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The best workout for strong legs

Whether you like them or you hate them, you certainly cannot ignore your leg workouts. Lounge speaks to fitness trainers to tell you why

Don't ignore your leg days.
Don't ignore your leg days. (Istockphoto)

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The world of fitness enthusiasts can be easily divided right down the middle, between people who love leg days and people who hate them. No matter what your emotions about it, there is no skipping leg workouts because strengthening leg muscles improves agility, overall athletic performance and supports a healthy movement pattern in daily life, says Pawan Jani, coach and co-founder of Chakra Fitness in Pune. Legs are the foundation of optimal strength in the human body, points out Cult.fit strength coach Rahul Huidrom. “It is an important aspect of a truly well-balanced fitness routine that builds strength, speed and stability. Additionally, our lower body needs to move in every possible direction at slow, medium and explosive speeds,” he adds.

The major muscles in the leg are long muscles. There are also smaller muscles which support the larger muscles to stabilise and rotate joints like hips and ankles enabling functional and dynamic movements, explains Huidrom. The quadriceps in the front of the thigh are made up of four muscles (vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius and rectus femoris) and are the major extensors of the knee.

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The hamstrings are composed of three muscles (biceps femoris, semimembranosus and semitendinosus) at the back of the thigh that affect hip and knee movement. The calf muscles are pivotal to the movement of the ankle, foot and toes. Some of the major muscles of the calf are gastrocnemius, soleus and plantaris. Then there are the glutes in the back of the legs and they sit just above the hamstrings. Within and around these big muscles are smaller individual muscles that function together to ensure proper movement and support for your joints and the rest of the body.

Since leg muscles form the largest muscle group in the lower body, and play multiple roles in one’s life, leg workouts form an integral part of any training programme, says Huidrom. “These workouts not only help maximize our potential but they also improve our overall fitness. Strong leg muscles will keep our body balanced and create a strong and stable foundation,” he says. Strong legs also help prevent injuries and manage chronic conditions such as arthritis, adds Jani.

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To build strong legs one must master the squat and the deadlift, to start with. These compound movements stimulate the release of large amounts of hormones such as cortisol, testosterone and human growth hormones.They engage the major muscle groups of our body and improve athletic performance. Among the additional benefits of leg workouts are increased core strength and stability, stronger bones and stress management. Also, single leg exercises like single leg deadlifts and lunges improve balance and coordination.

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Rahul Huidrom’s Leg Workouts

Workout 1

Four Sets

Barbell Back Squat: 6-10 reps

Leg Press: 10-15 reps

Single leg Extensions: 12-15 reps

Four Supersets

Romanian Deadlifts: 8-12 reps

Seated Leg Curls: 8-12 reps

Three Sets

Bulgarian Split squat: 8-12 reps

Four Sets

Calf raises: 12-18 reps

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Workout 2

Four Sets

Leg Press: 10-15 reps

Smith Machine Squats: 6-10 reps

Four Sets

Dumbbell Walking Lunges: 8-10 reps (each leg)

Stiff Legged Deadlifts: 8-12 reps

Lying Leg Curls: 8-12 reps

Four Sets

Weighted Barbell Hip Thrust: 10-12 reps

Calf raises: 12-18 reps

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Workout 3

Four Sets

Barbell Front Squat: 6-8 reps

Leg Extensions: 10-15 reps

Heel Elevated DB Lunges: 8-12 reps

Four Sets

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts: 8-12 reps

Lying Leg Curls: 8-12 reps

Four Sets

Weighted Barbell Hip Thrust: 10-12 reps

Calf raises: 12-18 reps

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Pawan Jani’s Leg Workouts

Day 1

Four Sets

Back Squats: 8-12 reps

Three Sets

Walking Lunges: 10 reps (each leg)

Leg Extensions: 12-15 reps

Hamstring Curls 3 Sets * 12-15 reps

Four Sets

Standing Calf Raises: 12-15 reps

Day 2

Four Sets

Deadlifts: 8-12 reps

Three Sets

Leg Press: 10 reps

Bulgarian Split Squats: 10 reps (each leg)

Hip Thrusts: 10 reps

Four Sets

Seated Calf Raises: 12-15 reps

Day 3

Four Sets

Front Squats: 10 reps

Stiff Leg Deadlifts: 8-12 reps

Three Sets

Leg Press: 10 reps

Weighted Step-Ups: 10 reps (each leg)

Hamstring Curls: 10 reps

Four Sets

Standing single leg Calf Raises: 12-15 reps (each leg)

Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.

Also Read: How to build strength with just bodyweight exercises

  • FIRST PUBLISHED
    01.04.2022 | 10:00 AM IST
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