In bodybuilding, we all have our favourite body parts and exercises, but, whatever you do – do not commit the cardinal sin of severely under training your legs so your torso looks like a heavy, well-chiselled (yet unfinished) statue stuck atop of two exposed thin steel bar-reinforcements. Trust me, that is precisely what you will look like if you don’t get working those legs.
It’s not rocket science. In fact, just a handful of exercises are needed. As always, I aim to give you the best and most effective so you don’t waste your time and make it any more painful than it already is. Let’s get to it…
Also known as the quads, they are the largest and most powerful muscle group in the entire body – and developing them will also add significant poundage to your overall body weight.
The best way to develop the quads is by using a squatting exercise. Now, I know few people enjoy squats, and some find them hellishly difficult, but, trust me, there is a variation out there which will suit you and give you the desired results – you just have to find it yourself by testing them all.
For me and my physical proportions (long legs, short body), traditional squats were difficult, and I soon discovered the awkward technique I had to employ was bringing my glutes (butt muscles) into play far too much, which resulted in a rather unflattering bottom-bulge for a while.
I put that right by using a smith machine to perform my squats, with my feet position slightly forward of my hips, allowing my torso to remain perpendicular to the floor and bringing my thighs into play more, and I also made use of the hack squat machine. (Both good machines for us long-legged squatters.)
Another big and powerful muscle set are the hamstrings – often called the leg biceps. Now, single leg curls are pretty good at developing these babies, but, the exercise which gave me the best results was always the straight legged dead lift.
Now, having good back, calve, and hamstring flexibility here is important – you’ll need it. And, for the extra-flexible who could benefit from an extended range of motion, they may wish to stand on a shallow platform.
They can be one of the most tricky and difficult areas of the leg to develop, but they are well worth it, and completely necessary to avoid the chicken leg look.
For calve development, you have a choice of different types of raises. All should include high reps (15-20, because the calves grow best from high reps) and added weight (dumbbells/a weighted belt, or a person.)
Did I just say a person?
Yes – the most effective exercise for the calves is the ‘donkey calve raise’ variation. Bent over at the torso, with the legs straight, balls of the feet on a stable elevated block with the heals free to move lower, a person will sit on your back while you perform your calve exercises.
Some theorize that this is the best method to build the calves because of the extra stretching tension they are constantly under with the legs being straight, and the torso being bent almost parallel with the floor.