Legs, Legs, Legs: Don't Neglect Them In Your Workouts
Like the foundation of a house, your legs are the foundation of your body. Most of our physical activities
involve the use of our legs, even those actions that seemingly use our upper bodies.
Throwing a ball involves legs as much as it does arms. Our legs propel the body forward, giving impetuous to the
throwing action of our arms.
Watch any athlete throw a ball of any sort. They are not throwing with their arms, they are throwing with their
The thigh muscles of the legs make up the single largest muscle group in our bodies; the quadriceps and the
hamstrings (thigh biceps). Working and developing our legs gives us great muscle mass.
Since muscle mass consumes more calories than other tissue, strongly developed legs will do more for our fitness
program than any other single muscle group.
I once overheard a renowned bodybuilder turned power-lifter make the statement, "If I were allowed only one
exercise I could do, I would choose to do squats." His logic was that performing heavy squats worked every part of
your body and your cardiovascular system.
Machines are fine for leg extensions, hamstring curls and calf raises, but nothing works the quadriceps like
squats. Whether done with the barbell across your shoulders or held chest-high in front, they will make your thighs
strain when you do them deeply enough.
The Squat - This is best accomplished with your heels slightly elevated, like on a piece of 2X4 stud. With your
legs at shoulder width, the bar may be either across your shoulders (traditional method) or held in the front at
Squat until your thighs are slightly less than parallel to the ground and then return to the start position.
Be sure to use a rack with limit stops if you are working with heavy weights. It is smart to have a workout
partner or a spotter who knows what they are doing.
If no spotter is available, try using a bench to limit your squat travel. Straddle the bench and squat until
your posterior just touches the bench and then return to the start position.
In this manner you will avoid getting stuck in the down position with a lot of weight on the bar.
An alternative squat for "finishing" work is called a hack-squat. This is performed with the barbell held behind
you with your arms at full length and your heels slightly elevated.
Squat until your thighs are nearly parallel with the ground and the weights on the barbell are nearly to the
floor. Return to the start position.
Leg Extensions (machine) - These will define your quads, particularly low near your
knees and is a great leg exercises to building leg muscles easily.
Hamstrings and Glutes - The muscles on the rear of your leg, from the back of your knee
to the small of your back.
Lunges with dumbbells are performed while holding two light to moderate weight dumbbells and taking a long step
forward, stretching your rear leg until you knee nears the floor.
Rise back to upright position and step forward with the other leg.
This exercise may be done while remaining in nearly the same spot, or by traveling forward with each step.
Thigh Curls (machine) - With a curling motion, much like with your arms, curl the weight
until your hamstring is fully contracted.
This may be done with each individual leg or with both together.
Calf Raises - Using a barbell or a Smith Machine, stand with your toes on the piece of
2X4 you used for the squats.
With your legs straight, lower you heels until they touch the floor and then return to the start position.
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