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The 15 Best Leg Exercises to Upgrade Your Leg Workout

The 15 Best Leg Exercises to Upgrade Your Leg Workout

Many gym-goers make the same mistake of skipping lower body workouts as they find them unnecessary. However, a leg workout for men comprises the hardest work and the longest amount of time to train. That could be the possible reason beginners do not put their focus on building leg muscles.

Moreover, the recovery period is time taking and full of grief. This could be another reason that gym-goers do not dare train their legs. Leg workout results are slow to materialize and not as satisfying in the short term. Since lower body workouts often recruit multiple muscles, leg exercises can be more taxing than most upper-body moves.

Worst of all, when your wheels do finally appear to grow, they’re hidden under jeans for 90% of the year. Great!

With so many persuasive reasons to skip leg day, why bother at all? Well, since you have asked...

1. Why Are Training Legs So Important?

Leg exercises are designed to target some of your body's major muscles, the most important of which are your glutes, which are the foundations of your fitness. Leg training increases calorie burn, increases T-levels, increases big lifts, improves mobility, and, of course, increases strength, power, and mass.

Leg workouts are extremely important for brain and nervous system health, even if you don't realize it. During weight-bearing exercise, your wheels send critical signals to the brain that aid in the production of neural cells (which are necessary for dealing with stress and responding to obstacles).

2. Why Shouldn’t You Skip Leg Day?

On the other hand, skipping leg days too often can leave you imbalanced and vulnerable to injury.

Do you require some persuasion? Consider this: single-leg exercises like the Bulgarian split squat, pistol squat, and single-leg curl described below will not only strengthen your legs but will also help you engage your core muscles and improve your balance. Moves like these are useful for rehabilitation if you're already injured because working one side of the body can stimulate the same muscles on the other side as well.

Whether you like it or not, leg day is here to stay, so you should take advantage of it. When it comes to boosting muscle size, switching up your workouts on a regular basis is just as effective as increasing the intensity of your workout.

3. Movement Pattern in an Effective Leg Workout

When it comes to designing an effective lower body workout, simple is better. The basic lower-body movements like squats, hip hinges (deadlifts), and lunges should comprise the majority of your routine.

Once you master the basic movements, there are multiple variations to make your workouts more effective and appealing. However, each exercise hits a specific muscle group at some particular angle. Most of the movements inherently focus on the major muscle groups of the legs, like glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves.

When designing a leg workout, here’s an easy way to break it down: Begin with the squat movement, then move to the deadlifts (hip hinge movement), and then add in your single-leg movements like curls and squats. 

4. How Many Reps and Sets Should You Do in Your Leg Workout?

General fitness is often the primary goal for most beginners. So, as a beginner, follow the theme of keeping things simple. Choose 3-5 reps for each exercise for a maximum of 3 sets. Don’t try to push your limits in your early workout days. Just wait, be consistent and determined, and gradually keep it up.

Make sure not to perform more than 5 exercises at the beginning level. Doing more than the recommended exercises will lead your muscles to fatigue but not to failure. It will also affect your muscle health and will not help with muscle growth at all.

In the beginning, finding the perfect angle should be your main focus. Work on it. After that, you should take a step ahead and keep it at the intermediate level, and so on and so forth.

5. How Many Times Per Week Should You Work Legs?

Looking into the formals and recent studies, it appears that there isn't much of a difference between training the major muscle groups one once per week versus three times per week when it comes to maximizing muscle growth.

Resistance training volume, or how many sets and reps you do, is what has the most impact on muscle growth. Working the same muscle area numerous times, a week produces better benefits than higher volume workouts (say, 3 sets of 12 reps or even 4 sets of 8 reps).

6. How to Warm-Up and Cool-Down Properly for Leg Workouts

An effective workout remains incomplete without a proper warm-up or cool-down.

Start with a 5-minute easy aerobic warm-up to get your heart rate up and blood flowing. If you have time, roll out your soft tissues for 5 minutes on the foam roller.

Then do leg swings, hip openers, body weight squats, and lunges as part of a dynamic stretching practice.

It's a good idea to do some additional in-depth stretching after your workout.

7. The Best 15 Best Leg Exercises

7.1. Sumo Squat


Why Perform: Upgrade your traditional squat routine with the sumo variation to give your hip abductors and adductors a blast. Squat deeper while using the sumo style to get flexibility benefits. The wider the stance, the lesser the distance to travel to reach parallel.

How to Perform:

  • Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart.
  • Holding a barbell across your upper back with an overhand grip.
  • Make sure not to bend your back, push your hips back, and bend your knees to lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Exert your heel into the floor to push yourself explosively back up to the start position.

