Amazing Strength Training Exercises For Leg Day
The very mention of “leg day” could make quite a number of gym rats nauseous, nervous or even break straight down to tears (I’m not talking about the happy ones here). True and gory as this may be, we should know that well-built legs are the key to overall body strength. Overall body strength means great muscle symmetry across your entire body. And great symmetry, my friend, equals that stunning physique we all toil so relentlessly for every single day at the gym. Besides, a jacked upper body with pencillegs isn’t exactly what most would call impressive.
Perks Of Indulging In Leg Days
What are some of the other benefits of leg day? Well, being the largest muscle group in your body, training legs does come with quite a few of the perks. For example:
- You burn more calories working legs than any other muscle group. So, if you’re looking to get rid of that stubborn belly fat, leg day should be a huge part of your routine.
- Hitting legs means greater muscle damage due to the sheer size. This causes the release of more recovery and growth hormones in your body which will aid in size gains for other muscle groups as well.
A Quick Anatomy Class
Not that I’m dying to bore you to slumber with a boring bio class, but understanding how the muscles work is key to hitting it right whenever you step into the gym. So, don’t worry, we’re just going to keep it simple and brief. Here’s a breakdown of the four major muscle groups in your legs.
Quadriceps (AKA Quads)
This muscle group makes up the front of your thighs and it runs from your hip joints to the knee. This muscle flexes the hip joint and extends the knee.
These make up the back side of your thighs. They work by causing extension of your hip joint and flexion of the knee.
Glutes (AKA Butt)
These are basically those two round mounds you sit on. They are, of course, located on the backside of your hip bone, under your lower back. These muscles are used to cause extension of the hip joint.
These, as you probably already know, are located at the back side of your lower leg, under your knee. What these do is, basically the flexing of your ankle when you’re seated or standing.
The Divine Leg Exercises
Now that bio class is out of the way, let’s delve into the juicy core of this article with the knowledge we’ve gained. Now, for the purpose of this article, we have arranged the exercises as per the muscle groups we mentioned earlier. It will be up to you, my wise apprentice, to pick out what you need for a well-balanced killer leg workout.
- Front Squat
– Place a straight barbell on a squatrack at shoulder height and load it up with weight (enough weight for you, of course).
– Place both hands at the ends of either side of the bar and position your chin right above the bar.
– This way, you’ll be right in the middle.
– Then, using either a clean grip or cross arm grip, get the bar on the front of your shoulders and squat away.
Fine tip: Keep your back straight throughout every rep and keep your feet flat on the ground. You can step also step on a 2-inch object by the heels to aid in mobility if you can’t get deep enough.
- Reverse Lunges
– Stand straight holding weighted dumbbells or kettlebells to your side with your feet spread shoulder width apart.
– Take a big step back with your right leg while maintaining good, upright posture.
– Get your hips low enough to the point where your left thigh is about perpendicular to your lower leg.
– Then, push off the floor through the heel of your left leg to return to starting position. Repeat with the other leg.
Fine tip: Leaning forward will shift a bit of focus to your glutes. So you can use this to your advantage, according to your situation. Also, to increase intensity, finish your reps on one leg before hitting the other and do not extend your knee to a lockout.
- Romanian Deadlift
– Stand straight with your feet no wider than shoulder width apart with a weighted straight bar or dumbbells in your hands rested on the top of your thighs.
– Slowly hinge your hips backward while keeping an arch in your lower back.
– Keeping the weights touching your thighs on all the way down, slightly bend your knees and go as far as you can.
– Hold the stretch for a while and push your hips forward to go back to the starting position.
Fine tip: Maintain an arch in your lower back the whole time and make sure the weight never loses contact with your thighs. Also, avoid using your lower back get to back to the starting position. Think about pushing forward with the hips instead.
- Hamstring Curls
– Pin on some weight on a hamstring curl machine and lay flat on your tummy on its bench.
– Hook your legs underneath the padded bar and flex your knee, bringing your ankles arching toward to your butt.
– Release tension in your hamstrings to go back to the starting position and repeat.
Fine tip: You can decide to flex your ankle to engage your calves as well in this exercise. Also, go fast on the way up and slow on the way down for a better effect.
- Back Squat
Now, though this exercise places major emphasis on the glutes, it also engages the quads and hamstrings. To do this exercise, get a weighted straight bar on a squatrack, place your hands on both ends of the bar so you’re in the middle and get your head under the bar to your upper back.
Make sure it is resting on the top of your traps for the high bar version. Stand upright to lift the weight off the rack and get squatting. Ensure that your knee never extends past your toes when doing this one.
Fine tip: Keep your lower back arched throughout this exercise and give your glutes a good squeeze at the top. Like the front squat, keep your feet flat and never raise your heel. You can also step on a 2-inch object by the heels for aided mobility.
- Donkey Kickbacks
Get down on all fours with some comfortable ankle weights strapped to your ankles. Extend your hip joint by lifting one leg up so that your thighs and lower leg are parallel and perpendicular to the floor respectively. Lower your leg to the starting position and repeat the movement with the other leg.
Fine tip: You can choose to hit one side at a time as opposed to hitting them alternately for added intensity. This way, you keep the pressure on the muscle, which will give you better results.
- Donkey Calf Raises
– Bend over a table or bench with your upper back being perpendicular your lower body.
– Place a 6-inch high object on the floor and step on it with the ball of your feet.
– Get a friend to sit on your back for added weight and extend your ankle with your knees straight.
– Get your ankle to full extension, slowly return to starting position and repeat. This works the gastrocnemius (AKA gastrocs) part of the calf- that fleshy part right under the knee.
Fine tip: The calves respond better to higher rep ranges. So, make sure you use weights that allow you squeeze in 15-20 reps per set. Also, wearing nice, fitting ankle brace will do wonders in supporting your ankle and preventing any nasty injuries.
- Seated Calf Raises
– Place some weight on a seated calf raise machine and get on its seat.
– Get your knees under the padding in front of the machine and place the ball of your foot on the stepping platform.
– Now extend your ankle to push the padding upward with your knees.
– Go all the way up and return slowly down to the starting position. This will work the soleus part of your calf – the area right below your gastrocs.
Fine tip: Like the gastrocs, you will also want to go with high rep ranges here for better results. And, again, ankle braces are highly recommended here to protect your ankles.
Well, there you have it. Eight divine exercises that when put together in the right sequence will give you an awesome workout. Since we are talking about strength here, it is recommended that you go with weights that allow you put in 3-5 reps as your point of failure.
However, experts say that it is always a good idea to throw in some hypertrophy sets of about 6-12 reps. Adding in higher rep ranges in your workouts will also help with your endurance.
Nancy Moore is the founder and creator of Fitnessgrams.com. She created Fitnessgrams.com to be a haven for people looking to get fit, boost their health, lose weight, or improve their well-being. Here you will find experiences, workouts, information from the experts, healthy living tips, and tools to find well-being and balance.