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8 exercises for developing big legs

“Did you skip leg day, bro?” Well, you at least thought about it. We all have. But during your next workout, concentrating on the upper-mirror muscles alone and your spaghetti legs will not only draw some less than accommodating looks, but it will also leave your neutral single-digit body fat plans stuck.Use the right below-the-belt exercises, though, and you're going to pump blood to your biggest muscles, burn calories, and tone your body from shoulders to calves. That's right, from below is the path to a six-pack.

So the moves make the most of leg day count? Below are the best lower-body moves by PT Ollie Frost that will guarantee maximum muscle development in the least amount of time. Skinny Jeans RIP.

Squat overhead

Do you think he's a real man? After a few reps of this, you are going to be. An overhead squat will test the limits of your flexibility, stability, balance and strength, while also highlighting any weaknesses that you might need to focus on with the next exercise on this list in your erector spinae, adductors and rhomboids (your hips, essentially).

The Leg Press

First, let's address what many trainers hate about the leg press: when done poorly, it can cause lower-back injury. And when guys load the last plate on the sled in the gym and try to half-ass a few reps out, with their lower back disengaging partially from the pad on each rep because of woefully inflexible hamstrings and glutes, that's about as wrong as you can get.It's true that it's one of the gym's most abused movements, possibly because you can feel like a big shot and carry a lot more weight than you can on a squat, but the leg press can be very effective when used carefully. And just as significant, in what would otherwise be a very squat-centric leg program, it helps to provide variety.

Key Areas Targeted: Quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings (emphasized with feet lower on the platform and closer together) (emphasized with feet higher and wider on platform)

Step-Up Up

One of the most functional exercises on this list is probably this. You probably walk up stairs on a fairly regular basis after all, right? Being a unilateral exercise, it also suggests that a stronger leg will not substitute for a weaker one, bearing the full brunt of the motion with each leg taking its turn.


Because the classics can't beat you. This lower-body staple will not only build substantial leg size, but it will also build a solid posterior chain that will help strengthen the balance of the body and add inches to your height.

The Lunge of Walking

Lunges come in more variations than breakup songs by Taylor Swift. In any direction, front, side, backwards or any point in between, you can do stationary lunges and have a damn fine exercise on your hands. But finally, walking lunges made our list because a) they are slightly more functional because you step forward constantly instead of standing still and b) they have an outstanding finisher to Any exercise with legs. Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman used to take a loaded barbell outside no less than eight times and lunge through the Metroflex Gym parking lot in the Texas heat to cap his leg day, which in his heyday was a sight to behold with thighs as wide as 36 inches across.

Hack Squat

While the barbell version of the hack squat is perfectly appropriate, especially for those training at home, the standard machine-based hack squat you see is our preference here at most gyms.This is the one that is plate-loaded and slightly twists the body backwards. You can find a little more protection inside the walls of the system than you would with the free-weight squat, which becomes more important when you tire during a workout. That implies that hacks are a great choice for mid-workout, acting as a bridge between squatting and other movements such as leg pressing and lunging.

Split Squat Bulgarian

Did athletes with Bulgarian strength really use this movement as a foundation of training? The myths do not fit the facts, but the name has stuck to what is a fairly good exercise, all in all. That is, as suggested by well-known Canadian strength coach Charles Poliquin, if you tweak the typical variation (shown here).He claims that over-elevating the back leg, positioning it on a flat bench or even higher, decreases the front leg's flexibility, thereby limiting your strength capacity and putting you at risk of injury while also stressing the spine excessively. His remedy? A split squat in which you lift the back leg just 6 inches from the floor is the exercise that lands at No. 5 on our list.

Squat Barbell

How do we just leave out this one? The barbell squat pushes up the muscle-building T-levels by hitting the larger muscle fibers, the classic compound cornerstone of all leg movements. Just to put it simply: this move is worth every good leg day.