Weight Training Fitness: Legs

Gym Work-Out for Legs

 

Working out the legs is one of the most important aspects of weight training, and body building.  The legs contain four major muscle groups: the thigh, the hamstring, the calf, and the gluteus maximus.  These muscle groups provide the body with every movement it needs to do in order to move forward.  Luckily most of the exercises involve all of the muscles.  The only muscle that needs to be worked out individually is the calf muscles.  Some of the main exercises for the legs are: the squat, the leg press, the barbell lunge, the leg extensions, and the calf raise.

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The Squat start positionThe Squat down position.
The Squat start position
The Squat start position
The Squat down position.
The Squat down position.

The Squat

The Squat

The squat is the foremost important leg exercise. Every person who has ever stepped inside a gym at one point in their life or another has seen this exercise done. Inside of a gym they have a squat “bench”. The squat bench has places for the barbell for lifting. I recommend setting the right height before loading the barbell with weight plates. Once you get the height set and the barbell loaded with plates you are ready to begin the squat. When doing squats it is imperative that you practice proper form before overloading your muscles, so for one session go light to learn the form better. With the barbell on your shoulders back up until you are at the outer edge of the squat frame. Set your feet a little more than shoulder width apart and set your feet so they form an invisible 90 degree angle, I.E. your left foot will face towards the left slightly and the same for the right foot. When you go to lower the weight you want to make sure your back stays straight and rigid. The weight on your shoulders should be over your knees at the end of the squat. Rise up and go back to the start position. Complete ten repetitions, rest for one minute, and then complete two more sets.

The Leg Press

With the leg press you can really load up the weight. It is not uncommon to see someone pressing 600 pounds. Definitely test the waters before you try that though. Most leg machines are sled like and have weight hangars on them. You usually have a heavier plate that goes here. You can still load it with 45’s but you may spend most of your time loading the weight that way. Anyway, the leg press machine starts out in the up position with a bar locking it in place. You have to move the weight up to unlock the machine. Once it is unlocked, in a controlled manner slowly lower the weight until your hips start to come off the machine. At this point, if you go lower you risk injuring your back. From here push the weight back up to where your knees are straight but definitely not locked. It is very important that you do not lock out your knees on this machine, especially if you have 600 pounds on it. Complete ten repetitions, rest for one minute, and then complete two more sets.

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The Leg Press starting positionThe Leg Press down position
The Leg Press starting position
The Leg Press starting position
The Leg Press down position
The Leg Press down position
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The Lunge start positionThe Lunge down position
The Lunge start position
The Lunge start position
The Lunge down position
The Lunge down position

The Dumbbell Lunge

The dumbbell lunge is a great exercise for balance and strength. Use a moderate weight that you are comfortable moving around with.  I recommend a seventy five pound dumbbell on each side but that’s just me. Starting at a neutral stance step forward with one foot and drop the knee of your other leg until it hovers just above the ground/floor. Go back to the neutral stance and then step forward with the other leg and drop the knee of the first leg until it hovers just above the floor. Return once more to the neutral position and that is one repetition. Complete ten repetitions, rest for one minute, and then complete two more sets.

The Leg Extension

The leg extension isolates the thigh muscle. I really never use this machine because the weight you can move is so minute that it is not even worth it to me. The leg extension is found in all gyms and has a seat with one or two foot holders where you would expect your feet to hang. Load a weight onto the foot holder and take a seat. Stick your legs underneath the closest foot holder; your feet should be slightly behind a vertical dangle. In one controlled movement raise the foot holders so your legs are straight out in front of you, and then lower it back down. Complete ten repetitions, rest for one minute, and then complete two more sets.

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Leg extensions start positionLeg extensions up position
Leg extensions start position
Leg extensions start position
Leg extensions up position
Leg extensions up position
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The Calf Raise starting positionThe Calf Raise up position
The Calf Raise starting position
The Calf Raise starting position
The Calf Raise up position
The Calf Raise up position

 

The Calf Raise

The calf raise is used to strengthen and tone the calf muscles.  You can perform this movement in any variation that you can think of.  I like the barbell with weight on my shoulders and toes on a forty five pound plate on the floor method.  Once you get to the starting position like I stated above, you raise your body up by standing with just your toes on the plate.  Once you get on your tiptoes lower your self back down to where your heels are back on the floor.  Complete ten repetitions, rest for one minute, and then complete two more sets.

