Leg day. The most notoriously skipped day in workout history. Most people, mainly guys, skip leg day because it is hard, uncomfortable and probably the toughest day of the week. Does skipping leg day matter though?
The answer is an overwhelming yes. Legs make up almost half of your body. Think about it, if you skip leg day you are skipping HALF of your entire body. If you keep this up, you are going to look pretty disproportionate.
On top of looking disproportionate, skipping legs will also make you miss out on a pretty hefty boost to your testosterone level. Working out your legs causes your body to produce more testosterone which can lead to benefits for the entire body and even improve strength and muscle gains.
If you have been skipping leg day and want to make up for it or just simply want to learn how to grow your legs, you have come to the right place. In this article, I will be explaining the best exercises for big legs and hopefully help you in your journey to achieving your dream physique!
Muscles That Make Up The Leg
Without getting too technical, there are three main muscle groups that you are going to target when you workout legs. These three muscle groups consist of the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes.
The quadriceps are located on the front part of your thighs. This is the muscle group that allows you to straighten your legs and is basically responsible for all movements from walking to running. These are also the muscles that, when you get them big enough, will be bulging out of your shorts and improve your physique.
The hamstrings are located on the back of your thighs between your butt and your knees. These are the muscles you use to move your knees, hips and they help you curl your leg.
The gluteal muscles, better known as the glutes, make up the butt. This muscle group is targeted when you stand up, raise your knee or rotate your leg. This is another muscle group that, when muscular, will greatly improve your physique and get people looking twice.
Suggested Article: How to Increase Calf Muscle Size – EASILY
What You Need To Eat for Big Leg Muscles
To grow your leg muscles, or any muscle, you are going to have to monitor what you eat. It’s not fun but it has to be done.
In order to gain muscle, you have to make sure you eat the right amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat every day. Along with the correct amount of macro nutrients, you will also have to be eating a sufficient amount of calories both for energy and so that your body has enough resources to build muscle.
Leg day tends to take the biggest effort and drain the most energy, hence why it is heavily skipped. To combat this, I recommend eating at maintenance level calories or higher. If you don’t care about gaining fat, you can eat as much as you want, but if you do, I recommend eating no more than a surplus of 400 calories per day.
You are going to want your calories to consist of mostly carbs, some protein and some fat. You also want to make sure you get at least 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Meaning your diet should consist of around 45% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 25% fat.
If you want to learn more about macro nutrients, check out my previous article here.
Best Exercises To Grow Your Legs
Now that we have the proper nutrition out of the way, it is time for what you have been waiting for. The best exercises for BIG legs.
The traditional barbell back squat is by far the BEST exercise for building muscular, strong legs. It targets every muscle group in your lower body and even gives your abs a nice workout as well. To perform the back squat, place a barbell across the top of your back, just above the shoulder blades, and proceed to “sit down” without a chair. Get your butt as low to the ground as possible then spring back up.
The squat is so effective that you can simply do this one exercise week after week and, as long as you keep adding weight, you will put on some serious size to your legs.
Click here if you need help with the proper squat technique.
The Bulgarian split squat is another amazing exercise for the lower body. It targets every muscle group in your legs, just like squats, but places extra emphasis on the quadriceps. To perform this exercise, you will get either a barbell or two dumbbells, whatever you prefer, and place one of your feet on a bench so that you are standing on one leg. Then proceed to bend your front leg into a lunge position and simply rise back up. Make sure you remember to switch and hit both legs.
Click here if you need help with the proper Bulgarian split squat technique.
Walking lunges are probably my LEAST favorite leg exercise, which is exactly why they are so good. Walking lunges are so painful I almost feel bad sharing them with you. They are very similar to the motion for Bulgarian split squats and target the same muscles. The only difference is that you don’t put your foot on a bench and you walk with the weight(s) instead. Make sure for this exercise that you keep your back straight so that you get the biggest stretch possible in your glutes.
Click here if you need help with the proper walking lunge technique.
Last but certainly not least, Romanian dead lifts are probably the best exercise to target your hamstrings and glutes. Although they do not really hit the quads like the rest of the listed exercises, they make up for it by absolutely destroying the back of your legs and lower back. To perform Romanian dead lifts, get a barbell or a pair of dumbbells and position yourself like you are going to do a dead lift. But instead of rising up and slamming the weight back down like a dead lift, you are going to perform more of a hip hinge and just bend your back without letting the weight touch the ground.
Click here if you need help with the proper Romanian dead lift technique.
Putting These Exercises into a Workout Plan
Learning the best leg exercises to build mass is very important, but knowing how to properly work them into a workout routine is just as important.
To ensure that you are growing your legs at the absolute fastest pace possible, I recommend working them out at least 2-3 times a week. Now, I know what you are saying, “I can’t even get myself to do one leg day how am I going to do 3?!” Well, if this is you, I have some good news. You do not have to!
I believe that the easiest and most consistent way to work your legs is to work them in with other muscle groups. For example, on chest day, or if you do a push/pull split, on pull day (shoulders, chest, triceps), I recommend performing your normal routine but at the end of your workout, perform 4-6 sets of squats or any of the other leg exercises listed above.
Since you are already in the gym doing an enjoyable workout, you are much more likely to hit one or two leg exercises than trying to perform a full day worth of 4-6 leg exercises.
Using this philosophy, I recommend performing hamstring and glute exercises on different days than quadriceps and calf exercises. While saving a full lower body exercise for the end of the week. For instance, on Monday perform Romanian dead lifts and leg curls. On Wednesday, perform Bulgarian split squats and walking lunges. Then on Friday, perform squats just to use up whatever energy you have left in your legs.
Doing 1-2 exercises a day for two or three days a week will be plenty to grow big legs. But if you are dedicated and want to commit 1-2 full days per week to legs, I salute you.
In conclusion, to get big legs, you are going to have to work the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes at least 1-2 times per week. There is no way around it. This does not mean that you have to devote two full days to legs, however.
If you are one of the many who have a tendency of skipping leg day, don’t put a leg day on your workout program to begin with! All you have to do is add some leg exercises to the end of your upper body workouts and you can work your legs just as well.
Adding exercises like squats, Bulgarian split squats, walking lunges and Romanian dead lifts to the end or even the beginning of your workouts is a great way to add some size to those toothpicks you call legs. Even if you can only do two of these exercises a week, you will still see improvements.
So, what are you waiting for, get out there and grow those legs!
If you enjoyed this article or would like to share your thoughts on leg exercises, please feel free to comment below!