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Many guys focus on training their upper bodies, attacking the mirror muscles – chest, arms, shoulders. But there is a catch:
if you want all that ‘Greek god torso’ training to be worthwhile, you’ve got to spend some serious time building your lower body, too.
Here are some of the best lower body exercises for men. Training your legs challenges your entire body, for a variety of reasons. Your upper body, after all, has to hold all that weight. And, plus you can go heavier on leg days than you can when training, let’s say, your arms, and hitting your body with all that weight will drive a strong hormone response throughout the entire body and burn calories, too. Ready? Mix and match the moves below and get started!
- Stand with your feet hip to shoulder-width apart, holding a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length by your sides.
- Keeping your back flat, chest up, and core braced, push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
- Pause, then push yourself back up to the starting position.
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart holding a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length by your sides, palms in.
- Keeping your right leg straight and right foot on the floor, step to the left side with your left leg, then push your hips back as you bend your left knee. Lower the weights on either side of your left knee until your left thigh is parallel to the floor.
- Pause, and then push yourself back up to the starting position.
- Hold a weight at your chest using both of your hands and stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
- Brace your core, then drop your butt back and down to lower into a squat while keeping your chest up.
- As you squat, sit back into your heels without shifting your weight forward onto the balls of your feet. Try to get as deep into the squat as possible to maximize glute activation.
- Then, driving through your heels, come back up to standing and give your glutes a squeeze at the top.
If you want to make it harder either increase the weight or slow down your descent. Try a tempo of four seconds on the way down and one second on the way back up, followed by a one to two-second pauses at the top before your next rep.
Bulgarian split squat
The Bulgarian split squat is a version of a single-leg squat where the back leg is elevated on a bench or a sturdy chair. As a single-leg, unilateral squat, the exercise places a greater focus on the quadriceps than other, similar lower-body compound movements. It also requires a lot of balance and coordination, which increases the level of core and upper body engagement required to maintain proper form.
- Stand facing away from a bench, holding a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length by your sides. Place the toes of your left foot on the bench behind you.
- Keeping your torso upright and your core engaged, lower your body until your right thigh is parallel to the ground.
- Pause, and then push back up to the starting position. Do equal reps on both legs.
There are several ways to do lunges: you can do it with just bodyweight or you can load it with weights. There are several ways to hold weights: you can hold them at your sides (arms fully extended); with your elbows bent, upper arms straight in front of you, weights at shoulder level (front rack position) or you can hold one dumbbell, hold it at your chest (goblet position).
- Stand tall holding a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length by your sides (palms in) with your feet hip-width apart.
- Keeping your chest up, shoulders back, core braced and back flat, take a large step forward with your right foot.
- Lower your body until your front thigh is parallel to the ground and your rear knee is bent 90 degrees (not touching the ground).
- Pause, and then reverse the movement to return to the starting position.
- Repeat stepping forward with your left foot
- Continue alternating legs with each rep.
With kettlebell swing you’re hammering your core, driving your heart rate through the roof and adding size, strength, and power into your hamstrings and glutes. Hinging at your hips (helps ‘hip extension’) is another reason why this one is a must-have in your leg day.
- Start with the kettlebell on the floor slightly in front of you and between your feet, which should be shoulder-width apart,
- Bending slightly at the knees but hinging mainly at the hips, grasp the kettlebell (with both hands) and pull it back between your legs to create momentum.
- Drive your hips forwards and straighten your back to send the kettlebell up to shoulder height. Let the bell return between your legs and repeat the move.
Barbell Hip Thrust
This is a great way to bear plenty of load to challenge the glutes and hamstrings, without having to fear excessive low back or spinal stress. The hip thrust uses the gluteus maximus (the upper glute muscle), gluteus medius (the lower glute muscle), the quadriceps, and the hamstrings. This one is a glute developing go-to. And plus, this exercise involves the entire core, including the muscles referred to as “stabilizer” muscles that help us keep our balance and keep our spine stable.
- Begin by putting padding around your barbell to prevent it from digging into your hips when you thrust.
- Place your upper back on your bench with your barbell across your hips.
- Keep your feet planted firmly on the ground, close to your glutes.
- Drive your hips skyward, engaging your core and abs.
- Keep the movement in the lower body as much as possible (don’t “rock” your upper body to complete the move).
- Hold for a count then lower to your starting position.
- Repeat for 8 to 10 reps.
Don’t feel as if a barbell is your only option when it comes to hip thrusts. You can also hold a dumbbell placed across your lap, a weight plate, or even use straps.
Just make sure these weights are in the centre of your hips to avoid imbalances. Once you start to need heavier weight, progress to a barbell as it distributes weight better and can be padded to protect your hip flexors.
Perfect Leg Day
Now you got perfect tools to have a great leg day. Mix and match these exercises. Be consistent and patient and even sooner than you think, results will show.
Thank you for reading this article. If you have any question, or want to leave a comment – impression, suggestion, your thoughts, experience… please do so in the comment section below, and I’ll be happy to help you out.