Here are the 7 best leg exercises to perform in your leg workouts. These have been the foundation of bodybuilding workouts for years.In this article we will explain why these exercises are so effective and why you should make them, or one of the many variations of them, a regular part of your bodybuilding workout.
- Leg press
- Leg extension
- Leg curl
- Stiff legged deadlift
- Calf raise
Known as the ‘king’ of all bodybuilding exercises, the squat is the most beneficial of all weight-training exercises when it comes to packing on slabs of muscle!
Since it works the largest muscle groups in the body, the hips and thighs, it has a massive impact on the production of anabolic hormones in the body as well as the growth of other muscles throughout the whole body.
There are many variations of the squat exercise. The back squat is the standard movement, but there are also front squats, split-stance squats, sumo squats, single-leg squats, etc.
There is no doubt that the squat is one of the best leg exercises.
This exercise may be performed on the spot or moving forward. Some people prefer to have a barbell on their shoulders when they perform the lunge whilst others will hold onto a barbell plate in each hand.
The lunge is another great compound movement (involves movement around more than one joint) for the legs. Even though it is not an exercise that you will use heavy weights with, the eccentric loading on muscles in addition to the balance and co-ordination that is required to perform this movement correctly, make it a great exercise include in your leg workouts.
The leg press is an open-chain exercise. As a result, it may be viewed as less effective and more likely to cause injury compared to a closed-chain movement like the squat.
Nevertheless, it is a great exercise to perform if your goal is to develop great legs. Different foot placements may be used to target different muscles in the thigh and possibly different heads in the quadriceps muscles. So long as it is used in conjunction with squats and other close-chain movements, injuries (i.e. lower back) are less likely to occur.
The leg extension exercise is undoubtedly the best exercise for working the quadriceps through a long range of motion.
It is an isolation movement (involves movement around a single joint) and is also an open-chain exercise. Since it causes shearing forces within the knee joint it is probably best to limit the weight on this exercise and focus on higher reps.
Similarly, the leg curl is a great exercise for the hamstrings because it works the muscles through a long range of motion.It is also an isolation movement and open-chain exercise. It is also best to be performed using a higher rep range.
Stiff legged deadlift
The stiff-legged deadlift is one of the most under-estimated exercises for developing great hamstrings and lower back muscles.
Since it stretches the hamstring muscles against resistance it causes more microscopic tears in the muscle fibres, therefore inducing greater muscle development.It is a ‘functional’ movement and should always be included in leg workouts.
There are two basic variations of the calf raise and each works one the calf muscles that make up the calf group.
Standing calf raises (performed with straight legs) mainly works the gastrocnemius muscle, the largest, most visible calf muscle. It may also be performed on the leg press machine with straight legs.
The other calf exercise is the seated calf raise. Since the knees are bent, most of the work performed by the gastrocnemius is taken out of the movement (because the origin of the gastrocnemius is above the knee joint). As a result, the work is performed mainly by the soleus muscle that sits underneath the gastrocnemius muscle.
It is best to include at least one of these two calf exercises in every leg workout.
It is also worth mentioning the adductor muscles on the inner thigh. If the gym where you train has an adductor machine you may want to include it in your leg workouts occasionally.
This exercise will help to develop your adductor muscles and will give your legs a balanced look when viewed from the front. You may not perform all of these leg exercises in every leg workout, but it is certainly worthwhile selecting a number of them, or their variations, and incorporating them into every leg workout.