Nothing, absolutely nothing beats a pair of strong, sturdy and intimidating legs. They are the top priority of any fitness enthusiast. BUT, priorities don't become reality unless there is a smart strategy in front of you. You could be throbbing with enthusiasm and motivation, but if you don’t have a plan, you are planning to fail!
If you are absolutely serious about building legs that strike up envy in hearts, here is a collection of 15 precious leg exercises. These are the best ones for just about anyone because they require minimum equipment, are easy to execute, yet challenge the muscles like none else. With consistency, you can expect some pretty good results from this routine.
Read till the end to know all about the 15 best leg exercises.
15 Best Exercises for Strong Legs
There are numerous, in fact, uncountable number of leg exercises out there but one can’t do them all. So, here are the best ones for the serious minded.
1. Front Squat
The front squat is a weightlifting, powerlifting, and bodybuilding exercise for the quadriceps group. It's performed with the barbell on the front of the shoulders, hence the name "front barbell squat."
This exercise is distinguished from the back squat in that the barbell is placed on the anterior deltoids and held there with the palms facing forward (supinated grip). Another difference between these two squats is that greater knee flexion occurs in the front squatting motion.
The front squat requires more mobility than its posterior counterpart because of its demand for greater knee flexion. It also alters the centre of gravity and places more stress on the quadriceps, making it a favourite among bodybuilders.
- Place the barbell across the front of your shoulders and grip it with your palms facing forward.
- Keeping your feet shoulder-width apart, squat down by bending at your knees and hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Return to the starting position, extending your knees and hips until your legs are straight.
2. Bulgarian Split Squat
The Bulgarian split squat is a single-leg strength exercise that targets the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. It's a variation of the standard split squat and is often used as a replacement for the lunge in workout programs.
The Bulgarian split squat can be performed with dumbbells in each hand or a barbell across your back. It's a great exercise for building lower-body strength and can be incorporated into any leg workout.
- To perform the Bulgarian split squat, stand with your feet hip-width apart and place one foot behind you on an elevated surface (a step or bench).
- Lower your body down into a lunge position, keeping your front knee over your ankle.
- From here, drive through your front heel to return to the starting position.
- Repeat for 8-12 reps per side.
3. Goblet Squat
Goblet Squat is a great exercise for building lower body strength and developing power. Make sure to keep your chest up and back flat throughout the movement, and don't let your knees collapse inward. If you have any knee pain, try decreasing the depth of your squat or avoiding this exercise altogether.
- Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and your weight in your heels, holding the dumbbell with both hands in front of you.
- Lower your hips and butt down towards the floor, keeping your chest up and core engaged. ( the standard squat position)
- Once your thighs are parallel to the floor, drive through your heels to return to the starting position.
- Repeat 8-10 reps.
Related Article: 15 Common Squat Form Mistakes You Need to Avoid
4. Seated Calf Raise
Seated calf raises are a great way to build strength and size in your calves. The seated position allows you to keep good form and really focus on the working muscle.
- Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground, and your knees bent to 90 degrees.
- Place a weight on your thighs just above your knees and raise your heels, so you're standing on your toes.
- From here, simply raise your heels as high as possible before lowering them back down to the starting position.
- Be sure to keep good form throughout the exercise, and don't let your knees move forward past your toes.
- Perform 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps for best results.
5. Dumbbell Step Up
The Dumbbell Step up is a great exercise for working the quads, glutes, and hamstrings. It also helps to improve balance and coordination. The main benefit of this exercise is that it helps to build strength and power in the legs. This can help to improve your performance in activities such as running, jumping, and sprinting.
Additionally, the dumbbell step up can also help to tone the muscles in the legs and buttocks.
- Stand with a dumbbell in each hand, feet shoulder-width apart.
- Place your left foot on top of a bench or box.
- Keeping your core engaged, drive your left heel into the surface and raise your body up until both legs are straight.
- Reverse the motion, Step down and repeat on the other side.
The Deadlift is a compound movement that simultaneously works for several muscle groups in the legs, back and arms. It is an extremely effective exercise for building strength, size, explosiveness and power. It helps improve balance and coordination as well.
- Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed out slightly.
- Bend down and grab the barbell with your hands shoulder-width apart.
- Brace your core and lift the barbell up, keeping it close to your body as you stand tall.
- Reverse the motion and lower the barbell back to the ground under control.
- Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
NOTE: Keeping your back straight and core engaged does the trick for you in a deadlift. Also, keep the barbell close to your body as you lift it up.
Related Article: 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Lifting
7. Leg Press
The leg press works up several muscles in your legs simultaneously. It targets your quads, glutes, and hamstrings. It's a great exercise for building lower-body strength and size. The best part is that you can really load this exercise up with a lot of weight because of the external stability the machine provides you.
- Sit down on the machine and adjust the seat to your comfort preference.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart on the footplate, grab the handles and pull yourself down into the seat.
- Slowly press the foot plate away from you and disengage the safety locks.
- Bend your knees, allowing the foot plate to come towards you.
- Hit a depth that allows you maintain tension without your butt or back coming off the seat.