Hubchallenge no. 14

Hubchallenge number 14
Hubchallenge number 14

Authors Note

 

There are many other exercises that can be done to work the leg muscles; this list of exercises is to form a foundation on which to build on.  If you find yourself unsure of how to properly perform an exercise, each gym offers a personal trainer that has been trained and is knowledgeable on all exercises.  Use the services that the gyms offer.  Before starting any exercise routine get a physical done by a medical doctor if you are over the age of thirty.  You should always rotate your joints before doing any types of activities.  Also, you should stretch your muscles before using them in exercise.  By doing these two things you will prevent about 90% of all weightlifting and training injuries.

Copyright 2009 by Wesley Cox

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Comments 12 comments

shamelabboush profile image

shamelabboush 7 years ago

Isn't there any other alternative for the Squat bcz I relly don't like it!!!


wesleycox profile image

wesleycox 7 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012 Author

The leg press is kind of a squat alternative, but the squat is the best leg exercise because it activates your core to keep you steady. I may recommend the Smith Machine squat as a safe alternative, you can set a safety stop on the Smith Machine.


shamelabboush profile image

shamelabboush 7 years ago

I tried today the leg press and it was fine and like what you said, i can left so much since its easy but didn't try the squat. I will give it a shot tomorrow. Thank you for your patience :)


wesleycox profile image

wesleycox 7 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012 Author

Just remember if you need help and are in a gym, seek advice and help from the gym staff. They will help you. The squat is all about form also shamelabboush. Go light until you get the form down. Then you can really pile on the weight.


Lgali profile image

Lgali 7 years ago

very nice hub good to know proper way of exercise


wesleycox profile image

wesleycox 7 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012 Author

Lgali: Thank you for visiting and commenting.


truparad0x 7 years ago

Keep in mind knee position is very important with squats and leg presses. Knees should never go beyond your toes at the bottom of a squat or you may risk knee injury. Weight should feel like it's mostly on your heels and not your toes/balls of feet. Other than that, a good hub.


wesleycox profile image

wesleycox 7 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012 Author

Truparad0x: You are absolutely correct, the way you describe the squat presents the best form to avoid injury. Thanks for visiting, reading, and commenting.


turbulence63 profile image

turbulence63 7 years ago

Squatting and bench pressing on the Smith machine has a tremendous advantage , in that you can go to total muscular failure with these exercises without the need for a spotter.

When seeking extreme muscle growth using HIT (high intensity training) all exercise should be taken to total muscular failure.


wesleycox profile image

wesleycox 7 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012 Author

I also agree with you. The smith machine is a great weight lifting tool as you can set stops to protect you from the weight and at the same time the weight is guided. I, however, don't like doing squats on the smith machine because I like the core activation aspect of the free weight squat, plus I don't train my legs for size increases, I only train them for strength. With the bench press I used the smith machine every time I didn't have a spotter with an adjustable bench. I lifted more and was able to push out more reps. Good tips and thanks for visiting.


Best Weight Training for Women 5 years ago

i need some advice on putting on muscle gaining some weight by working out while having a type of illness like diabetes i been a diabetic for 17yrs i don’t eat pork or red meat and i am 37yrs old 160lbs and my goal is 2 be 190lbs in 3 months is there something that i am nothing doing 2 gain the weight that i am trying 2 get 2


wesleycox profile image

wesleycox 5 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012 Author

The best I can tell you is to lift weights everyday, drink three protein shakes per day, and avoid cardio. However, gaining 30 pounds in 3 months is very hard to do. I have tried gaining weight but plateaued at 10 pounds. After that I couldn't gain anymore weight. As your muscles get stronger they will also get heavier so it is faster to gain weight by gaining muscles. Hope this helps.

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