Posted on November 14, 2018 by Kate Gordon
Not all gym-goers enjoy leg day. The prospect of hobbling round in discomfort for 24 hours isn’t the nicest and, because of this, many skip the session. Walking around all day counts as a session anyway, right?
Actually no, it doesn’t! If modern walking alone counted as a leg workout, everyone would have strong and lean legs. Leg day is important and vital in a workout plan, so you need to stay motivated.
Strength gaining leg exercises in particular are great for building muscle and burning calories. We take a look at five of these leg exercises in closer detail, so take a look and see if you can spice up your session!
5 Strength Gaining Leg Exercises
Walking Lunge With Dumbbells – 4 Sets of 10 Reps
Lunges are excellent for gaining strength in your legs – specifically your quadriceps, hamstrings and calves. Lunges come in a variety of forms – from stationary lunges to walking lunges, in any direction you choose. Walking lunges tend to work your quadriceps that extra bit harder too, while also improving your balance and bolstering your posture.
Walking lunges provide you with a variety of physical benefits – the motion of lunging up and down strengthens your core muscles and as well as that, the movement will tone your gluteal muscles if you complete this exercise on a regular basis.
You can do this wherever you want, with or without weights – though doing it with weights increases the intensity and pushes you that extra bit harder! Form is one of the most important aspects of a workout though, so don’t use too heavy of a weight as it can cause injury.
Leg Press – 4 Sets of 10 Reps
In pretty much every single gym out there, there is a leg press machine. Some people would rather work out using free weights over a machine, such as the leg press machine, but resistance machines do have their benefits.
Because resistance machines only allow movement in a fixed pattern, they’re great for beginners or people coming back from an injury, who need to master a correct and safe movement pattern before advancing to the more challenging lifts.
Leg press machines are also useful for people who want to isolate a specific muscle, in this case the quads, hamstrings and glutes. This fixed movement of the machine ensures only those muscle groups are worked on – so you can lift heavy in the safest possible way to maximise muscle growth.
The key with the leg press is to be careful and not to bounce your knees off your chest – then press up again. Don’t fully lock your legs out at the knee – this maintains muscular tension on the quads and doesn’t cause injury. Again, form is key so even if you feel you can increase the weight – ensure you are not putting your legs under too much strain.
Box Jump – 3 or 4 Sets of 10-20
Box jumps are a very efficient way of exercising due to the simplicity of the workout – you can tell what it is by the name itself! All you need to complete this exercise is a box or a raised surface; one that you can jump up onto. The height of the box all depends on your personal preference – the higher the box, the higher the difficulty
With the workout itself you’ll jump up onto the box, landing on both feet and straightening your legs at the top position. Then you’ll jump back down, and then immediately spring back up as quickly as you can. You can start this workout with either three or four sets of 10-20 box jumps, increasing the number of reps as you feel you can.
Box jumps make you jump high enough that you’re forced to use every single muscle in your legs to get up onto the box – so it’s works your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves in some capacity. As well as building muscle, jumping burns a lot of calories and is great for your balance and co-ordination.
Resistance Band Kickback – 3 Sets of 15
Resistance band kickbacks are great for building muscle in your glutes and hamstrings. Glutes offer a perfect base of power for most athletic movements with powerful hips meaning that you can jump higher, run faster and tackle harder.
This is a workout that requires just a resistance band – wrap one end around your foot and have the other held down in front on you. While keeping your abs tight, contract your glutes to slowly kick your leg back until it’s straight. At full extension, squeeze your glutes for a second. Slowly bring it back down.
This is another beneficial exercise that isn’t time consuming and can be completed wherever, effectively targeting your glutes and hamstrings.
Barbell Squat – 4 Sets of 10
It is argued that squats are the best way to build muscle in your legs. Barbell squats primarily build muscle specifically in your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves, however the workout also benefits your entire upper body. Your core is strengthened, your balance improves and you increase your metabolism (burning more fat).
The key to this workout is ensuring you complete each rep correctly, even if that means using lower weights and less reps. Squatting in the correct form is crucial and will make you start to see physical benefits much sooner.
This is a workout that is always available in your gym – usually with squat racks to help aid your workout. Some people hesitate to do heavy squats because they find them difficult and uncomfortable, however it’s good to push and improve while also maintaining form and control!
By Charlie Casey