What’s the point of working on your legs? No one cares about legs, right? Wrong. The biggest muscles in your body are in your legs and backside (glutes). In fact, these areas contain half of your total muscle mass, but do you give them half of your workout time? Too many gym-goers relegate legs to occasional workout sessions, which explains why you see so many embarassing chicken legs on the beach. But what’s the point of having bulging biceps and a huge chest if they’re perched atop a pair of sparrow stalks? Your bum is equally important – a Men’s Fitness survey discovered that’s the part of a man that women most liked to stare at, so you’ve no excuse for ignoring your glutes either.
What’s more, if you want to build big muscles in your upper half, you need to work the muscles of your lower half. The reason is that the leg muscles are so large that training them creates a huge hormonal surge in your body that affects all your muscles, which means doing squats can actually help you to build your biceps.
The main muscles on the front of your thighs are the quadriceps. As the name suggests, they are made up of four heads that help to straighten your knee and stabilise your kneecap. On the back of your thighs the hamstrings are mainly concerned with extending your hips and flexing your knee. Together, your quads and hams work with your glutes every time you go from a sitting to a standing position.
To build muscle mass on your legs, no exercise is more effective than the squat. This move forces you to move heavy weights while stabilising your body and involves a huge number of lower-body muscle fibres. For many people the squat can seem tricky, but it’s worth practising to ensure perfect form. Once you’ve got it down, it will form the cornerstone of your muscle-building workouts. Using a Smith machine can help to stabilise your body if you are worried about maintaining good form with heavy weights, but it should not be seen as a replacement for good squat technique.
Having said that, you should do as wide a variety of leg exercises as possible to keep your muscles guessing – and growing. With that in mind, here are ten moves that will help you get muscly legs and a tight derriere. We’ve also come up with variations of each to stop you getting bored.
Quads, glutes, hamstrings: Squat Quads: Smith squat Quads: Front squat Glutes, quads: Dumb-bell step-up Quads, hamstrings, glutes: Lunge Adductors (inner thighs): Lateral lunge Quads, glutes: Bulgarian split squat Hamstrings: Romanian deadlift Hamstrings: gym ball leg curl Calves: Standing calf raise
That’s your lower-body sorted, but what about working out what’s up top? Here are all the arms exercises and chest exercises you’ll ever need.