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Love it or hate it, leg training is important.
Training our legs makes us more muscular and proportional. It also makes us athletic, strong, and well-rounded.
And let’s face it:
Nobody likes the person with a built upper body and sticks for legs. It simply doesn’t look good and only conveys a lack of discipline.
To that end, we’ve put together a list of the five best leg exercises you should start doing right away.
According to research, Romanian deadlifts are one of the best exercises for activating the hamstrings - the muscle group situated on the back of the thigh (1).
This movement is excellent because it causes a significant stretch in the posterior muscles as you bend forward, followed by a powerful contraction.
Plus, you can do Romanian deadlifts in many ways, including with dumbbells, kettlebells, a barbell, or other types of weights. For an extra challenge, you can even do these one leg at a time. The overload potential is excellent, and the exercise builds fantastic leg mass.
No list of leg exercises is complete without the squat. Also known as the king of all exercises, the squat is terrific for building up your quadriceps - the front thigh muscles (2). Besides that, squats also work the adductors (inner thighs), glutes, and hamstrings.
Depending on the exact variation, you also get to involve muscles of the upper body. For instance, front squats are amazing for building your legs and strengthening your back (2).
Glute bridges are among the best bodyweight exercises you can do to strengthen the hamstrings and glutes (3). The activity is simple to learn, and the overload potential is great. As the movement gets too easy, you can begin holding onto weight for extra resistance or do it one leg at a time.
As you get even stronger, you can transition to the barbell hip thrust - the king of all glute exercises (4). The overloading potential is even better, but the movement itself is pretty similar to glute bridges.
Bulgarian split squats are one of the most punishing leg exercises in existence. Still, they are a ton of fun to do and incredibly effective, so you should do them.
The great thing about split squats is that you’re training one leg at a time, which allows you to focus better, prevent muscle imbalances, and cause an intense burn in your quadriceps (5). Plus, the overloading potential is impressive, which means you can do this movement for a long time to build bigger and bigger legs.
Some folks love their calves, others - not so much. But we can’t claim to have built legs if the bottom half looks like a stick of salami. So long as you wear clothing that covers your quads, your calves will represent your lower body development.
So, calf raises are your friend. And the good news is, you can pick from numerous variations:
So long as there is ankle flexion and extension, you can load up the calves well (6). It’s also a good idea to train your calves more frequently and vary the repetition ranges.