Skipping leg day may be tempting but think of it like this; strong legs not only look good but are also essential in maintaining a healthy routine life. Even if you don't run a marathon, you still need your legs for the simplest tasks in life. Sure, leg training is tough and leaves you sore for long, but imagine having to avoid shorts and skirts just because of those jiggly legs.
So let's not miss out on anything and set up a proper leg day routine by incorporating these simple yet best leg exercises. They are productive, beginner-friendly, and require no expensive gear. You can even do them in the comfort of your living room.
So let's get moving!
Benefits of Leg Workouts
Leg workouts are usually neglected because broader chests and bigger arms make a better show. Once you know the benefits of leg workouts, you will never want to ignore your lower body exercises.
1. Improve Athletic Performance
Leg exercises target all major muscle groups in your body, which means your athletic performance is increased manifold with exercises that strengthen every inch of your body.
2. Release Important Hormones
Cortisol dictates your body's response to stress and increases your fat metabolism. You will be happier and shed more weight with more cortisol in the system.
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3. Keep You Fit
Leg workouts help you stay fit by keeping the muscle cells more dominant in the lower body. If you keep your legs working and active, your legs stay toned and strong, with muscle ratio dominating the structure.
On the other hand, if you are lazy and haven't regularly performed leg exercises, your muscle cells will shrink and give way to fat cells. With more fat in the legs, you will look out of shape and unfit.
4. Improve Stability
Legs are the foundation on which your body is resting. A strong foundation is equivalent to a strong body. The only way to keep your legs strong is to keep moving them. The more you move your legs, the more muscles they build, bringing more strength and stability.
When your legs are more stable and muscular, you will have a better range of motion, coordination, and movement.
5. Strengthen Joints and Bones
Leg exercises increase muscle mass in the lower body, and that's great for your bones and joints. Muscle helps strengthen joints and bulk up bones. If you have a genetic tendency for arthritis and other joint issues like inflammation and pain, you might as well start leg workouts immediately.
With strong leg muscles, you will have strong leg bones and joints.
Best Leg Exercises
Below is a list of the best leg exercises that you can perform to beef up your legs for an active and healthy life.
1. Back Squats
Whether you're a beginner in fitness and exercises or a professional athlete, you must have heard about the renowned leg exercise squats. They are the simplest to do and offer so many benefits. Some professional athletes have even dubbed squats as the best all-rounder leg exercise.
Squats target multiple muscles of your lower body, including those in the hips, back, and ankles. Full back squats can help build the muscle mass of the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
- Stand straight with a distance between your legs slightly wider than your hips. Keep both arms at your sides and turn your toes slightly outwards.
- Next, with a straight back, put your weight on your heels and bend your knees slightly outwards while pushing your hips back.
- Your palms should meet in front of your chest while you bend your knees.
- You can bend as far as is easy for you or when your thighs become parallel to the floor.
2. Walking Lunges
Lunges are among the best leg exercises that help you improve your balance and mobility while strengthening your lower body and back. It is a popular exercise for losing weight and boosting metabolism. Do them while walking, and you are in for a challenge.
Walking lunges are great for boosting your body's mobility and toning your legs, hips, and back. They mainly target your hamstrings, quads, and glutes.
- With arms on your hips, stand straight with your feet side by side and a straight back.
- Take a big step with your left foot and bend your knees until your left thigh is parallel to the ground.
- Now, put your weight on your left foot's heel and stand up back straight.
- Continue the same steps with your right foot while moving forward.
3. Bodyweight Good Mornings
Just as the name suggests, this hip movement exercise is excellent to wake you up on a dull morning. Although advanced trainers use weights, Good Mornings are just as good with your body weight.
They warm up the body but are specifically suitable for your lower back, hips, and calves. Add a few reps of these in your exercise routine and watch your back and legs achieve fantastic form in a few weeks.
- Stand straight with your hands behind your back and feet at hip-width.
- Keep the knees soft and do a hinge movement at your hips, bending forward.
- Keep the legs and the back straight and stop when your upper body becomes parallel to the ground.
