5 Best Leg Exercises – The Beginner’s Guide

A Beginner’s Guide to the 5 Best Leg Exercises For Muscle Building

What builds your physique is the hardest part to train. In this article, I will talk about the 5 best leg exercises which you can do to build your leg muscles.

best-leg-exercises

That doesn’t kills you, only makes your stronger!

As rightly said, that doesn’t kill you, can only make you stronger.

Leg day is one of those training days when you think that it will kill you, but it only adds to the benefit. Leg training makes you stronger.

Here I am going to discuss the 5 best leg exercises which will help you to add some mesmerizing muscle mass in your legs. Before starting out, let me clear out that this guide will only focus on some great multi-joint exercises which are great for muscle building.

Even if you wanted to see, the leg extensions and curls didn’t make the list. They are great if you perform at the end of the workout. But they are single-joint exercises and don’t deliver many benefits as compared to the multi-joint exercises.

This guide will mainly focus on multi-joint exercises. Multi-joint exercises release more testosterone and more growth hormones.

Leg Day includes more muscle involvement than any other muscle group. When we train our legs, there are mainly 4 muscle groups that come into play.

  • The Quads-  4 muscles
  • The Hamstrings- 3 muscles
  • The Glutes- 3 muscles
  • The Calves- 2 muscles

Like we talked about the best chest and back exercises before, this guide includes exercises which are proven to deliver maximum muscle growth to your body by working on your muscles to the maximum level.

Before you start, remember that only choosing the correct exercise won’t get you at the top. A combination of correct weights and the correct number of sets will maximize your muscle growth. Starting your leg workout with the most challenging exercise is always the best way to pull off a great workout. It will benefit you as you will start with the exercise that will allow you to push the most weight.

But before we start, I want to show you the importance of training our legs.

Many of the guys skip their leg training because they are of the importance and the benefits leg training has to offer.

So why leg training is so important?

Importance of Training Legs

The advantage of training the leg is that it can give a serious boost to the muscle growth of your upper-body.

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During your leg workout, your major and large muscle groups in your body get stimulated. This puts your body in a metabolic state which is helpful in building muscle in the body.

You can still build muscle in your body without training your legs. But the advantage of training the legs is that it will lead to faster muscle growth with better results.

As you know muscle growth occurs by the break down of muscle fibers through putting stress on that muscle.

Now here comes the satellite cells which helps in repairing the breakdown areas which makes the muscle much thicker. There are some specific hormones in our body which triggers the activation of these satellite cells which helps in muscle growth.

More stress in the large muscles results in releasing these hormones in greater quantity.

The leg muscles are the large muscles in our body. Heavy resistance training of leg muscles does trigger more growth hormones and testosterone in our body. These hormones and testosterone benefits with more muscle growth all over the body.

This leg workout guide can easily include 10-15 exercises which will hit the legs muscles from all the angles. But I tried to keep it short by including only 5 exercises that are enough to make your legs grow.

So, without wasting anymore moment let us hop into the details of these 5 best leg exercises which plays a great role in muscle-building.

5 Best Leg Exercises For Muscle-Building

1. Barbell Squats

With No Suprise.

Squats are the best leg exercise you can perform for overall size, strength, and muscle-building.

Hands down!

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Squats are known as the king of all the leg exercises because it is the most challenging leg movement you can do. Squats work on all the lower-body muscles including the glutes muscle too. This exercise can also result in spiking the release of muscle-building hormone all over the body.

Your arm strength will increase if you perform squats before doing any kind of curling or extension exercise.

Many people think that squats are only effective for your legs, but actually, it is much more than that. When you squat, all muscle groups in your body gets engaged to expect the chest muscle.

There are many types of squats exercises you can perform. But the variation of squats I am talking about here is the Barbell Back Squats. The Barbell Back Squats also has its own variations like the high bar squat and the low bar squat.

High Bar squats are used by the bodybuilders where the bar sits atop the trap muscle. Whereas the low bar squat is used by the powerlifters where the barbell sits a bit low at the delts muscle.

The low barbell squats allow the glutes to take most of the load which will help you in lifting more weights.

These two variations are totally different from one another.

But in all variations, there are certain factors which determine the depth of your squats. You have to keep your spine in a neutral position, you have to keep your hip flexors and as well as your calves tight.

If you have a problem of arching your lower back while performing the squats then I would suggest you not to perform with heavy weights. Rounding your lower backs while you are using heavy weights can cause serious injuries to your discs.

The position of this exercise

Consider doing squats as the first exercise in your legs training day. Warm up by doing some lightweight sets of this movement.

I would not recommend doing squats later in your workout. Your leg muscle mainly your quads will be highly stressed out and you will also have a difficult time in maintaining a good form. This will make you sacrifice some weight from the bar.

Do 3 sets of 6-8 reps.

2. Barbell Front Squats

Yes, Squats do builds a great butt. I agree!

But what about the quads?

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Some individuals need some help in building their quads. The Barbell Front Squats is the best exercise if you want to target the quads muscle.

