Best exercises for legs


The best exercises for legs when it comes to size and strength can play a major role when you design your leg training program. It basically comes down to what your related goals are that you are training for.

Leg strength and development is crucial for building body strength and endurance. No matter what sport you are in, you will be required to have a major amount of leg strengthening and development.

Basically it is the same thing when it comes to bodybuilding. The sport of bodybuilding is basically the same way, it requires a lot of strength to hoist the heavyweights it requires to build big muscle.

Today we are going to have a look at the best exercises pound for pound that build both size and strength in the legs for bodybuilders and people of sports such as football, wrestling, hockey and many others.

What does it take to build strong legs?

Other than taking dedication, persistence and stamina, building strong muscular legs takes many components to form the full picture, any one of those components left out could have a negative impact on your overall results.

Training hard consistently and eating the proper diet are two of the main components for building muscle, but when it comes to what exercises you do has a major impact on the gains that you receive.

It is a good idea to have a well-rounded training program so that you can target each area of the thighs, and also keeping a well-rounded training program allows for a wider variety of exercises, and if you frequently change your exercises around, it will help to keep your workouts from growing stale.

There are a lot of exercises to choose from when developing a thigh training program, but you will want to use compound exercises that require a lot of weight to stimulate plenty of muscle growth.

Exercises like leg extensions isolate the quads and help to develop that separation look. Leg extensions are a good exercise to put in the later part of your routine after you have spent the greater part of your energy on the heavier lifting such as squats.

Leg curls and good mornings are good exercises to single out your hamstrings, these exercises are also important to include in a training program that seeks to reach out to all angles for full development, but are better left for later in the workout.

When designing your training program, it would be best to start out with any of the exercises I have listed below, with the exception of box jumps.

Box jumps are more of a speciality exercise for developing speed, and that explosive power that many people in sports are looking for like football players and sprinters.

Leg training can be fun, but it also requires plenty of hard work and dedication, but if you set up a solid training program that is tailored for your needs and goals, you should start to see some serious progress coupled with a healthy diet fueled with energy and plenty of lean protein.

This image depicts the squat as the king of quad muscle developers.
Heavy squats for thigh development.

King of leg builders, (the squat)

What would a leg training routine be without including squats. Squats have been viewed the world over as being the king of leg builders. They work the quads, core, back and various other muscle groups.

Weight trainers from the bodybuilding arena, various sports backgrounds and anyone in general that is interested in building strong muscular legs has reached for the heavy laden barbell strapped across their shoulders in eager pursuit of developing a set of their own muscular legs.

Powerlifters the world over have been setting records in the squat, and the sport of power lifting has grown to enormous heights with new records being set all the time.

Other than the standard version of the squat as shown in the picture above with the bar stretched across the back of the shoulders, there are other variations that all do a good job and each variation target’s the thigh in a slightly different way.


Front squats are performed in the same manner, only difference is the bar is held in front of your neck instead of the back, and the weight is shifted a little more to the front of you so they will hit your thighs at a different degree.


Hack squats are generally performed on a weight machine specifically designed for this exercise, but you can also perform the hack squats basically done the same as a dead lift, the only difference is the bar is held in back of your legs.

  • King of leg builders, the squat, you will want to do five sets per session and train your legs two times per week.
  • 8 to 12 repetitions per set for the squat for muscular development, 1 to 6 reps for power, 15 to 20 reps for endurance.
This image is showing how squats are done.
Heavy deadlifts work the quads, core and back.

Deadlifts for sheer power

Deadlifts are often thought of as a power move which is absolutely correct. The dead lift can not only build sheer power in the quads, core and basically the whole body, but can also attribute to a good share of muscle development.

The dead lift is an excellent way of building plenty of muscle development in the quads because you have the ability to lift as heavy as possible by engaging your entire body to power the weight up.

By lifting with as heavy of a weight as possible, you are enabling the opportunity of building muscle mass providing that you are working within a rep range of 8 to 12 reps per set.

You can do whatever rep range you desire, but if you do a rep range higher than 12 repetitions, you will mostly be building your endurance and it will likely not target your muscle mass development nearly as much.

You can do less than eight repetitions. If you follow within a rep range of one to six repetitions, you will be targeting this as more of a strength developing exercise and will likely develop very little muscle mass as compared to performing 8 to 12 repetitions per set.

Always remember that when you are performing an exercise like the deadlifts, you will want to exercise caution and always wear a sturdy weight training belt, and it is always a good idea to either chalk your hands or wear lifting straps for a good grip when dead lifting with heavy weights.

Deadlifts can work the entire body, but they mostly target the quads, buttocks, core and back muscles. It is best to incorporate deadlifts in your training program twice per week, any more than twice a week and you will not be allowing your muscles to recuperate enough between sessions.

