I haven’t written one of these workout specific blogs in a hot second. I decided to come back to it because more and more countries are opening up their gyms and wellness centers and I couldn’t be more excited about it. I am happy that everyone that chooses to do so, can work on their physical and mental health in a way that works for so many of us. Whether you want to get those sixpack abs back or just work out the frustrations that have been building up over the week or day, the gym is where we can all come together and work on ourselves.
This blog is for those of us who’re looking to get their legs to grow stronger. You could be a marathon runner who needs to develop more leg strength for the uphill portions of a race or our ”every day” gym-goer who just wants to lift the heaviest weight possible. Whatever your goals are, you will be able to benefit from these movements.
Too often I see people do leg curls, leg extensions and abductor exercises to get stronger legs. All movements have a place in any fitness program but if you’re looking to get stronger by doing those exercises, you’re probably on the wrong track. This is where my recommendations come in. Don’t expect any machine exercises but heavy barbell and or dumbbell movements.
Disclaimer: Always remember that you will have to lift heavy and with intensity in order to get the results you want, no matter what movements you do.
If you’re not doing back squats or any form of squatting already, I honestly don’t know what to tell you. Unless you have a knee injury that prevents you from doing weighted squats, you should be doing this period. This is the King kong of leg exercises, nothing even comes close to the amount of strength and muscle mass you’re able to build by doing this. Enough said.
Why another squatting movement? For the same reason that I just talked about for the back squat. Not only will the front squat put for emphasis on the actual quadriceps, it will challenge your midline (core/abs) like very few lifts will do. Because the weight is out in front, the weight will be over the quads more, this will force the quads to move a bigger part of the load. The back squat uses more of the hamstrings as well to help out.
Barbell or dumbbell step ups
Now that we have covered the main 2 movements, let’s focus on the not so popular ones. I am sure you have seen people do step ups before, maybe with just their bodyweight, maybe with some light dumbbells, but have you ever seen anyone go really heavy on these? If you do, I can guarantee your legs will grow almost instantly.
Bulgarian split squats
I have a love/hate relationship with this exercise. If you go heavy enough on these for the number of reps you’re doing, it almost makes you want to puke. The lactic acid and heaviness of the legs that builds up is unmatched. Not saying that any of this is the reason why it made my list, the fact that it’s a unilateral movement that moves through a big range of motion is. One of the most underrated movements if done right.
Any sort of lunge will do. You can experiment with back rack lunges, front rack, overhead, farmers carry etc. For me, this gives you the most amount of bang for your buck. By elevating our front foot and by stepping back of the plate, we increase the range of motion of the muscles. Add in that your leg has to recruit more muscle fibers in order to get back up is even better than a regular old lunge.
Add these into your training but make sure to do them with intensity and purpose. Adding all of these onto the same day will only make for a worse workout because the intensity will be like shit. Spread them out, seek out guidance if you need it and get after it. Good luck!
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