Lets face it…leg workouts are not on the top of everyone's 'to do list.' But as you know, spending time on your legs and getting them toned and defined improves your entire body image. So in order to amplify the strength and appearance of your leg and glute muscles, you should do the following exercises.
Try starting off with 2 sets of 10 reps for the weight workouts and 5-8 minutes of uphill walking/running; as you progress, you'll be able to handle more. And when you do these exercises, make sure to follow the suggestions given that will help your legs become even more powerful.
5 Powerful Workouts
1. Full Squats
A big reason why people don’t see the results they want from squats is because they’re not properly executing the workout. The mistake they’re making is not using the full movement, and only going down until their knees are parallel with their body or less. But unless you have knee problems, you should actually be going a little lower than parallel.
The reason why you need to go a couple inches past parallel at the bottom of a squat is because that’s when your glutes and hamstrings are activated. It contracts the muscles to their utmost tension and gets you the most out of the exercise. So if you’re knees are fine, you need to be going as far down as possible with your squats.
Once you’ve conquered the general squat, you are now able to try holding the pose for a second at the bottom of the squat before extending your body upwards. After you’ve successfully done this, you are able to try holding the pose a second time when you’re body is half way extended through the upwards movement. Of course doing this will intensify the workout so decreasing the total number of reps and the amount of weight is definitely acceptable.
2. One-Leg Barbell Squats
Another great exercise for legs and glutes is the one leg barbell squat, and it is very easy to perform. To start, grab some dumbbells and hold them at your sides, or hold a barbell across your back. Rest your left foot on a bench or anything sturdy behind you and at the same time you stand on the other foot. Gradually bend your right leg as you would for a squat going as low as you're able to and then extend your body back upward so that you're at the starting position again. After all the reps on your right leg are completed move on to the left leg, and repeat everything again to give your left leg a workout.
Keep in mind that the more distance you put between your standing foot and the resting foot, the more workout your hamstrings will get. To target your quads, hold your standing foot directly under you.
3. Uphill Walking or Running
There really isn't a better exercise out there for building leg strength than running or walking uphill. Of course if you're able to run uphill, you'll reap even more benefits. But whether you choose to run or walk uphill, the benefits will still be there and you'll be getting a cardio workout as well as working the hamstrings, quads, and glutes.
The reason why going uphill is so effective at building power in your legs is because you're forcing the body to progress on a slope. And you can't really simulate uphill training in the gym so your legs are being taxed in a totally different way.
When you're done with an uphill workout, be sure that you stretch the hamstring muscles out. If you don't stretch your hamstrings will become very stiff – especially if you're new to this type of workout.
4. Deadlifts with Feet Slightly Raised
To perform these deadlifts, find a slightly raised area like a board or a block to step on. Once you're on this raised area with the barbell on the floor in front of you, pick up the barbell and execute a normal deadlift (the difference is that you will be going a little lower when bringing the weight down).
By stepping onto a slightly raised surface like a board or a block, you add extra tension on the hamstring muscles and also add more intensity to the exercise. This helps a lot when going for the maximum strength development and will add more power in your legs.
However, if you're only starting out with leg exercises, being slightly raised isn't necessary because you need to start off with normal deadlifts first.
5. Dumbbell Step Ups
Stand with a bench in front of you while holding a barbell across your back or a set of dumbbells. Step up with your left leg, and then lift your right leg up to stand on the bench. Now that you're standing on the bench, step down with the left leg. Remember to switch legs when the set is finished to keep your tension balanced through both legs. This exercise will help advance the growth of the quads and it is also a nice combination with deadlifts.
All of these workouts are good exercises to use in the process of strength building and not to mention your total body image. Keep in mind that you can over-train if you use all of these exercises in a daily routine. Rotate them in and out every so often to gain the best results.
By Jeremy Olson