigh and buttocks muscles. This exercise can also be done with either a barbell or dumbells. Start by holding a barbell behind your neck as you would when performing the squat and place feet together.