It’s important to have a well-rounded exercise routine where you work every part of your body. Having strong legs is important because they have a direct impact on other parts of your body. For example, if you have tight or weak hamstrings, you will most likely also suffer from lower back pain since those muscles are connected.
But with there being multiple muscles in your legs, calf, hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes it can be confusing to know which leg exercises will work each muscle. But with these leg exercises mixed into your routine, you will start to notice a difference in your strength and endurance in no time. A good routine will have you going for 3 sets of each exercise for either 15 reps or for a certain length of time.
1. Wall Sits
Wall sits are a great way to work several muscles within your legs. As a different variation of a squat exercise, it works your glutes, calves, and quads. To start, find a sturdy wall and lower yourself into a sitting position, where your legs are at a 90-degree angle.
This will also not only work on strengthening the muscles but also work on your muscle endurance which is just as important. For beginners, start by holding for 20 seconds and working your way up to longer times. To increase the difficulty you can place a dumbbell or plate on your legs.
2. Sumo Squats
Sumo squats are another great leg exercise that also works your glutes. It is another variation of the squat but this variation has your toes pointed out instead of straight forward and your legs are spread farther than hip-width apart.
This exercise will work a lot of muscles at once, your adductors, glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, and core muscles. You want to start with 3 sets at 15 reps each.
3. Side Planks
While side planks don’t target specific leg muscles like your calves or quads. it works other parts of the body that are directly connected to your leg muscles and can affect your progress on strengthing your legs.
While a regular plank will work more of your abdominal muscles, the side plank will work the hamstrings, gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and lower-back muscles. Strengthening these muscles will help prevent any injuries as you work out and go up in weight or workout duration for your legs. To make sure you are feeling the burn, you will start with 3 sets of 15 on each side.
4. Plie Squat Calf Raises
The plie squat with a calf raise is a great leg exercise to strengthen your glutes and calves. This exercise targets the muscles on the back of the lower legs and your calves, but due to the plie squat position you’re in, it also strengthens your glutes and inner thighs. Again you will want to start with 3 sets of 15.
5. Lateral Lunge
Lateral lunges are great leg exercises because it works every part of the leg. This side lunge target multiple muscle groups throughout your lower body, including your quadriceps, abductors, glutes, adductors, and hamstrings. It’s important for this exercise that you maintain a straight back and keep your chest up. You also don’t want to overextend your knee or step too far out and risk pulling your hamstring. For this exercise, you want to do 3 sets of 15 for each side.
6. Lateral Leg Raise
Lateral leg raises, also known as side leg lifts and side-lying leg lifts, are leg exercises that activate muscle groups throughout your body—including your glutes, core, hip flexors, hamstrings, and lower back muscles.
Lateral leg raises involve abducting, or pushing away, the leg from your midline. It’s a great and simple way to build strength in the outer thighs and the hip abductors, which include the gluteus medius and minimus. You can do it lying down or standing using just your body weight. You want to make sure that you have your leg as straight as possible for 3 sets of 15 on each side.
7. One-Legged Row
8. Bulgarian Split Squats
9. Reverse Hyperextension
This leg exercise will need exercise equipment to do but are important for strengthening the lower back and hamstrings. A reverse hyperextension machine aims to provide traction and decompression to the lower spine while strengthening a person’s back, hamstrings, and glutes. While this exercise is mostly used for its rehabilitation benefits, individuals may also use a reverse hyper for strengthening and training. Again going slow to ensure proper form, you will do 3 sets of 15.