Explore 7 of the Best Leg Day Exercises

Lexi Lutz
Reading Time: 10 minutes
leg day exercises
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LEG DAY let’s go!

Incorporating leg day exercises into your workout routine is crucial for achieving any weight lifting fitness goal.

I’m going to share my top 7 leg day exercises that are guaranteed to help you improve your leg strength and overall fitness level.

Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or just starting on your fitness journey, these exercises can be customized to fit your level of experience. So, let’s dive into these leg workouts and get ready to feel the burn!

Key Takeaways:

  • Leg day exercises are essential for building strength and muscle in the lower body.
  • There are a lot of different leg exercises you can incorporate into your workout routine.
  • These exercises can be customized to fit your level of experience.
  • Performing these leg workouts regularly can improve your overall fitness level.
  • Start slow and gradually increase the intensity as you build your strength and endurance.

1. Squats: The King of Leg Exercises

When it comes to leg day exercises, squats are must. They engage multiple muscle groups in the lower body, making them one of the most effective exercises for building leg strength and muscle.

1. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing slightly outward. 

2. Keep your chest up and your core tight as you lower your body down as if sitting back into a chair. 

3. Make sure your knees are tracking over your toes and your weight is in your heels. 

4. Push through your heels to return to the starting position.

Squats can be performed with just your bodyweight, or you can add weight by holding dumbbells or a barbell. As with any exercise, it’s essential to use proper form to avoid injury and maximize results.

The Benefits of Squats

There are many benefits to incorporating squats into your leg workout routine:

  • Builds leg strength: Squats work the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, helping to build overall leg strength.
  • Boosts calorie burn: Squats are a compound exercise, meaning they work multiple muscle groups at once. This can help increase calorie burn and promote fat loss. Sweet, right?
  • Improves mobility: Squats require a full range of motion in the lower body, which can help improve mobility and flexibility.
  • Increases athletic performance: Squats have been shown to improve athletic performance in a variety of sports, including running, jumping, and cycling.

Next time you hit the gym for leg day, be sure to incorporate squats into your workout routine. Your legs (and overall fitness level) will thank you.

Squats Exercise

2. Leg Extensions

One of my favorite leg day exercises is leg extensions. This exercise is great for targeting and isolating your quadriceps, helping you build strong, defined leg muscles.

1. Sit on the leg extension machine with your back against the pad and your legs beneath the roller pads. 

2. Slowly extend your legs until they are fully straightened, then lower them back down in a controlled manner. 

3. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

I recommend doing 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps. You can also increase the intensity of this exercise by adding weight through ankle weights or a weight bar.

When performing leg extensions, it’s important to maintain proper form and avoid any jerking or bouncing movements. Start with a lighter weight and gradually increase as you build strength and confidence in your ability to perform this exercise effectively.

Overall, leg extensions are a fantastic addition to any leg workout routine and can help you improve your overall leg strength and muscle development.

3. Calf Raises

When it comes to leg exercises, calf raises often get overlooked in favor of squats and leg presses. However, if you’re looking to build muscle and strength in your lower legs, calf raises should be a key part of your leg workout routine.

Calf raises are a simple exercise that can be done with just your bodyweight, or with added weight for increased resistance. They primarily target the calf muscles, which are essential for balance and stability in everyday movements.

1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and the balls of your feet on an elevated surface, such as a step or a platform. 

2. Rise up onto your toes, lifting your heels off the ground, then lower them back down.

You can perform calf raises with both feet at the same time, or with one foot at a time for increased resistance. To add weight, hold a dumbbell in each hand or wear a weight vest.

The Benefits of Calf Raises

There are numerous benefits to incorporating calf raises into your leg workout routine:

  • Increased muscular endurance in the calves
  • Improved balance and stability
  • Stronger ankle joint and lower leg bones
  • Reduced risk of ankle injuries

4. Hamstring Curls

Hamstring curls are one of the most effective leg exercises for targeting the muscles in the back of your thighs. By incorporating hamstring curls into your leg day workout routine, you can improve your leg strength and overall fitness level.

To perform hamstring curls, you will need access to a leg curl machine. 

1. Begin by lying face down on the machine with your ankles secured under the roller pads. 

2. Slowly curl your legs up towards your glutes by bending your knees, then lower them back down in a controlled manner. 

3. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

It’s important to maintain good form throughout the exercise to avoid injury and maximize the benefits. Keep your hips pressed firmly into the machine and engage your core and glutes to stabilize your body. Focus on using your hamstring muscles to lift the weight and avoid swinging your legs or using momentum.

