Don’t skip leg days. Not training your legs for any another reason than injury is just a huge mistake. Legs are the biggest and strongest muscles and are made up of three muscle groups: The quadriceps or frontal thigh muscles, the hamstrings or “biceps” on the rear of the upper leg and the calves on the lower leg.
Legs generally make up two-thirds of body weight. They are solid muscle, unlike the torso for example, that is an organ-filled hollow containing lots of air spaces. As large muscles, it requires a lot of exercise in order to get stronger legs.
Squats and deadlifts are not just for your legs but they work your whole body. These are exercises that increase the release of growth hormones and testosterone more than other exercises and can help to stimulate upper-body growth.
Quadriceps femoris, also known as quadriceps or quads, is a muscle group that is located on the front aspect of the tight. Quads are divided into four separated heads and they are:
outer side of the thigh (vastus medialis)
front of the thigh (vastus intermedius)
inner part (vastus lateralis)
middle of the thigh (rectus femoris)
In all simplicity, their main task is to extend the knee. Training your quads is a core of an effective leg workout, since compound exercises for your quads will target all of your major lower body muscles simultaneously.
Squats are one of the king exercises that you can do for your lower body and it’s a frequently used exercise in the field of strength and conditioning. Squats are a functional exercise, that can help your body to perform real-life activities, instead of just being able to operate different gym equipment.
Squats can be performed with barbells (preferred) or dumbbells or with devices like weight-loaded Smith machines. Squats can be done with the weight on your shoulders, or held at chest level in front. They may be performed with the heels elevated about two inches or flat-footed. Regardless of how they are performed, the legs should never be “locked out” when in the straight position, or the tension will be off the muscles. A bench may be used for some variations of squats, so that you may gauge the correct distance to go down, or you can just go until your butt hits your heels.
There are variations of squads and I’ll be talking about the differences of doing: front squat, low-bar squat and high-bar squat.
In low version, the bar sits further down atop the rear delts and you have very wide stance. Your body’s center of gravity slightly shifts, so you have to active your glutes more and your glutes take more of the workload. The low-bar allows the lifter handle more weight than other variants and has a longer range of motion. Because of this, the low-bar squat provides the most systemic stress.
High-bar squat in done by placing the bar atop the traps. Your knee angle is more closed at the bottom of the movement compared to the low version and the body stays more vertical, therefore, more of the work is done by your quads. If you are having problems with your shoulders or they are just tight, the high-bar squat maybe be a better choice than a low-bar squat. High-bar squat is the primary squat variant that most people use.
In the front squat, you are moving the bar from the back to the front of the body. The front squat is a good alternative for people that are not able to do a back squat. The front squat targets your quadriceps more than the back squat and are easier for your back and knees. Front squad allows most lifters to squat deeper more comfortably. With front squat, you have to go with lighter weights than with other variations.
Bulgarian split squat
Bulgarian split squat is a very athletic move that is a single leg movement and has a split stance. Good way to work your quads and glutes. If you are having problems with balancing weights with dumbbells try using a smith machine. Also, a “user-friendly” exercise and most people can execute it well. Many people at the gym struggle years after years how to squat correctly, and lots people never do. And there are just some people that aren’t made to squat. Some people can’t do squats because of their mobility restrictions and injuries, and Bulgarian split squat is a good replacement for those people.
Hamstrings are a muscle group that that respond best to heavy and explosive movements. The stronger your hamstrings are, the better your explosiveness, sprinting and jumping is. It’s a very important muscle for all athletes. The hamstring muscles are located in the back of the thigh and consist of three muscles:
Biceps femoris (long and short heads)
When these muscles work together they are primarily responsible for the flexion of the knee joint and assisting the extension of the thigh. Hamstrings are a knew flexors and hip extensors, but are also heavily involved in stabilizing the knee. When training the hamstrings, both hip extensor and knee flexor functions should be trained (straights leg movements and movements that flex the knee.)
