Leg Day for Strength: 9 Must-Do Exercises

Working out your legs is also as important as working on your chest. Your legs help you to keep moving all day, so improving your leg strength is a must. If you’ve been guilty of not training your legs again and again, well it’s time for you to realize that you need to work them out.

In my years of experience at the gym, a lot of people I’ve known keeps on neglecting leg day. They just prefer to work out their upper body to look awesome. They don’t have any idea what benefits it would bring if they train their legs.

Your legs are one of the largest muscle groups in your body, if you want to improve your performance and have a healthy movement in your everyday life, you need to train your legs as it builds stability, speed, and strength. It is an integral part of your body and you must stay consistent in working them out.

In this article, I provided the 9 must-do exercises to improve the strength of your legs. Try to incorporate these exercises into your next leg day workout. You don’t need to perform everything during your leg day, 3 to 4 exercises are enough.

1. Barbell Squats

When we are talking about improving the strength of our legs, the barbell squat is the go-to exercise for everyone. It is the king of all exercises to grow your legs and improve their strength. Several muscle groups in your lower body are engaged when doing this exercise. The muscles that are targeted are your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and adductor. It also targets your core muscles.

When I started to include barbell squats in my fitness program and performed them consistently, I saw a lot of improvement in my lower body. I keep moving easily, I can easily do daily tasks such as walking, running, and climbing stairs. It also helped me with my athletic activities.

It doesn’t only improve the strength of your legs, but it can burn a lot of calories in your body. Performing high-intensity exercises such as barbell squats can crush a huge amount of calories. Before doing some barbell squats variations, try to master the basic squats first.

Sets: 3

Reps: 12 to 15

Rest: 2 minutes and 30 seconds

2. Leg Press Machine

Another great leg workout to strengthen your lower body and it’s done by pushing your legs on the leg press machine. When doing a leg press exercise, you are engaging your glutes which makes them stronger. Leg press exercise must be done correctly to fully engage your glute muscle.

I would recommend starting with a low amount of weights to master the exercise then start adding some weights to add a ton of muscle to your glutes and improve their strength. Strengthening the glutes is something that everybody loves especially women. A strong and well-defined glute is nice to see

The best thing about this exercise is it is easy and safe to use. Beginners would easily know how to perform this and it eliminates them from looking for a spotter.

Sets: 3

Reps: 12 to 15

Rest: 2 minutes

3. Hack Squats

This is one of my favorite exercises when I want to strengthen or grow my quads. It is also a simple and safe exercise since you are going to use a machine. A lot of gym-goers overlook hack squat simply because they though it has the same benefits as the barbell squats. They believed that barbell squats are more extreme and give more strength to their legs.

When doing hack squats, it gives more emphasis on your quads or the front of your legs. This is great for building strength for your lower body and I recommend this for beginners who are afraid to do barbell squats. The main reason why I love this exercise is it targets the quads even better compared to barbell squats.

Barbell squats may be the king of all exercises, but compared to hack squats, they can help you improve how you perform your squat. It will be easier for you to perfect doing squats since you are guided by a machine. You easily learn the movement in which the muscles can be targeted directly. The more you target the muscles, the more they will become stronger.

Sets: 3

Reps: 12 to 15

Rest: 2 minutes

4. Machine Leg Extensions

Machine leg extensions are also one of the best leg workouts during your leg day. It is a key exercise in strengthening your quads. I also love this workout as it focuses only on your quads to help them grow stronger and bigger.

It can easily be performed since you are assisted by a machine and the weights can be adjusted. You don’t really need to worry about form or bad posture when doing this exercise. This workout is also recommended for a beginner who wants to strengthen their quadriceps.

I’ve noticed a lot of gym-goers do this exercise as their finisher as it is an isolation exercise that can be performed after heavy compound exercises. To strengthen your quads, focus on the squeeze when executing this exercise. You can also add some weights to further develop your quads and make them stronger.

Sets: 3

Reps: 15

Rest: 2 minutes

5. Walking Lunges with Dumbbells

If you really want to strengthen your legs, walking lunges with dumbbells is a great exercise. Doing this exercise would surely challenge you as you will feel the burn on your leg muscles, hips, and glutes.

