The Best Leg Workouts With Bodyweight, With Dumbbells, for Size, and More – Breaking Muscle

Leg exercises have a well-earned repute for being one of the vital intense periods a lifter can put themselves by. As a result of the legs are a bunch of a number of muscle tissues as an alternative of 1 single physique half, a whole leg day requires loads of work utilized to loads of workouts.

Listed below are a number of the finest exercises to hit your legs exhausting regardless of your coaching state of affairs — at dwelling, on the highway, or in case you’re simply searching for a brand new solution to pack on measurement and energy.

The Greatest Leg Exercises

Greatest Leg Exercise With Dumbbells

Leg day is commonly an opportunity to make use of a variety of kit on the health club. Each commonplace business health club has varied machines to focus on particular leg muscle tissues, a behemoth of a leg press, and the tried and true squat rack. However in case you don’t have entry to all of the enjoyable stuff, you don’t should sacrifice outcomes.

Whether or not you’re coaching at dwelling with a number of dumbbells otherwise you’re in a barebones resort health club, you may get a critical leg exercise.

The Dumbbell-Solely Leg Exercise

A couple of pairs of dumbbells or a pair of adjustable dumbbells are all it’s essential goal every leg muscle with high-intensity workouts. As a result of the legs are highly effective and may usually transfer extra weight than most dumbbells enable, this exercise focuses totally on single-leg workouts to reap extra profit from comparatively lighter weights.

Credit score: Dusan Petkovic / Shutterstock

This routine might be achieved twice per week if it’s the one leg coaching in your program or it may be used as an extra leg exercise to enhance your present plan.

Single-Aspect Strolling Lunge

Dumbbell Squat

Break up-Stance Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

Leaning Single-Leg Calf Elevate

Greatest Body weight Leg Exercise

Some lifters’ legs could also be able to squatting lots of of kilos and leg urgent much more, however with the proper train decisions, you may get an intense and efficient decrease physique exercise with none weights.

Body weight-only coaching is most frequently related to higher physique exercises full of dips, chin-ups, and push-up variations, however any lifter can get a critical leg exercise utilizing greater than high-rep body weight squats or miles of strolling lunges.

The Easy and Efficient Body weight Leg Exercise

This bodyweight-only routine prioritizes single-leg workouts, very long time underneath stress in every set, and explosive actions to burn the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.

This model of coaching, utilizing unfamiliar workouts and high-intensity methods, can typically create a stunning quantity of muscle soreness within the days following the exercise. Prepare exhausting, recuperate correctly, and keep on with the plan to see outcomes. Undergo the entire exercise as soon as each 4 to seven days.

Bulgarian Break up Squat

Reverse Lunge

Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

Leg Matrix

Greatest Leg Exercise for Dimension

“Leg day” is a phrase which strikes concern into even essentially the most skilled lifters. As a result of the legs are a comparatively giant muscle group, it’s essential embody a number of workouts to keep away from neglecting any a part of the decrease physique. Which means you’re in for lots of labor with a variety of depth and a variety of muscle-burning reps.

Bald man in gym on leg press machine
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Many lifters over-focus on the quadriceps and neglect their hamstrings and calves, however a whole coaching session addresses all of them. Underneath-trained muscle tissues stay smaller and weaker than muscle tissues that get labored. Since most individuals need to put on shorts in public every now and then with out feeling self-conscious, right here’s a size-building program to construct a stable set of legs.

Legendary Leg Day

This once-per-week exercise makes use of basic workouts, easy methods like supersets and peak contractions, and quaint exhausting work to grind out muscle-building reps. The previous couple of reps of every set ought to be extraordinarily difficult whereas sustaining good kind. Attain near-complete muscular failure on the final rep of every set.

Again Squat

Leg Curl

Leg Extension

Excessive-Stance Leg Press

Seated Calf Elevate

Greatest Leg Exercise For Power

A robust decrease physique can typically be an indicator of whole physique energy, since many higher physique workouts are hindered by a weak decrease physique. Briefly: When unsure, get actually sturdy legs as a result of they enhance just about all the pieces else.

Stronger Legs, Stronger Physique

This strength-focused exercise is centered across the basic barbell again squat. Not solely is it, arguably, the most well-liked of the “huge three” powerlifts, it has additionally been proven to profit athleticism. (1) (2)

Man in gym performing squats with barbell
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Use this program as soon as per week, ideally after a relaxation day to keep away from cumulative fatigue and permit most focus.

Again Squat

  • How one can Do it: Setup in a squat rack with the bar positioned throughout the again of your shoulders. Unrack the bar by taking one small step backwards. Set your toes outside-hip width. Hold your decrease again locked and your chest up. Purpose to succeed in a parallel depth (having your hips stage along with your knees) for optimum muscle recruitment. Pause briefly earlier than standing up.
  • Units and Reps: 5 x 3-5
  • Relaxation Time: Three minutes between units.

Romanian Deadlift

  • How one can Do it: Start with a barbell at waist-height utilizing a palms-down (pronated) grip. Set your toes shoulder-width aside. Retract your shoulder blades and brace your core. Hold your again in a impartial place whereas pushing your hips again and bending on the waist. Decrease the bar till you’re feeling most stress within the hamstrings and glutes. Contract the goal muscle tissues and return to an upright standing place.
  • Units and Reps: 4 x 6-8
  • Relaxation Time: Three minutes between units.