- You should feel the tension in your hamstrings. Come back to the original posture with a flat back.
4. Glute Bridge
The Glute Bridge is a potent and versatile exercise that helps strengthen your core and the entire posterior chain. It helps correct posture, minimize back pain, and improve overall mobility. It is suitable for working up all the involved muscles.
It doesn't matter if you are a novice in the fitness routine or an advanced trainer; this exercise benefits everyone. It requires no weights and needs you to lie on a flat surface.
The prime focus of glute bridges are the hamstrings and, of course, glutes.
- Lie straight on a flat surface with your knees bent upwards and your feet firmly on the ground at hip-width distance.
- Keep your arms on your sides with your palm on the ground.
- Now inhale, engage your core, and while putting pressure on your feet, thrust your pelvis up in the air.
- Hold for two seconds and then slowly release your glutes to return to the original laying down position.
5. Standing Calf Raise
Having sore legs after a gruesome session at the gym can be bittersweet, right? The pain is killing you, but you know your body is thanking you for it. One of those fruitful exercises is Calf Raise.
There are tons of benefits to this humble exercise. It stabilizes your ankle and feet, increases speed in runners, and improves knee joint health. Plus, it is the sweetest way of ending your extensive leg day on a productive note.
Gastrocnemius muscles that run down the legs and soleus muscles near the heels are the prime target muscles for Calf Raises.
- Stand straight near a wall. Keep your back straight and feet at a hip-width distance.
- Keep the hips, knees, and ankles in vertical alignment.
- Inhale and lift your heels in the air while keeping your core engaged. Take the heels as high as you can, maintaining balance on the toes and balls of your feet.
- Pause for two seconds and slowly lower your heels back to the original standing position.
6. Nordic Hamstring Curl
Nordic hamstring curl is a master hamstring blaster. With your feet tucked behind, your body lowered to the ground, and your knees flexed, you can expect all of the movement's pressure in your hamstrings.
It's a bodyweight exercise which means you can do it anywhere and without anyone's help. It's perfect for building muscles and preventing hamstring injuries.
Hamstrings are the primary targets in Nordic hamstring curls. However, all of your leg muscles are involved in this exercise.
- Anchor your feet underneath something firm like a loaded barbell, a bench, the legs of a cable machine, kneeling on an exercise mat.
- Extend your arms out in front of you, keep your torso straight, and bend at the knees
- Slowly lower yourself towards the floor. The lower you get, the more complex the move will feel as you're further from the anchor point.
- Support yourself with your hands, and push your body back up to the starting position.
If your legs are too sore from these exercises and your knees are too distressed, you can try DMoose compression knee sleeves for comfort and joint protection.
These knee sleeves do not just protect your knees from injuries and over-stretching; they do wonders for your legs too. By increasing and optimizing blood flow in the legs, they help you overcome post-workout exhaustion.
They reduce inflammation in the legs and protect the joint from unnecessary abrasion by supporting it with their tight stretch. In addition, they are comfortable, non-sweaty and very cozy. You will fall in love with the warm and snug feeling of these compression sleeves.
Ensures knee stability Optimizes the blood flow Prevents pain and injuries Improves knee flexibility Amazing Support & Stability The compression sleeve for the knee supports your knee instantly and relieves pain with less swelling, soreness, and stiffness.
The best leg exercises are easy to do and great for shaping your back, legs, and hips. They ensure that your legs are in perfect health as they are essential for maintaining a healthy body.
While starting any new exercise routine, make sure to take it slowly in the beginning with miniature sets and warm-ups and cool-downs in between. In case of any pains or injuries, consult a doctor quickly. Happy stretching!
- Lorenzetti, Silvio, et al. ‘How to Squat? Effects of Various Stance Widths, Foot Placement Angles and Level of Experience on Knee, Hip and Trunk Motion and Loading’. BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, vol. 10, July 2018, p. 14. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1186/s13102-018-0103-7.
- Thau, Lauren, et al. ‘Physiology, Cortisol’. StatPearls, StatPearls Publishing, 2022. PubMed, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538239/.