For the knee flexor function this is the king exercise. This is a hamstring movement but it certainly targets also your glutes, lower back and your entire posterior chain The GHR will work both of the hamstrings two primary functions, knee flexion and hip extension, but will put greater emphasis on the knee flexion. The GHR is a difficult exercise in the beginning and most people at first perform this exercise with an arched back. This is not the same as the back extension and you want to keep your back in the same position for the whole movement. Try to maintain a straight line through the knee, hip, shoulder and your neck at all times. Imagine your body as long as possible and don’t let your hips shift back.
Deadlift is not only an exercise that targets your quads, glutes, abs and hamstrings, but it also hammers mass and thickness onto your upper and mid back. Deadlifts can really eat up your energy fast, and I prefer doing deadlifts first in my workout routine, as my energy is at its highest. But, some people prefer doing them the last, because they can eat all your energy so you won’t have energy to do the rest of your workout.
You might struggle if deadlifts should be done on the same day you do your legs, or on the day you do your back workout. In my opinion, it’s really what you prefer the most and it’s not wrong to do deadlifts on both days.
Read more about deadlifts here: http://honestmuscles.com/deadlifts
Glutes play a big part when it comes to hip extensions, hip abduction, hip external rotation and pelvic tilt. Glutes are needed when jumping, climbing, striking, swinging, turning, sprinting… in every form of sports. And when your glutes are weak and not doing their job, your posture, mobility, stability, strength and athletic performance suffer. Squats, deadlifts and lunges are good exercises that work your glutes, but they are not the best exercises for building bigger and stronger glutes.
Barbell hip thrust
Most of leg exercises workout glutes in one way or another, but if you really want to build your glute muscle size, some direct training is a must. Most leg exercises don’t allow for a full extension of your hip joint and that’s why hip thrust is a great exercise. Hip thrust is one the best direct glute exercise that there is available and it’s easy to learn. At first you might be little shy or embarrassed doing them because the movement mimics a humping motion. This is an exercise that you will see every day at the gym and there isn’t nothing to be shy about. Even if someone does look at you and gives you the weird look, remember that you are doing it for better good for your body.
The kneeling squat is a simplified version of the squat by limiting it to a one-joint movement. Some people can struggle with squats because of poor range of motion, but with kneeling squat you probably won’t have that problem. The kneeling squat can target your glutes more effectively than the normal squat can because you can use very heavy loads.
In calf development genetics play a big part, but it doesn’t mean that you can skip training them. Most people seem to workout out their calves same way year after year. Calves are stubborn and they won’t response to training very well. This is because we use them so much in everyday activities, that working out them at the gym has little effect on them. To get your calves grow, you need to train them often.
There are two main muscles in the calves: soleus and the gastrocnemius (lateral and medial head). The gastrocnemius is the most superficial muscle of the calf.
Soleus is mainly worked when your knee is bent. Soleus is slow-twitch dominant and thus, it should be trained with high reps. Gastrocs in other hand, are a fast-twitch dominant and you should be training with lower reps. If you are training and your legs are bent, you will only target your soleus, but with straight legs you are targeting both soleus and gastrocs.
Straight leg calf raise
When performing calf raises with straight legs you are targeting your gastrocnemius muscle. Whether you are doing a standing calf machine, squat machine, leg press or Smith machine you have to consider your knee angle and a straight leg position is crucial. The goal is to keep your knees straight, without distributing the workload too much to the soleus muscle located underneath. Don’t load too much weight and do bouncing movements with help of your knees, that will get you nowhere. With low reps, proper form and often trained, your gastrocs will give your calves thickness from the side and inside width.
Bent knee calf raise
With a bent knee calf raise, you are placing more emphasis on the soleus muscle since the knee bending relaxes the gastrocnemius. Bent knee calf raises are usually done in a seated position but can also done while standing. Try pointing your toes in different directions every now and then, so you can target your calves at different angles.
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