Never skip a leg day is no longer a tip or a piece of advice – it has already evolved into a meme. There’s no better way to ruin a godlike physique than to show off your skinny legs. It’s even more tragic than that, seeing as how it’s a waste of a perfect opportunity. There you are, showing off your chiseled torso, only for your legs to draw all the attention and unjust criticism.
Even those who aim to lose some weight need to acknowledge the fact that the legs are the largest muscle group (by volume and surface) on your entire body (alongside your back muscles). This means that metabolically speaking, working your back and your leg muscles alone will burn a ridiculously high number of calories on a daily basis.
In other words, regardless if you’re trying to add muscle mass or lose weight, working on your leg muscles is the way to go. Here are a couple of tips to help you get going.
1. Start with squats
Squats are one of the most amazing exercises, period.
They’re an amazing example of a calisthenic exercise that you can just feel works. Even without a barbell with added weights, you start feeling fatigued fairly soon. Sure, doing 10 or 20 squats feels easy, since you’re in such a good shape, however, what about doing 70 squats? Now, while you really don’t need any additional equipment, you can do squats with a kettlebell, barbell, or even a weighted vest.
Traditionally, however, a barbell and a sturdy power rack are the way to go.
There are also many different types of squats that you can master in order to make your training more interesting. Overall, squats are great for your leg muscles as a whole, especially for your thighs.
Lastly, seeing as how this is an exercise during which you’re likely to add the most weight (aside from maybe deadlift), you want to master a proper technique and get the right equipment in order to avoid an injury.
2. Learn how to do lunges
Lunges are not just there to build muscles but to make your legs more mobile and functional.
Proper lunges are amazing for your legs and core muscles. They’re also the best exercise for hamstrings and glutes, which means that those who want to work on their butt a bit more need to include them in their program ASAP.
Once you’re proficient enough, you might want to learn a couple of variations, as well. For instance, you could learn lateral lunges, reverse lunges, or even walking lunges. While considered more advanced, keep in mind that these lunges are really not that more difficult than their counterparts.
Lastly, bear in mind that this is an exercise that people with painful knees might want to avoid.
3. Romanian deadlift
The deadlift is probably the exercise that works the largest number of muscles in your body. The emphasis, however, is on your legs and the lower back.
The biggest difference between the Romanian deadlift is that it starts from a standing position. This is why it engages glutes and hamstrings far more effectively. The deadlifts are more focused on quads and the lower back, which is why, for optimal results, you might want to utilize both of these exercises.
Bear in mind that both of these exercises tend to be quite dangerous, especially if you don’t have a proper technique. Also, there’s a subtle difference here that you need to be aware of. Namely, the Romanian deadlift is slightly more difficult. This is why you’ll be able to lift more weight with the classic deadlift. This is a mistake that a lot of people make when getting started, as well as a mistake that often results in an injury.
4. Muscle-building lifestyle
Muscle-building exercises are not the only thing you need to do. Muscle-building 101 implies that you have to eat enough protein in order to build muscles, so, do your calculation. Based on your current weight, age, and sex, you’re supposed to consume X number of calories in order to build muscles. Stick to this schedule as much as you can and look for a reliable macronutrient calculator.
Second, just because you’re building leg muscles, this doesn’t mean that every day should be leg day (contrary to the popular belief, exaggerating in the opposite direction is not healthy either). The truth is that while training, your muscle fibers are breaking. By resting, your body is using the protein (that you’ve consumed in sufficient quantities) as a mortar to fix these gaps. The upside is that these muscles “regrow” as stronger, thicker, and more durable. One thing that you need to take away from this is that your muscles actually grow during the rest period. To strengthen your muscles, you can even use some supplements to gain stronger muscles.
In the end, genetics may play a significant role here. Some people just have it easier to build leg muscles than others. This, however, doesn’t mean that such a thing is impossible in your case. Second, you need to understand that beginner’s gains are not a myth. Early on, if you do everything right, the results will be quite impressive, while later in the process things might seem to be slowing down. Don’t get disheartened and remember that you’re still making progress, even if it’s a bit harder to see.