Leg Exercises

The Lower-Body Workout for Maximum Results in Minimum Time

A strong lower body doesn't have to mean killing yourself for hours at the gym. Reap the benefits of strong legs with this fast and hard routine.

by
Seated Leg Extensions
milan2099 / Getty
milan2099 / Getty
Duration 45 min.
Exercises 10
Equipment Yes

I already like you. You know why? You’re not searching for a chest-only workout or looking for a quick fix to get huge arms or chiseled abs. You want to do what most people aren’t willing to—you want a functional workout to build a powerful lower body.

I’ll warn you: That means a lot of hard work. But if you understand the value of leg workouts, you also probably know the payoff is huge for every aspect of your strength and overall fitness. A strong lower half can help you maintain your motor functions and age better, excel in more sports, and benefit even day-to-day tasks like yardwork, bending over to pick up your child, and getting out of bed in the morning.

Here’s the good news: You don’t need to make the gym your second home and suffer through hours and hours of grueling workouts every week to get the body you really want. You’ll have to work hard, but it doesn’t have to take forever and you can even enjoy the process along the way.

I’m going to show you what it takes to build a lower body you can be proud of. It’s not complicated, but it’s also not as simple as doing more squats or endless sets of leg extensions and curls.  

There’s a reason you can’t spell “legendary” without “leg day.”

The Lower-Body Workout for Maximum Results: Quick Tips

  • This workout is structured to get the muscles properly warmed up and ease you into the heavier working sets. Going blindly into a workout without a proper warmup is asking for injury.
  • There are varying rep ranges so you can properly stimulate the various types of muscle fibers in different ways, shocking them and bringing growth and development.
  • Working sets should be heavy, but not all-out. You should have maybe 1 or 2 reps left in the tank. We want to shock the body, but not to the point that it can’t recover for the next workout.

Exercise-specific Tips:

  • Barbell Back Squat: For maximum stimulation of the quads, keep the torso upright, lower slowly until you’re a little beyond parallel, pause at the bottom for a second, and then explode up in a controlled manner for each rep.
  • Leg Press: Vary the foot placement on the sled to stimulate different areas of the quadriceps.
  • Walking Dumbbell Lunge: Hold dumbbells at your sides, lower your working leg for a count of 2, pause at the bottom for one second, and then come up for one second. Switch legs and repeat.
  • Adduction Machine: Push inward for 1 second, contract for 1 second, then slowly lower for 2 seconds for optimal muscle stimulation.
  • Stiff-Legged Deadlift: Lift the bar as you would with a traditional deadlift, then slowly lower until you’re a bit below the knees and feel a good stretch in your hamstrings. Keep your core tight and your back in proper alignment.
  • Seated Leg Curl: In a controlled manner, explode until at full contraction, pause for a second, then lower for 3-4 seconds.

Warmup

Exercise 1

Leg Curl How to
Leg Curl thumbnail
2 sets
20 reps
30 sec. rest

Exercise 2

Leg Extension How to
Leg Extension thumbnail
2 sets
15 reps
30 sec. rest

Exercise 3

Barbell Back Squat How to
Man Barbell Back Squat thumbnail
2 sets
8, 5 reps
30 sec. rest
Use a lighter weight for the warmup.

Exercise 4

Adductor Machine
exercise image placeholder
1 sets
12 reps
-- rest

Exercise 5

Calf Raise On Leg Press How to
Calf Raise On Leg Press thumbnail
2 sets
12 reps
30 sec. rest

The Lower-Body Workout for Maximum Results

Exercise 1

Barbell Back Squat How to
Man Barbell Back Squat thumbnail
4 sets
13-15, 10-12, 7-9, 4-6 reps
40-60 sec. rest
Increase the weight as you decrease the reps.

Exercise 2

Leg Press How to
Leg Press thumbnail
3 sets
10-12, 7-9, 4-6 reps
45-60 sec. rest
Increase the weight as you decrease the reps.

Exercise 3

Walking Dumbbell Lunge You'll need: Dumbbells How to
Walking Dumbbell Lunge thumbnail
3 sets
13-15, 10-12, 7-9, each leg reps
45-60 sec. rest

Exercise 4

Adductor Machine
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
16-20, 13-15, 10-12 reps
45-60 sec. rest
Increase the weight as you decrease the reps.

Exercise 5

Stiff-legged Deadlift You'll need: Barbell How to
Stiff-legged Deadlift thumbnail
3 sets
13-15, 10-12, 7-9 reps
45-60 sec. rest
Increase the weight as you decrease the reps.

Exercise 6

Seated Leg Curl How to
exercise image placeholder
3 sets
10-12, 7-9, 4-6 reps
45-60 sec. rest
Increase the weight as you decrease the reps.

Exercise 7

Calf Raise On Leg Press How to
Calf Raise On Leg Press thumbnail
3 sets
10-12, 7-9, 4-6 reps
45-60 sec. rest
Increase the weight as you decrease the reps.

Exercise 8

Seated Calf Raise You'll need: Bench How to
Seated Calf Raise thumbnail
3 sets
10-12, 7-9, 4-6 reps
45-60 sec. rest
Increase the weight as you decrease the reps.
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