Sets: 3

Repetitions: 6-8 reps

Rest: 1-minute

7.2. Barbell Front Squats


Why Perform: Do you enjoy squats? But are you tired of performing customarily? Because of the front-loaded barbell, the front squat is an excellent leg exercise for improving shoulder, ankle, and hip mobility. Your core will be firing to keep you upright and safe, as well as your back.

How to Perform:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, a barbell across your upper chest, and support it with your fingers, wrists outstretched, or by crossing your arms.
  • Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor, taking care not to arch your back. Push your hips back and bend your knees.
  • Push yourself back up to the start position by driving your heels into the floor.

Sets: 3

Repetitions: 10-12 reps

Rest: 1-minute

7.3. Bodyweight Split Squats


Why Perform: This exercise is a great tool for increasing balance, stability, and strength in your legs, especially your quadriceps and glutes, whether you use it as a pre-workout warm-up or as a home workout mainstay.

How to Perform:

  • Stagger your posture by placing your hands on your hips and taking a stride forward with your left leg.
  • Slowly lower your body to the lowest point possible.
  • Jump with enough effort to lift both feet off the floor when you've gotten as low as you can.
  • Land with your right leg in front of you.
  • For the duration of the time provided, alternate back and forth.

Sets: 3

Repetitions: 1-minute

Rest: 1-minute

7.4. Barbell Bulgarian Split Squat


Why Perform: This unilateral barbell exercise strengthens the quadriceps and glutes while also targeting the hamstrings. Placing a barbell against the back of your neck forces you to lean forward excessively. Instead, try front loading or side dumbbells.

How to Perform:

  • Hold a barbell over your upper back while you stand away from the bench. Place one leg on the back of the bench, laces down.
  • Squat down with your standing leg until your trailing leg's knee is close to the floor.
  • To get back to the starting position, push up via your front foot.

Sets: 3

Repetitions: 6-8 reps

Rest: 1-minute

7.5. Romanian Deadlifts


Why Perform: This exercise is an improved version of the standard deadlift that targets your glutes and hamstrings' superior end. The Romanian deadlift is a great way to increase your sprint speed and agility.

How to Perform:

  • Place yourself in front of a grounded barbell.
  • To grab it, slightly bend your knees while keeping your shin, back, and hips straight.
  • To lift the bar, thrust your hips forward without bending your back. From a standing position, lower the bar by bending your knees slightly.

Sets: 3

Repetitions: 6-8 reps

Rest: 1-minute

7.6. Barbell Side Lunge


Why Perform: Although very tight sidestepping techniques are a basic necessity in American football, basketball, skiing, and rugby, this version of lunges increases your athletic performance like running. If you're having trouble keeping your torso straight, consider putting a wedge under the bent leg's heel. This will allow for more upright posture by reducing the amount of hip flexion required.

How to Perform:

  • Hold a barbell on your back while standing with your legs under your hips.
  • Step out to the side with your right leg and bend your knee while maintaining your left leg straight.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat on the opposite side.

Sets: 3

Repetitions: 6-8 reps

Rest: 1-minute

7.7. Hip Thruster


Why Perform: Hip thrusts, more than any other workout, increase gluteal power. Your derriere may not be an aesthetic priority, but from a training standpoint, it should be. Weak glutes, on the other hand, might affect the movement mechanics of your entire leg, causing problems with your ankles and knee joints. Squeeze your glutes as hard as you can while maintaining the peak position for at least a split second.

How to Perform:

  • Create a 45-degree angle between yourself and the support by leaning the top of your back against a bench.
  • To lift the load, squeeze your glutes and core and elevate your hips until your back is straight and your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
  • Return to your starting position.

Sets: 3

Repetitions: 6-8 reps

Rest: 1-minute

7.8. Prowler Push


Why Perform: If you want to improve your endurance, power, or muscular function, the prowler sled is the way to go. There's a low chance of damage, and because the movement is concentric, you'll recover rapidly. Muscle soreness is primarily caused by eccentric movements, such as the lowering phase of a squat. As a result, a hard prowler push will recover faster than workouts like back squats or deadlifts. It's simple to progress: either increase the weight or push harder.

How to Perform:

  • Maintain a static straight line with your arms, neck, and back when pushing.
  • Only move your legs when walking forward.
  • To pull, grasp the sled handles with both hands, bend at the knees while keeping your back straight and upright, and take solid steps backward.

Sets: 4

Repetitions: 1-minute

Rest: 1-minute

7.9. Leg Extension


Why perform: This is a great exercise to train your quadriceps. This exercise helps protect the knees in old age. This ultimate quad-centric exercise is best to finish your leg workout.

