Many gym goers, bodybuilders and those keen to work out their pectorals say that they find exercising their legs boring. It’s just not as fashionable to train the legs, and the results are not as noticeable.
However, people who spend a lot of time on their upper body and ignore their lower half generally don’t like the end results. And it’s not just about how you look. There is evidence to show that training your legs properly will give you overall benefits for building muscle. It heightens the release of testosterone and other growth hormones through the entire body, so training your legs helps the whole body.
Here are some ideas on how to train your legs in the same way as your torso.
1.Exercise using resistance bands
Resistance bands are cheap and effective. You can get a decent set for around ten pounds and it’s one of the best investments you’ll make. Loop the band around your ankles or just above or below the knees and work out against the added resistance.
The bands will help you target specific muscle groups, such as your abductors and glutes. These can be difficult to exercise effectively with squats and lunges.
2. Work out your backside
Strengthening your glutes is an essential part of leg day. In fact, strong glutes are as important for your legs as abs are for your upper body. Before you do any workout, or when you have some downtime at home, use your bands to grow your glutes.
You can do crab walks by wrapping the band below your knee, lowering into a half squat and stepping to the side. Lead with the knee, not the ankle. Or try donkey kicks with the band around your ankles. Hold on to a support and kick your leg straight back and out. Do three sets of 12 reps on either side.
3. Complete your reps quickly
Often when weightlifting, you must keep your exercises at a slow pace to keep your muscles under the necessary amounts of stress. This does apply to your abs and upper body, but when it comes to legs faster movements build muscle faster. Do as many reps as you can within two minutes, rest for a few seconds and then do a second set.
4. Cardio won’t directly affect your leg muscles
Although cardio exercises like running and cycling do use your leg muscles, and will strengthen them, they won’t make them grow any bigger. This is because cardio exercises use a lot of energy without straining the leg muscles enough to force them to grow. When you’ve got the leg size you want, then you can hit the cardio exercises.
5. Don’t forget the crucial hip muscles
You must stabilise the smaller hip muscles when working your legs. This will help you avoid injury and ensure your body is properly stable. If you aren’t working these muscles correctly then all of the other exercises you do are less effective. Include your inner thigh muscles (adductors) and outer thigh (abductors) in every exercise routine, and particularly before squatting and deadlifting.
6. Use isolation movements to define and tone your legs
In any gym you’ll find leg extension machines and leg curl machines, and they are ideal for isolating movements. Set the weight to medium resistance and do lots of reps to shape your quad and hamstrings.
7. Don’t leave out the calf muscles
Developing calf muscles is important to end up with thick, muscly but balanced legs. If you just concentrate on hamstrings and quads, then you run the risk of having disproportionate legs with very small calves.
Good exercises include standing with weights in each hand and your toes up on a block about three inches from the ground. Keep your heels on the floor and your hands down. Raise up onto your toes, stop where you are, and then slowly lower yourself down. Do three sets of 10 to 12 reps every time you work out your legs and you will end up with bigger calves.
About Surya Gabriel Iacono
Surya Iacono is a fitness and wellness expert and blogger based in London, UK. Surya’s fitness blogs are aimed at keen gym-goers and exercise fans already well into their journey and looking for tips, tricks and ideas to take it to the next level.