Best Leg Exercises
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In order to understand which exercises will load the quadriceps, you need to know the main function of this muscle group, which is to extend the legs in the knee joint. Thus, any exercises that make unbending legs will primarily involve quadriceps. In this article we will analyze the best basic and isolated exercises for this muscle.
It would seem that everyone has long known about the squat technique with a barbell – a huge amount of materials and publications can be found on this topic. However, despite the abundance of knowledge, most athletes perform this exercise incorrectly. The reason for this is the lack of knowledge of some of the key features of doing squats. In this article I will try to describe all the nuances of technology and present the only correct version of it.
What muscles work when you do a squat?
Barbell Squat involve a huge muscle mass of the main and auxiliary muscles, the main of which are:
- The main working muscles: quadriceps, gluteus maximus.
- Auxiliary muscles: muscles of the abdomen, back, muscles of the back of the thigh, calves.
For more information about which muscles work in squats, you can read in the article – “What muscles work when you do a squat?”
Executing Barbell Squat
- Before doing squat, you need to thoroughly stretch. For this purpose, light cardio for 5 minutes, as well as warming exercises for all muscle groups, are suitable.
- Install the bar of the bar on the racks at a height of 8-10 cm below the level of the shoulders. Remove lying locks, disk and dumbbells from the floor in advance.
- Stand behind the barbell and grab it with your hands, symmetrically to the center. A narrow grip in the squats, as a rule, makes it easier to control the barbell, but you use the grip that will be most convenient for you.
- Go down under the barbell and support it with your trapeze. If the bar slides, select a narrower one. Never put the bar on your neck.
- Stay upright and take on the full weight of the bar. Take a step back.
- Do not think about the legs, but control the work of the whole body.
2. Front Squat
The basics of the correct barbell squat technique
- Body position when you do with barbell squat
Take a powerful breath, allowing you to straighten your chest and give extra support to the spine. At the same time, tighten the abdominal muscles, which will cause the pelvic flexor muscles to contract reflexively. Well, they, in turn, will help stabilize the hip joints in the process of doing squats. Keep your back straight.
Place your feet at a level slightly wider than your shoulders, and turn your socks outward. Such a position will strengthen your position and help maintain balance. However, if you are comfortable holding your feet even wider, keep them that way. In general, choose the foot position that will be most convenient for you.
While your back is in a straight position, the risk of lower back injury is minimal (since the load evenly distributes throughout the spine). As soon as you tilt the body forward, most of the load is shifted to the lower back, which is traumatic. It is necessary in the initial position to firmly fix the straight position of the back and keep it in this form until the end of the approach.
The lunges in Bulgarian are very similar to the usual basical lunges that we wrote about below, the only difference is the back foot is placed on the bench, this is a more difficult exercise as it requires good balance from you!
The leg press in the simulator is one of the main exercises in bodybuilding for pumping up legs. Unlike traditional squats, leg press is performed in a special simulator, which removes the load from the lower back, thereby allowing you to pump your leg muscles with a more solid weight.
Exercise “Leg Press” is the base for the legs and includes the quadriceps, biceps of the hips and buttocks.
Speaking of simulators for leg presses, it should be noted that they can differ in the angle of inclination at which the weight is squeezed, but their effectiveness is approximately at the same level.
Leg Press Technique
- Set the working weight in the simulator.
- Take a position in the simulator for leg presses, while the feet should be on the platform, at the level of the width of the shoulders.
- Having taken a comfortable position, begin to squeeze the weight up, while at the top point of the amplitude of the knees do not completely unbend.
- In the lowest position, the legs at the knees should form a right angle, and the knees should practically rest against the chest.
Practical tips and notes
- Make sure that the back is touching the seat throughout the approach. Detachment of the lower back means that you began to bend the angle at an acute angle. This technique can cause back injuries;
- Do not fully extend the knee joints at the top of the exercise. Otherwise, you will not only reduce the load on the quadriceps, but also increase the risk of injury to the knee joints.
Lunges with a dumbbell or barbell can rightly be called one of the most effective basic exercises for developing the muscles of the hips and buttocks. Compared to squats, lunges allow you to concentrate the load on one leg and work out the muscles more carefully. Using dumbbells as weights allows you to better maintain balance and makes the load on the spine lower than in the case of lunges with a barbell.
Accent on quadriceps and buttocks
If we analyze what muscles work during lunges with dumbbells, we get the following muscle chart:
- Quadriceps (the quadriceps femoris muscle, occupies its front surface) is one of two main working groups. This muscle extended the leg in the knee joint when we rise from a lower point.
- The gluteus maximus muscle (makes up the bulk of the buttocks) – along with the quadriceps, experiences a significant load, extending the thigh when climbing up.
In addition to quadriceps and gluteus maximus, the following take part in the work: abs, middle gluteus, thigh biceps, back muscles, calf muscles, etc. The main function of these muscles in this exercise is to stabilize the position of the body and legs. It is not for nothing that the movement is called coordinatively complex – it is not always possible to keep balance in the first place. Also muscles of the hands with which you hold the dumbbells – they work in static.
The number of repetitions and approaches depends on your individual goals:
To gain weight of the legs and buttocks, do 8-12 repetitions with each leg in 3-4 approaches. The burden should be so weighty that the last repetitions were given with difficulty. However, to get the result, doing the exercise correctly is much more important than add weight in barbell & dumbbell.
If your goal is fat burning and relief, do 20–25 repetitions, but with a little weight and at a faster pace. In this mode, you can do the exercise with weight.