Legs Training: How To Get Bigger And Stronger Legs


The pursuit of fitness often leads us to focus on various aspects of our body. One area that is frequently overlooked, despite its importance, is the lower body, particularly the legs. Often perceived as the most exhausting area to train, leg workouts are frequently neglected. However, a well-rounded fitness routine requires equal attention to all muscle groups, including the legs.

The 'legs' in fitness terminology typically refer to the thighs, the anatomical segment between the hips and the knees. This post aims to shed light on the most effective leg exercises, how to choose them, and the principles behind these choices. The goal is to help you construct an effective leg training routine.

Understanding the Leg Muscles

The term 'legs' generally refers to the entirety of the lower limbs. However, in fitness, 'legs' typically refer to the thigh, the anatomical segment between the knee and the hip. The thigh muscles involved in leg training are:

  • Anterior compartment: sartorius muscle, pectineus muscle, quadriceps femoris muscle, and ilio-psoas muscle.
  • Medial compartment: gracilis muscle, obturator externus muscle, adductor brevis muscle, adductor longus muscle, and adductor magnus muscle.
  • Posterior compartment: biceps femoris muscle, semitendinosus muscle, and semimembranosus muscle.

The Best Leg Exercises

When we talk about 'training' in fitness and natural bodybuilding, we generally refer to a parallel increase in strength and hypertrophy (increase in the cross-section of the muscle). There are no 'better' exercises; instead, some are more appropriate than others depending on the individual's goals, body type, and training system. Here's a summary of the most effective exercises for leg (thigh) development.

Multi-joint Exercises

  1. Squats: Squats are complex exercises that require mobility of the ankles, pelvis, and a balance between the strength of the thighs, buttocks, back, and abdomen. The technical execution of squats is crucial and must be learned and refined without overload.

  2. Deadlift: Deadlift is an efficient movement to lift a large load from the ground. It's not a thigh-specific exercise; it also significantly involves the buttocks and the entire back.

  3. Leg-press: The press is the most useful isotonic machine when it's not possible to perform the squat or deadlift. It involves pushing, in a sitting position, with your feet on a sliding platform with variable resistance.

  4. Lunge: There are many types of lunges, and each type stimulates the legs differently. The muscular emphasis can change greatly depending on the width of the stride and the depth of the descent.

  5. Bulgarian Squat or Lunge: This movement is a mix of a squat and a lunge, making it a useful free-body multi-joint exercise for training one limb at a time.

Monoarticular Exercises

  1. Leg extensions: This exercise involves extending the leg, blocked on a stop connected to a resistance. It helps develop the quadriceps femoris.

  2. Leg curls: This exercise involves bending the leg on the thigh. It is mainly used to develop the hamstring, but stimulates all the hamstrings.

  3. Cable adductions or machine adductions: These exercises are specific for the development of the adductors - inner thighs.

What Not to Do

  1. Training muscles instead of movement: It's essential to train muscle movement rather than focusing on specific muscles. This approach strengthens the 'invisible' areas, avoiding future limitations to training and growth.
  2. Believing that some exercises are irreplaceable: There is no exercise that is 'fundamental'. If you can't perform certain exercises due to an anatomical defect or a functional limit, you can still improve your strength and hypertrophy with other exercises.

In conclusion, leg training is an essential part of a balanced fitness routine. By understanding the anatomy of the leg, identifying the most effective exercises, and avoiding common mistakes, you can build stronger, more muscular legs.

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