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Ah...leg days! The bane of many a "would be serious fitness buff's" existence. Everybody who works out knows that they need to have leg days as part of their workout regimen, but not everyone does.
That's mostly because your glutes, hamstring, and quads burn at a whole different level of pain from your pecs and "guns." Or at least that's what it feels like. Couple that with the fact that it takes a whole lot of working out to see any gains on your legs, and you have a lot of people simply overlooking the much-needed leg workouts for men at home and at the gym.
However, just because they hurt and take forever to get "shredded" doesn't mean that you should forgo exercising those legs. If you want a well-rounded, fit-looking body, then you need to incorporate some lunges, calf raise exercises, and Bulgarian split squats to build up those legs too.
There are some simple yet highly effective leg workouts that you can try at home today. This list includes both body workouts (without weights) and a few that will need some kind of weight or specialized workout machines:
This is one of the most effective leg workouts for both men and women for two very good reasons:
The thing about squat jumps is that, to get the most out of it, you have to push your body as far as it can go. This means jumping as high as possible. Unfortunately, that is also the easiest way to get injured should you land too heavily. That is why proper form is important in this and every other exercise you undertake.
Squat Jump Instructions:
Step 1: Put your feet apart at a comfortable hip width
Step 2: Squat down so that your thighs are parallel to the floor
Step 3: From that position, jump up as high as you can (leaving the ground) and on landing, maintain a 45-degree angle knee-bend (the same position you had before you jumped
Step 4: Hold that position for about two seconds then jump up again as high as you can and repeat for the selected amount of reps
You can either do this in terms of time (for one or two minutes), or you can go for repetitions (10-20 per set depending on your fitness level)
Lunges are a staple of leg day workouts. When done correctly, they will not only help you stretch out those leg muscles but also build up their strength and tone them up very nicely.
Step 1: Put your left or right foot forward (whichever one you choose to start with) as if you were walking forward. Keep that foot about 3 feet in front of the other one.
Step 2: Ensure that your shoulders are up, your back is straight and look straight ahead.
Step 3: Slowly lower the leg that was left behind and bring that knee to about one inch off the ground bending the front knee to a 45-degree angle in the process.
Step 4: Hold that position for about 2 seconds then stand back up to the starting position.
Repeat this process for the appropriate number of reps before switching leg positions and repeating for an even number of reps. As you get better, you can incorporate a dumbbell to increase the weight and strain on your legs.
While this might not need any kind of weights or specialized machines, it does require you to have a sturdy box nearby. In many cases, you can use an old tire.
Step 1: Place the box or tire directly in front of you.
Step 2: Place one foot on the box or tire and one on the ground.
Step 3: In one quick movement, jump up, simultaneously putting pressure on the foot that is on the box while lifting off with the foot that is on the ground.
Step 4: Quickly switch foot positions midair with the one that was the box or tire landing on the ground while the one that was on the ground lands on the box or tire.
Step 5: Pose for about 2 seconds then repeat.
Do this for the appropriate number of reps, depending on your fitness level. Start with 20 then ramp up by the same number every other week. You can add dumbbells to make it more challenging as your fitness levels grow.
If you have a home gym, one of the best machines to buy is the Pro 6 Aspen StairMill Stair Climber. This is a compact machine that mimics regular stairs. Designed as a specialized treadmill-like apparatus, the stair stepper will have you mimicking challenging uphill climbs or going up 12 story buildings using the stairs.
It's an excellent machine that allows for a maximum of 120 steps per minute and has several user-controlled levels, which makes it a perfect leg and butt toning tool as well as an effective lower body workout machine. Using it is simple enough; just set up the settings that you prefer and climb away. Make the settings tougher the fitter you become.
This is an exercise designed to strengthen your hips in particular while building up your core as well. Just as is the case with every other body-weight exercise, form is of utmost importance.
Step 1: Lie flat on your back and put your arms on your sides.
Step 2: Keeping one of your legs straight, bend the other leg at the knee while keeping that foot on the ground.
Step 3: Raise the leg that is straight up so that it comes in line with the thigh of the bent leg.
Step 4: Keeping those leg positions, push your hips up while squeezing your glutes. Don't arch your back.
Step 5: Hold that position for about two seconds then return to the starting position.
Repeat the same process for the appropriate number of reps for a specific duration, such as 30 seconds before switching legs and doing it all over again for an even number of seconds or reps.
Just like the typical lunges, side lunges are designed to help you stretch those leg muscles while toning them up and helping them develop strength.
Step 1: Plant your feet firmly on the floor at two shoulder widths apart.
Step 2: Keeping one of your legs straight, bend the other knee as you slowly lower your body.
Step 3: Keep bending until the thigh of the leg being bent is parallel to the ground.
Step 4: Hold that position for about 3 seconds.
Step 5: Return to the starting position and then switch legs.
Repeat this for the desired amount of reps or time duration. You can start with 10 reps for each leg and hold for 3 seconds, then ramp up the reps and the holding duration the stronger and fitter your legs get.
If you are having a serious leg day, then be sure to do three sets of these leg workouts for men at home at least twice a week. Not only will you quickly develop an incredible amount of leg strength, but you will also have those puppies well-toned and extremely flexible in no time at all. The key, however, is consistency and scaling up as time goes.