Legs are one of the most difficult parts of the body to bulk up. Even if you commit to a regular workout routine, they can be stubborn and remain slim, or what is referred to as chicken legs, while your arms, abs, and upper body have all become ripped.
What should you do to see the same positive changes in your legs? Should you spend more hours training your legs? How do you get your friends to stop harping about you skipping leg day and all that? What tips and tricks on leg exercises are you missing out on?
To start your leg training, it is important that you understand that you have to dedicate time and effort for each leg individually to see your desired results. This ensures that muscle development and stabilization in each leg occur equally. Also, you have to understand that starting slow is okay. A beginner-level leg workout in which load and intensity are managed is key to efficiently enhance your leg power and strength, and avoid injuries and other complications.
The following are great leg exercises for beginners to try:
This exercise encourages your legs to work independently. To do it, you start by standing straight, with your feet together and your hands on your hips. Then, slowly lower your body by bringing your left knee down to the floor, as you bend your right knee to form a 90-degree angle with the floor. Make sure that your shoulders are pulled back, your chest is up and out, and your back straight. Stay in that position for a few seconds. Go back to standing position, and then try with the other leg.
After a few days, you can increase the difficulty level by holding dumbbells in each hand.
This exercise not only helps build your leg muscles but also improves your balance and core strength. To do it, you should have a step, box, or ledge about 6 to 12 inches high. Start by standing straight in front of the step. Then, raise your right foot to place it on the step, and then bring your left on the step as well, like you are climbing up a stair. Then, step down the step with your right foot first, followed by your left. Repeat.
If you want to be challenged more, you can hold dumbbells or walk up and down the step at a faster pace.
Swiss ball hamstring curl
This exercise is greatly beneficial to the hamstring, reducing the risk of cramps and other hamstring injuries. To do it, you need a Swiss ball. Start by lying on the floor, with both of your feet up on the Swiss ball. Keep your arms straight on the floor. Then, pull the ball towards you by digging your heels into it and using your hips. Push the ball back out away from you using your heels and hips again. Repeat.
Banded lateral walk
This exercise works on your lateral stability, which strengthens your lifting power and reduces the risk of injury. To do it, you need a resistance band. Start by stepping in the band and placing it just below your hamstrings. Squat a little bit as you make a large step with your right foot to create tension on the resistance band. Take another large step, this time using your left foot, and feel the tension of the resistance band once again. Repeat.
This exercise builds your calf muscles and strengthens your Achilles tendon. To do it, you do not need any special type of equipment. Just stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, making sure that your back is straight and your shoulders pulled back. Slowly rise up by placing your weight on your toes, like when you tiptoe, and then slowly get back down. Repeat.
This exercise works on your hamstrings and glutes, lowering their risk of injury, and also strengthens your back. To do it, lie down on the floor, with your back straight, knees bent, and arms and feet flat. Push your hips up by digging into your heels, squeezing your glutes in the process. Go as high as you can, and remain in that position for a couple of seconds. Then, slowly lower your body down. Repeat.
This exercise is good for your thighs, hamstrings, calves, and glutes, and can also enhance your stamina, balance, and endurance. To do it, start in a squatting position, with your feet about hip-width apart and your thighs parallel to the ground. Then, jump as high as you can. As you go back down, let your knees bend 45-degrees and remain in a deep squat position for a second. Repeat.
Single-leg hip raise
This exercise works on the hip and leg muscles. To do it, lie down on the floor, with your left knee bent and left foot flat on the floor. Raise your right leg, making sure that it is straight all the time until it forms a straight line with your left thigh. Use the power in your hips, lower back, and glutes to remain in that position for a few seconds. Then, slowly bring your right leg down. Repeat using your left leg.
Leg workout tips
To prevent injuries, the following are some precautionary measures that you have to observe before, during, and after training your legs:
♦ Remember to hydrate
Make sure to drink water before, during, after your exercise to minimize soreness and aching, and avoid cramps. If you are unable to replenish the fluids lost by your body during training, you may experience a variety of signs and symptoms of dehydration, such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
♦ Do some stretching
Before getting into your leg training, do about three minutes of leg stretch exercises. You have to loosen up any tightness in your leg muscles to lower the risk of injuries. Some good leg stretching exercises are quad stretch and calf stretch.
♦ Do not overdo it
You should not force yourself to workout several hours every day of the week, as this only makes you prone to injuries. You have to understand that impatience gets you nowhere and that it takes time to see the results.