It’s safe to say that most people dread leg day at the gym. If you’ve the exception to this rule then you already have a “leg up” on the rest of us. Leg exercises exert a lot of energy and effort, are painful and just aren’t fun. For those reasons we tend to either skip leg day or just do a light workout on them. After all, who’s going to see them anyway, right? Unfortunately, the 10 exercises mentioned below are not easy, not a shortcut and will still require hard work to see results. But the good news is if you incorporate these leg exercises into your workout routine and put as much effort into them as you do other body parts then you will reap the benefits. You may not be able to walk out of the gym after leg day but hey, it’ll be worth it.
1. Static Lunges
Not to be confused with the standard lunge where you take a step forward with one leg and then take a step back with that same leg. The static lunge requires you to take a step forward then lower and raise your body while keeping this stance. Do it until it burns then switch legs. It’s a killer but will definitely give you results.
2. One and a Half Squats
You can see huge results from this exercise. Start by doing a standard squat but on your motion back up only go half way and pause for 3 seconds before returning down to your lowest point and finally returning back up completely to finish the rep. This is one and a half squats. Remember to reduce your weight from your typical squat weight as this exercise will be much harder to complete.
3. Leg Extensions
This exercise will not give you the results the other exercises will so don’t spend too much time doing leg extensions. They are fine for an end of the workout routine when your legs are totally spent but shouldn’t be included as one of your primary quad building exercises.
4. Don’t Go Light, Train Hard
As I mentioned above, we tend to either go light on leg day or skip it all together promising to make up for it on the next leg day. This strategy puts us into a vicious, never ending cycle where we end up with scrawny, disproportionate legs. If you’re too tired and not up for a leg day instead of just going through the motions skip it and commit to returning to the gym another day when you can give it your all.
5. Leg Curls and Stiff Leg Dead Lifts
This killer combo will develop your hamstrings like no other. Start by performing 10 stiff leg dead lift reps with a weight that makes it tough to complete the tenth rep then go straight to the leg curls and do 10 reps. As with any exercise, it is very important to keep proper form. It’s better to reduce your weight and maintain good form than it is to go heavy and have bad form. You don’t want to be “one of those guys” we have all seen at the gym.
6. Partial Reps
There’s a lot of discussion against doing partial reps because it limits the muscles range of motion. Although this is true, what partial reps does is allow you to use heavier weights. By using more weight than you could while doing a full rep, partial reps forces your body to adapt to more stress. By mixing it up, you will eventually be able to us more weight while performing full reps as your body adapts.
7. Multiple Squat Stances
A typical mistake is to fall into the trap of only using one squat stance. Don’t get me wrong, doing squats no matter what the stance is great but if you want real results mix it up. Incorporate wide stance, narrow stance and shoulder width stance into your routine.
8. 20 Squat Reps
Some say doing 20 reps for any body part is considered a strategy for a total definition exercise or an endurance builder. But with squats you will build muscle quicker incorporating 20 reps into your routine rather than 10 reps. The reason is your body will naturally release what is called HGH or Human Growth Hormones.
9. Know Your Exercises
At first glance one might say the hack squat machine and leg press machine work the same muscles. Although they work some of the same muscles they are worked in different ways. While hack squats work your lower quads, the leg press machine gives your glutes a harder workout because of the deeper knee bend that is required. On the surface you may think there is a lot of overlap in many of the leg exercises or machines but pay close attention when using them. You’ll find they can be quite different.
10. Knee Wraps and Weight Belts
Try not to get in the habit of using these aids as they can give you a false sense of security. While using these you might think you can lift more than you are capable of and thus are more prone to injuring yourself. In addition, you are not allowing that joint and surrounding muscles to strengthen. So, unless you are a power lifter lose the belt and wraps.