Why You Should Train Your Legs

Leg workout
(Image credit: Unknown)

What's the point of leg workouts? No one cares about legs, right? Wrong. The biggest muscles in your body are in your legs and backside (glutes). In fact, these areas contain half of your total muscle mass, but do you give them half of your workout time?

What's more, if you want to build big muscles in your upper half, you need to work the muscles of your lower half. The reason is that the leg muscles are so large that training them creates a huge hormonal surge in your body that affects all your muscles, which means doing squats can actually help you to build your biceps.

The Muscles In Your Legs

The main muscles on the front of your thighs are the quadriceps. As the name suggests, they are made up of four heads that help to straighten your knee and stabilise your kneecap. On the back of your thighs the hamstrings are mainly concerned with extending your hips and flexing your knee. Together, your quads and hams work with your glutes every time you go from a sitting to a standing position.

The Best Exercise To Train Your Legs Is…

To build muscle mass on your legs, no exercise is more effective than the squat. This move forces you to move heavy weights while stabilising your body and involves a huge number of lower-body muscle fibres. For many people the squat can seem tricky, but it's worth practising to ensure perfect form. Once you've got it down, it will form the cornerstone of your muscle-building workouts. Using a Smith machine can help to stabilise your body if you are worried about maintaining good form with heavy weights, but it should not be seen as a replacement for good squat technique.

But Don’t Stop There

Having said that, you should do as wide a variety of leg exercises as possible to keep your muscles guessing – and growing. With that in mind, here are 10 moves that will help you get muscly legs and a tight derriere. Each exercise includes variations to stop you getting bored.

  1. Barbell squat (quads, glutes, hamstrings)
  2. Smith squat (quads)
  3. Front squat (quads)
  4. Dumbbell step-up (glutes, quads)
  5. Lunge (quads, hamstrings, glutes)
  6. Lateral lunge (adductors [inner thighs]) 
  7. Bulgarian split squat (quads, glutes)
  8. Romanian deadlift (hamstrings)
  9. Gym ball leg curl (hamstrings)
  10. Standing calf raise (calves)
Joel Snape

From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.