Our leg muscles are the largest muscle group in the body, so it’s no wonder that even the most diligent fitness fans may dread leg day. Leg exercises are tough, sweaty and both burn and require a ton of energy. Your strength and stamina are put to the test while your heart and lungs will be pumping and heaving. After all of that, you can barely sit down or take a flight of stairs.
Another reason you might not be keen on leg day is that you could be making mistakes. One such mistake is focusing too much on machine and isolation exercises. These shouldn’t be treated as core exercises, but merely supplementary. Incorrect squats could also be another issue as well as doing too many reps. So, is there any way to get through leg day? If you stick to these exercises, you just might be able to do that.
First, a few things you need to know about your leg muscles. The muscles in our lower body are numerous and form an intricate system. But, for the everyday gym-goer, here are the muscles you need to remember:
The quadriceps or quads are on the front of our thighs and function to extend our knee. Our quads get fired up when we squat, lunge or step upward. Our quads are essential to running, jumping and kicking.
On the back of our thighs are our hamstrings, which help to flex (bend) at the knee. Our hamstrings are needed for rotating the leg and assisting our glutes to extend our hips and move our thigh backward.
The two muscles on each lower leg allows us to point our foot or rise up onto our forefoot. Another muscle along our shin is responsible for flexing our foot.
These muscles pull our thighs together and ensure stability.
While not part of our legs, the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus are part of our hip. Our glutes work to extend our hips, move our legs away from the body and rotate our legs outward.
Ready for leg day? Try out these exercises.
- Get into starting position by standing up and holding your arms straight out in front at shoulder level.
- Raise your right leg off the floor and hold it there.
- Lower your body as far as you can while moving back your hips. Pause in this position before returning back to starting position.
- For this exercise you will need a pair of dumbbells. Get into starting position by standing upright with hands on your sides.
- While engaging your core, take a large step to the right with your right foot. The left leg should be straight.
- Bend your right leg until the thigh is parallel to the floor. At the same time, lower the dumbbells to either side of your right leg.
- Reverse the movement and return to starting position. Repeat on the other side.
Step Up Convicts
- For this exercise you will need a knee-high platform and a pair of dumbbells. Get into starting position by standing upright facing the platform and lunge your right leg backwards.
- Push yourself back up to a standing position without touching the floor.
- Step your right leg onto the bench while bending your left knee and raising it as high as you can.
- Reverse the movement and return to starting position.
- You will need a dumbbell or a sandbag for this exercise. Get into starting position by standing with your feet apart at hip-width and holding your dumbbell or sandbag in front of you.
- Bend your knees and push your hips back until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Be sure to keep your back flat.
- Jump up explosively and as high as you can.
- Softly land, returning to a squat. Repeat.