“Chicken legs”—that’s a term often used to describe people who are lean and muscular on the top half of their bodies but have really thin legs. If you have chicken legs, you’ll often hear others telling you to not skip leg day. Well, today, you’re going to learn about the best exercises for training your legs that work best for specific muscle groups so you can maximize each workout.
Your quadriceps femoris (quadriceps extensor), or quads for short, is a large muscle group on your thigh that starts from the knee, covers the front and sides of your femur, and extends to the hip. For your quads, the three best exercises are squats and leg press.
- Start by standing up, your head facing forward, your chest up and out, your arms stretched in front of you, and your feet about the width of your shoulders apart.
- Now imagine a chair behind you. Slowly sit back and down on the imaginary chair. Stop when you touch the seat, which is when your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your weight must be pressed into your heels.
- Now push through your heels to stand back up. Repeat this process at least ten times.
To make squats more challenging, you can hold dumbbells or attach weights to your legs.
Leg Press: There’s a machine at the gym that allows you to do leg presses in different levels of difficulty. But you can also do leg presses at home without a machine. You can use a pair of resistance bands, a small stability ball or even a paper napkin paired with ankle weights.
- Lie down until your legs and thighs make a 90-degree angle. Make sure that your feet are about a shoulder-width apart.
- Push your heels and press your legs together.
- Slowly release your legs until they return to their original position. Repeat this process at least ten times.
Your hamstrings are tendons that attach your thigh muscles to the bone. It is located at the back of your thighs. The best exercise for your hamstrings is leg curls. There’s a machine at the gym that allows you to do leg curls in different levels of difficulty. But you can also do it at home with a chair and a pair of ankle weights.
- Start on a sitting position with weights tied to your ankles.
- Slowly lift your legs until they are aligned with your knees. Notice that your hamstrings feel stretched.
- Slowly lower your feet to the ground again. Repeat this process at least ten times.
Your calves compose the muscle group on the back of your lower legs. The best exercise for your calves is jump rope. You can alternate skipping rope for 30 seconds and resting for 30 seconds at a time. Repeat this process 5 to 10 times.
Bonus Workout: Wall Sit
This exercise will engage all the muscle groups in your legs. What you need to do is assume a sitting position (without a chair) with your back against the wall. Your thighs should be parallel to the floor. Hold the position for 30 seconds and feel your muscles burn.