We have all heard the phrase “never skip leg day” – but why is working our legs so important? Exercising your upper and lower body is incredibly important to maintain physical and mental health. Your legs get you where you need to go, help you balance, and keep you upright. Not exercising your legs can leave your body unbalanced and leave you prone to injuries in the future.
Located in the front of the thigh, the quadriceps are four muscles joined by one tendon. These muscles are designed to straighten and stabilize the knee or act as a hip flexor in certain stretches or positions.
Found in the back of the thigh, the hamstrings help us bend our knees and stand upright. During sports that require jumping, the hamstrings give us that extra power to jump higher or run faster.
Located behind the shins, the calves are muscles that stabilize our ankles and feet to help us walk or run every day. The calves also work together with the hamstrings when we jump to give us an extra power boost to go higher.
Benefits of Leg Workouts
Working out your legs regularly has a multitude of benefits, including improved balance and stability, a stronger core, increased leg strength, improved muscle shape, and increased mobility and flexibility. From better results in sports to more natural movement up stairs or hills, there are plenty of reasons to strengthen your lower body alongside your upper body.
The Best Leg Exercises Explained
Best Leg Exercises for Men (for Building Mass)
Standing upright with your feet hip with apart, gently place a barbell across your shoulders and behind your neck. Brace your core and sink into a squat position, remembering to breathe slowly and deeply, and slowly stand upright. Repeat this 12 times for 3 sets multiple times a week, depending on your goals.
Sit down on the seat facing the pedals. Adjust the weight and height of the machine to your liking as per the instructions. Once you are ready, lean back in the seat and hold the handles by your side. With your feet flat on the pedals, push up and slowly straighten your legs before slowly bending them again. Repeat this movement 12 times for 3 sets and scale up depending on your health and fitness goals.
Using a kettlebell or two dumbbells, stand with your feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Hold the dumbbells in front of your thighs, press your hips back and bend at the waist until the dumbbells lightly tap the floor. Squeeze your glutes as you slowly stand upright and repeat. Do three sets of 12 reps multiple times a week.
Best Leg Exercises For Women (Bodyweight Exercises)
Reverse Lunges with Knee Lifts
Standing with your feet hip-width apart, step back on your right leg and bend both knees until your left knee is bent at 90 degrees. Once this happens, push with your left foot to stand, bringing your right knee up to your chest before putting your foot on the floor. Repeat on the other side to complete one rep. Do three sets of twelve reps.
Standing with your toes facing forward and your feet hip-width apart, place your hands on your temples or in front of your chest. Bend your knees and slowly move into a squat position. Once you are as low as possible, jump upwards and fast and as high as you can. Land carefully on the balls of your feet and lower into a squat immediately to continue. Do three sets of twelve reps.
Standing with your feet hip-width apart, take a large step to your right. As you do this, bend your right knee, keep your left leg straight, and push your glutes back. Keep your back straight, chest lifted, and core engaged. Repeat on the other side to complete a set. Do this 12 times for three sets.
For more of the best exercises for women, make sure to read this article.
Best Exercises to Tone/Slim Legs
With your feet shoulder or hip-width apart, hold your hands at your temples or in front of your chest. Keeping your core engaged, chest lifted, and back straight, stick your butt out and slowly lower it as low as possible. Squeeze your glutes together as you stand upright once more. Repeat 12 times for 3 sets.
Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, step forward with your right foot and lower your body until your right knee is bent at 90 degrees. Powering through your right foot, push your body back up while stepping back into a standing position. While doing this movement, remember to keep your core engaged, back straight, and chest lifted for maximum safety and results. Do this on the other side to complete one set. Repeat this 12 times for 3 sets.
Using a step, chair, or sturdy box, stand in front of it with your feet hip or shoulder-width apart. Place your right foot flat on the chair and push down on it until you are standing on top of the object. Once you are level on the object, step down onto the ground with your right foot and remove your left foot from the object until you are back to your original standing position. Do this on your other side to complete one set. Repeat this movement 12 times for three sets.
