5 Best Exercises to Train Your Legs + Schedule

Many athletes focus on the six-pack or arms, but the legs are just as important. To create a total picture, it is important that you do not skip leg days. After all, it does look quite strange when only the upper body looks great and there are two thin legs underneath.

In this article, we will therefore give you the best exercises for training the (upper) legs and we will also give you a schedule to do a total leg workout!

5 best exercises to train your (upper) legs

  1. Squats With Weights
  2. Leg extensions
  3. Leg press
  4. Thigh Abductor
  5. Smith machine standing calf raise

Training schedule

  1. Warm-up
  2. Squats
  3. Leg press
  4. Thigh Abductor
  5. Leg extensions
  6. Smith machine standing calf raise
  7. Cool Down
best exercises for training the upper legs

leg training

It is noticeable when the legs are not trained. Because these are often forgotten, the rest of the body looks great, but the legs are often forgotten. When you want to train your legs, it will not be very easy. The muscles in your legs are the largest and you will therefore not immediately see the result.

To train the legs in the right way, you need a number of exercises, of which you also know how to perform. Proper execution of the exercises is key, so in this article, we will also give a clear explanation of how to do the exercises. Try to stick to this too, because poor performance can cause injuries.

Video: 20-minute workout to train your legs from home

5 best exercises to train your (upper) legs

1. Squats With Weights

Everyone has probably heard of squats. Squats are mainly known for the buttocks, but this exercise is also very good for the legs. Use weight to make it a little heavier. If you do it more often, you can increase your weight.

You can also easily do this exercise at home, which is very nice. It is also possible to do it without weights, so you don't really need anything. With weights, you will of course see faster results!

The squat may seem like an easy exercise, but many people don't perform it correctly. In that case, the muscles will also build up less quickly. Squats are also good for losing weight and just getting a healthier lifestyle.

How do I do this exercise?

Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Your toes should stick out straight, so not too far out (this happens often). A little bit to the outside is allowed.

Try to keep your back/spine as straight as possible. Keep your chest and shoulders up. Your weight should be on your heels and not on the fronts of your feet. You bend down at your hips and press your buttocks back. Your feet should be in line with the knees during the squat.

2. Leg extensions

Leg extensions are more of an exercise for the gym because you need a fitness device for this. It is also important for this exercise that you perform the exercise correctly. This can otherwise have a bad effect on your knees. Listen carefully to your body and do not continue if it is not going well.

How do I do this exercise?

For this exercise, you need a leg extension fitness device. When you have the device in front of you, you can first choose which weights you take. If you are just starting this exercise, try not to pick a weight that is too heavy. You can easily make this exercise heavier and build up by training with increasingly heavier weights.

leg extension fitness

Then sit on the machine with your legs under the pads and hold the sidebars of the machine with your hands. You should adjust the pads so that they fall on top of your lower legs, just above your feet.

Also, make sure your legs form a 90-degree angle between the lower and upper leg. If the angle is less than 90 degrees, it means your knee is over your toes. This can put excessive pressure on the knees and can lead to injury. If the device cannot do this for you, find another device to reduce the risk of injury.

Then extend your legs to the maximum and make sure that the rest of your body remains in the same position. Try to hold the extended position for a moment. Then slowly lower the weight back down.

3. Leg press

This exercise can be done at the gym or at home. At home you can use special elastics, you can also buy these heavy, but also less heavy. You use a device in the gym.

How do I do this exercise at home?

Lie on the floor on a mat. Put your feet close together and put the elastic behind them. Take the handles of the elastics in both hands. Start with the knees pulled towards you and then push them straight forward. Make sure the rope is tight and then slowly bring your knees back toward you.

Leg press

Make sure that the elastic is properly behind your feet because if it is not, there is a chance that the elastic will pop into your face.

How do I do this exercise in the gym?

Start again by setting the weight you want. Sit on the device and spread your legs to shoulder width. Place your feet in the center of the platform of the device and then push away from this platform with your legs. Make sure that your knees remain slightly bent, otherwise too much weight will be placed on your knees and this can cause injuries.

4. Thigh Abductor

This exercise can also be done at home, but also in the gym. At home, you can use resistance bands and in the gym, you can use a fitness machine.

How do I do this exercise at home?

