Legs are one of the most important muscle groups that you can focus on when it comes to building an impressive physique and looking your best in just about anything, from shorts to a swimsuit. To help you bulk up your legs, though, you’ll need to make sure that you’re getting an adequate amount of high-quality protein in your diet, as well as training consistently with weights and doing leg workouts at least twice per week. Below are ten of the best leg exercises to use while trying to build bulk in your legs.
Squats are a classic lower body exercise that everyone should be doing. If you want massive, shapely legs then squats are your best friend. The primary muscles targeted by squats are your quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteus maximus, but they also work your calves and core as stabilizers. It’s been proven over and over again that they can produce amazing results in terms of shaping up those bottom two thirds of your legs. So go ahead — add them into your workout routine!
2) Romanian Deadlifts
The Romanian deadlift (or RDL) targets your entire backside: your glutes, hamstrings and lower back. By curling your torso forward as you lift, you really isolate those muscles, says Eric Cressey, co-founder of Cressey Performance in Hudson, Massachusetts. He recommends doing Romanian deadlifts with a barbell on one day and single-leg deadlifts on another day each week for optimal results.
Lunges help with leg and glute strength, as well as knee health. Start by standing in a lunge position, right leg forward, left foot backward. Push off your right foot and drop your left knee toward or to the ground. Inhale and exhale while you push back up into your starting lunge position. Do three sets of 20 lunges per set on each side of your body.
4) Leg Presses
The leg press can be performed in a standing or seated position, with a barbell on your back or lying down on a machine. It’s one of those exercises that works just about every muscle in your legs; it even hits your glutes and core. There are three variations—wide-stance, medium-stance and close-stance—and each targets different parts of your legs. But don’t be fooled by their names—they all work your quads!
5) Bulgarian Split Squats
These targets your glutes and legs. To do them, take a stance about twice as wide as your shoulders. Place a barbell in front of you on your upper back. It should touch your neck at its lowest position. Hold it steady with an overhand grip (palms facing down). Take a deep breath and push your hips back until you feel your rear touch your heels. Slowly lower yourself into a lunge by bending both knees until they make 90 degree angles.
6) Calf Raises on Leg Press Machine
When it comes to building larger, stronger legs, calf raises are an essential tool. Standing on a platform with a calf raise machine puts your entire leg into action, working all three muscles in each leg—the gastrocnemius (the big muscles at the front), and your soleus (the smaller muscle behind that) as well as your tibialis anterior. Add a few sets of these at the end of your workout for maximum results.
7) Dumbbell Step-Ups
Dumbbell step-ups are a simple exercise, but they’re extremely effective. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, with your feet shoulder-width apart and elevated off the ground on a bench or chair. Now, push up through your left leg while lifting your right leg until both legs are straight out and you’re standing tall on your right leg with it slightly bent at the knee.
8) Seated Calf Raises on Cable Machine
There’s a reason standing calf raises are a classic leg exercise—they work. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t switch it up with seated calf raises on a cable machine. It targets your soleus muscle in your lower leg and builds bulging calves that will complement your sexy legs well!
9) Dumbbell Lunges – Walking Style
These are simply lunges performed with dumbbells in each hand. They require a great deal of control and coordination, but they’ll really help build up your quads, glutes and hamstrings, while also improving balance and muscle tone in your lower body. If you’re a beginner then do these with no added weight; if you have more experience then go ahead and add some extra poundage. Either way you should aim for 5 sets of 15 reps on each leg per session.
10) Stiff Legged Barbell Deadlift
This exercise has been around since ancient Greek times, and it’s one of the best exercises you can do for lower body strength. You’ll build muscles in your back, butt, hamstrings, and quads by pushing your hips back and bending down until your torso is parallel with or just slightly below knee-height. Make sure not to bend too far forward or you’ll throw off balance.