Best Leg Workouts to Build Muscle and Strength

Adding mass and size to any human muscle is not an easy task. It needs a lot of dedication, discipline, and strategies. You cannot get bulky Hamstrings like that of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in a day or two. Rather you have to learn to follow a set of rules and implement them in your next GYM session. You have to harness discipline in everything you do be it sleeping, eating or anything.

Not shying away to hit the most challenging leg workouts or add up the heaviest plates in your squat bar and continuing that for months or years can possibly lead you to have praiseworthy Quads.

There is a set of rules that you have to strictly follow if you want to add mass to your muscles. Not shying away to hit the most challenging leg workouts or add up the heaviest plates in your squat bar and continuing that for months or years can possibly lead you to have praiseworthy Quads.

You have to learn strategies like superset and dropsets plus try to hit quads from different angles maintaining high volume and training your muscles up to failure, forcing them to get bigger and thicker.

Banging the weight plates in the gym is, merely, not going to add up the muscle mass. It is essential to eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods with the right blend of proteins, carbs, and healthy fats to supply our body essential amino acids which help to build new muscle tissue after vigorous workouts.

Hence, let’s get further into our topic.

Here are the selected best leg workouts to build muscle in your leg which you also increase the lower body strength. Usually, it varies with person to person but most probably you will start seeing the transformation within yourself after the first 45-60 days of doing these workouts.

Best Leg Workouts For Mass

Barbell Squat

4 sets ( 6-8, 6-8, 8-10, 8-10 reps )

(Decrease the weight after your first 2 sets)

The squat and it’s variations such as high bar, low bar, front, overhead, etc have great significance in leg mass training programs. The squat targets these muscle groups mainly- quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, back, and core.

To build mass from barbell squats, there are a variety of working methods, from lower volume higher intensity training to moderate the intensity and higher volume training.

For those who have mastered the proper form in barbell squats, it is found that the benefits of doing heavy squats have even more effective potential to pack on more muscle mass.

From research, it is found that intense squat sessions promote testosterone release and HGH release in your body, which are vital for stimulating muscle growth and will aid in improving muscle mass when you train other muscles of your body.

So, perform 4 sets of intense but safe barbell squats to build mass in the leg and also to build up the strength.

Leg Press

4 sets of 8-10, 8-10, 10-12, 10-12 reps

(Alternate 2 different foot positions

Besides moves such as squats and lunges, Leg Press is a staple leg building workout for bodybuilders. Leg presses are very helpful when it comes to building lower-body muscles. That being said, simply supplementing leg presses into your workout routine doesn’t mean you’ll grow bigger quads.

On a leg press, the participation of stabilizing muscles like your glutes, core, and adductors are lower compared with a squat, says strength Coach Tim Fritz on the Muscle and Fitness website which implies that – with correct intensity and diet, leg presses can build your thighs and make your quads bigger. It is also likely to increase the muscles on the front of your thighs than the hamstrings at the back or the adductors on the inside.

The next thing to the intensity that matters the most is the number of reps you and it tells whether or not you build muscle. When aiming to add size, the majority of your sets need to be performed for around 6-12 reps with a weight heavy enough so you’re close to muscle failure within this rep range.

However, the aspiring bodybuilders looking to develop explosive thighs should train in this rep range and hit their legs with more volume and intensity.

Walking Lunges

3 sets of (10, 12, 14 steps-per-leg)

As a matter of fact, you might notice your thighs getting bigger from this exercise.

Performing Lunges require a great deal of control, form, and obviously the balance. Though the weight count is lesser than that you load on a leg press machine, your leg muscles work effectively and as harder while doing dumbbell Lunges. Doing lunges for higher repetition will help you boost your endurance and strength too.

This can also help with mass gaining. According to the American Council on Exercise, it’s not possible to spot reduce or lose fat specifically in your thighs. Strength-training exercises like lunges prevent the muscles in your thighs from atrophying and can increase the size of your thighs.

Dumbell Walking Lunges are a wondrous lower body exercise. Not only do they contribute to adding size to muscles, but they also prevent muscular imbalances (if any). Lunges are effective for the quads, hamstrings, calves, glutes, and the muscles that are even harder to hit like inner thigh (adductor muscles).

Walking lunges have no effect in the rear leg primarily. So, I recommend doing stationary lunges at regular intervals along with walking lunges.

Romanian Deadlift

3 sets of 8, 10, 12 reps

The Romanian Deadlift is a core training staple for developing proper hip health and joint actions, muscle growth (hypertrophy), strength, and muscular endurance. In this lift, your lower back, hamstrings, and glutes will all be activated due to which RDL is a perfect complement of your squats.

It works the entire posterior chain effectively and helps to build muscle mass in the posterior chain of the body.

