Never skip a leg day. Your legs are your foundation. Even in sports that focus on throwing or punching, the majority of power comes from your legs. The last thing you want is for your legs to look skinny, seeing as how it will give you an imbalanced look, even with a well-developed torso.
In fact, even those who just want to lose weight would benefit from gaining some leg muscles, seeing as how these are the largest muscles in your organism. As such, they will help boost your metabolic rate, which means that you’ll burn far more calories than if you were to just focus on bicep curls.
With all these caveats and benefits in mind, here are the top eight tips to help you gain muscles in your legs with a great diet and exercise.
The only way to gain muscle mass is to eat enough protein. Even if you’re overweight, the stories about converting fat to muscle are nothing short of a myth. You need to build muscle and lose fat at the same time, which means that even if you are in a caloric deficit, you need to consume enough protein. According to some estimates, you need 0.5 g to 0.8 g per pound of body weight in order to build muscle. This is true regardless of where you want these gains to be made. Later, you can localize with adequate exercises.
All cardio exercises help you build leg muscles. Running moves your entire body, same as swimming while skipping rope and cycling hit some of your leg muscles more than others. For strong calves, for instance, you need to do more skip ropes (more skipping, in general), while for your thigh muscles you need to cycle a bit more.
When it comes to building leg muscles, it goes without saying that there’s nothing better than squats. This is a simple exercise that’s effective even as callisthenics. Sure, doing 10 squats without a barbell is a piece of cake but what about 50? What about 70? Still, in order to save time and maximize the effect, get yourself a squat rack, a barbell, and some weights and you’ll have everything you need.
Some may argue that the leg press machine hits the majority of leg muscles that you would target by doing squats, to begin with. Still, providing some variety can make your leg day a bit less boring. Other than this, the leg press is a great vanity exercise, seeing as how it’s a bit easier than some other leg exercises. This means that you’ll be able to lift (push) more weight than you would be able otherwise. This is a great ego boost and it might be exactly what your confidence needs.
Lunges are amazing for the strength of both your legs and your buttocks. While they also help with balance and core stability, the visible effects that they’re going to achieve are in the leg region. As far as the specific muscles go, lunges are great for the gluteus maximus, hamstrings, quadriceps, and calves. In other words, they contribute to every single leg muscle area that you’re trying to build. Regularly doing lunges benefits your body and health as a whole.
The thing with the Romanian deadlift is that it hits your legs a tad more effectively than a conventional deadlift. In terms of muscles that are active during this exercise, there are erector spinae, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and adductors. In other words, the strength of your entire posterior chain muscles is put to a test this way.
All you need for this exercise is an elevation of sorts. Ideally, you would use some stairs or a stool. It seems like a relatively simple exercise until you add enough reps into the series. Moreover, if you want to make it a bit harder (more effective), you can always hold dumbbells in your hands while doing step-ups.
Not everyone who you assume skips a leg day is actually skipping a leg day. Your genetics are sometimes unfair, which means that there are some goals that are simply unattainable. Still, this doesn’t mean that you’re completely powerless. The effects of your exercise will still be there and the only way to get discouraged is to expect too much. So, stay modest and keep your efforts in continuity.
At the end of the day, leg muscles are a major muscle group, which means that by doing some of these exercises, you’ll affect your entire athletic performance. This is also why you need to rest regularly. Two leg days per week are more than enough (although you can get by with just one, as well). Just stay consistent and focus on your gains. Everything else will fall in place on its own.