Leg day can be tough, but lower body workouts are worth it. Lower body strength allows us to do simple things like climbing steps or squatting to pick up something. These activities require strength and stabilization from our legs.

The best leg workouts will target all of the muscles in our legs from every angle.

1. Back squat

The Back Squat is a compound exercise that works all the muscles in the legs. The lunge is not only great for toning your lower body, but also requires muscles in the upper body to stabilize the load and protect the spine, making it one of the most effective full-body exercises you can do.

The back squat is a great exercise for strength and muscle gain and it reinforces movement patterns we engage in daily, making it a great choice for an exercise.

Place a barbell on a power rack at shoulder height, and add weight until it is the appropriate amount. You will need to put the barbell across the upper part of your traps, or across your shoulder blades if you are squatting with a low bar.

Prepare your body for lifting the weight by tightening your core muscles. Carefully remove the weight from the rack. Step backward slowly with one foot, then the other, until you are in the correct position.

To perform a squat, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your chest up. From here, squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor, and then return to the starting position. Now stand up by pushing your feet down through the floor.

2. Front squat

Stand facing the bar, feet shoulder-width apart, and take a shoulder-width grip on the bar Stand up to a barbell that is at shoulder height in a power rack, with the weight being something that you can handle. Have your feet be shoulder-width apart when you are standing in front of the barbell, and grab it with both hands at a shoulder-width grip. Put your hands on the bar, then extend your arms straight out so they’re touching it.

Place your middle three fingers on the bar, and then push your palms up. Your elbows should be underneath the bar, pointing straight forward.

The bar should be resting across your upper chest. An entity who is unable to enter the starting position can instead rest the bar on their collarbone and cross their arms so that the extremities are touching the opposite shoulder.

This position is called the genie rack position. Move backwards so the bar is no longer in the rack and keep your elbows pointing forwards. keeping your chest up, squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Push through the floor with your feet to return to the starting position.

3. Bulgarian split squat

The instability created by elevating your leg on a bench increases the exercise’s range of motion. The fact that the Bulgarian split squat is unstable means that you have to use your muscles to keep yourself balanced, which will also help to strengthen the smaller stabilizing muscles in your hips and thighs.

Doing a squat with a longer range of motion will increase the muscle’s stretch, which will improve your mobility and the amount of tension on the muscles in your butt, thighs, and legs.

Pick up a dumbbell in each hand and stand in front of a bench, keeping your feet about a foot apart. Place one foot, laces down, on a bench. Squat down until both of your legs bending at a 90-degree angle while keeping your core engaged.

Bend your knees a little further, but don’t let them touch the floor. Squat down, making sure your knees don’t go past your toes, and hold the position for a beat. Then, stand back up.

4. Leg press

The leg press machine doesn’t require you to use your upper body to hold weight, which gives you more power. This exercise can handle more weight than most leg exercises.

The leg press machine is good for helping you to build bigger and stronger thighs. It is also safer to use because you can adjust the sled simply by turning the handles in and out.

The leg press can be loaded and unloaded quickly, making it useful for drop sets. If you want to perform a high-rep set, you can strip the weight plates and then do another set. If you want to continue performing sets, you can strip the plates between each set.

Position your feet in the middle of the sled, shoulder-width apart, while sitting in the leg press seat. Press the sled out of the rack, lower the safety bars, and then slowly lower the sled until your thighs break 90 degrees.

Push the sled back up, but don’t lock your knees. You should not go so far down that your lower back or hips lift off the seat.

5. Hack squat

George Hackenschmidt’s beloved brainchild, the hack squat, has evolved to become one of the most popular and effective machine variations for adding serious strength and muscle to your legs.

The front squat shares attributes with the back squat and reinforces the squat movement pattern to build strength that translates into other lifts.

An added benefit of the machine is that it provides external stability, which helps prevent injuries and also allows people with existing injuries to work out. This is because the machine has a pre-defined movement pattern.

Your foot placement on the platform will be similar to your foot placement when you back squat. You want your feet to be positioned slightly wider than shoulder width, with your feet angled slightly outward. Your feet should be in line with your knees as they move forward during the descent.

To maintain the proper form, engage your abdominals and keep your lower back pressed against the back pad. Position your head in a neutral position as you lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the platform your feet are on. Push through your feet to return to the starting position.

6. Romanian deadlift

This deadlift variation is done by lowering the barbell to mid-shin level by driving your hips back while keeping your core engaged with tension on your hamstrings and glutes.

The Romanian Deadlift is a great way to build muscle and improve your regular deadlift. It also strengthens your hips and lower back, which reduces the risk of injury when performing similar movements.

Barbells can be loaded with less weight for a traditional deadlift, but you should still get in the same deadlift position. This means having your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands gripping the bar just outside the knees.

Lift your torso and then lower your hips, pulling up on the bar until your hips are in line with your body. Begin by lowering the bar until it is in the middle of your shins.

You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Raise your hips up and bring the weight back to the starting position.

