The Ultimate Leg WorkoutThis intense leg day workout is guaranteed to build muscle and strength in all your lower-body muscle groups.
For optimal results, do the exercises in the order given, only do the workout once weekly, and avoid additional leg training throughout the week.
Barbell Back SquatSets: 3 | Reps: 4-to-6 | Rest: 3-to-5 min
The barbell back squat is the most effective leg exercise for developing all your lower-body muscle groups. It also allows you to lift heavy weights and progress regularly, making it ideal for gaining size and strength.
- Position a barbell in a squat rack at about the height of the top of your breastbone.
- Step under the bar, pinch your shoulder blades together, and rest the bar directly above the bony ridges on the bottom of your shoulder blades.
- Lift the bar out of the rack, take one or two steps backward, and place your feet flat on the floor a little wider than shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointing slightly outward.
- Sit down into the squat position and remember to keep your back straight and push your knees out in the same direction as your toes throughout each rep.
- Stand up and return to the starting position.
Romanian DeadliftSets: 3 | Reps: 6-to-8 | Rest: 3-to-5 min
The Romanian deadlift (RDL) trains the posterior chain (the muscles on the back of your body) similarly to the conventional deadlift. However, because of the difference in technique, the RDL emphasizes the hamstrings and glutes rather than the back. It’s also less fatiguing than the conventional deadlift, allowing you to do it more frequently without wearing yourself to a frazzle.
If you can’t do the RDL because of past injuries, substitute it for the hip thrust. The hip thrust trains the glutes and hamstrings to a high degree but places significantly less stress on your spine, making it a solid alternative to the RDL.
- Stand up straight holding a loaded barbell with a shoulder-width, overhand grip (palms facing toward your body).
- Flatten your back and lower the weights toward the floor in a straight line while keeping your legs mostly straight, allowing your butt to move backward as you descend.
- Once you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, bend your knees slightly more, and continue lowering the weights until your lower back begins to round—just below the knees for most people and about mid-shin for those who are particularly flexible.
- Squeeze your glutes and reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
Dumbbell LungeSets: 3 | Reps: 6-to-8 | Rest: 3-to-5 min
The lunge effectively trains your entire lower body, making it perfect for a leg day workout. It’s also beneficial because it trains a single leg at a time, which helps you find and fix muscle imbalances.
The regular forward lunge is the best option for overall leg development. However, if you want to emphasize your glutes, opting for the reverse lunge may be more fitting.
- Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand up straight with both feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Take a long step forward with your right foot—about two to three feet—and plant your right foot flat on the floor. With most of your weight on your front foot, kneel down until your left knee touches the floor.
- Reverse the motion by pushing off the floor with your front foot and leaning slightly backward, allowing your legs to straighten.
- Once you’re standing, bring your right foot back to the starting position.
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Leg CurlSets: 3 | Reps: 8-to-10 | Rest: 2-to-3 min
Leg curls are excellent for strengthening the biceps femoris and semitendinosus muscles, which comprise a large chunk of the hamstrings. This can boost deadlift strength and potentially prevent hamstring and knee injuries.
- Adjust the leg pad so that it rests against your mid-calf when you lie on the machine.
- Lie face down on the machine and grab the handles, then curl the pad toward your butt by pushing against the leg pad.
- Reverse the movement and return to the starting position.
Goblet SquatSets: 3 | Reps: 10-to-15 | Rest: 2-to-3 min
The goblet squat is an excellent addition to any leg day workout routine because it allows you to do extra volume for your legs without putting much strain on your knees or lower back.
- Hold a dumbbell in front of your chest with both hands.
- Place your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, point your toes out to the side at about a 45-degree angle, raise your chest, and sit down.
- Remember to keep your back straight and push your knees out in the same direction as your toes throughout each rep.
- Stand up and return to the starting position.
Standing Calf RaiseSets: 3 | Reps: 10-to-30 | Rest: 2-to-3 min
The standing calf raise trains the calf muscles, which aren’t just for looking jacked—they’re also for running faster, jumping higher and further, and improving stability during other lower-body exercises. Do the standing calf raise for high reps using only your body weight, or make it more intense by holding a dumbbell in your free hand.
- Place a calf raise block, step, or weight plate near something sturdy that you can use as a support (a squat rack or an adjustable bench set at a 90-degree angle works well).
- Place the ball of your left foot on the calf raise block and take hold of the support with your left hand.
- Raise your right foot off the floor by bending your knee.
- Raise your left heel as high as possible by pushing through the ball of your left foot.
- Lower your body as far as possible by lowering your left heel toward the floor.
- Once you’ve completed the desired number of reps, switch sides and repeat the process with your right leg.