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The 5 Best Lower-Body Exercises to Bulk up Your Legs

Don't skip these exercises on leg day.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

If your goal is to bulk up your legs and sculpt lean muscle, a trainer reveals the best lower-body exercises you should dedicate your gym time to. After all, leg day is a crucial part of your routine, and building up this part of your body comes with plenty of health benefits.

According to Sunny Health & Fitness, increasing strength in your lower body can help you avoid injury, enhance your posture, and make daily activities such as walking, lunging, and running seamless tasks. A strong, adept lower body can also give your resting metabolism a boost. This will help speed up the calorie burn when you're resting, promoting weight loss.

We spoke with Tyler Read, the founder of and a personal trainer with experience in the health and fitness world for the past 15 years, who walks you through exactly how to bulk up your lower body. Every muscular build (or muscular-build-to-be) will appreciate these lower-body exercises to build bigger legs, so read on to learn all about Read's go-to recommendations. And next, don't miss 9 Best Exercises for Men To Get Bigger, Stronger Legs.


man demonstrating how to do squats lower-body exercises to build up legs

"If you want to build lower body muscle, squats or some variation are a must," Read tells us.

To perform this exercise, you can use a barbell or hold a dumbbell in each hand. Descend into a squat until your thighs reach a parallel position to the ground. Make sure your back doesn't round. Press through your feet to return to standing.


barbell deadlift illustration

"Some deadlift variation should be included for lower body training," Read explains. "I recommend using a barbell and performing Romanian deadlifts for the least impact and the best bang for your buck."

To perform deadlifts, you'll begin by holding the barbell up to your waist. Then, hinge at your waist to lower the barbell until it's slightly below your knees. Squeeze your buttocks as you return to the position you started in.

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man doing dumbbell exercises, reverse lunges at the gym

Lunges are a stellar exercise to train your balance and build muscle. "Additionally, since you are isolating one leg at a time, you can use less overall weight while still challenging the muscle to its maximal capacity," Read adds.

Start with walking lunges. You'll bring one leg forward "with a deep step," and bring your back knee toward the floor. Before your knee is able to touch the floor, press through your front foot to head back to the starting position.

Leg Press

leg press exercise to achieve a slim, toned body for good

"If you have access to a leg press at your gym, it is a great way to get some added volume on your legs, even if you are fatigued from heavy squats and deadlifts," Read explains.

When performing leg presses, position your feet a similar distance apart as you would when doing squats. Actively make sure your lower back doesn't round at the bottom during this exercise.

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Leg Extensions/Hamstring Curls

man doing leg extensions at the gym

Leg extensions/hamstring curls wrap up the best lower-body exercises to build bigger legs.

"Isolating your quads and hamstrings using the leg curl/extension machine is a great way to get that final pump out of your leg muscle fibers," Read tells us.

Your main focus should be a slow range of motion. To maximize your results, Read suggests performing each leg in isolation with a higher rep count (for example, 12 to 15 reps).

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa