You’ve seen him in the clubs, at the pool, and in your gym – the jacked muscle dude with cannonball shoulders, biceps like soft balls and giant slab- like pecs. Then your enthusiasm for this vision of muscledom wanes as you look down at his pencil-like, underdeveloped legs. No one I know looks forward to “leg day”, but if you want a strong, fit body and a classic, symmetrical physique, you must work out lower body. My advice is to keep the routine simple, safe, and consistent. Focus upon these five exercises that will hit every major muscle group. Perform this regime once, or perhaps twice per week for optimum gains. Go for 3-4 sets of eight to twelve reps of each exercise.
1) Squats are simply the best weight training exercise you can do. They work every muscle group of the body, especially quads, hamstrings and glutes. If you don’t have access to a barbell and squat rack, you can squat with dumbbells, kettlebells, or even your own body weight.
2) Deadlifts are as manly as it gets in the weight room. Basically, you’re trying to lift as much weight as you can, just by picking up a barbell or dumbbells and putting them back down. Check your form- square off your stance, bend your knees slightly, keep your head up, lift the weight off the floor, squeeze your butt and hamstrings, and put the weight back down on the floor.
3) Dumbbell lunges will target butt better than any other weight training exercise. Grab some dumbbells or kettlebells, lunge forward on one leg as you drop to one knee with the other leg, rise, then alternate by lunging forward with the other leg, etc. You can do these as stationary lunges or you can do walking lunges around the gym, in the parking lot, or on your own driveway. For a special treat try lunging on an incline for maximum burn!
4) Leg extensions really define and shape the quads, the muscles at the front of the upper leg. When you perform these (if you have access to the apparatus), never lock the knees out at the top of the movement. Don’t use massive amounts of weight since this can prove to be detrimental to your knees. Instead use manageable weight, do more reps and sets, and go for that nice slow burn.
5) Calf raises are simple and easy. Begin by using your own body weight as you go up and down on your tip toes. Then as your calves gain size and strength, you can increase resistance by holding dumbbells, kettlebells or even a barbell across your shoulders. As with all lower body weight training exercises, make sure to stretch, rest between sets, and stay mindful of using proper form.
Tom Bonanti is a certified fitness trainer, massage therapist (MA#40288) and writer for Hotspots. Tom has his own gym and massage studio in Ft. Lauderdale www.pumpnincgym.com and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.