The Romanian deadlift targets the hamstrings, which is helpful when it comes to increasing muscle mass (hypertrophy). Increased hamstring hypertrophy can lead to increased muscle size, strength, power application, and sports performance.

Not only building muscle mass, but RDL is also equally helpful to increase the strength of the posterior chain muscles, including the erector spinae, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and adductors. Doing RDL in proper form is an effective exercise that helps strengthen both the core and the lower body with one move. It also enhances dynamic flexibility, especially in your hamstrings and low back.

For getting the most benefit from doing RDL, make sure to feel the hamstrings being loaded during the eccentric aspect (lowering) of the lift to ensure proper mechanics and muscular development.

Lying Leg Curls

3 sets of 8, 10, 12 reps

It is obvious to everyone that knows lying leg curls are best for hamstrings but on varying the workout, you can hit a different part of the hamstring muscles. If you do leg curls, for example, with the toes pointed, you work more of the lower hamstrings above the knees. If you do leg curls with your feet pointing upwards—the regular way—you work more of the middle part of the hamstrings.

John Parrillo feels any muscle group can be more effectively trained by returning the weight to the starting point by pulling down with the opposing muscle group. On leg curls, don’t just slowly lower the weight down, “pull” the legs straight with the power of your quadriceps. This increases tension on the hamstrings before you begin your next repetition. And strong hamstrings are an essential part of a balanced anti-fragile physique.

As hamstring curl is an isolation exercise that targets the hamstrings muscles, while performing Lying leg curls always start with a lightweight rather than forcing your body to overcompensate by lifting the hips and flexing your lower back. This doesn’t isolate the calves and hamstrings and can also, cause injury to your back.

Make sure you select a weight with which you can do 8 to 12 repetitions with reasonable effort and good form.

Research suggests that the lying leg curl is better at activating the lower lateral and lower medial hamstrings and this exercise involves flexing the lower leg against resistance towards the buttocks.

Glute-Ham Raise

3 sets of 8, 10, 12 reps

If it’s hypertrophy that you’re after, GHRs are even more superior exercise to traditional leg curls because they work more muscles and put greater emphasis on the eccentric (negative) component of knee flexion.

As the hamstrings primarily contain fast-twitch muscles, they respond very well to eccentric overload. By changing the leverage during the exercise you increase the resistance during the eccentric phase, important for overloading the fast-twitch muscle fibers.

First, the GHR strengthens the hamstrings at both the knee and hip joint by working its two primary functions, knee flexion, and hip extension, simultaneously.

For lifters, it ought to be a staple because of its carryover into squats and deadlifts. And for athletes, it has the ability to improve sprinting and jumping due to the demands it places on specific muscles, like the hamstrings. One of its other benefits is injury prevention, especially when it comes to hamstring strains and ACL injuries.

Standing Calf Raises

4 sets, 12, 12, 20, 20 reps

“Genetics and age can play a role in whether you get big calves from calf raise. If you have a small build and have trouble putting on muscle, your calves will be as stubborn in gaining muscle size as is the rest of your body,” says Bethany Kochan from Livestrong.

By addressing ankle instability and strengthening the calves (such as in standing calf raises), you can give competitors the ability to stabilize themselves in athletic, explosive, strength-based developments.

“Calves can be worked two to three times per week, as long as you’re giving the muscles a full two days of recovery between each workout.”, says Rogers from muscle and performance.

To get bigger calves, you need to increase the size of the muscle fibers in your calves or the number of fibers. Perform the correct amount of sets and repetitions with a heavy load to stimulate these changes and achieve muscle growth. The National Sports and Conditioning Association recommends three to six sets consisting of six to 12 repetitions. The weight needs to be heavy enough to perform within the recommended repetitions with proper form, but challenging enough to cause you to feel fatigued. The weight should be substantial enough to perform inside the recommended repetitions with the appropriate form, however challenging enough to make you feel exhausted. Rest about 30 to 90 seconds between each set.

To challenge the calf muscles, vary the sets and reps that you perform as well as the weight you lift. For example, do not perform six sets of 12 with 100 pounds every leg day. Your body will get used to the same workout very quickly.

Finishing Up

Like Joe Wuebben, Author at Onnit Academy says “ With this no-fibers-left-behind Mass building leg workout program, you’ll be hobbling your way to new growth in no time.”, I hope you will accompany this workout and acquire the maximum benefit from them.

Keep in mind that, apart from training consistently, which is a must, eat a diet that is propitious to muscle growth to add lean muscle to your lower body.

Aaron Reiner

Aaron is a fitness blogger, founder & editor of Prosfitness. He has been lifting weights & writing about fitness for over 3 years. He has been a contributor for several health and fitness publications.

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