Why Do Leg Workouts?
Our legs are the pillars of our strength. These large, intricate muscles effortlessly stabilize and carry our weight through virtually all of our day-to-day tasks. And yet, many of us fail to maximize our body’s potential for building lean muscle mass by engaging in effective leg workouts.
Importance of Leg Workouts
Since our leg muscles are by far the largest and most important muscles in our body, with respect to movement, stability and overall power, training these muscles to the max boosts our metabolism and helps stop diet plateaus by burning significantly more calories than any other form of exercise.
However, the most significant benefit of training leg muscles lies in the fact that, when pushed to the max, these mammoth muscles are capable of producing extraordinary amounts of growth hormones which circulate throughout our bodies and play a significant role in helping us increase the power, endurance and size of all of our major muscle groups, including those of our core and upper body.
You can find a printable version of this workout HERE
The Single Leg Bridge
This is an isometric exercise that works all of your core muscles (lower, middle and upper abs & back) as well as your leg muscles (glutes, quads & hamstrings). At first glance, the single leg bridge may appear simple but the key to this exercise’s effectiveness lies in its ability to lengthen and strengthen your muscle fibers by forcing them to contract to balance the body in this extremely unbalanced position. If you wish, you may increase the intensity of this position through the use of ankle weights.
The Outer Thigh Lift & The Inner Thigh Lift
The inner and outer thigh areas are at the top of most women’s list of “problem areas”. The following two videos demonstrate two extremely effective methods of isolating the upper regions of the quadriceps muscles. Besides isolating and toning the upper regions of the quadriceps, these two exercises are also extremely effective in strengthening the hips, which in turn help protect your knees against injury. This is especially true for women because, physiologically speaking, the width of women’s hips puts greater pressure on the knees thus making women’s knees more susceptible to injury. If you wish, you may increase the intensity of this exercise through the use of ankle weights.
The Dead Lift
The Dead Lift is a compound exercise that trains all of your legs’ major muscle groups as well as your core and forearm muscles, to a lesser degree. Performing this simple exercise is believed to be one of the fastest and most effective ways of increasing your overall lean muscle mass.
The Dumbbell Rear Lunge
The rear lunge targets the muscles of your lower body, especially your glutes and quadriceps. The majority of people, however, are more familiar with the front lunge than they are with the rear lunge. Though the front lunge is highly effective at isolating and training the quads and hamstrings, one of the major benefits of the rear lunge is that it does not put as much pressure on the front knee as lunges to the front do.
The Calf Raise
Calf raises strengthen and elongate your calves (the gastronemius and soleus muscles) which, in turn, increases your overall agility and speed. Most importantly, calf raises strengthen the joint around the ankle and make the ankle less susceptible to injury.
In the fitness industry, the squat is affectionately referred to as the king of all leg exercises. The squat’s effectiveness stems from the fact that this functional exercise mimics real life movements. This means that when performing the squat our muscles are forced to work as an integrated system in the same manner in which they are designed by nature to perform. Since the squat simultaneously works more muscle groups than any other form of bodyweight exercise, such as the core muscles for stabilization purposes, and specifically targets the quads, hamstrings and glutes, it is often referred to as a whole-body exercise.
The following videos demonstrate four of the most effective variations of the squat.
The Single Leg Squat
The Barbell Hack Squat
The Barbell Full Squat
The Sumo Squat