Everyone loves a wide chest and big arms, but you can’t afford to neglect your legs when it comes to building serious power in the gym. Not only does training your lower body ensure an even physique and balanced build, but leg strength means major calorie burn due to the sheer size of muscles like your glutes, quads and hamstrings. Add to that the fact that most lower body training demands work from other areas of the body like the back and core, and you can see why leg training should be a central part of your strength and conditioning programme.
Painful but effective, lunges are a great accompaniment to squats. Vary your stance to work adductors and abductors and use either a loaded bar across your shoulders or dumbbells held by your sides. You can even put one leg up behind you on a bench.
Classic lifts like the deadlift are the cornerstone of any good functional strength training programme. Deadlifting works the hamstrings, back, glutes and entire posterior chain, leading to better posture, stronger legs and increased lower body power. Try a variety of deadlifts like sumo, straight-legged and Romanian.
Best performed with a free bar or Olympic bar, squats are undeniably one of the best ways to build strength, size and leanness in the legs. Load the weight up and go deep: the deeper you squat, the more you’ll engage your glutes. There’s nothing like the sight of an athlete performing heavy squats with perfect technique.
The leg press machine gives you the chance to get a deep range of movement whilst staying in control. You can also use the leg press machine to work your calves by hanging your heels off the bottom edge of the plate. Vary the width of your stance to hit your legs from all angles.
Often used in partnership with the ham curl (try supersetting the pair of exercises), this machine is great for quadricep development. Just don’t use the machines exclusively. Always include free weights and the big lifts which use the Olympic bar (unless you have an injury or another physical reason not to).
Training your legs is hard work and demands a lot from your body, so make sure you remain ‘protein positive’ at all times.