15 best leg exercises

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

How to pump up your legs
If you are swinging your entire body in one workout, include one exercise for each muscle group. If you prefer splits, choose one or two options for each group and add to your leg day workout.

Multi-joint exercises in which the leg bends in both the hip and knee joints (squats, deadlifts, lunges) are best done at the beginning of a workout. So you can give your best and take more weight than if you had previously tired the muscles and the nervous system with simpler loads. Perform single-joint exercises at the end of your workout.

For maximum muscle growth, do 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps. Choose the weight in such a way that the last movements in each set are given with difficulty. You can do the last approach to muscle failure.

Exercises with a working weight should be preceded by several warm-up sets with a lighter barbell. For example, before squatting with a barbell of 80 kg, you can do three approaches with a step of 20 kg: 5 times with a bar of 20 kg, 5 times with a barbell of 40 kg, 3 times with a bar of 60 kg.

To avoid stagnation in your workouts, alternate exercises periodically, and change the position of the legs and the position of the feet where possible.

We will show you in sequence how to pump the front, back, and inner thighs.

What exercises to do for the front of the thigh
Here are the quadriceps – large muscles of four heads. The quadriceps extends the lower leg, and its central head, the rectus femoris, also flexes the thigh.

  1. Squats with a barbell on the back
    The exercise engages the muscles of the legs and core, loads the front of the thigh well.

Take the barbell off the racks, bring your shoulder blades, straighten your chest, straighten your back. Place your feet shoulder-width apart, slightly turn your socks to the sides. Take your pelvis back and squat down until your hips are parallel to the floor. In the process, do not lift your heels off the floor and do not lie on your stomach on your knees.

Keep your knees open when exiting the squat. Look straight ahead, concentrate on muscle work.

  1. Squats with a barbell on the chest
    Effectively pumps the front of the thigh, especially the inner part (medial head). Squats like this are safer for the knees and lower back than the back weights.

Remove the bar from the racks, bring your elbows forward, arch your back. Place your feet shoulder-width apart, slightly turn your socks to the sides. Sit down to parallel with the hips with the floor or slightly lower and rise back.

  1. Lunges
    The entire front surface of the thigh is well loaded.

If you find it difficult to maintain balance in this exercise, try back lunges: they are easier but less effective.

You can do lunges with different weights: with a barbell on your shoulders, with dumbbells in your hands, with an elastic band-expander. It’s better to try dumbbells for a start: this will make it easier to maintain balance.

Stand up straight, take weights in your hands, straighten your shoulders, straighten your back. Lunge forward, do not touch the floor with the knee of the leg standing behind: let there be a space of 5-10 centimeters between them. Straighten up and repeat on the other leg.

Some people do lunges while driving through the hall. If your goal is to burn more calories and strengthen your core muscles, these can be beneficial. But they are worse at pumping the hips than forwarding lunges in place.

  1. Press the legs in the simulator
    Same as squats, but with minimal stress on the core and back extensors. Due to this, you can take more weight without risking ripping your back, and it is better to load your hips. In addition, the leg press pumps the front of the thigh as efficiently as the machine leg extension but does not stress the knees as much.

Sit on the simulator chair, press your lower back against the back, and do not lift until the end of the exercise. Place your feet on the bottom of the platform: this position will load the front of the thigh as much as possible. A high stance provides more stress on the buttocks.

Under the weight of the platform, bend your legs to a right angle at the knees, and then squeeze it back. At the extreme point, do not straighten your knees completely, leave them slightly bent.

What exercises to do for the back of the thigh
Here are the hamstrings, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus muscles. They extend the hip and flex the lower leg.

  1. Deadlift
    It pumps the entire back of the body: the extensors of the back, buttocks, the back of the thigh, and calf.

Walk up to the bar and stand with the bar over the laces of your sneakers. Place your feet shoulder-width apart, slightly turn your socks to the sides. Pull your pelvis back, bend over with a straight back and grab the bar so that your palms are shoulder-width apart.

Keeping your back straight, straighten your torso, and straighten with the barbell in your hands. Move the bar very close to your shins, then the bar will follow the ideal trajectory. After straightening, lower the projectile to the floor and repeat the exercise.

