If you’ve ever stepped foot into a gym, you’ve probably seen a bunch of guys that have decent size on their upper bodies and chicken legs. This is because training the legs and lower body is just plain hard! An honest effort on a hard leg workout will knock the wind out of you and leave you more sore than almost any other training session you endure. However, the results are well worth the pain. Strong legs and consistent progress on the squat are essential to making gains in every other area of your training and will set you apart from the rest of the pack in the gym. Here are five exercises that make up an awesome leg workout.
The barbell squat is probably the most important exercise you can do in the gym and an essential part of all leg workouts. Frankly, if you continue to avoid this movement after reading how important it is, you are a wimp!
Though many are intimidated by heavy squats, there are a few key tips you can follow to keep your joints healthy and your numbers moving upward. First, keep your lower back in a tight, arched position throughout the entire movement to keep it safe and ready to handle big weights. Likewise, keep your upper back tight with your shoulder blades pulled back to keep your head up and to give the bar a good “shelf” to sit on. Finally, learn to sit BACK into the squat as you go down, driving your hips to the rear and engaging the powerful glutes and hamstrings.
This is an important power move, so warm up and work your way up to one set of 4-6 reps to failure. Take five minutes rest, drop the weight a little, and do another set of 8-10 reps, also to failure. Give these two sets your best effort every time you train legs, and your squat numbers will soar.
2. Leg Press
Though not as good a movement as the squat, the leg press is a great thing to add to your leg workouts to give your quads and hamstrings some extra growth. Place your feet high and wide on the platform, use a very full range of motion, and perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 reps. High reps will work well here.
A great all-around lower body movement, lunges will make you sore like nothing else. Using a barbell on your back or dumbbells in your hands, do 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps per leg. You can do them standing in place or walking along a path in the gym.
4. Leg Curls
Use whatever leg curl machine you feel the most and which allows you to use some decent weight. Keeping strict form, do 3 sets of 15-20 reps, stretching your hamstrings in between.
5. Leg Extensions
You can skip these if you want, as they are not going to do that much to add size to your thighs, but they can be helpful in pumping a lot of blood into your quadriceps. Who doesn’t love a good pump? Do 2-3 sets of 20 or so reps, and follow them up with some serious stretching. If anything, this will help alleviate some soreness you will feel the day after your leg workouts.
Be sure to record your numbers and try to beat them every time you do this workout! The only way to ensure long-term muscular gains is to make serious progress on strength. Get your squat and leg press numbers up and watch your physique take off!
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