Best Dumbbell Leg Exercises
A low-cost piece of equipment, dumbbells are a cheap way to increase the intensity of your strength training and metabolic conditioning. Dumbbells are easy to get a hold of in stores and online and are versatile and effective when used correctly. Whether you want to bulk up, tone your body, or burn fat, dumbbells are a great way to make that happen. Some great exercises to add dumbbells to include:
Cellulite on Legs
Cellulite is a common and harmless condition caused by a buildup of fat pockets just below the skin. When cellulite builds around the hips, glutes, thighs, and abs, it creates dimpled flesh. Some ways to remove cellulite include getting regular massages and incorporating the following exercises into your workout routine:
Best Exercise for Reducing Cellulite
Why Strengthen the Legs
Not only does exercising your body improve your overall physical and mental health, but exercising your legs can make it easier to walk, run, or go upstairs. Working your legs regularly can also improve your balance and stability, making it easier to avoid injuries in the future. Shaping and strengthening your legs may make you feel more self-confident or improve your posture and burn calories while you are still. Some great exercises to get started include:
Simple Exercises to Strengthen Legs
Fitness Gear to Work the Legs
You do not necessarily need any fancy equipment to get your body into shape. Simply follow the workouts listed above without using any weights to utilize your bodyweight alone.
As discussed earlier, holding dumbbells in certain positions while performing certain moves can increase the intensity and effectiveness of your workout.
In a similar way to dumbbells, barbells and their weights can be held on your shoulders or deadlifted to produce enhanced intensity and results.
A strong and sturdy box of any solid material may be used to perform step-ups, box jumps, and other dynamic exercises.
Even your stairs at home or in the local park can be used to your advantage. Running or walking up and down them, stepping or jumping up on them, and other movements can diversify your workout routine.
Finding a solid and sturdy chair can help you perform certain movements with or without weights to maximize your workout potential.
Whether it is in the park or at the gym, a bench can help you maintain proper form, isolate specific muscles, or get into proper positions for working out.
Using a leg curl machine at the gym can help you work your calves and hamstrings.
A leg press machine is designed to help you work out your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves to their fullest.
We have all heard about someone having cycling calves, and getting them is easy with enough practice. By regularly cycling on a stationary or regular bike, it is possible to work your legs and core with ease.
For those who want to work and play, a pedal exerciser can help you burn those calories and work your legs while you are at the office or catching up on Netflix.
Exercise Limitations & Considerations
While you may be excited to get started, it is important to think about some issues before you begin a new workout regime. Have you had any past illnesses or injuries? Are you currently pregnant or perhaps a new mum? Do you have any heart, lung, or muscle issues? We highly recommend consulting your doctor before starting any new routine and scaling that routine to your health level.
Listen to your body carefully; challenge your body without overworking it to avoid injury and increase results. If you are injured or having difficulty, you can modify the exercise or reduce the number of reps or weight to make it easier. Cooling down and warming up with dynamic and static stretches can help you avoid injuries and improve your performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long should these leg workouts be?
The length of any workout depends on your fitness level and your body's needs. You can do leg routines for 10-60 minutes, depending on your goals and health needs.
How often should you do these leg exercises?
Depending on your health and fitness goals, you can do leg exercises 1-3 times a week.
How long does it take to see results from these workout routines?
Fitness results, while motivating, depend on a variety of factors such as our fitness routine, exercises done, weights used, workout intensity, etc. Typically, results can be seen in two weeks.
What are some food and nutrition tips to consider when working out regularly?
What you should eat while working out depends on your health goals, allergies, and dietary requirements. Typically, you should focus on getting a balance of fruit and vegetables, plenty of vitamins, protein, carbs, and healthy fats into your diet to properly support your new lifestyle change.
Incorporating regular leg exercises into your routine alongside other workouts can significantly improve your physical wellbeing. As long as you remain consistent, listen to your body, and do your best throughout your workout, you will see fantastic results. If you would like to purchase some machines to workout at home, you can start your search by checking out some of our other articles and buyer’s guides.
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