9 Terrific Exercises to Build Strong Legs [With a Killer Leg Workout]

I think everyone could agree that having a strong set of legs is important for health, fitness and overall functionality.

Your legs are your driving force. 

Training your lower body will provide an enormous amount of benefits- benefits that training the upper body could never achieve. In addition, well-developed legs look good.

Today's post is going to teach you how to build strong legs!

If you have chicken legs, don't fear. We did too. 

(well, we still kind of do, but much less chicken than before)

 

Welcome to the third installment of the WCT Body Building series. In Part 1 How to Build Your Arms, we go over the best exercises to grow and develop your upper body.

In Part 2, How to Build Bigger Glutes, we discuss the best exercises to help grow a natural bum.

This post will go over the best leg exercises to build strength and tone your leg muscles.

You may need to sit down for this one...

 
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This post is going to cover:

  • The Anatomy of the Leg Muscles

  • The Benefits of A Strong Lower Body

  • The Best Leg Exercises

  • Leg Exercises You Can Do At Home 

  • Leg Workouts For Men & Women

 

The Anatomy of the Leg Muscles

The legs are composed of three major muscle groups: The Flexors, The Extensors and the Adductors.

They Are:

  • Quadriceps (Vastus Medialis, Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Intermedius and Rectus Femoris)
  • Hamstrings (Semitendinosis, Semimembranosis, and Biceps Femoris)
  • Adductors (Magnus, Brevis, Longus)

 

 

Quadriceps:

The quadriceps muscles are located in the front of your thigh. They connect your anterior pelvic bone to your knee. As you can guess, they are composed of 4 muscles.

They function to extend or straighten your knee

 

Hamstrings:

The hamstring muscles are located in the back of your thigh. They connect your posterior pelvis to the back of your knee. 

The hamstrings function to flex your knee, AND extend or straighten your hip when your trunk is flexed.

 

Adductors:

The adductor muscles are located on the inside part of your thigh. 

They function to adduct, or bring your thigh back in towards your body

 

The Tremendous Benefits of Strong Legs

The muscles of your upper leg are large compared to the other muscles in your body. As such, working out your legs elicits the largest possible stimulus that exercise can provide.

 

Leg Workouts Increase Muscle Mass

  • The stimulation of these large muscles causes the release of several muscle building hormones, far more than any upper body workout could ever provide.

 

Leg Workouts Help You Lose Weight

 

Leg Workouts Improve Your Functionality

  • You need strong legs to walk. You need strong legs to run. You need strong legs to hike. You need strong legs to carry your groceries home. You need strong legs to go up flights of stairs. I can go on and on but I'll stop there.

 

The Best Leg Exercises Known to Man

So now that you're convinced, let's go over the best leg exercises ever.

If you have read any other WCT Post, you will probably know that best exercise is:

 

The Squat

 

There are so many different variations of the squat exercise, there is no way that you cannot perform this exercise. You can do them with barbells, dumbbells, or just your own bodyweight.

Squats are a lot like BOGO. They train your Quadriceps and your Adductors at the same time.

 

Here are some Bodyweight Variations:

 

 

Here are some Barbell Variations:

 
 
 
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The Split Squat:

Split squats are the next best leg developer. They are hard, and they will burn. This is probably one of the most difficult exercises ever.

You can perform this exercise with a dumbbell or with a barbell. Lunges are a close second.

 
 
 
 

 


Leg Press:

The Leg Press is one of the few machine exercises that are useful. Do not go overboard with this exercise. Control the speed of the repetitions, and do not slam your knees at the lockout.

 

The Best Hamstring Exercises

All of the aforementioned exercises train your quadriceps and your adductors. We haven't given the Hamstrings any love yet. Here are the three best hamstring exercises.

 

Romanian Deadlift

 

 
 

The Romanian Deadlift is one of the best hamstring exercises available.

The RDL isolates the hamstrings and glute muscles more than the conventional deadlift. 

 

Conventional Deadlift

The DL is the next best exercise to develop the hamstring muscles. We have written ad nauseam about the deadlift, and we have extensive tutorials on it which can be found Here

 
 

 

 

 Ball Leg Curl

The two prior exercises train your hamstrings ability to extend the hip with the trunk flexed. This exercise trains your hamstrings ability to flex your knee.

It is not as important as the other two, but it is a nice addition to add to your arsenal.

 
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Can I Perform A Leg Workout With Dumbbells?

Absolutely. The beauty of these exercises is that they can all be performed with dumbbells as well.

  1. Squats with Dumbbells (hold them at your side or resting on your shoulders)
  2. Lunges or Split Squats with Dumbbells (hold them at your side)
  3. Romanian Deadlifts with Dumbbells (hold them out in front of you just like a barbell)

 

What About Leg Exercises at Home?

Don't have time to make it to the gym? Don't have any weights? No problem.

There are many variations you can perform from the comfort of your own home. You can harness the power of your own body weight.

All of these at home leg exercises will strengthen your legs adequately.

 

  1. Body Weight Squat Variation from Above

  2. Lunges without weight

  3. Split Squat without weight (use a chair or any other household item)

  4. Single Leg Glute Bridge

 
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How Many Times a Week Should You Workout Legs?

As with all major muscle groups, 1 to 2 times a week is sufficient.  Because the legs are so powerful, it is important to give them adequate rest.  If it takes 1 week to recover, so be it. 

You can perform as little as 5 reps on leg exercises, and up to 12. Anything beyond 12 provides diminishing returns.

 

Is it OK To Skip Leg Day?

Is it ok to take a day off from taking care of your kids?

Didn't think so.

Training legs is easy.

You only have to do it 1-2 times a week. You have to take care of your kids 7 days a week.

 

 

Sample Leg Workout Routine at the gym

If you have access to a gym, here is a quick leg workout routine you can use for 8-12 weeks to help develop your lower body. There are two dedicated lower body days in this program.

This workout could be performed in 35 minutes.

 

Day 1:

A) Front Squat 3 x 6 reps

B1) Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift 3 x 10 reps

              superset with

B2) Lunges 3 x 8 reps each leg

 

Day 2:

A) Back Squat 3 x 8 reps

B) Conventional Deadlift 2 x 6 reps

C) Ball Leg Curls 3 x 12 repetitions

 

 

Leg Workouts for Women: How To Build Strong Legs As A Female

Women do not need any special considerations when working out their legs. All of the principles laid out above hold true for both and women. 

Women should train their legs 1 to 2 times a week, for 5-12 repetitions per exercise. 

As we mention in all of our bodybuilding posts, women can generally handle more volume than men.  What this means is that they can usually perform more sets and more repetitions then men without as much fatigue.

If you are a woman and you haven't noticed any substantial changes to your leg physique, try increasing your volume.

 

Final Words

If you want to be the strongest and healthiest version of yourself, then your legs must be trained.

Period. 

Jogging will not do.

Use these exercises to develop and tone the biggest and most powerful muscles in your body.

Do you want to learn the absolute best exercises to improve your health and fitness?  Check out The 3 Best Exercises To Lose Weight Fast [And Build Muscle Too] Almost every other exercise is a waste of time.

What do you prefer?

Muscular legs? Toned legs? Neither?

Comment below and let us know.

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Alex & Brittany Robles are the founders of The White Coat Trainer, a site dedicated to improving the health and wellness of busy individuals. Learn more about them here and connect with them on instagram and Twitter. Feel free to send them a message here