We move with two legs every day, and when our legs fail to develop some strength, our lower body functionality will be poor. It will be a great disadvantage for us especially when it comes to human movement. By doing lunges, it can enhance your functionality and muscular development.

This exercise is a great way to strengthen your legs and improve your movement and function. This exercise would also improve your balance and coordination which squats and leg press can’t give you the same results.

If you are a big fan of having toned and strong gluteal muscles, make sure to add this workout to your fitness program. This exercise is great for activating your glutes which is often neglected during regular workouts. I always love to be challenged that’s why I always add some weights when I perform this exercise.

Sets: 3

Reps: 15

Rest: 2 minutes

6. Machine Hamstring Curls

Machine hamstring curl is an isolation exercise that strengthens your legs specifically at the back of your legs which is the hamstring. You can perform this exercise either lying or seated depending on the availability of the machine that you have.

Beginners are afraid to perform this exercise because they thought it is for intermediate and advanced lifters. Well, this workout is for all fitness levels and it can easily be performed since you are assisted by a machine.

What I love about this exercise is it only focuses on your hamstrings. To improve your lower body’s strength, balance, and stamina, adding machine hamstring curls to your program is a good choice. This exercise isn’t just beneficial to the gym or the looks of your hamstrings, it could help you with your daily activities such as doing things that require leg strength.

Sets: 3

Reps: 15

Rest: 2 minutes

7. Front Barbell Squats

If you’re really a big fan of fitness, you would surely know about the front barbell squats. This exercise is also quite scary same as the traditional barbell squats but they don’t work for the same muscle groups. This is one of the best compound exercises you can perform during your leg day.

When doing front squats, it activates the front of your body or the anterior chain. It hits the quads, glutes, and hamstrings very well. Even though barbell squats and front squats don’t work for the same muscle groups, they still offer almost the same benefits.

The front barbell squats still help you gain strength on your lower body and improve your speed and power. Compared to traditional barbell squats, front squats are easier to perform. I can easily control my movement and it doesn’t compress my spine. The only disadvantage of this workout is you can’t lift as heavy compared to the barbell squats.

Sets: 3

Reps: 12 to 15

Rest: 2 minutes and 30 seconds

8. Calf Raises

You can’t finish your leg day without working on your calves. Let’s not forget to activate and strengthen our calves as it is part of our lower body. Walking a long-distance or using a treadmill at the gym is not enough to strengthen your legs. I still recommend lifting some weights for them to get strong.

If you want a stronger foot or ankle, calf raises are the key. It will ensure that you have proper balance and movement when using your legs. You just don’t notice but the strength of your calves helps your entire lower body. When you perform your heavy squats at the gym and fail, it’s because you have weak calves.

It may be a small muscle group, but it can improve the performance of your lower body. When I was still a beginner, it took me a lot of time to realize that my calves has a great impact on my ability to lift heavy squats. I had a poor performance in doing a different variety of leg workouts.

During your leg day session, I want you to devote some time to work out your calves so they will grow stronger. Isolate calf raises workout if you think this is your weakest part.

Sets: 3

Reps: 12 to 15

Rest: 2 minutes

9. Bulgarian Split Squats

If one of your wish lists is to have stronger legs, Bulgarian split squats must be added to your arsenal. This exercise delivers big benefits and only a few people realize it. It was a dream come true for me when I performed this exercise as I felt the burn on my leg muscles.

Your one leg is elevated on a bench or box and the other one is off the ground. This exercise also activates the same muscle groups with the squats but with an emphasis since you are targeting one leg at a time.

It was already shown many times that this exercise increases muscle growth and strength. Any gym-goer can perform this exercise directly. You just need to master your balance and perform it well so you can reap all the benefits.

Sets: 3

Reps: 12 to 15

Rest: 2 minutes

Lorofy
Lorofy

Hey! I'm Lorofy, I'm a politician in our Local Government Unit and a Church Leader. I'm a dedicated leader in our community and an ambassador of goodwill. I became a motivator and an advocate for men who are looking for meaning in life and on how to reach their full potential. I'm also a fitness enthusiast and consider fitness as my everyday expertise.