How to Perform:

  • Sit on a leg extension machine with your ankles against the lower pad.
  • Use your quads to push forward and straighten your legs in front of you, then return to the starting position.

Sets: 3

Repetitions: 6-8 reps

Rest: 1-minute

7.10. Box Jumps


Why perform: If you intend to burn more fat, build functional muscle, and leave no muscle untorn after your leg workout, then it’s hard to beat box jumps in these regards. This intensive exercise will raise your heart rate while building stronger, more powerful glutes and quads.

How to Perform:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and set yourself at a comfortable distance from the box.
  • Quickly get into a quarter squat, swing your arms and explode upwards to jump onto the box.
  • Land as softly as possible and then step backward off the box under control.

Sets: 3

Repetitions: 40-seconds

Rest: 20-seconds

7.11. Barbell Box Step-Ups


Why Perform: If you want to take your lower-body workout to the next level, try this extensive leg exercise that will blow your muscles to the extreme. Box step-ups are an ideal exercise for boosting strength in the squat rack. It will help you to build ‘driving’ power to improve your strength from the bottom position of a back squat. Balancing the barbell while performing this exercise also challenges your core.

How to Perform:

  • Stand with a barbell on your shoulders behind your neck.
  • Place your right foot on the box or the elevated surface, lifting yourself by pushing through your heel, and place your left foot on the platform.
  • Step down backward with your right foot, concentrating on flexing your hips and the knee of your left leg.
  • Repeat all your reps with the left leg and then swap the legs.

Sets: 3

Repetitions: 6 reps

Rest: 1-minute (after completing a set with both legs)

7.12. Single-Leg Curl


Why Perform: A single-leg curl is the best leg exercise to bulletproof your knees and strengthen your hamstrings. Trying eccentric focused reps is a great way to perform this exercise – use both legs to perform the curl but use only one leg to return the weight back to the start. Doing this way allows you to overload each leg without risking injury.

How to Perform:

  • Lie face down on the leg curl machine with your thighs against the bench and your heels against the lower pad.
  • Bend one knee to pull the pad up toward your backside as far as possible, then return to the start position and repeat with the other leg.

Sets: 3

Repetitions: 6-8 reps

Rest: 1-minute

13. Single-Leg Deadlift


Why Perform: Unilateral exercises, like the single-leg deadlift, work with a balancing phenomenon that demands a min-muscle connection a little harder. However, your muscles activate faster to keep you from falling over, often called a faster rate of force production (RFD).

How to Perform:

  • Hold dumbbells in both hands in front of your thighs, palms facing inwards.
  • Slowly lift your right leg straight behind you while bending the left leg slightly.
  • Lean forward, lowering the dumbbells toward the floor.
  • Hold the position for seconds, then get back to the starting position.
  • After performing a demanding range of reps, swap legs.

Sets: 3

Repetitions: 6-8 reps

Rest: 1-minute

7.14. Sandbag Walking Lunge


Why Perform: Whether you admit it or not, sandbags prove themselves as useful equipment for workouts. There’s no denial of their effectiveness either; it is about martial arts like boxing, and simply for a bodybuilding regimen. Moreover, they help with excessive fat-burning and six-pack building.

As the sand moves around the bag, your stabilizing muscles will work harder to keep you upright as you move forward.

How to Perform:

  • Place a sandbag behind your neck, holding it with both hands.
  • Lunge forward as far as you can with your right leg while bending your knee so it almost touches the floor.
  • Utilize the heel of your right foot to push yourself off.
  • Repeat the same motion to perform the lunge with your left leg this time.

Sets: 3

Repetitions: 40-seconds

Rest: 40-seconds

7.15. Kettlebell Pistol Squat


Why Perform: This is a great single-leg exercise to challenge your hip mobility and stability, which helps you directly in daily life. The kettlebell pistol squat is an incredibly challenging lower-body workout that requires strength, dexterity, and balance in equal measures.

How to Perform:

  • Hold the kettlebell just under your shin with both hands.
  • Lift your right leg off the floor and squat down with your right leg.
  • Put force on the heel and bring yourself back up to a standing position without letting your leg touch the floor.
  • Lower your back down and repeat the motion.

Sets: 3

Repetitions: 6-8 reps

Rest: 1-minute

8. Takeaway

Although it is hard to bear the pain of pulled leg muscles after the workout, it is definitely worth it.  Stay consistent with your leg workout routine and do not skip any of the essential leg exercises to keep your gains.

Moreover, it is vital to make sure you possess proper workout equipment in your arsenal. Although, legs contain the biggest muscle group that needs a wide range of motion to be trained. To provide a complete range of motion to your legs during exercise try to wear a proper workout outfit, Shirt or workout shorts to not compromise the effectiveness of your lower-body workouts.

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