- Extend your legs until they are relatively straight, but your knees are NOT locked out.
- Repeat for desired number of reps.
8. Barbell Hip Thrust
The barbell hip thrustis a great exercise for building strength and size in your glutes and hamstrings. It's a variation of the traditional hip thrust that uses a barbell instead of just your bodyweight.
Barbell hip thrust builds strength and muscle in the glutes and hamstrings, improves joint function and reduces the risk of injury.
- Start by sitting on the floor with a bench behind you.
- Place a barbell across your hips, and then roll it back so that it's resting on your hips.
- Plant your feet firmly on the floor, and then drive through your heels to raise your hips up off the ground.
- Thrust your hips until your thighs and torso are in line with each other, and then hold for a count of two.
- Slowly lower your hips back to the starting position, and repeat for 10-12 reps.
9. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
The single-leg Romanian deadlift is a great exercise for building strength and stability in the hamstrings, glutes, and core. It can be done with either dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell.
- Start by standing on one leg with your knee slightly bent.
- Keeping your back straight, hinge at the waist and trace the weight(s) in straight line to where your shoelaces are tied (center of your body).
- Slowly lift the weight up to hip level, keeping your back flat and your core engaged.
- Lower the weight back down to the starting position and repeat for 8-10 reps before switching sides.
- To make the exercise more challenging, you can hold the weight in only one hand or place your free hand on your hip.
- You can also increase the weight as you get stronger.
10. Bodyweight Calf Raise
This is an isolation exercise for the calves that can be performed anywhere. It's super easy and requires absolutely no equipment, so you can do it anywhere, anytime. Bodyweight calf raise is an effective way to develop strength and endurance in the calves.
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward, and hands on the hips.
- Keeping the knees stationary, raise your heels, so you're standing on your toes.
- Reverse the motion by lowering your heels below the level of your toes.
- To make this exercise more challenging, place your feet on an elevated surface such as a step or weight plate.
11. Walking Lunge
Lunge walking is a great way to tone your legs and improve your mobility. This exercise helps to improve balance and coordination while also working the muscles in your legs and glutes. Additionally, lunge walking can help increase the range of motion in your hips and knees.
By incorporating this exercise into your workout routine, you can improve your overall fitness level and reduce your risk of injury.
- Begin in a split stance, with your right leg forward and left leg back, both bent at the knee so that your thighs are parallel to the ground.
- Inhale as you lunge forward with your right leg, keeping your torso upright and your left thigh parallel to the ground.
- As you lunge forward, exhale and reach your arms out to the sides at shoulder height.
- Pause when your right thigh is parallel to the ground, then inhale as you press off of your right foot to return to the starting position.
- Repeat on the other side, lunging forward with your left leg.
12. Glute Ham Raise (GHR)
The Glute Ham Raise (GHR) is a great exercise for helping to develop strong and powerful hamstrings. The GHR works by eccentrically loading the hamstrings, which are responsible for knee flexion, as well as concentrically contracting the glutes and lower back muscles to return to the starting position.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips.
- Bend at the hips and knees to lower your body down until your thighs are parallel with the ground.
- Raise your body back up to the starting position by extending at the hips and knees and squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
- Ensure a straight-back and engaged core for maximum benefit.
13. Pause Squat
Pause squatting is a type of squatting that involves pausing at the bottom of the squat for a brief period of time. This can be beneficial for a number of reasons, such as, increasing strength and power, improving technique and providing a mental break during a heavy set etc.
- To start, lower yourself into the bottom position of a squat and hold for 1-2 seconds.
- Be sure to keep your chest up and weight on your heels throughout the movement.
- You can then stand back up and repeat for the desired number of reps.
- Always start with lighter weights and work your way up as you get comfortable with the movement.
14. Reverse Lunge
Reverse lunges are a great way to build strength and stability in the legs and hips. They also challenge your balance and coordination. As such, they are an excellent exercise for athletes and fitness enthusiasts of all levels.
- The move is performed by taking a large step backwards instead of forwards.
- The rear leg should be bent at the knee, with the front foot remaining flat on the ground and the back heel elevated.
- Keeping your torso upright, lower your body until the back knee nearly touches the ground.
- Then drive through your front heel to return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
15. Cossack Squat
The Cossack Squat is a compound exercise that targets the quads, hamstrings, glutes, adductors and core. This move is perfect for experienced lifters who are looking to add some variety to their routine, as well as beginners who want to build strength and muscle. This movement is also great for improving lower body mobility.
- Start in a wide stance with your toes pointing forward.
- Hinge your right hip back and bend your right knee simultaneously.
- Keep your left leg straight the entire time.
- As you descend to the bottom position, allow your torso to fall forward slightly but maintain a braced core.
- Explode off of your right foot back to the top position.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Repeat for 8-12 repetitions.
Strong legs mean strong you. Legs are the foundation of your body, so keeping them strong is crucial. This article presents 15 easy-to-execute, simple and effective exercises that will help sculpt, tone and strengthen your legs doubtlessly. Consistency is the key, though. You do these for long enough, and there is no reason you won't have enviable legs.