Leg day is not exactly everyone’s favorite day. There is a mixture of cringe-worthy memories of legs that feel like jello, nausea and just plain discomfort in the lower half of the body. Although they make you go through hell, leg days are essential to the typical bodybuilder who’s trying to improve the quality of their legs and they have a variety of workouts to choose from depending on their needs. Although very varied, the squat which is deemed to be a staple in lower body workouts, is seen very much in the workout programs. So stay tuned…read on and discover the best lower body exercises for men.
Lower body goals include overall leg mass. This isn’t going to be easy, and it’s actually one of the most challenging but it will be worth it. When gaining mass, there are rules you have to get right if you want to achieve the best results. Mass-building comes with challenging exercises, working on the thighs from different angles, keeping the number of sets and reps high and training until you’re at the point of dropping.
Alter the way you place your foot in leg press, put your feet up higher on sled shifts and always remember to reach 90 degrees when doing the knee bend. Following a reverse-pyramid protocol, this means that you’ll be able to do more sets until muscle incapacity. It’s important to remember that as the repetition target increases, you have to lighten the load commensurately. Don’t worry if you need a lot of warm up reps but don’t overdo it. Choose wisely when choosing the weight because it has to allow you to reach muscle failure by the time you reach your target rep.
Another reason why leg day is important is for you to have better leg definition. If you’re here to be lean, light weights won’t make the cut even if you do more work and higher reps. The trick here is to keep your metabolism at its peak and to do that you’ll need a stimulus for strengthening and working those muscles. This eventually leads to boosting the number of calories you burn. To get your legs more defined, start with an exercise done straight-sets-style. In addition, you also have supersets that work multiple joints where you won’t get much rest and you focus on a lot of work in the gym. Although this is a muscle-building activity, taking minimal breaks and keeping the heart rate up makes it also a cardio activity.
There’s also the goal of being able to start strong. For this one, you’ll largely be dependent on machines. Start it off with complex multi joint movements that employ more muscle mass and you get longer breaks. This is a great way to control weight training especially for beginners. There’s a simple goblet version for learning to squat and it’s the go-to workout for the new ones. Focusing on learning and practicing movement patterns is the key in this work out and when you’re starting to better grasp it, you can start loading it with heavier weights and more complicated activities. As you’re approaching muscle failure, stop short a rep or two so you’ll keep your form in top shape.
Exercising your lower body emphasizes your quads. When doing multi joint movements, isolation isn’t an option but emphasis can be made one area over the next. To do this, you have to make the most of the motions of the knee joint but having to limit motions of the hip joint. It would be easy to achieve this just by exchanging the foot position on the machine. Front squats, compared to barbell back squats focus on the quads more because the center of gravity shifts in front. For this workout, you’ll be following a reverse-pyramid protocol which means more sets before you reach the limit of your muscles. Don’t forget to lighten the weight commensurately as the rep target increases.
Improving your glutes is also attainable when you constantly do leg day. To maximize your hip flexions, you have to choose exercises including foot positions that make the glutes go through the maximum possible motion. Even in descending you should go down fairly deep when you squat to maximize activation of your glutes. Like the previous one, this follows a reverse-pyramid protocol. You end with a Romanian deadlift for your hamstrings and it includes the upper region and glutes.
Having great hammies aren’t just for bragging, they also serve as support for your knees and joints. There is a whole family of workouts that you can do for your leg-curl activities and you can do them lying down to even using a bench. It is also recommended to do Romanians so you’ll work your hammies from the hip joint. Romanian deadlifts are usually confused with stiff-legged DLs. What makes it different is how the plates never touch the floor. It’s best for your upper hammies and their tie-in with the glutes. The key with RDLs is keeping the back straight and not having to do excessive motions. Some workouts affect other muscles such as when you squat deep and when you control the speed of going down you work your hammies too. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do hamstring-focused exercises. This workout uses a reverse-pyramid protocol which allows more sets until muscle failure. But as the reps increase, lessen the weight commensurately. Do the floor glute-ham raise at the end of the workout if you get fatigued easily.
With a single-joint movement, you get to work on your quads at the beginning. The multi joint movements follow, and by that time the quads would be highly fatigued and the glutes and hammies wouldn’t be. In the follow up exercises, there wouldn’t be a weak link but the quads would take more of the beating. Although a lot more complex, this is a great way to strengthen your lower body. Even if you are stronger in the leg area, the quads would be pre fatigued and everything will be more challenging so keep the reps high and lighten the weights.
One of the most effective lower body exercises is the barbell squat. This helps work on the calves, glutes and hamstrings. It starts with a barbell propped up on the traps with your chest up and head looking forward. Your hips should be hip-width distance, flex your knees and descend without moving the hips backward but your knees can move forward but remains aligned with the feet and the torso upright. Continue going down, with the weight on the front of the heel. Once the upper legs touch the lower legs, do a reverse motion and drive the weight upward.
Leg extensions are also effective. Focusing on the quads, this exercise needs a leg extension machine. After choosing your weight, sit on the machine with your legs under the pad with your hands on the side bars as the starting position. Make sure your legs are forming a 90 degree angle between your lower and upper leg. As you exhale, use your quadriceps to extend your legs as far as you can without moving any other part of the body. Wait a second in the contracted position. As you inhale, slowly go back to starting position. To add a bit of variation, you can change the position of the legs to work on other thigh areas (inner and outer thighs) and you can even do it one leg at a time.
The leg press is another workout that you can do for this day. This one needs a leg press machine and it aims to improve the quads, glutes, calves and hamstrings. Start by sitting on the machine and placing your legs forward at a medium stance. Lower the safety bars and press the weighted platform until your legs are fully extended in front of you. Be careful as to not lock your knees and keep your torso and legs in a 90-degree angle as your starting position. Lower the platform until your upper and lower legs make a 90-degree angle and inhale. Using the heels of your feet and quads, exhale and return to the original position. Make sure to lock the safety pins properly after use to ensure safety.