We are all familiar with those guys at the gym that spend all their time on upper body workouts. For them, having a broad chest and big biceps is all that matters. But if you want to have a fit and strong body or need to build your legs for participating in certain athletic activities, developing your base is crucial.
Everyone notices the jacked up pecs and delts on heavy lifters at the gym but they just as easily notice those that won’t wear shorts because their legs look more like toothpicks. Neglecting your quads, hamstrings and calves is doing a disservice to your exercise program and will limit your ability to compete in sporting events.
Here are some great exercises for building your base and getting your legs in shape.
Squats: One of the most basic of exercises, squats are performed by competitive power lifters and athletes in just about any sport. A simple exercise that will put your lower body to the test, squats are not easy and should be done under the eye of a spotter. Start with light weights and get the form correct. Doing squats halfway or sinking too deep can be detrimental to your muscle growth. However, when done properly, this exercise will strengthen your quads, lower back and hamstrings giving your legs a great workout.
Leg Press: If squats prove to be too intense you can get similar results using the leg press machine. From a seated position you extend your legs upward moving the weight platform and then bring it back down. This exercise mainly works the quadriceps but can also hit the hamstrings and calves and is easier to perform than squats. It’s also possible to use more weight in the leg press but you don’t want it so heavy that you can’t do a complete rep from start to finish. Doing any exercise halfway will diminish the results you get.
Standing Calf Raises: When working your legs, don’t forget your calves. Many trainers overlook these muscles and figure other exercises are doing enough to work the calves as well. Don’t take any short cuts when it comes to lower body development. Standing calf raises are an excellent way to build muscle and get definition in your calf muscles. By lifting weights by inching up on your toes you give your calves the workout needed to hit these muscles directly.
If there is one warning for anyone who is about to exercise their legs it is this: stretch. Doing squats, leg extensions and lunges can easily lead to pulled groin muscles and leg muscles if you do not stretch properly. You should spend between 5 and 10 minutes stretching all of your leg muscles before leg day at the gym and also remember to stretch your groin.