You will need resistance bands to do this exercise at home. A set of these tires is quite cheap and you immediately have heavy and light tires at home. During the exercise, you place this band just below your knees and then you move your knees apart so that there is pressure on the band and your muscles tighten.

You could also do this exercise with a resistance band that you can wrap around your ankle. You then clamp the other side of the belt between the door at home. So you tie the band on one side to your ankle and you lean on your other leg. Start with the feet together and then move the leg with the resistance band around the ankle as high as possible to the side. This puts pressure on the band again.

How do I do this exercise in the gym?

Sit on the machine and set the weight you feel comfortable with. The sides of the thighs should be against the device. When your legs are well-positioned, grab the handles of the machine, your upper body should remain still as you perform the exercise.

Then press against the machine with your legs to push your legs apart. Try to hold the contraction of the muscles for a while and then slowly move your legs back. Keep your body as still as possible while doing this to avoid injury.

5. Smith machine standing calf raise

While the name of the exercise sounds exciting, the exercise is anything but. It is of course important that the exercise is performed correctly. It is also a heavy exercise, so possibly for the slightly more experienced athletes. This exercise can be done at home, but also in the gym.

How do I do this exercise?

Place a block or weight plate under the bar on the device. Adjust the bar to suit your height. When you have chosen the correct height, step on the plates with the front of your feet. Then place the weight on the back of your shoulders.

Smith machine standing calf raise

Grab the weight with both hands and then turn the weight to remove it from the device. Then raise your heels as high as possible by pushing off with your feet. Here you bend your calf at the top of the contraction. Your knees should remain extended. Try to hold this position again for a while before returning to the starting position.

At home, you could do this exercise on the stairs with a weight in your hands. In this way, it is very similar to exercise in the gym.

Training schedule

Now that you know which exercises are good to increase your muscle mass in the legs, it is also useful to have a schedule. Below we will suggest a scheme that you can use. We will indicate how long you have to do everything and how often.

1. Warm-up

It is always important to warm up first. Your body and muscles are therefore ready to train. So try to stretch and stretch your legs. Stand on a treadmill for a while and walk in yourself. Do this for about 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Squats

Then start with a not too intense exercise, such as squats. Start squats without weights first, then build up with weights to get your body ready for the heavier exercises.

Do these squats 3 times for 30 seconds, first without weights and then with the weights.

3. Leg press

Now that your body has warmed up a bit, we can move on to the heavier exercises. The leg press is the next step we take. Set the weights you like and then follow the instructions we discussed earlier for this exercise. You can also make the weight a bit heavier in between if you can handle this.

Do this exercise 8-10 times in a row and repeat 3 times. Of course, you can choose to do it longer if you can handle this already, but we start from the beginner here.

4. Thigh Abductor

This good exercise for the thighs is our next exercise. Again, set the weights you like and follow the instructions given earlier. Make sure you perform this exercise correctly, with the upper body very still, otherwise the risk of injury is very high. Otherwise, ask for help at the gym if you're not sure how to do it exactly.

Just like the leg press, do this exercise 8-10 times and repeat 3 times. You can do this again, if you are already that far, for longer or with a heavier weight.

5. Leg extensions

The next exercise you can do is the leg extensions. Set the weight you like, follow the instructions above and you're good to go.

Do this exercise again 8-10 times and repeat this 3 times.

6. Smith machine standing calf raise

Then the last exercise is the Smith machine standing calf raise. This exercise is more for the more experienced athletes because you really have to hold the weight in the right way. If you don't think this exercise is for you yet, leave it out and do some squats if you want to round out the workout.

Follow the instructions given earlier and this exercise should be performed correctly, ask for help if you don't think you know how to do this exercise.

Also, do this exercise 8-10 times to start and then repeat 3 times.

7. Cool Down

An important part of the workout is the cool-down. So don't immediately leave the gym when you're ready, walk on the treadmill for a while (at a slow pace, so don't run) and then you can finish this training. Of course, after you have trained the legs, you can also just train the abdomen, arms, etc.

The advice is to do this schedule a maximum of 3 to 4 times a week because your legs sometimes need a rest. Especially for beginners, the advice is to build this up slowly.

The most important thing is that you perform the exercise well and stop when the exercises are still too heavy or not suitable for you. If you get injured, you can no longer train at all!

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