Hey there! Brandon Falkenberg from Clench Fitness here, and today I'm going to walk you through a few different exercises that you're going to want to add to your leg training program.
Legs can sometimes be difficult to build because they are the largest muscle group in your body, and they are accustomed to carrying heavy loads around (i.e. your bodyweight). To stimulate quality strength and muscle gains in your legs, you have to load them up and train with higher intensity than what your legs are already doing during your day to day activities.
I've put together a 3 different exercises with variations of each that you can implement into your leg training routine to help increase your training intensity and stimulate some strength and muscle gains in your legs!
Exercise #1: Squats
Squats are a great compound exercise that recruit all the major muscle groups in your legs. Here's a few variations of squats that will fire up your quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and your abdominals!
Squat Variation #1 - Banded Front Squat: This is a great low impact exercise that will promote good squatting form. The band is situated across the front of your shoulders and looping around under your feet. This will help to keep your spine, hips, knees, and ankles in proper alignment. You should notice more engagement and focus on your quads here.
Squat Variation #2 - Band X-Squat: Here's a great banded exercise that is very similar to the Barbell back squat. By using bands in this exercise vs free weights, you will find it to be easier on your back and spinal joints because the load is more effectively supported by your body. Also, because the bands are draped over your shoulders, you will be able to increase the resistance significantly and engage all of your leg muscles to really force some muscle growth.
Squat Variation #3 - Band Hack Squat: This exercise is almost the same configuration as the X-squat, but it is performed by leaning against a foam roller on the wall. This will help to place more focus on the quad muscles, as well as giving you more stability in the exercise. You should be able to use the most resistance in this exercise to really help build strength.
For all exercises, focus on keeping the reps slow and controlled and in the 10-20 rep range. You should spend about 1 second during the contraction or concentric portion of the rep, 1s pause at the peak of the rep, and 2-3 seconds on the way down (eccentric portion). You really want your legs to feel the time under tension.
Exercise #2: Sissy Squats
This is a great exercise to really pump up and burn out your quads.
Grab a 41" resistance band and find a place to anchor it with an anchor strap or whatever you have to anchor to. Place the band around your anchor and hook one side to each of your legs just below the knee.
Choose a heavy enough band to support 75-90% of your bodyweight so that you feel comfortable leaning back like you're going to sit in a chair without falling over backwards.
The key to form in this exercise is to try to keep your back as vertical as possible and keep your chest behind your knees (like you are going to sit down in a chair). On the way up straighten your legs to full extension and really flex your quads hard at the top.
Exercise #3: Hamstring Curls
Hamstrings are an often neglected part of the legs, and consequently are one of the most often injured muscles in the legs. To build strong legs, you need to train all muscle groups to keep them balance with each other.
Here are a few banded hamstring curl variations to help train your hamstrings without increasing your risk for injury.
The key to good ham curls is to keep the reps slow and controlled, drive your hips into the pad or ground (flex your glutes to extend your hips), and don't use momentum to force reps up from the ground. Focus on squeezing the hamstring muscle and running it through a full range of motion.
That's it for the 3 simple exercises to build stronger legs. Try implementing these into your workouts today, and I guarantee you that you'll feel a difference!