  • Perform four to five sets of the deadlifts per session two times per week.
  • 8 to 12 repetitions per set for muscular development.
This image shows how leg presses are done.
Leg presses for quad development.

Leg presses

Leg presses are great for building the quads and you can still push some serious weight with the leg press, but they are more designed towards singling out the quads and don’t engage much activity with other muscle groups.

Leg presses are a great way to engage the quad muscles. While performing this exercise is safer than the squats or deadlifts, you will still need to exercise caution because you can still get injured while performing this exercise.

When performing the squats and the dead lift, you are putting your torso and lower back in a position where they could become injured very easily if you are not careful.

When performing the leg press, you will generally have your back pressed firmly against a backrest which will be taking the greater strain off of your spine and lower back, resulting in making this a safer exercise.

There are various styles to the leg press machine, but they all generally work in the same manner and the outcome is resulting in training your quads with heavyweight in a very functional manner that will definitely pack the muscle mass on your quads in no time.

Leg presses don’t engage your entire body like the two prior exercises I have gone over, they are more for engaging your quads but they are a very effective exercise when you perform them safely and in a fully controlled full range of motion.

Leg presses are best performed two times per week with a rep range of 8 to 12 reps per set. Training them any less than two times per week will not be stimulating the muscle fibers enough for muscle growth, and doing them more than two times a week may lead to overtraining.

  • Shoot for doing between four and five sets of the leg presses per session two times per week.
  • 8 to 12 reps per set.
This picture depicts how box jumps are done.
Raising the bar with box jumps.

Box jumps

This exercise is a little more tailored toward increasing power in your quads which comes in handy for sports that involves jumping, running or any other activity that requires quick bursts of power.

As pictured in the image above, these two young women have to use a great amount of leg power to jump onto the boxes. Doing this exercise requires a lot of power in the legs and lower torso and also requires much stamina.

This exercise is great for building strength, power, endurance and stamina which come in handy especially for sports that require you to have a large amount of leg and torso power.

If you are new to this exercise, you may want to start out with a lower box and work your way up in reps.

This is an exercise that takes time and strength to develop, but once you have developed the strengths to perform this exercise, you will have built up excellent strength in your legs and torso.

When you first start doing the box jump, depending on your physical condition and strength, you may only be able to do one or two reps. With this exercise you will want to work your way up so if you can only do one or two reps, try to set a goal for shooting to accomplish five repetitions.

From that point work your way up one repetition each workout, or at least one repetition more per week, whatever you can handle.

This exercise is designed to not only build strength in your legs and torso, but also endurance. You will want to work your way up to a higher rep target, such as 20 or more repetitions building endurance.

This exercise is great for developing launching power such as power that a football player would need for taking off on quick runs at the drop of a hat, and runners such as the one pictured below.

  • Work up to performing between four and five sets per session for the box jumps. Include this in your training regimen two times per week.
  • At first, you may only be able to do a few repetitions of the box jumps, but gradually work your way up to doing 20 repetitions or more per set.
This image depicts the necessity of leg power for runners.
Leg power for running.


These exercises outlined are a rough guide that you can follow, but are not necessarily meant to be a structured routine to follow by at all times. It would be a good idea to incorporate at least one or two of these exercises and include others exercises that are in line with what your goals are.

For example if you need more hamstring development, you would want to include good mornings, stiff leg deadlifts or leg curls. If you are a football player, you might want to include exercises such as the clean and jerk or the prowler.

Box jumps are another excellent exercise that a football player might include in their training program to develop endurance and the power they need in their legs for making quick moves and running speed out on the football field.

When you include high power moves such as these that we have covered today like the squat, deadlifts, leg presses and box jumps among many other exercises like the clean and jerk and the snatch, you will want to make sure that you are taking in plenty of the right calories that you need for training energy.

Along with a diet high in rich lean protein and carbohydrates, it can also be a good idea to supplement your diet to make sure that you are getting enough of the proper nutrients in your diet, as well pre-workout supplements to give you the energy needed to power through your workouts.

You can check out one of my product reviews on pre-workout supplements by smashing this link.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave a comment in the box below, I love to hear from my readers. If you cannot reach me immediately, I will respond to any comments within 24 hours.


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2 thoughts on “Best exercises for legs”

    • Thank you for stopping by. Keeping good posture when performing the squat can be difficult for many people. It is best to keep your feet angled out at a 30 degree angle, keep your lower back arched, shoulders and elbows back, and most people keep their feet approximately shoulder width apart, although some people use a slightly narrower stance which gives them the ability to drive more weight.

      I used to have a problem with keeping my torso as vertical as possible, I had a tendency of leaning too far forward which can put way too much strain on your lower back and takes too much tension off the quads. A trick that I have found helps me out to correct this problem is by placing a 2×4 wooden block under my heels when squatting, this helps to keep my posture more straight and puts more emphasis on the thighs, I wish you the best.


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