Exercises for Legs: How to Develop a Sculpted Lower Half

exercisesforlegsAt the gym, it’s really hard to get excited about leg day. Every guy (and girl) wants strong biceps and toned arms worth showing off, but skipping legs in your training leaves your body disproportionate when you pack on the muscle. Not for only aesthetic appeal, training your glutes, quads, hamstrings and calf muscles is good for your health. Strong legs boost your lean muscle mass, greatly enhancing the fat burning capability of your body. If heavy lifting isn’t your thing, why not try a yoga course targeting your glutes and legs? Develop muscles in your legs to become a super athlete and improve your performance in every sport!

Your glutes are the largest muscle in your body, don’t neglect training them and build leg exercises into your weight lifting program. Beginners definitely need to check out a great total body workout like Dave Chan’s “No Bull” fitness, to ensure you follow a balanced training regime, You may not be aiming for the body of a god, but you also don’t want chicken legs either right? Stay on track, and follow these top exercises for creating sculpted and muscular legs.

Lunges

Hold two dumbbells at your sides and take a regular stance, placing your feet shoulder width apart. Lunge forward with a giant right step, and as soon as it hits the floor bend your right knee at a ninety degree angle. Your knee should stay behind your toes, and your left knee should bend towards the floor. Push back with your right leg until you return to the starting position, and repeat. Complete 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions on each leg. If you can easily do a set of twelve, increase the weight of the dumbbells until it is a challenge and you are hitting failure on (or before) the 12th rep.

Calf Raises

Find the edge of a step or a ledge and stand with your toes only on the ledge. Your heels should be hanging off the edge. Holding dumbbells at your sides, push yourself up until you are standing on your tip-toes. Hold yourself in this position for 2 seconds, and slowly lower yourself back down. Aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps, again increase the weight of the dumbbells if you feel the exercise is not challenging.

Leg curl

Using the leg curl machine, set it up so that the foot pad is resting just behind your heels. Bend your legs, the range of motion you want to achieve is a slow movement of your feet towards your buttocks. Don’t let your feet touch, hold for a count of two and slowly lower your feet. Do 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions, and make sure you are using enough weight.

Leg extension

Using the leg extension machine, adjust the foot pad so that it is resting on your shins. You should be in a sitting position, slowly straighten your legs until they rise parallel to the floor, and then let them back down slowly. Another 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

Dead lifts

Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, hold a barbell loaded with weight. Your palms should be facing downward, spaces about shoulder width apart on the bar. Relax and don’t lock your knees or your elbows. Keep your back straight, bend forward at your waist so that the barbell drops down around your ankles. Come back up to a starting position using your hamstrings and your buttocks (not your back!), the motion is like a thrust. Complete 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Glute Machine

Gripping the handlebars climb into the glute machine with one foot on the foot platform. Using your glutes, push the foot platform up until your thigh aligns with your buttocks and slowly lower it back down. You need to do 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps on each side of your body.

Split squats

Holding two dumbbells by your side, stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Take a small step forward with one of your legs so that one foot is about 1½ feet in front of the other. Bend your knees, so your front leg is at 90 degrees and your back knee almost touches the floor and then push yourself back up into the starting position. Repeat 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps for each leg.

Sumo Squats

Using a squat rack, load a barbell with weights and position it across your shoulders and traps (not resting on your neck!). Steady the barbell with your hands. Your feet should be just a little bit wider than shoulder width apart, with your toes pointing outwards slightly. Move into a sitting position until your thighs become parallel to the ground, and then slowly stand back up. Do 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

Squats

Also in the squat rack, your feet need to be shoulder width apart, with your toes pointing straight ahead (or slightly outward). The barbell lines up on your shoulders the same as in a sumo squat, and your hands spaced a bit wider apart than your shoulders. Keep your back straight and sit back, bending your knees until your thighs become parallel to the floor. Push up through your heels and return to your starting position. Complete 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

Leg press

Sit in the leg press machine positioning your feet hip-width apart on the foot platform. Your toes should be facing slightly outward, and adjust the machine until your knees are at a 90 degree angle. Push through your legs as you slowly take the weight and straighten your legs, do not lock your knees in this exercise. Lower the weight back down and return to your starting position. For a higher intensity, you can also do only one leg at a time. Complete 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps.

Incorporate these different exercises into your regular workouts, and you will fast be on your way to sculpted leg muscles. Try doing five of these next time its leg day, and rotate through the different exercises so you are always using different muscles. Build it in with a full body workout like the no excuses home exercise plan and you will get fit fast. If you are still not convinced, learn for yourself the benefits of exercise in the fit for life course and how easy it is to incorporate physical activity into your life.  One word of advice, never plan anything strenuous after leg day!