Increasing the size of your leg muscles can make your lower body look leaner and more defined. Getting your legs to bodybuilding caliber will take months or years of hard workouts, however. It also requires adhering to a strict diet and a strong commitment to your routine. You will still see a noticeable difference in a short amount of time with a weekly bodybuilding leg workout.
Set a barbell at shoulder height in a squat rack and stand underneath it. Position the bar across your upper back and walk the bar out of the rack. With your feet hip-width apart, squat down by pushing your hips back and knees out until your thighs are just below parallel to the floor, then stand back up again. Squats are the king of lower-body exercises as they hit all your leg muscles, says strength coach Danny O'Dell, owner of ExplosivelyFit Strength Gym. Do five sets of eight to 12 repetitions, increasing the weight each set. The top set should be extremely tough, but just manageable.
Place a barbell on the floor and stand underneath it. Grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip and bend your knees until they lightly touch the bar. Drop your hips and lift your head and chest up until your back is flat. Perform a deadlift by forcefully pulling the bar off the ground until you're standing completely straight. Pause for a second, then lower it under control. Do three sets of six to eight reps. Deadlifts work your glutes, hamstrings, lower-back and core muscles.
Stand with a weight bench behind you and your right foot flat on the floor. Put your left foot onto the bench, with your toes resting on the edge. Hold a dumbbell in either hand and bend both legs until your left knee is just above the floor, pause briefly, then stand back up. Do 12 reps either side and repeat for three sets. Split squats stabilize muscular imbalances and build your quadriceps, writes Mike Robertson, owner of Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training in his book "Bulletproof Knees."
Adjust the height of the shoulder pad on a calf raise machine until it's at chest height. Stand with your knees bent, feet on the platform and shoulders underneath the pad, then straighten your legs so you're standing tall. Lower your heels as far as you can, count to three, then stand up on your tiptoes, squeeze your calves and count to three again, before slowly lowering your heels. Perform four sets of 10 to 15 reps using a controlled tempo and really focusing on squeezing your calf muscles.
- Aim to add a small amount of weight or an extra couple of reps to each exercise every week, while maintaining perfect form.
- Check with your health care provider before starting training and ask a qualified trainer for assistance if you're struggling with any exercise techniques.
Mike Samuels started writing for his own fitness website and local publications in 2008. He graduated from Peter Symonds College in the UK with A Levels in law, business and sports science, and is a fully qualified personal trainer, sports massage therapist and corrective exercise specialist with accreditations from Premier Global International.