If you’re looking for a killer leg workout to build an impressive pair of gams, you’re in the right place. 

In this article, you’ll learn the best leg workout for maximizing leg development. 

Follow this leg day workout routine for 8-to-12 weeks, eat enough calories and protein, and get enough sleep, and I guarantee you’ll have a stronger and better-developed lower body on the other side. 

The Ultimate Leg Workout

This intense leg day workout is guaranteed to build muscle and strength in all your lower-body muscle groups

For optimal results, do the exercises in the order given, only do the workout once weekly, and avoid additional leg training throughout the week.

Barbell Back Squat

Sets: 3 | Reps: 4-to-6 | Rest: 3-to-5 min

leg day workout

 

The barbell back squat is the most effective leg exercise for developing all your lower-body muscle groups. It also allows you to lift heavy weights and progress regularly, making it ideal for gaining size and strength.

How to:

  1. Position a barbell in a squat rack at about the height of the top of your breastbone.
  2. Step under the bar, pinch your shoulder blades together, and rest the bar directly above the bony ridges on the bottom of your shoulder blades.
  3. Lift the bar out of the rack, take one or two steps backward, and place your feet flat on the floor a little wider than shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointing slightly outward.
  4. Sit down into the squat position and remember to keep your back straight and push your knees out in the same direction as your toes throughout each rep. 
  5. Stand up and return to the starting position.

Common Mistakes: To prevent your knees from caving in as you stand up, imagine spreading the floor apart with your feet by driving your feet into the ground and away from each other (though they shouldn’t actually move). Doing so increases glute activation and enables you to lift more weight with a lower risk of pain or injury.

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Romanian Deadlift

Sets: 3 | Reps: 6-to-8 | Rest: 3-to-5 min

leg workouts

The Romanian deadlift (RDL) trains the posterior chain (the muscles on the back of your body) similarly to the conventional deadlift. However, because of the difference in technique, the RDL emphasizes the hamstrings and glutes rather than the back. It’s also less fatiguing than the conventional deadlift, allowing you to do it more frequently without wearing yourself to a frazzle. 

If you can’t do the RDL because of past injuries, substitute it for the hip thrust. The hip thrust trains the glutes and hamstrings to a high degree but places significantly less stress on your spine, making it a solid alternative to the RDL.

How to: 

  1. Stand up straight holding a loaded barbell with a shoulder-width, overhand grip (palms facing toward your body).
  2. Flatten your back and lower the weights toward the floor in a straight line while keeping your legs mostly straight, allowing your butt to move backward as you descend.
  3. Once you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, bend your knees slightly more, and continue lowering the weights until your lower back begins to round—just below the knees for most people and about mid-shin for those who are particularly flexible. 
  4. Squeeze your glutes and reverse the movement to return to the starting position.

Common Mistakes: Letting the barbell drift from your body heightens the chances of back rounding, which can lead to injury. The best ways to avoid this are to focus on dragging the bar up your body and contracting your upper back and lats throughout each rep.

Dumbbell Lunge

Sets: 3 | Reps: 6-to-8 | Rest: 3-to-5 min

leg workout

The lunge effectively trains your entire lower body, making it perfect for a leg day workout. It’s also beneficial because it trains a single leg at a time, which helps you find and fix muscle imbalances.

The regular forward lunge is the best option for overall leg development. However, if you want to emphasize your glutes, opting for the reverse lunge may be more fitting. 

How to:

  1. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand up straight with both feet about shoulder-width apart.
  2. Take a long step forward with your right foot—about two to three feet—and plant your right foot flat on the floor. With most of your weight on your front foot, kneel down until your left knee touches the floor. 
  3. Reverse the motion by pushing off the floor with your front foot and leaning slightly backward, allowing your legs to straighten.
  4. Once you’re standing, bring your right foot back to the starting position. 

Common Mistakes: Lunging with your feet almost in line with each other makes balancing more difficult. Avoid this by ensuring your feet stay about hip-width apart throughout the exercise. 

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Leg Curl

Sets: 3 | Reps: 8-to-10 | Rest: 2-to-3 min

leg day

Leg curls are excellent for strengthening the biceps femoris and semitendinosus muscles, which comprise a large chunk of the hamstrings. This can boost deadlift strength and potentially prevent hamstring and knee injuries.

