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The Best Exercises to Bulk up Your 'Chicken Legs,' Trainer Says

Say hello to strong, defined leg muscles.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Ensuring that your legs are in great shape is crucial in keeping your body strong, according to MedicineNet. Fortunately, you can give yourself a step up when it comes to gaining strength and building muscle in your legs by checking out these go-to moves from Allison Sizemore, certified sports nutritionist and online fitness coach with Couture Fitness & Lifestyle Coaching. Sizemore shares with us the best exercises for chicken legs that will help you bulk up. Say goodbye to your chicken legs, and hello to strong, toned, and defined legs.

Sizemore tells Eat This, Not That!, "There are several ways to build some great legs. However, doing hundreds of reps of lightweight or banded exercises [is simply] not going to get you the results you want. If you truly want to build a great lower body, you need to pick up some heavy weights."

Beyond that, Sizemore explains, "While some lighter exercises (ex. banded clamshells and lateral band walks) are great for strengthening specific glute muscles and preventing injuries and muscle imbalances, without the heavier exercises, you will never get the legs or glutes you are hoping for."

Instead, Sizemore suggests tackling the below exercises. She recommends performing them two times per week, aiming for three to four sets of eight to 15 reps for each. Keep reading to learn more, and next, don't miss You Won't Gain Muscle Mass if You Don't Do These Exercises, Trainer Says.

Goblet Squats

man demonstrating kettlebell goblet squat exercises for chicken legs

You're likely familiar with the standard squat. However, a goblet squat is a bit different.

Sizemore instructs you to begin with your feet a little more than hip-width distance apart. Position your toes so that they're facing slightly outward. Hold either a kettlebell or dumbbell in each of your hands, keeping them up against your chest, as you would if you were holding a goblet.

Once you're in the proper position, bend at the elbows until the weights are at mid-chest level. Next, press your hips back, and lower into a squat. Sizemore stresses to make sure your chest remains tall, keep your weight evenly distributed, and don't lean forward as you lower down. Then, press into your heels to come back up.

Barbell Squats

fit man performing barbell squats at gym

This next squat utilizes a barbell. Start by taking the barbell off the rack and letting it rest on the back part of your shoulder muscles. Once you're steady and comfortable, take two sizable steps back. Keep your feet around shoulder-width distance apart while slightly pointing your toes out.

In order to complete the movement, act as if you're about to sit down on a chair. While keeping your spine as straight as possible, let your hips drop down until they're around or just below the height of your knees. Let your heels take the bulk of your weight, then rise back up into the starting position.

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Split Squats

man performing dumbbell split squats

Are you ready for one more squat-based exercise that will target your legs? Of course you are! Next up, Sizemore suggests doing the split squat.

Take a good-sized step forward "as if performing a lunge." That means the heel of your back foot will end up off of the floor as you move. Aim to keep your back leg as straight as possible as you then lower yourself until your back knee gets close to the floor. From there, push yourself back up into the starting position. Continue on one side until you finish your reps before switching and doing the same prescribed reps on the opposite side.

Sumo Deadlifts

sumo deadlift exercise

Now that you're done with the various squat exercises, Sizemore says that it's time to take on the sumo deadlift. For this one, you'll need to work with the barbell once again.

Stand tall, place your feet shoulder-width apart, and turn your feet out to a 45-degree angle. The stance should be similar to how a sumo wrestler stands, hence the name. Granted, instead of taking on an opponent, you'll lower yourself down by bending at the hips and taking hold of the barbell on the ground. Sizemore adds an important tip: "Make sure your back is flat in this bottom position and be careful not to round it at any point during the exercise."

Next, push down on your heels as you lift the barbell and push your knees and hips up. Bring the barbell as high as your mid-thigh, and pull your shoulders back as you finish the lift. Maintaining proper form, lower the barbell down until it's on the ground.

Hill Walking

close-up man walking uphill, exercises for chicken legs

"This is a great low-impact way to get some movement in without being too intense (and triggering a cortisol increase)," Sizemore explains. Heading out for a walk in a hilly area will add a little extra challenge to this exercise. On top of that, Sizemore says it will really activate your glutes and calves.

When it comes to how much walking you should be doing, Sizemore recommends "trying to fit in 10k steps per day," although it really depends on your specific ability and goals.

Desirée O
Desirée O is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle, food, and nutrition news among other topics. Read more about Desirée