Lifting for your Legs!

Part of the You Can Learn Weightlifting series.
By Ken Brown
September 6, 2004

     Many weightlifters neglect their legs, spending all their time on building the upper body, chest, biceps, triceps and backs. I remember years ago watching a professional basketball game at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois. One of the players, Nate Thurmond, had a huge upper body. But thirty years later, I still recall how strange he looked, because his arms and upper body were huge, but his legs looked like toothpicks in comparision.

As you try to achieve that classic form, you have to think whole body. It is not enough these days to think only of the upper torso. Plus, as you do the yard work the legs are so important in maintaining a good strong back. You want to lose weight? Work on the legs, with additional weights in your hand. Lifting for the legs burns calories. Nothing feels better than the burn after a good leg workout. You can barely walk up the stairs in your home the legs hurt so much, but as the old saying goes "it hurts so good". Add the following exercises to your weekly routine and see how much better you feel, your pants will fit better and your "whole" body will look good.

These leg workouts will work for the novice lifter and especially the hardworking bodybuilder. You can have massive legs easily. I originally started working my legs, because when I ran, I had pain in my knees. Since exercising my legs and the muscles surrounding the knees, I have been able to run again with little pain in my knees.

As always, if you haven't exercised in a long time or you have long standing medical problems, be sure and see a doctor before starting this or any exercise routine.
Leg Workout - Squat
  • Stand with a barbell on your shoulder
  • Keep your feet shoulder length apart.
  • Keep your back straight.
  • Bend your knees going down till your upper legs are parallel to the floor
  • Hold for one second.
  • Slowly straighten your legs.
  • Repeat 6 to 12 times.
  • For conditioning and good health do 2 sets
  • BodyBuilders do 3 to 5 sets
Leg Workout - Hack Squat
  • Stand over a barbell with the barbell behind your ankles
  • Bend your knees to pick up the barbell and lift with your knees.
  • Keep your back straight.
  • Still holding the barbell behind you stand up straight
  • Return to starting position
  • Hold for one second.
  • Repeat 6 to 12 times.
  • For conditioning and good health do 2 sets
  • BodyBuilders do 3 to 5 sets
Leg Workout - Leg Curl
  • Lie face down on bench
  • Place ankles under the pads
  • Lift your legs toward your buttocks
  • When legs are perpendicular to the bench, Hold for one second.
  • Slowly return to starting position
  • Repeat 6 to 12 times.
  • For conditioning and good health do 2 sets
  • BodyBuilders do 3 to 5 sets
Leg Workout - Leg Extension
  • Sit on the end of the bench with the back of your knees over the upper pads with the tops of your feet under the lower set of pads.
  • Lift your legs till they are almost fully extended
  • Hold for one second.
  • Slowly return legs to starting position
  • Repeat 6 to 12 times.
  • For conditioning and good health do 2 sets
  • BodyBuilders do 3 to 5 sets
Leg Workout - Heel Raise with Dumbbell
  • With dumbbells in your hands
  • Stand with your toes on a 2 X 4
  • Keep your back straight
  • Raise your whole body up lifting your heels into the air
  • Hold for one second
  • Return to start
  • Repeat 6 to 12 times.
  • For conditioning and good health do 2 sets
  • BodyBuilders do 3 to 5 sets
Leg Workout - Ankle Flexion with Weight Plate
  • Sit on edge of weight bench
  • Place a 2 X 4 on the floor with your heels on the board and your toes hanging over the edge.
  • Put your feet close together
  • Place a weight on the end of your foot
  • Lift your toes into the air
  • Hold for one second.
  • Slowly Lower toes back to start
  • Repeat 6 to 12 times.
  • For conditioning and good health do 2 sets
  • BodyBuilders do 3 to 5 sets
Leg Workout - Lunge with Dumbbells
  • Place dumbbells in your hand and stand with your feet shoulder length apart
  • With one foot, take one step about a stride
  • Keep your back straight
  • With the leg not extended, move knee toward the floor until upper leg is level with the floor
  • Hold for one second.
  • Return to beginning position
  • Repeat 6 to 12 times with each leg
  • For conditioning and good health do 2 sets
  • BodyBuilders do 3 to 5 sets
Leg Workout - Duck Squat
  • Take a barbell and place it in front of you on its side
  • Stand over the barbell with the barbell centered between your feet
  • Point your feet out to the side and spread your legs about 3 feet apart
  • Slightly bend your knees to pick up the barbell and lift with your legs.
  • Bend your knees to touch the barbell to the floor
  • Keep your back straight
  • Hold for one second.
  • Return to upright position
  • Repeat 6 to 12 times.
  • For conditioning and good health do 2 sets
  • BodyBuilders do 3 to 5 sets
Remember to start slow with small weights, just because you lifted 200 pounds as a 20 year old doesn't mean you have to begin at that weight. Try 10 pounds or 20 pounds and work up from there. The leg muscles play an integral part in everything we do, you don't want to mess that up. If you haven't weightlifted in a long time or have never weightlifted, then start small. I can't stress that enough. These exercises can be very dangerous if not done correctly or with the proper weight.

The leg exercises in this article will build your hamstring, quadriceps, and gastrocnemius muscles. You will find these leg workouts are important to overall health and can help you build massive legs, if you want. Be happy with your new bigger, stronger legs now you have read the basics of the leg workout.

I want to encourage you to have fun in your quest for a better, stronger, more fit body and legs.

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