You know how that gym meme goes: “Friends don’t let friends skip leg day.” Maybe you’re just starting to build leg muscle or you’ve overlooked your legs and now you’re trying to integrate leg strength into your existing workout. Regardless of your fitness level, there are several general steps to creating a killer leg workout.
Determine your time commitment.
How much time will you be able to do a leg workout on a consistent basis each week? Your available workout time will help you narrow down which leg exercises will be the most effective for you. A solid, 15 minute leg workout done on a consistent basis can yield results possibly as good as a 30-minute or 1 hour leg workout.if (WH.video)WH.video.add(document.getElementById(‘mvid-a1b2b4aeef’));
Consider the type of gym equipment you have access to.
Before you start creating a leg workout plan, think about whether or not you will have access to a treadmill and other gym machines, or if you will be focusing on a simple home workout set up. Equipment like free weights and an exercise mat, if you don’t already own them, are relatively cheap alternatives to a gym membership. And there are several leg exercises that do not require access to gym equipment.if (WH.video)WH.video.add(document.getElementById(‘mvid-eac6597e4c’));
Consider how much leg strength you’d like to build.
If you are an athlete trying to build muscle strength, your workout may be more intense and high-impact. If you’re looking to tone and shape your legs through basic strength exercises, your workout may be less intense. As well, if you’re looking to target a specific muscle (say, your butt, or your thighs), make sure you include exercises that focus on those specific muscles.if (WH.video)WH.video.add(document.getElementById(‘mvid-2e262a63b0’));
Keep in mind the physique of men and women are biologically different, so each gender will naturally build muscle differently. A big misconception is that women can end up with bulky, ripped legs if they do too many leg exercises. In fact, women don’t tend to build big muscles because of their lack of testosterone.
Start with a warm up.
If possible, always start your workout with a five to 10 minute cardio and/or stretching warm up. A warm up of some kind, whether it is on a treadmill or going for a jog or quick run outside, is beneficial to help you mentally and physically prepare for your leg workout. Running or jogging twice a week can also improve fat burning and sculpting of your legs. As well, warming up will help to heat up your leg muscles and allow for deeper flexibility and range of motion. Remember, never work out or stretch cold muscles, as this can lead to injury.if (WH.video)WH.video.add(document.getElementById(‘mvid-64ceb36b12’));
Begin with the basics and customize them.
Basic exercises like squats, lunges, deadlifts, and calf raises work leg muscles the most effectively. However, there are a lot of great variations of these basic exercises that you can do, using just your body weight or barbells and/or free weights Many exercises will target specific muscles (glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves), so to get the best results, create a well rounded workout that focuses on several leg muscles. if (WH.video)WH.video.add(document.getElementById(‘mvid-80297ec665’));
Basic squats using your bodyweight are a great start to any leg workout. From basic squats you can move on to jump squats, split squats, and barbell squats.
Lunges are also another great way to tone your quad muscles. Try skater lunges, alternating curtsey lunges with a barbell, and a three way lunge.
Deadlifts can be done with free weights or your own body weight. Make sure your workout plan includes a variation on deadlifts, including stiff leg deadlifts, single leg deadlifts, and deadlift squats.
Calf raises are simple but effective. You can do them on the bottom step of a staircase, with the assistance of a chair, or if you have access to gym equipment, with a step machine.
Try different inner and outer thigh exercises, such as bridges, and lying hip adductions.
It may seem obvious, but the best way to build strong muscles is a consistent workout. Do each exercise in sets, starting with lower sets of each exercise and building yourself up to higher sets. Try to commit to a leg workout several nonconsecutive days of the week, as you should give your muscles time to rest. Always be careful not to overtrain or overwork your body.if (WH.video)WH.video.add(document.getElementById(‘mvid-acb690e9d3’));
Maintain good form.
Quality, not quantity, will lead to better results. Focus on keeping your back straight, and do not hyper extend your leg muscles as this can lead to injury. Use a mirror to check your posture and your form as you do your workout.
Check your progress over time and modify.
Keep track of your progress in a workout notebook or on your phone or computer with one of the many fitness tracking Apps available. Consider adjusting and adding to your existing workout plan. Maybe you have stuck to the same exercises, are starting to see results, and think you can increase the number of sets for a particular exercise, or you may want to add in more intense exercises with a barbell or dumbbell.
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your muscles at the end of a workout. Stretching will prevent injury, increase blood circulation, and help with muscle fatigue. It’s a vital step in your workout plan that should not be skipped.if (WH.video)WH.video.add(document.getElementById(‘mvid-7b43dd0fe3’));
To properly stretch your muscles, focus on major muscle groups (calves, thighs, hips, lower back) and always stretch both sides of your body, doing the same stretch on one side (or leg) that you did on the other side.
Stretch in smooth motions. Do not bounce when stretching as this can cause injury. Make sure you breath during stretching and hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds minimum.
A good rule of thumb for how far and deep to stretch is: slight discomfort is fine, but you should never feel pain. You may experience feelings of tension as your muscles slowly release but if you experience any pain or hurt, back off until you find a comfortable stretch.
Eat healthy to help build muscle
. Beyond committing to a consistent workout, eating well will ensure you are getting a good dose of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients every day. A balanced diet also means you’ll have more energy to complete your workout plan, giving you the right fuel to tone and strengthen your body.
Balance is key. Try to eat from each food group — grains, protein foods, vegetables and fruits, and dairy. Listen to your body, and eat when you’re hungry. Stop eating when you feel satisfied.
Go for variety. Aim to eat different foods in each food group. For example, don’t reach for an apple every time you choose a fruit or a carrot every time you choose a vegetable. Eating a variety of foods each day will help you get all the nutrients you need.
Eat moderately. Don’t have too much or too little of one thing. All foods, if eaten in moderation, can be part of healthy eating. Even a cookie or some ice cream can be okay, as long as it’s balanced out with other, healthier foods!