If you neglect your leg workout in your bodybuilding routine, you are sure to regret it. Why? Because you will end up looking like a popsicle, with a chunky toned upper body and chicken legs. So unless you plan never to take off your jeans, be sure to include leg workouts in your program.
When you work out your legs properly, you can expect to feel a little dizzy or even nauseous at the end of your session. This is because although you may think of them as adjoined limbs, when you work out your legs you involve half of your body or even more. You will be training the glutes and the muscles around the hip and working the heart pretty hard. So the benefits are more than just toned calves and thighs. You can burn fat and increase your cardiovascular strength too.
There are four main sets of leg muscles or tendons that you need to focus on. These are the quadriceps or quads (front of thigh), hamstrings (back of thigh), calves (back of lower leg) and gluteus or glutes (buttocks). You do not necessarily have to work them all every day but be sure not to neglect any of them entirely or you will have problems.
1. Exercises for quads and glutes
The standard barbell squat is a great exercise for both quads and glutes. Resting the barbell firmly behind your head on the trapezius muscles and shoulders (not on the neck), start by bending forward slightly and only then bend the knees to bring your butt down toward the ground. Keep the knees pointing straight ahead and move slowly. Stop when thighs are parallel to the ground and begin raising back up. Again check that the hips and knees are firm with no sideways movement.
2. Exercises for calves
Calves are a challenge and you will need to work on them in a focused way at least three times a week to see results. Your exercise is the calf raise but you should vary the way that you perform this so that the calf can develop fully. Seated and standing are obvious variations but you can also turn the feet slightly inward or outward and work either both legs together or one at a time.
3. Exercises for hamstrings
The hamstrings are tendons rather than muscles and the important point here is to keep them flexible and strong so that they are not strained when put under stress by the developing strength of your other leg muscles. Do hamstring stretches such as a single straight leg raise (lying on your back) or leg curl.
It is always best to consult a doctor before starting on any exercise program, including a leg workout.
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