The back of the thigh is about the same pumping in any kind of deadlift. By changing the execution option, you can increase the load on other muscles:

  • The deadlift on straight legs develops the calf muscles better.
  • The sumo deadlift loads the front of the thigh better: the lateral and medial heads and the front of the lower leg.
  1. Raises the body on the GHD
    Well loads the back of the thigh, as well as the buttocks and back extensors.

Insert your feet under the rollers of the simulator, stretch the body parallel to the floor, put your hands behind your head. Lower your body, keeping your back straight, and then rise to parallel with the floor or slightly higher.

Add free weights to make the exercise harder. If you need to weigh up to 5 kg, take a pancake and hold it next to your head, if more, put a body bar, bar, or barbell on your shoulders.

  1. Good morning
    Loads and stretches the back of the thigh well, pump the back extensors.

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and point your toes forward. Place the barbell on your shoulders, straighten and arch your back slightly. Bend your knees slightly, take your pelvis back and tilt your body forward until parallel with the floor. Straighten up and repeat.

It is important here to take your pelvis back and keep your back straight. If you do not have enough stretching to do this exercise correctly, replace it with another.

  1. Bulgarian split squat
    The split squat pumps the hamstrings better than regular squats, lunges, and strides.

Stand with your back one step away from a slight rise, such as a bench. Throw one toe on the dais and squat down to parallel with the floor. Straighten up and repeat.

Try the no-weights split squat first. If you can keep your balance, you can grab dumbbells or squat with a barbell on your shoulders.

  1. Bending forward on your knees
    Loads the back of the thigh perfectly. If possible, do it with a partner; if not, try tucking your legs under a machine or a rack. Just remember to put a rug under your knees.

Fix your legs, stretch the body and hips in one line. Lean forward as much as possible. But only as much as it turns out to maintain a straight position of the body and not bend at the hip joints. Climb back up and repeat.

What exercises to do for the inner thigh
Here are located the thin, long, short, and large adductor muscles, as well as the comb muscle. All of them lead the hip and participate in its flexion.

  1. Bringing the legs
    The exercise can be performed using a crossover or a rubber expander band hooked onto a rack.

Place the crossover mount on your right ankle and stand one step away from the bottom block with your right side to it. Raise your leg slightly to the side. Overcoming the resistance of the crossover, bring your right foot to the left, back out, and repeat. When you are done with the set, do it on the other leg. The mount will now be on your left foot and you will be standing with your left side towards the block.

If you are doing with an expander, hook the tape to the stand at shin level and put a free loop over your ankle. The rest of the movement is the same as in the crossover.

  1. Copenhagen ghosts
    This exercise can be done with a partner, on hinges, on a bar, or on a bench. Stand in a side plank on your elbow, place the ankle of your upper leg on a raised platform, or tuck it into a loop. Alternatively, ask your partner to hold your thigh and ankle.

Bring the lower leg to the upper and lower it back down. If you do it on the bar, in loops, or with a partner, you can lead a straight line, if on a bench or box – bent at the knee.

  1. Information on the simulator
    A simple and effective option for indoor training. Sit on the simulator, press your lower back to the chair, grab the handles. Bring your legs together and spread them back.

What exercises to perform for the muscles of the lower leg
The shape of the lower leg is determined by the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. To load the calf muscle, you need to unbend the feet with straight knees, but the soleus is better turned on when the legs at the knees are bent at right angles.

In addition, speed matters: the gastrocnemius responds better to fast movements, the soleus to slow ones.

  1. Raises to the toe on one leg
    Exercise works great on the calf muscles.

Stand with your toes on a pancake, lift one leg. Get on your toes and lower back down. Gradually increase the range, dropping your heel slightly lower. If you keep your balance well, you can pick up dumbbells.

  1. Standing Calf Raises
    Exercise on the calf muscle. You can do it in a special simulator or just with a barbell on your shoulders. Rise quickly on your toes and lower back down.
  2. Seated Calf Raises
    This option works well on the soleus muscles, so lift slowly. You can do the exercise in a simulator or with a barbell on your knees.

If you choose the barbell option, place a pancake under your socks to increase the range of motion and stretch the muscles at the bottom. Also, place a pillow on the bar, otherwise, it will dig into your legs.


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