Leg Day Essentials
Exercises for Leg Day
Why Leg Day?
Strong legs are essential for working out. They do so much more than look good. We use our legs every day, and when we work out, many exercises include using our legs. Incorporating leg workouts into your routine is integral for your health.
Many people think they need to integrate all kinds of fancy exercises into their leg routine, but an effective leg workout is often the simpler, the better. The basic lower-body movements like squats, hip thrusts, deadlifts, and lunges should comprise most of your workout. These movements focus on the major groups of your legs, including the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves.
When designing your leg workout, here's an easy way to break it down: choose 3–5 exercises per leg workout. Then complete 3 sets of 8–12 reps of each exercise.
Note: Be sure to warm up and cool down after your leg workout.
How to perform the Barbell Squat:
- Load a barbell on your back and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Gaze should be ahead, your chest should be proud, and your toes should be pointed slightly out.
- Sit back into your hips, bend your knees, and drop down toward the floor. Ensure that your knees move slightly out, and do not collapse in.
- Lower until your thighs are parallel to the ground — or as far down as you're mobility allows — then push back up to the starting position.
How to perform the Walking Lunge:
- Start with your feet together. Hold a dumbbell in each hand if you want to perform a weighted walking lunge.
- Keeping your chest proud and gaze straight ahead, step forward, lunging with your right leg until your thigh is parallel to the ground.
- Push up through your right heel, coming back up to the starting position.
- Continue forward with the left leg.
Bulgarian Split Squat
How to perform the Bulgarian Split Squat:
- Stand about 2 feet in front of a knee-level bench or step, facing away. Lift your right leg behind you and place the top of your foot on the bench.
- Lean slightly forward at your waist and begin to lower down on your left leg, bending your knee. Stop when your left thigh is parallel to the ground.
- Push up through your left foot to return to a standing position.
How to perform the Goblet Squat:
- To set up, hold a dumbbell vertically and grip it with both hands underneath the top of the weight. Position the dumbbell against your chest and keep it in contact throughout the movement.
- Begin to squat, sitting back into your hips and bending your knees. Keep your torso up and lower down as far as your mobility allows.
- Push up through your heels back to the starting position.
How to Perform the Hip Thrust:
- Sit on an elevated surface like a bench or sofa and place a barbell, dumbbell, or plate on your hips. You’ll have to support the weight with your hands throughout the movement.
- To set up, scoot your back down the bench with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground shoulder-width apart. Your legs should form a 90-degree angle, and the bench should be positioned right below your shoulder blade.
- Keep your chin tucked and drop your butt down toward the ground. Lower down while keeping your feet stationary, stopping once your torso forms a 45-degree angle with the ground.
- Push up through your heels until your thighs are parallel to the floor again. Squeeze your glutes at the top, then return to the starting position.
How to perform the Romanian Deadlift:
- Hold a barbell or one dumbbell in each hand.
- Keep your back straight and gaze straight throughout the movement.
- Begin to hinge forward at your hips, lowering your weight toward the ground with a slight bend in your knees.
- Allow the weights to closely follow the line of your legs, and lower until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings
- Pause, then drive your hips forward to stand up, allowing your glutes to power the movement.