For years I headed to the gym and focused on every single body part but the legs. I hated working the legs because I hated how sore I was afterwards! I didn’t really start getting into leg workouts until I started P90X back in 2008, but since then I have worked hard and have kept on track with working them at least once a week. It’s probably the least enjoyable and popular muscle group to work out, but it’s also one of the most important. After following various workout programs over the past 5 years, I have discovered some of the best legs exercises out there, and that’s what I’m going to share with you!
Top 5 Best Leg Exercises
(1) Bulgarian Lunges. Oh man this one is a KILLER, but it’s also one of the most effective. When I think about the best legs exercises out there, this one definitely tops the list. So how do you do it? For this one you will need a bench or a chair and some free weights. I use the Powerblocks and highly recommend them to anyone looking for free weights because of how easy they are to interchange. Anyways, as you see in the picture to the right, you put one leg up on the bench, keep your chest up, and go straight down with the weights into a lunge and then back up, equaling one rep. The key here is to make sure your knee stays behind your toes when doing the lunge. This legs workout really works the quads and gluteus maximus (AKA your bum). Normally I will do 3 sets, 15, 12, and 8 reps, and increase in weight on each one until I end up with 55 lbs dumbbells. However, if you’re just starting, you will want to use MUCH lighter!
(2) 3 Way Weighted Standing Calf Raises. Now this involves 3 different moves, but they all work the calves, and are some of the best legs exercises. With this move, you will need free weights once again, and you stand up holding the weights and start out with both feet aiming outwards ( / ). You slowly raise your heels off the ground and stand up as high as you can go on the ball of your foot, and then slowly go back down. That equals one rep, and you can do as many reps as you’d like. Normally I will do 25-30 reps with 55 lbs dumbbells. After you do the first set, though, you are going to take a short 10-15 second break and do another set, but this time with your feet straight forward ( | | ). For the last set, you’re then going to face your feet inward ( / ). These are some of the best calf exercises that you will find!
(3) Dumbbell Squats. This is one of the most popular of the leg exercises that I’m listing, but also one of the most effective. It’s also one of the exercises that people injure themselves with because they don’t use proper form. When doing a dumbbell squat, you will have dumbbells in each hand, your legs about shoulder with apart, go straight down with the weights, keeping your chest and head up so that you’re looking straight forward. Keep your butt down, and once you get down to the ground (weights should be outside of your feet), you go straight up, using all legs and no back. You should NEVER bend your back when doing this exercise! The equals one rep, and I like to do 3 sets, 15, 12, and 8 reps.
(4) Front to Back Lunges. This is a great, but EXHAUSTING legs workout! Again, you will have dumbbells in each hand, preferably something light, and you do a front lunge, keeping your chest up, and then a back lunge with the same leg. This is one rep, and remember, make sure your knee is behind your toes on the front lunge! I like to do 2 sets of this, normally 12 and 10 reps, and once you get done with the first set, switch to the other leg. This is one of the best legs exercises that will absolutely destroy your legs (in a good way of course)!
(5) Weighted Wall Squats. Weighted wall squats might be a little ambitious for the beginner, but you experienced wall squatters can try this one out! Of course you don’t have to use any weights at all if you don’t want to. Anyways, what you do is find yourself a wall, lean up against it, and squat down to where your butt and your knees are completely even at 90 degrees. If you had a leveler, if you would set it on your thigh it should be completely even. Also, make sure your legs are about shoulder width apart. You’re going to hold this position for a certain amount of time, say 45 seconds. If you want, you can add in dumbbells to the equation, holding them out to your side. This definitely makes for a challenge! Wall squats are one of the best leg workouts out there.
It’s important to understand that I’m NOT a professional, so you will need to check with your doctor and/or a certified professional before doing any of these exercises. Also, make sure you watch videos on these exercises to make sure you’re using proper form. These exercises all come from popular programs like P90X and Body Beast, 2 of my favorite home workout programs! Right now I’m going through Body Beast, and my legs have never been stronger!