From Jack to Jacked: How to Build Leg Muscle
Building leg muscle is one of the toughest things to do when you hit the gym or workout at home. Most people usually focus on their upper body, and the first thing they do is make sure that the arms and the chest are always taken care of. Don’t feel bad though, I’ve been lifting for a very long time and still find myself doing the same thing.
However, for a well-balanced physique and an overall muscle body it is extremely important that we work out our legs just as much as or upper bodies. By targeting our quads, hamstrings, and calves, we will develop an explosive lower body which will not only improve our physique – but greatly improve our athletic performance.
As with all serious muscle gains, the key to building bigger leg muscles is to lift heavy weights that truly push your legs to the limit and force growth.
Essential Exercises to Build Leg Muscle
Exercise #1: Squats
Ultimately, your best bet for gaining more leg muscle is to push yourself using squats during every single leg-day workout regime. Squats are great because they really help improve the strength of your legs, back and overall core strength. When it comes to developing more muscular legs, squats are the answer.
Any bodybuilder will tell you that one of the key exercises for leg muscles is squats. This is mainly because the exercise focuses entirely on your legs and strengthens every part of them.
When doing any squat, the key is to make sure you always separate your feet wide enough to get the most out of the exercise. Make sure your knees are properly going over your toes as you bend to stay strong and only bend the right amount. Bending too much could cause injury.
When doing squats, make it a goal to add progressive add a few pounds as you develop more strength. Even small increments of increased weight will force your muscles to continue to grow at a rapid pace.
I should also note that not everyone who visits our site is an experienced bodybuilder or seasoned in the gym. Squats can be an intimidating exercise for new gym-goers. As such, there are many variations of the squat, including: machine, dumbbell, incline, or simply air squats. Starting with an easier form of a squat with a lesser chance for potential injury can still give you the great benefits of squats themselves and help you can muscle and confidence simultaneously.
Exercise #2: One-Legged Squats
One-legged squats put the muscles on overload. These are an insanely awesome variation to the squat that allow you to isolate the muscles just a little bit more and force their growth.
To perform one-legged squats, stand on one foot (with optional dumbbells in each hand) and your other foot out in front of you. Squat as low as you can and come back up. Over time, you should be about to squat lower and lower as your muscles develop. Aim for 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps for each leg.
A twist: the one-legged squat has been twisted into a newer form that will also blast your muscles and promote their growth. In this new and improved squat, put a bench behind you and during each rep sit down on the bench and get back up. Remember, to only use one leg and keep your balance!
Exercise #3: Leg Curls
Leg curls will start a fire in your hamstrings and leave them burning hours after you leave the gym. This exercise isolates the hamstrings and sends them into overdrive. Generally, leg curls involve a machine on which you lay. With your feet extended behind you, the bar will be just below you calves. Simply bend both feet back towards your but to create a curl with your legs. Aim for 3 sets of 10 reps and always remember to increase your weight as your muscles develop.
Exercise #4: Lunges
Lunges are one of the better exercises for the legs which combine a blend of cardio and muscle building. These are great for a whole leg workout.
To perform lunges, place a weighted barbell behind your neck and across your shoulders. Hold it in both hands. Put one foot approximately 2 feed out in front of you and then squat – or lunge – down. Then alternate to the other foot. You should continuously be walking forward. Continue until your muscles are on fire.
Exercise #5: Calf Raises
It’s only right that we isolate the calves. They are a simple muscle to isolate and many gyms have both standing and sitting options to isolate the calves with free-weights or machines.
Our favorite way to isolate the calves is by standing with a barbell behind the neck and across the shoulders as if we were going to be doing lunges. Then simply use a highly controlled motion to go up on your toes and back down but keep your heal from hitting the floor.
A great twist to kick it into high gear is to stand on a platform so that you are a few inches off of the ground. Then perform the same routine as above. However, you will be able to bring your heal down much further because the ground will not stop you. Thus, causing even more stress on the muscle.
Any exercise in which you are performing this method is isolating the calf muscles. This can be achieved on squat machines, calf machines, or with free weights.
Bonus Tip! You Need Protein
Your leg muscles are no different than any other muscle in your body. They can only work with what they have. Thus, it is important to feed them the proper nutrition in order to promote growth instead of prohibiting growth.
Fast food, sugars, unhealthy fats, etc are terrible for the body when it comes to gaining muscle mass. What’s good, no great, for the body is protein and carbs.
Consuming the perfect ratio of protein to carbs with your daily diet and before your workout will ensure that your muscles have the proper fuel they need to grow instead of break down.
Your leg muscles are one of the easier muscle groups to work out. There are only so many exercises you can do to target the legs. The hardest part is the mental side to set aside time to dedicate to building the leg muscles instead of the chest and arms.
But keep in mind, that when working the legs, your chest, arms, and other muscles are recovering and coming back stronger than ever. This allows you to keep making full-body gains for an overall muscular and well-balanced appearance.
And remember, when you’re ready to explode your gains, we’ll be here.