All that change in the relative amount of muscle loading occurs just by shifting the bar from the back to the front of the shoulders.

Barbell Front Squats totally works on the quads muscle. In this variation of the exercise, you may have to sacrifice some weights as compared to the barbell back squats.

If you want to increase the leg, back, and core strength, the barbell back squats and the front squats, both are great exercises.

But the barbell front squats require a serious upper back and core strength to maintain the neutral spine position. If you are able to perform it with neutral spine than only you will be able to load up the weights and increase the intensity.

Also, with the barbell front squat, any risk of having a lower back injury will decrease if you can maintain a  vertical position.

The position of this exercise

You cannot perform both the front and the back squats at the same training day. Even if you are planning to do it, you will need a high amount of energy to do so. So replacing the front squats with the back squats will be a better option.

This is because, in the beginning, your energy levels will always be at the peak.

Your holding position of the bar for the exercise will matter the most. There are basically two holding positions- the front rack position and the arms crossed position. I would prefer the arms crossed position because it is easy. And the front rack position puts a lot of unwanted pressure on your wrist joints.

Do 3 sets of 6-8 reps.

3. Hack Squats

Hack Squat is one of the best variations of squats. It can surely be considered as one of the best leg exercises to build some nice muscle mass.

best-leg-exercises-hack-squat

Hack Squat is a great example of a mid-workout exercise. This is because it can serve as a link between squats and other major leg exercises like the leg press and the dumbbell lunges.

The main targetted areas are the quads and the glutes muscle, it also targets the hamstrings as the secondary muscle.

The hack squats cannot be a replacement of the regular squats but this exercise surely has its own benefits. One of the benefits of the hack squat is that you can change your foot placement in this exercise.

If you place your foot high, you will descend yourself further and target your glutes as your primary muscle. While a lower placement of your foot will target your quads as the primary muscle.

The hack squat machine is known as the safest version of the squat as the machine allows you to use some heavy weights without sacrificing your form.

When you are performing the hack squat, your back is well supported to the machine and that makes the hack squat a very safe alternative to the regular squats.

The position of this exercise

Hack Squats can be done after you have completed your squats. As I said earlier, it works as a link between squats and other major leg exercises.

So it will be a good choice if you place this exercise just right after your squats and before your lunges.

Do 3 sets of 10-12 reps with moderate weight. Do not go much heavy on these as because your legs will already be fatigued.

4. Bulgarian Split Squats

Bulgarian Split Squats is clearly one of the best leg exercises that you should surely have in your workout routine at least once in a week. But it is also one of the most difficult exercises to execute.

best-leg-exercises-bulgarian-split-squat

This exercise mainly targets the quadriceps and the glutes muscle.

It is difficult because of the reason that you have to train one side at a time.

I don’t exactly know why this exercise is named as ‘Bulgarian’. Maybe the Bulgarian athletes used to do this exercise to increase their leg strength. Or maybe not!

But this exercise is surely a split squat, but when you perform this exercise, your rear leg is elevated in a bench or a platform which forces your front leg to pick all the workload during the exercise.

The best way you can do this exercise is on a smith machine. Smith Machine makes it much safer and you can well balance yourself while doing this exercise.

if you are doing this exercise in the correct way and with the correct form then this exercise can be devastating to your quads.

Even some research also suggests that Bulgarian Split Squats aren’t too different from the regular squats. If you do 3 sets of 10-12 reps max, you will get the same benefits as the regular squats.

Both the Bulgarian Split Squats and the regular squats release an equal amount of testosterone in the body.

The reason this exercise is so useful to your quads is that it focuses on each leg individually. This allows you to pay full attention to each leg. This will help you find out if you have any weaker leg. Simply saying, in this exercise any weakness in your strength or any weaker side will come out and you can focus on that part more.

The position of this exercise

This is a movement where you cannot use much weight so it will be better if you place this exercise in the middle of your workout. You can do this workout after your multi-joint exercises.

As you are not going much heavy on this workout, try to hit a rep range of 8-12 reps per leg.

Do 4 sets of 8-12 reps per leg.

5. Leg Press

Leg Press is another best leg exercise that you can do. But if you are thinking that this movement is as effective as the squats, then maybe you are wrong.

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Image Credit: muscleandperformance.com

Even if it is considered as one of the best leg exercises but it is nowhere near the squats as it recruits less muscle mass than squats. It boosts less amount of testosterone as compared to the squats.

but one benefit of the leg press is that like the hack squats you can freely use different foot positions. It will effectively allow you to focus on particularly targetted muscle parts like the teardrop and the outer thighs by placing your feet on different positions.

Be careful when you are performing this movement. Never lower the sled too far. It will lift your butt automatically from the pad which will make your spine curl. Round lower back will cause a risk of injury.

The position of this exercise

This exercise can be done in the middle portion of the workout or at the end of the workout with some intensity boosting techniques like the drop set or the forced reps.

Do 4 set of 8-12 reps.

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