Adding variations to your hamstring curls can also help to target different areas of the hamstring muscles. For example, you can perform single-leg curls or add resistance bands to increase the intensity of the exercise.

Incorporating hamstring curls into your leg day workout routine can help you build strength and muscle in the back of your thighs. Remember to focus on using good form and adding variations to keep your workouts challenging and effective.

5. Romanian Deadlifts

Another one of my favorite lower body exercises are Romanian deadlifts. This exercise targets the hamstrings and glutes, and can help improve your overall leg strength and muscle mass.

To perform this exercise, you will need a barbell or a pair of dumbbells.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding the weight in front of your thighs.
  2. Keeping your back straight, hinge at the hips and lower the weight towards the floor while maintaining a slight bend in your knees.
  3. Pause when you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, then return to the starting position by engaging your glutes and hamstrings.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

It’s important to maintain proper form throughout the exercise. Start out with a light weight or even just body weight to get the feel of it. Keep your back straight and your core engaged to avoid injury. 

Romanian deadlifts

6. Hip Thrusts

Hip thrusts are an excellent exercise for building both glute and hamstring strength. The hip thrust exercise targets the gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in your butt, and the hamstrings, the muscles located on the back of your thigh. Including hip thrusts in your leg workout routine will not only make your legs stronger but also enhance your overall physical fitness.

1. Place one weight horizontally across the hips. You can also place one weight on each hip. 

2. Squeeze the glutes and press the dumbbell straight up until the hips align with the shoulders and knees. Keep your chin tucked to your chest the entire time.

3. Squeeze at the top (without hyper extending your back) before lowering down to repeat.

The barbell hip thrust exercise is a popular variation of hip thrusts. It involves using a weighted barbell to add resistance to the movement, meaning you can increase the intensity and challenge yourself as you progress. You can also perform hip thrusts using kettlebells, resistance bands, or even your body weight if you’re a beginner or don’t have access to gym equipment.

If you’re a beginner, start with 3 sets of 10 reps, gradually increasing the weight or intensity as you get stronger. 

Remember to take breaks in between sets so that you can recover properly and avoid injury. Over time, you can aim to increase the number of sets and reps you perform to challenge yourself and achieve better results.

Benefits of Hip Thrusts

Hip thrusts are a highly effective exercise for building lower body strength. They target the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles, which are essential for movements such as sprinting, jumping, and climbing. Incorporating hip thrusts into your leg workout routine will help you achieve:

  • Stronger glutes and hamstrings
  • Improved posture and balance
  • Increased lower body power and explosiveness
  • Better athletic performance in sports such as football, basketball, and soccer
  • Injury prevention by strengthening the muscles around your hips and lower back

7. Leg Presses

When it comes to targeting multiple muscle groups in your lower body, leg presses are an absolute game-changer. This exercise is highly effective for building strength and mass in the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.

The leg press machine is easy to use and can be adjusted to suit your fitness level, making it a great choice for beginners and experienced lifters alike.

1. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your back firmly against the backrest. Your foot placement will determine which specific muscles feel it the most. 

2. Push the footplate away from your body, extending your legs until they are fully straightened.

3. Slowly lower the footplate back down to the starting position and repeat for the desired number of repetitions.

Incorporate leg presses into your leg workout routine to take your lower body strength and muscle gains to the next level. Trust me, your legs will thank you!

FAQ

What are leg day exercises?

Leg day exercises are exercises specifically targeting the muscles in your lower body, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

Why are leg day exercises important?

Leg day exercises are important for building strength and muscle in your lower body, improving your overall fitness level, and enhancing athletic performance.

How often should I do leg day exercises?

It is generally recommended to do leg day exercises at least once or twice a week, allowing for proper rest and recovery between workouts.

What are some effective leg day exercises?

Some effective leg day exercises include leg extensions, squats, calf raises, hamstring curls, Romanian deadlifts, hip thrusts, and leg presses.

How many sets and repetitions should I do for leg day exercises?

The number of sets and repetitions for leg day exercises can vary depending on the individual’s fitness level and goals. It is recommended to start with 2-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions and adjust as needed.

Can I do leg day exercises at home?

Yes, there are many leg day exercises that can be done at home, such as bodyweight squats, lunges, step-ups, and calf raises. However, some exercises may require equipment or access to a gym.

Are leg day exercises suitable for beginners?

Leg day exercises can be modified to suit beginners by starting with lighter weights, focusing on proper form, and gradually increasing intensity and difficulty over time.

Can leg day exercises help me lose weight?

Leg day exercises, combined with a balanced diet and regular cardiovascular exercise, can contribute to weight loss by increasing calorie burn, building muscle, and boosting metabolism.

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