  • How one can Do it: Start with a bench or steps at roughly knee-height positioned in entrance of you. Maintain a pair of dumbbells in every hand, hanging at your sides. Place one foot on prime of the platform. Deal with urgent by the highest foot with little to no help from the foot on the bottom. Hold your shoulders again and resist leaning. Pause briefly on the prime earlier than decreasing underneath management. Letting your physique free fall to ground-level decreases muscular stress and will increase joint impression.
  • Units and Reps: 3 x 6-8 per leg.
  • Relaxation Time: 60 seconds between legs, 60 seconds between units.

The Leg Muscle mass

Coaching your “legs” is like coaching your “again.” It’s nearly all the time thought of one physique half for coaching functions. In actuality, it’s a group of a number of muscle tissues which must be recruited with quite a lot of workouts.

Man and woman flexing muscular legs
Credit score: Dean Drobot / Shutterstock

Figuring out precisely what muscle tissues make up your decrease physique is crucial to getting one of the best outcomes, constructing extra muscle, and rising total energy.


Being the big muscle tissues on the entrance of the thigh, your quadriceps are liable for motion on the knee to increase and straighten your leg. The “quad” in quadriceps refers back to the 4 muscle tissues that perform collectively — the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius.

Typically talking, the muscle tissues are recruited and activated equally throughout quadriceps-focused workouts. Nevertheless, some analysis has proven that sure heads could also be recruited in another way with particular methods. (3) (4)

One of these finely focused coaching might be helpful for aggressive bodybuilders and high-level aesthetic lifters, however the overwhelming majority of lifters within the health club can construct distinctive muscular improvement with out over stressing about hitting one head of the quads greater than one other.


The hamstrings are a multi-headed muscle on the again of the higher leg. It consists of three totally different sections — the biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus. The hamstrings are liable for bending the knee, in addition to extending the hips.

As a result of the hamstrings management two various kinds of actions, workouts like leg curls and deadlift variations are each vital for whole recruitment and most improvement.


The glute maximus, glute medius, and glute minimus mix to kind eye-catching glutes. The glutes primarily perform in hip extension, to tug the legs and torso right into a straight line. They’re additionally closely recruited in rotating and shifting the leg from the hip joint.

As a result of glutes’ relative measurement and attachment factors, they are often a number of the most pound-for-pound highly effective muscle tissues in your physique. Whereas heavy lifting definitely isn’t the one solution to prepare, direct glute workouts have the potential to maneuver greater poundages than direct coaching for different physique elements.


The calves are made from the soleus and gastrocnemius on the again of the decrease leg. Each work to increase the ankle and foot. The gastrocnemius attaches above the knee whereas the soleus is totally under it. Because of this distinctive division, the soleus is prioritized when the knee is bent (throughout seated calf raises) whereas each muscle heads work throughout straight-legged calf raises.

Warming Up the Legs

As a result of the legs contain a number of muscle tissues and a number of joints, a radical warm-up is necessary. Addressing the hips, knees, and ankles can result in improved vary of movement, optimum efficiency, and decreased danger of damage.

The Full Leg Heat-Up

  • Squat to Calf Elevate: Along with your toes shoulder-width aside, squat all the way down to a cushty depth. Pause briefly earlier than standing. Transition instantly right into a calf increase, rising onto each toes. Maintain the highest place briefly earlier than returning to a squat place. Repeat for 10 reps.
  • Standing Knee Elevate: From a standing place, deliver one bent leg as much as waist-level in entrance of your physique. Hold your torso over your hips with out leaning excessively forwards or backwards. Full a complete of 20 reps, alternating legs every rep. 
  • Squat to Stand: Stand along with your toes past shoulder-width aside. Attain ahead to the touch your toes. Barely rounding your again is appropriate as a result of the backbone isn’t underneath any load. Subsequent, drop your hips down right into a deep squat place. Your knees ought to find yourself exterior of your arms. Keep within the backside place and lift each arms overhead. Rise up whereas holding each arms up. Decrease your arms to your sides and repeat the method for 5 reps.

Leg Day Each Day?

“Skipping leg day” has develop into in-gym shorthand for avoiding exhausting work, however in order for you spectacular outcomes, going by exhausting work is unavoidable. You’re now armed with loads of choices to get the job achieved, regardless of your purpose and regardless of your health club. There are not any excuses left to skip leg day.


  1. Chelly MS, Fathloun M, Cherif N, Ben Amar M, Tabka Z, Van Praagh E. Results of a again squat coaching program on leg energy, bounce, and dash performances in junior soccer gamers. J Power Cond Res. 2009 Nov;23(8):2241-9. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181b86c40. PMID: 19826302.
  2. Crewther, B. T., Kilduff, L. P., Prepare dinner, C. J., Middleton, M. Ok., Bunce, P. J., & Yang, G. Z. (2011). The acute potentiating results of again squats on athlete efficiency. Journal of energy and conditioning analysis, 25(12), 3319–3325.
  3. Stoutenberg M, Pluchino AP, Ma F, Hoctor JE, Signorile JF. The impression of foot place on electromyographical exercise of the superficial quadriceps muscle tissues throughout leg extension. J Power Cond Res. 2005 Nov;19(4):931-938. doi: 10.1519/r-16364.1. PMID: 16437818.
  4. Signorile JF, Kacsik D, Perry A, Robertson B, Williams R, Lowensteyn I, Digel S, Caruso J, LeBlanc WG. The impact of knee and foot place on the electromyographical exercise of the superficial quadriceps. J Orthop Sports activities Phys Ther. 1995 Jul;22(1):2-9. doi: 10.2519/jospt.1995.22.1.2. PMID: 7550299.

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