7. Nordic hamstring curl

In this bodyweight hamstring curl, you kneel with your feet anchored behind you and lower your body to the ground by only flexing your knees. The hamstrings are the only muscle group responsible for supporting your body weight.

The Nordic hamstring curl is an excellent move to prevent injury and build muscle. The study found that the team that completed the training saw a significant reduction in the number of hamstring injuries compared to the teams that did not do the training. One study found that teams that completed hamstring training during a mid-season break saw a significant reduction in the number of hamstring injuries compared to the teams that did not do the training.

One half of the teams added two to three sets of five to twelve repetitions of Nordic hamstring curls one to three times per week. The group that did the Nordic curls had way fewer hamstring injuries than the group that didn’t do them.

Place your feet underneath something sturdy, like a loaded barbell, a bench, or the legs of a cable machine, and kneel on an exercise mat. Extend your arms out in front of you, keep your torso straight, and bend at the knees to slowly lower yourself towards the floor. Try to get your thighs parallel to the floor, and hold the position for a few seconds before standing back up.

The greater the distance you are from the anchor point, the more difficult the move will be. If you catch yourself with your hands, you can push your body back up to the starting position.

8. Hip circles

To do this move, support yourself by putting your weight on your elbows and knees. Make sure your shoulders are directly over your elbows and your hips are directly over your knees, then start moving your one knee in a circular motion, coming from your hip.

Draw a circle as large as possible while maintaining a stable torso. After you finish moving your right knee in circles for 30 seconds, switch legs and do the same thing with your left knee.

This move will help you both burn your glutes and maintain mobility in your hip area.

9. Jump rope

No, you don’t need an actual jump rope to carry out this move. (Though if you have one, feel free to bring it out.) All you need to do is a series of continuous small jumps in place, vertically or laterally, moving your arms as if you’re swinging a rope underneath you with each burst.

This move not only gives your legs a serious burn, but also amps up your heart rate for a healthy cardiovascular workout.

10. Skaters

According to Earnest, runners should try adding skaters to their routine. Earnest emphasizes the strength-building benefits for legs and knees, as well as the improved stability and balance.

Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Start by standing on one leg, then jump to the side and land on the other foot. Visually, you’ll look like you’re skating.

The purpose of this exercise is to help runners stay quick and nimble, while also increasing knee stability.

11. Walking lunges

Rest your hands on your hips, then take one large step forward with your right leg, keeping your torso upright. Bend the knees and lower your body into the lunge position, stopping when your legs are forming 90-degree angles.
Press through the right foot and step forward again so that you land in the same position with your left side, as if you are “walking.” (Pro tip: Amp up the effort by adding dumbbells into the mix.)

Walking lunges are beneficial because they increase range of motion, balance, and posture. This is achieved by loosening up the hips and hamstrings.

12. Donkey kick

Start in a plank position, your body in a straight line from your head to your feet. Get into a push-up position, with your hands beneath your shoulders and your feet together. Keeping your right knee bent at a 90 degree angle, lift your right leg into the air until your leg forms a straight line with your shoulders and back, your right toe pointing upward.

Repeat the movement on your left side.

This exercise will make your butt burn. Get ready for super strong glutes.

13. Side lying plank

Lie on one side with your legs stacked on top of one another. Place your forearm on the floor with your elbow below your shoulder and forearm parallel to your mat. Pushing off your elbow, engage your core, glutes, and legs to lift your body weight off the mat.
While this is categorically a core exercise, you’re also engaging your glutes, quads, and lower legs to support your entire body as it’s lifted off the ground.

14. Broad jump

Bend your knees so they are hip-length apart, then bend at your glutes and hips. Jump forward in a controlled movement. Step away from your starting point as far as you can while still being able to touch the ground with your feet.

“Maintain a soft bend through your knees to land like you’re a ninja trying to not make a noise,” Earnest adds. “This will help keep your knees safe and your jump fluid.”

Doing broad jumps on a regular basis will not only make you jump further over time, but will also make your quads and glutes stronger, as well as improve your ability to do quick movements.

15. Goblet squat

Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a weight in front of chest, elbows pointing toward the floor. Push hips back and bend knees to lower into a squat. Push yourself back to start. That’s one rep.

This squat variation is beginner-friendly and also activates your core muscles.

16. Sumo deadlift

Hold two kettlebells or dumbbells with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart and your toes pointed out. Position weights in front of thighs, palms facing in.

Squat down keeping your knees slightly bent and your hips back. Lower the weights toward the floor. Squeeze glutes to return to standing. That’s one rep.

This exercise targets your glutes, hamstrings, and back.

17. Single-leg deadlift

Holding a weight in either hand, stand on left leg with palms facing toward thighs. Keep left leg slightly bent while hinging forward at hips, extending right leg straight behind you, until torso is parallel to the floor.
Weights should be lowered straight down as you move until they’re almost touching the floor. Drive into left heel to return to standing. That’s one rep.
Leg training tips

The functions of leg muscles include supporting the body both structurally and functionally. For example, leg muscles help to support the body when standing and walking. There are a few things you can do to help your legs grow stronger, without risking injury.

 

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