Three exercises for better legs- It is becoming increasingly popular whether you are a guy or a girl to want a better set of legs from your time at the gym. For most guys this means big powerful legs and for the girls this usually means shapely toned legs without excessive muscle. If you aren't happy with your legs whether they are super skinny or lacking shape it's time to jump off the leg extension machine and start using exercises which develop a large proportion of the musculature of the leg.
We wanted to share three exercises for better legs that we use with clients daily without having to use tons of different exercises, because in reality most great sets of legs are built on the basics. If you can master and utilise these three exercises for better legs consistently, focusing on getting stronger or getting more reps with each your legs will develop, simple.
1) The Squat
What simple list of exercises for better legs would be complete withour mentioning the squat? The squat when used appropriately is a highly functional and challenging exercise for the whole body, not to mention one of the best overall developers of strong or shapely legs. If you are physically able to squat then the benefits are huge for your whole body and you should be using them as part of your lower body routine in some capacity. This doesn't mean everyone should be loading up heavy barbells for maximum strength, there are loads of squat varieties to suit people of all body types and experience levels. If you aren't sure which type of squat works for you or aren't sure of the technique speak to a professional! A bad squat isn't going to get you better legs, and it might injure you and stop all progress completely.
For beginners we highly recommend the goblet squat which requires hardly any equipment and when used properly reinforces proper squat technique as well as increases the mobility needed for other squat variations. Use squats once or twice a week and keep them light if you are just starting out with the focus on correct form, keeping the weight under control is what is going to give you a better set of legs and you can add weight over time as strength improves.
Try 3-4 sets of squats in the 8-10 rep range once or twice a week your the first 4-6 weeks of your leg training before moving on to more advanced rep ranges, you can expect to see development in you quads, glutes, and even hamstrings when using this all round leg developer. It shouldnt be overlooked.
2) The Walking or Split Lunge
If there was an exercise which we would account for the sorest legs we have ever had after a leg workout it would be the walking lunge. Simply taking a set of moderately heavy dumbells or kettlebells for a length of walking lunges with good technique can revolutionize the shape of your legs and leave them sore for days! Not only does the walking lunge develop your quads, it hammers the posterior (back) part of your legs too meaning your hamstrings and glutes get great stimulation as well. If this wasn't enough the walking lunge challenges the core in a way not many other exercises will do due to the need to stabilise constantly as you take steps and the need to keep the chest upright resisting the pull towards the floor the weight provides.
All round the walking lunge is a fantastic exercise for better legs IF you are capable of performing it correctly. This means you have the core stability required to protect your back from injury, and the mobility and motor patterns to keep the lunge as safe and effective as possible. If this isn't you or you aren't sure we always progress clients from a form of fixed position lunge such as the split lunge where you can build the co-ordination and core strength that will mean you can use the walking lunge more effectively in the future.
Try 3-4 sets of 8 per leg of walking or split lunges once a week making sure you have control of your core throughout and you will see a change in your legs in no time.
3) The Deadlift
The deadlift is an often overlooked exercise for better legs with people over focusing on the quads rather than the legs as a whole including the hamstrings and glutes. There are tons of deadlift varieties which develop the legs in different ways as well as offering a whole host of other benefits to your body. These include core strengthening and toning, improved overall strength, and postural corrections. The type of deadlift you use will depend on your body type, experience level, and goal. Here is a list of deadlifts and the benefits they offer to the individual using them wanting to improve their legs!
Barbell Deadlift from the floor- Great all rounder developing glutes, hamstring, and quads.
Romanian (stiff legged) Deadlift- Fantastic hamstring and glute exercise
Sumo (wide stand narrow grip) Deadlift- Great for beginners and for targeting inner thigh muscles
Trap Bar Deadlift- Great for quad developement while still engaging hamstrings and glutes.
Which one of these deadlifts exercises you use for better legs depends on your goal and experience level, always seek the advice of a professional who can show you the correct technique if you are trying something for the first time because proper execution is everything! We recommend for complete beginners to use something like the Sumo Deadlift with a kettlebell which can auto teach some pretty good deadlift form to the novice lifter and still offers great benefits to the legs.
Try 3-4 sets of deadlifts with a focus on form rather than weight initially and only increase when you have full control of the movement you are trying. Progress slowly and you will be rewarded with great improvements in strength and development of the legs!
Bye, Bye, Skinny untoned legs
These exercises for better legs will help you change the shape of your legs permanently if you use them sensibly and consistently over time. Sure there are a ton of other more complicated and intricate leg exercises out there but for many these foundational lower body exercises will get you a lot of the way to where you want to be. Master the basic big 'bang for your buck' exercises and you will have a foundation to experiment and try different things int he future. But from one lifter to another let me tell you that we always return back to these classic leg developing exercises for better legs.