Many times when people are working out, they tend to overwork certain body parts and not pay enough attention to others. When bodybuilding, it is important to keep the body balanced, so being sure to work both upper and lower body is very important for that symmetry that looks good in everyday life AND on the bodybuilding stage if you compete.
There are many leg exercises to incorporate into your workout routine. We will go over them here and tell a bit about what muscles they target. When doing any of these exercises, be sure to keep the proper form which is important for making sure you don’t injure yourself, as well as making sure you work the muscle groups get all the bonuses with these exercises.
We’ll start with what is considered the King of all leg exercises and that is the squat. There are two variations of this exercise that can be done, Traditional squats and Front squats. Both variations work the front of the legs and also hit the hamstrings. Front squats do work more on the front of the quads. Squats build mass in the legs which is an important element of keeping the body balanced.
- Leg Presses
This is a machine exercise and the benefit of using it, is that it puts more emphasis on the muscles rather than the lower back which is what you want. Leg presses also build mass in the thighs and work the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and a little of the calf muscles as well, so it’s a great addition to your leg routine.
- Hack Squat
This is another machine exercise and is good for working the thigh, just above the knee cap. The hack squat is a good exercise to substitute in to get some variety into your workout.
Another hugely popular leg exercise for bodybuilders. It might take a little time to get used to the awkwardness of this movement, especially if you do it with dumbbells in your hands or a straight bar across your shoulders. (Get a spotter when using the straight bar) This exercise works the front of the thighs (quads) and the glutes. If you have knee issues when doing a traditional forward motion lunge, you can try the backward lunge variation which puts much less strain on the knee. Instead of moving forward, take a step back and drop down until your thigh is parallel to the ground.
- Leg Extensions and Leg Curls
Both of these are also machine exercises and work front and back of the legs. Extensions are for the Quads and are done sitting on the bench. Curls are for the hamstrings and involve laying face down on the bench and curling the legs up towards the glutes. Leg curls also work the glutes in addition to the hamstrings.
- Straight Leg Deadlift
These exercises work the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. It is a must that if you have ANY back problems whatsoever, that you not do this exercise except under the care of a doctor due to the great amount of work this does put on the lower back. Mess that up and you won’t be able to work out at all. For those with no history of back problems though, this can be a great alternate exercise for your routine.
- Standing Calf Raises
These can be done either on a machine or just standing on a block or step. They work the calf muscles and ways to add variation is to turn the toes straight, turned in, and then turned out. You can add weight in the form of holding dumbbells while you do them, or use a calf raise machine.
- One-Legged Calf Raises
Doing this on one leg only really isolates the muscles of each leg giving them individual attention. These can be done with or without weight and can also be done on a step or using a calf raise machine.
These are just a few of the exercises available for the legs and the most popular and common ones. Remember that your muscles get used to routines, so every 8-12 weeks, change up your exercises, and add some new ones to shock the muscles. Stay hydrated; don’t overwork the muscle groups and allow for rest between workouts and you will see the benefits in the mirror