When it comes to leg workouts, variety is key. Your quads, hamstrings and glutes are made up of multiple muscles, which are responsible for multiple lower-body functions, so it’s important to have multiple leg exercises in your arsenal and train legs holistically. Going through the motions and performing the same movements, day after day and week after week, isn’t going to cut it here. Don’t believe us? Well, according to new research, when it comes to exercises and muscle strength, variety really is the spice of life.
Why Training Legs Is So Important
First and foremost, leg exercises target some of your body’s biggest muscles – the largest being your glutes – the foundations on which your fitness is built. Training legs means burning more calories, elevating your T-levels, boosting your big lifts, improving your mobility, and, of course, building strength, power and mass.
You might not know it, but leg workouts are also critical to brain and nervous system health. Your wheels send important signals to the brain that help produce neural cells (essential for handling stress and adapting to challenges) in particular during weight-bearing exercise.
Why You Shouldn’t Skip Leg Day
On the flip side, skipping leg day one too many times can make you unbalanced and more susceptible to injury.
Need more convincing? How about this: performing single-leg exercises, like the Bulgarian spilt squat, pistol squat and single leg curl listed below, won’t just good give you powerful legs, it’ll also help you to engage your core muscles and develop better balance. If you’re already injured moves like these are good for rehabilitation, since working one side of the body can stimulate the same muscles on the other side of the body too.
Like it or not, leg workouts are going nowhere, so logic dictates you should make full use of it. And when it comes to building muscle size, regularly changing exercises is just as effective as increasing the intensity of your workout.
If you’re looking to tone and strengthen your legs, there are a wide variety of exercises you can try. Whether you prefer bodyweight moves or working out with weights, there are plenty of leg workouts that can challenge your muscles and help you see results. Here are 5 options to incorporate into your fitness routine.
Sumo squats are one of the best leg workouts offering a variation to traditional squats that target the inner thighs and glutes. To perform this exercise, start with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out at a 45-degree angle. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell at your chest, with your elbows bent and close to your body. Lower down into a squat position, keeping your back straight and core engaged. Push through your heels to return to the starting position. Repeat for 12-15 reps for 3 sets.
Bulgarian Split Squats
Bulgarian split squats are a challenging exercise that target your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. To perform this exercise, stand approximately two feet in front of a bench or step with your back facing the bench. Place one foot on the bench behind you and lower down into a lunge position, making sure your front knee does not extend past your toes. Push through your front heel to return to the starting position. Repeat for 12-15 reps on each leg for 3 sets. For an extra challenge, hold dumbbells in each hand while performing this exercise.
Deadlifts are one of the classic leg workouts known for targeting the lower body, including the glutes, hamstrings, and quads. To perform a deadlift, stand with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointing forward. Hold a barbell with an overhand grip in front of your thighs. Hinge forward from your hips, keeping your back straight, until the barbell is at mid-shin level. Engage your core and use your lower body muscles to lift the barbell up to hip height and then lower it back down to the starting position. Repeat for 10-12 reps for 3 sets. It’s important to maintain proper form during this exercise to avoid injury- keep your back straight and chest lifted throughout the movement.
Walking lunges are a popular and effective exercise for strengthening your leg muscles, especially your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. To do this exercise, stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart. Take a big step forward with one foot, lowering your back knee toward the ground until it’s almost touching the floor. Your front knee should be bent at a 90-degree angle. Push off with your back foot to bring your legs together again while stepping forward with the opposite foot to repeat the movement. Keep alternating legs as you walk forward. Aim to complete 10-12 reps per leg for 3 sets to get the most out of this exercise. Not only is this an effective workout for strengthening and sculpting your lower body, but it’s also easy to incorporate into any routine since no equipment is needed for these leg workouts!
Step-ups are a great exercise to tone your glutes, quads, and hamstrings. To do this exercise, stand in front of a bench or sturdy box with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place one foot on the bench and push up through that leg to step onto the bench. Bring your other leg up onto the bench as well before stepping back down with one leg at a time. Repeat for 10-12 reps per leg for 3 sets. You can increase the difficulty of this exercise by adding weights or increasing the height of the bench over time. Step-ups are a versatile exercise that you can perform anywhere with just a step or platform available, making it easy to incorporate into your leg workouts routine.