While a lot of people dread leg day, I’ve always loved it! I look forward to the burning that I feel when I’m training my quads really hard and I love the look of strong, toned legs. Another benefit to leg day – if done right, it can double as cardio since training legs usually turns aerobic at some point.
There are so many great leg exercises to pick from too. That’s another great thing about leg day – you can use all kinds of variety to mix things up and keep your workouts interesting. Some of my favorite leg exercises are listed here…these aren’t all of them, just a few of the really good ones! Enjoy.
Leg Exercise #1 – The Squat
This classic leg builder is arguably one of the best weight lifting exercises ever…period. The squat is a compound exercise that can be done using several different techniques to train your muscles from different angles. Different variations of the squat include the back squat, the front squat, plie’ squats, sissy squats, close stance squats, wide stance squats, Smith Machine Squats and Hack Squats just to name a few (if you aren’t sure how to do some of these, please let me know – I’ll be happy to break it down for you). So, you see, squats alone can do a pretty thorough job of training your legs.
Leg Exercise #2 – Walking Lunges
Talk about a butt kicker…literally! Walking lunges are often overlooked by bodybuilders because they will wear you out. This exercise targets your glutes as well as your inner thighs and your quads. When I first started doing walking lunges I woke up the next day and I could barely stand up. My inner thighs and my glutes were more sore than they had been in a long, long time. While some people think I’m a little weird for loving this burn, those gym junkies out there will understand the love hate relationship you’ll develop with sore muscles.
Leg Exercise #3 – Stiff Leg Deadlifts
It’s so important to keep a good balance between training quads and hamstrings. One of the most common causes of knee injuries in athletes is an imbalance in these two muscle groups. That’s why I love a good hammy exercise! Stiff leg dead lifts, done correctly with the weight kept in close to your body, your back kept flat and soft (not bent) knees these babies will build a beautiful hammy – glute tie in and they’ll help keep you in balance and decrease your risk of injury.
Leg Exercise #4 – Extension Drop Sets
I’ve never done an exercise that made me want to cry like these ones. Leg extensions done in the traditional fashion, one set at a time hurt bad enough, but using a drop set absolutely burns out your quads, Which is excellent since you have to break ’em down to build ’em up. To do leg extension drop sets you start with a heavy weight. Before you begin you should know how many reps you’ll do and what increments you’ll decrease the weight by.
For example you may start with 100 pounds and work your way down to 10 pounds using 10 pound increments to decrease the weight. At each weight you’ll do five reps, rapidly decrease the weight, do five more reps, rapidly decrease the weight…you get the point, right? By the time you get to 10 pounds 5 reps will feel like you’re lifting the entire stack! If you want sleek, chiseled thighs, these are a great exercise to get you there.
Leg Exercise #5 – Lower Body Stretching
Okay, this isn’t a specific exercise, but I couldn’t let a leg article go by without talking about stretching. If you want to have lean, strong legs; if you want to lift hard and heavy; if you want to avoid injury while achieving these goals, you absolutely need to stretch your leg muscles. I’ve seen people tear their hamstring so badly that it balled up in the back of their leg – it’s not pretty, it will side line you for many months and it hurts…BAD! So, if you can, stretch your legs often.
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