- Exercise & Fitness
Leg Workout In Three Simple Exercises
At least they don't call you 'Sparrowlegs'...
Speaking as someone who has been called 'sparrowlegs', the issue of building muscle in the legs has a particular appeal for me.
The good news is that the two main leg exercises also help build muscle mass all over the body. The squat and the deadlift work pretty much everything. Beginner bodybuilders sometimes concentrate on their arms and torso at the expense of working their legs, but if you want to get big fast, these two exercises are a good way to go.
If you have a problem with your legs - especially if they look like drinking straws - you could do a lot worse than try the three exercises below on a regular basis, to build extra mass in the muscles of your butt, thighs and calves. Want a tight tush and thighs of steel? Read on...
Yes. Yes they do.
Leg workout warm up
But before you dive into a hardcore leg training session, you first need to warm up.
Remember to keep it brief and not too intense - you'll get all the exercise you need when you start lifting. Above all, avoid any serious cardio beforehand, as that will use up your stored glycogen and leave you unable to do your best. Instead, warm up by lifting, doing your usual exercises, but using an empty bar or the lightest weights. This will target those muscles that you intend to use during the session to come. Do it for just long enough that you're not lifting from a cold start when you add weight.
Squat - major body builder.
The squat is one of the main bodybuilding exercises for a very good reason: it works your whole body. To perform it, pick a weight you can safely manage. You'll need a squat rack if you're using free weights, or a Smith machine if you're not. If you have neither, any barbell you can safely lift over your head and allow to settle on your back will have to do, but if you can get the weight over your head it's not going to work your legs hard enough.
With the weighted barbell safely on your shoulders, and the weight evenly distributed, in a stance with feet shoulder width apart and slightly turned out, bend your knees and sink down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then use your buttocks and hips to thrust forward and lift your body back up. Repeat between six and ten times for one set, then rest.
The squat works the quadriceps, the muscles at the front of your thigh, hard, along with just about everything else between your feet and your head.
I could totally lift that. With a forklift truck.
How to Squat:
To perform the deadlift, starting from a standing position with the feet shoulder width apart, back straight throughout, and gaze fixed ahead, bend your knees to lower your body and grasp a barbell on the floor with an overhand grip. Lift the weight by straightening your legs, pushing down through your heels and keeping the bar close to your shins all the way back up. When you're standing straight, with the bar held at the full extent of your arms, reverse the movement to let the bar back down. Use enough weight to make the last rep of six a challenge, and do three sets with a brief rest between each one.
The deadlift works your gluteals and your hamstrings, the big muscles in your butt and at the back of your thighs, along with just about everything else. It balances out the benefit you get from the squats by building up the backs of your thighs. Make sure you do both exercises.
How to Deadlift:
Calf raises. Don't call me sparrowlegs.
In some people - among which I must lamentably include myself - the calves are a particularly hard region to train. Genetics plays its part, and some people have naturally thin calves. The muscles, the gastrocnemius and soleus, are there, but lie flat to the bone and need a lot of work to bulk up.
This exercise isn't in the same league as squats or deadlifts, but it has its place as a whole body builder that puts particular stress on your calf muscles.
Some gyms have a calf station which consists of a weight stack and a padded yoke that fits on your shoulders. To work your calves, select a weight on the stack by inserting the pin, place your shoulders under the yoke and stand on tiptoe and back down again to raise and lower the weight. Go for high reps, until exhaustion. Rest briefly, then repeat.
In the absence of such a station, sit on a bench holding a heavy barbell across your knees and your feet flat on the floor. Again, raise and lower the weight repeatedly by lifting your heels off the floor, and once again repeat to exhaustion, then rest and do it one more time.
Calf raises work... you guessed it, your calves. As you'll be able to tell when you stand up after a heavy session of this exercise.
The Standing Calf Raise
Dangers of Calf Raise...
Your leg training workout in three moves.
There you have it: three easy exercises for a workout routine that targets your legs and works your whole body into the bargain.
If you go online you'll find hundreds more leg exercises, but they'll all just be variations on the theme of these three. Stick to these basic moves and you can't go wrong.
Points to remember? If you're a newcomer to weight training, don't rely on this article or any other to tell you how to lift weights. Get good instruction at a proper gym; it'll save you a lot of wasted time, and just maybe a bad back. Proper form is important, both in terms of the progress you make and how safe you are while lifting.
(So get your instruction from a qualified fitness teacher, not the grunty guy in the corner who keeps blowing his rotator cuff by using too much weight.)
Also, don't do your leg workout every day. Twice a week is enough to start with. When you've worked your muscles hard, give them time to recover, along with plenty of good food and rest. That way your leg training will be a pleasure, and you'll see the fastest gains.