The #1 Leg Workout To Build Up Your Muscle Mass
If your goal is to improve your leg muscles and strength, you've come to the right source. Eat This, Not That! spoke with Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM—a member of our Medical Expert Board and a certified personal trainer and nutrition coach who has helped develop the Body Program at Ro, who breaks down the ultimate leg workout to build muscle mass. You're in for a real treat—and legs of steel!
When talking about strengthening your legs, there are several muscle groups to consider: your hamstrings, glutes, calves, and quadriceps. Dr. Bohl tells us, "A more complete leg workout may also include the hip abductors and adductors, but if your primary goal is building muscle mass, the first four muscle groups are the ones to really focus on."
As you age, building and maintaining leg strength is essential. Just think about it—you use your leg muscles for walking, exercising, lifting, and completing daily tasks. Dr. Bohl explains, "Maintaining leg strength, therefore, can help with maintaining mobility into older age and can reduce the risk of falls and injury."
Your time spent at the gym is extremely valuable, so we're here with four exercises that will give you an excellent leg workout to build muscle mass. Keep reading to learn all about it, and next up, don't miss 5 Best Exercises To Maintain Lower-Body Strength as You Age.
1. Leg Extensions
Leg extensions will have you straightening your legs against resistance. "These work out the quadriceps, the muscles on the front of the thighs," Dr. Bohl says.
According to PureGym, make sure you're sitting with your back totally flat against the pad. Both knees should be bent to form 90-degree angles. Take hold of the bars on the side of the machine. Then, press your legs up against the resistance so they're totally extended. Remain in this position for a moment before squeezing your quads and bringing your legs back down to the start position.
2. Leg Flexion
For leg flexion, you will bend your knees against resistance. "The exercise works out the hamstrings, the muscles on the back of the thighs," Dr. Bohl points out.
If you're wondering about the difference between an extension and a flexion, a flexion decreases the angle that's formed between bones (ex. bending your leg), while an extension enlarges that angle and extends that joint, Samarpan Physiotherapy Clinic explains.
3. Leg Press
For this exercise, you will push your legs away from your body. A selectorized machine will have you assuming a seated position and requires you to push your legs against a plate, pushing the plate away horizontally. "The exercise targets the quadriceps and hamstrings but is also a great workout for the muscles of the buttocks (the glutes)," Dr. Bohl explains.
4. Calf Raises
Calf raises can be performed on a machine or by simply using the edge of a step, Dr. Bohl says. Both include pointing your toes, then relaxing. Dr. Bohl recommends doing eight to 12 reps for a great calf muscle workout.