How to: 

  1. Sit on the leg curl machine with the back of your knees a couple of inches off the pad supporting your thighs and adjust the heel pad so it’s across your Achilles tendons.
  2. Press your heels toward your butt until your shins are roughly perpendicular to your thighs (or closer)
  3. Raise your heels and return to the starting position.

Common Mistakes: Many people curl their feet toward their butt with control but let the weight yank their legs back to the starting position, robbing them of some of the muscle-building benefits of the exercise. Avoid this by completing the lifting and lowering portion of each rep with control.

Goblet Squat

Sets: 3 | Reps: 10-to-15 | Rest: 2-to-3 min

best leg workouts

The goblet squat is an excellent addition to any leg day workout routine because it allows you to do extra volume for your legs without putting much strain on your knees or lower back. 

How to:

  1. Hold a dumbbell in front of your chest with both hands. 
  2. Place your feet a little wider than shoulder-width apart, point your toes out to the side at about a 45-degree angle, raise your chest, and sit down. 
  3. Remember to keep your back straight and push your knees out in the same direction as your toes throughout each rep.
  4. Stand up and return to the starting position.

Common Mistakes: Holding the weight away from your body forces your biceps, forearms, and shoulders to bear weight, which makes balancing more challenging and limits the amount of weight you can lift. Correct this by holding the weight close to your chest with your elbows fully bent. 

Standing Calf Raise

Sets: 3 | Reps: 10-to-30 | Rest: 2-to-3 min

leg day workouts

The standing calf raise trains the calf muscles, which aren’t just for looking jacked—they’re also for running faster, jumping higher and further, and improving stability during other lower-body exercises. Do the standing calf raise for high reps using only your body weight, or make it more intense by holding a dumbbell in your free hand. 

How to:

  1. Place a calf raise block, step, or weight plate near something sturdy that you can use as a support (a squat rack or an adjustable bench set at a 90-degree angle works well).
  2. Place the ball of your left foot on the calf raise block and take hold of the support with your left hand.
  3. Raise your right foot off the floor by bending your knee.
  4. Raise your left heel as high as possible by pushing through the ball of your left foot.
  5. Lower your body as far as possible by lowering your left heel toward the floor. 
  6. Once you’ve completed the desired number of reps, switch sides and repeat the process with your right leg.

Common Mistake: Many people cut the range of motion short on the standing calf raise. Avoid this by lowering your body until you feel a deep stretch in your calf, hold it for a beat, then press through the ball of your foot and return to the starting position.

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Leg Workout Tips: How to Have the Best Leg Workouts Possible

Train with the right intensity.

To maximize the muscles- and strength-building effects of this leg day workout, push most sets close to muscle failure.

After each set, ask: “How many more reps could I have gotten with good form?” If the answer is more than two, increase the weight or reps to make your next set more challenging.

To maintain optimal intensity, you also need to increase the weights you lift as you get stronger. Do this by increasing the weights once you hit the top of your rep range for one set.

For example, if your training program for legs calls for 4-to-6 reps of squats and you get 6 reps for a set, add 10 pounds total for your next set and work with that weight until you can (eventually) squat it for a set of 6 reps, and so forth.

If you get 3 or fewer reps after adding weight, reduce it by 5 pounds to remain within your target rep range (4-to-6) for all three sets. 

Apply this progression method to all exercises in every workout.

Eat enough calories and protein.

To maximize muscle and strength gain, maintain a daily calorie surplus of around 110% of your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). 

You also need to eat enough protein to allow your leg muscles to recover, repair, and grow effectively. Aim to eat at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day.

Take the right supplements.

Here are the best supplements for supporting your training program for legs:

  • 0.8-to-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. This provides your body with the “building blocks” needed to build and repair muscle tissue and help you recover from your leg workouts. If you want a clean, convenient, and delicious source of protein, try Whey+ or Casein+.
  • 3-to-5 grams of creatine per day. This will boost muscle and strength gain, improve anaerobic endurance, and reduce muscle damage and soreness from your leg workouts. If you want a 100% natural source of creatine that also includes two other ingredients that will help boost muscle growth and improve recovery, try Recharge.
  • One serving of Pulse per day. Pulse is a 100% natural pre-workout drink that enhances energy, mood, and focus; increases strength and endurance; and reduces fatigue. You can also get Pulse with caffeine or without.

+ Scientific References