Any guy who wants to remain fit in his old age should never neglect leg workouts. Ask any engineer; he will tell you that the strength of a structure lies in its foundation. The same principle applies to the human body. A frail or under developed lower body will not be able to provide you with the solidity and sturdiness you need to lead a productive lifestyle in your old age. So, you need good leg workouts to keep you super active in your old age.
To develop a specific body part you need specific exercise-routine to target that particular body part. Thus to develop your lower half you need to incorporate those movements that train your quads, gluteus, hamstrings and calves—such as squats, hip thrusts and lunges.
An important aspect is how long you should allocate to each body part. A good technique is 45 minutes workout session. Typically, your body is in a building mode after a 40-45 minute session – meaning it’s at its strongest during that time. Any additional time added or infused into the program sets your body in a state known as “recovery mode” because of fatigue. Furthermore, this is the phase during which most injuries occur. That’s why I personally love 45-minute workout for its combination of all aspects to give me width, depth, strength, endurance, and power all in one! So, I took up the task of designing a series of 45-minute workouts. The five I have already done are (i) the best 45-minute biceps workout (ii) 45-minute chest building workout (iii) 45-minute back workout routine (iv) 45-minute chest workout routine and (v) 45-minute shoulder workout routine.
Best Leg Workout Routine – 45 Minutes
Check out here my specially designed best 45-minute leg workout program comprising of 5 best exercises for mass, size and shape that will not only build and make stronger your gluteus, quads, hamstrings and calves, but also fortify your foundation for many years to come. Give it a try and see how it works for you!
Instructions: First warm up completely, and then carry out 3-4 sets of the following exercises, for recommended number of repetitions each, with 90-120 seconds of rest in between the sets. Increase weight by 5 or 10 lbs in each subsequent set. To get best results, let your legs rest for at least 2 days before re-training.
1. Barbell Deadlifts: As the king of mass gaining exercises the deadlift should not be ignored. Indeed, in my experience as a fitness buff and based on the results witnessed by many of my body building buddies, the deadlift (if performed correctly) will build unparalleled mass while strengthening all the major muscles groups. The deadlift, in my opinion, builds the upper and lower body like no other movement.
(i) Begin by placing a barbell on the floor. Approach the bar so that it is centered over your feet. Your feet should be about hip-width apart. Bending your knees, head looking straight ahead, grip the bar at shoulder-width allowing your shoulder blades to protract. Preferably, you should use an alternating grip.
(ii) With your feet and your grip set, take a big breath and then lower your hips and flex the knees until your shins contact the bar, all the while keep looking forward with your head. Keep your chest up and your back arched, and begin driving through the heels to slowly lift the barbell off the floor with head looking forward and without bending your back.
(iii) After the bar passes the knees aggressively pull the bar back, pulling your shoulder blades together as you drive your hips forward into the bar. Hold for a count of one second and lower the bar by bending at the hips and guiding it to the floor.
(iv) Repeat the above movements for recommended number of repetitions.
Number of Sets: 3-4; Reps: 8-12.
2. Barbell Front Squats: Electromyographical studies show both back and front squats recruit many major muscle groups- the upper back, abdominals, lumbar spine, gluteals, thigh adductors, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.
(i) For safety purposes, we recommend that you perform this exercise inside a squat rack. To begin, first set the bar on a rack slightly below shoulder level. Load the bar with appropriate weight; bring your arms up under the bar while keeping the elbows high and the upper arm slightly above parallel to the floor. Rest the bar on top of the front deltoids and cross your arms while grasping the bar for total control.
(ii) Lift the bar off the rack by first pushing with your legs and at the same time straightening your torso.
(iii) Step away from the rack and position your legs using a shoulder width medium stance with the toes slightly pointed out. Keep your head up and back straight at all times to maintain proper balance. This will be your starting position.
(iv) Begin to slowly lower the bar by bending the knees as you maintain a straight posture with the head up. Continue down until the angle between the upper leg and the calves becomes slightly less than 90-degrees (which is the point in which the upper legs are below parallel to the floor). Inhale as you perform this portion of the movement.
Total Fitness Tip: To perform this exercise correctly, the front of your knees should make an imaginary straight line with the toes that is perpendicular to the front. If you let your knees go past that imaginary line (if they go past your toes) then your knees are put under undue stress.
(v) Hold for a count of two and then slowly lift your body as you exhale by pushing the floor mainly with the middle of your foot as you straighten the legs again and go back to the starting position.
(vi) Repeat for the recommended number of repetitions.
Number of Sets: 3-4; Reps: 8-12.
Caution: Be careful while performing this exercise. If you have any back issue, substitute it with the dumbbell squat variation or a leg press instead. If you have a healthy back, ensure correct form and never slouch the back forward as this can cause back injury. Be careful as well while choosing the weight; in case of doubt, use less weight rather than more. The front squat is a very safe exercise but only if done correctly. This version of the squat is better suited for advanced athletes.
Just Fitness Tip: You can alternate between front squats and back squats on different days.
(i) The front squats target the quadriceps and the upper back. They require a more upright posture, thus minimizing flexion in the lumbar spine and increasing core stabilization to a greater degree of potential spine flexion.
(ii) The back squats emphasize more on the gluteals and lumbar spine, and are less tedious when performing high-rep, deep fatiguing sets.
3. Dumbbell Lunges: The lunge targets the fronts of your thighs. Also known as the quadriceps, these muscles contract when you straighten your knee. As you push away from the floor with your leg and straighten it, you use your quads. The backs of your thighs, your hamstrings, remain contracted to keep your knee from bending too quickly and you falling to the floor. The muscles in your lower legs also statically contract to provide stability for the lunge. Add lunges to your workout routine to improve the look, strength and feel of your legs.
(i) Begin by holding two dumbbells in your hands by your sides. Stand with your torso upright, this will be your starting position.
(ii) Step forward with your right leg around 2 feet or so from the left foot being held stationary behind and lower your upper body down, while keeping the torso upright and maintaining balance. Your back knee should be kept about an inch off the floor. Inhale as you go down. All the while keep your back straight, and head looking forward.
Caution: As in the other exercises, do not let your knee to go forward beyond your toes as you come down, as this will put undue stress on the knee joint. Make sure that you keep your front shin perpendicular to the ground.
(iii) Hold the position for a second and then using mainly the heel of your foot, push up and return to the starting position as you exhale.
(iv) Repeat the movement for the recommended number of repetitions and then perform with the left leg.
Caution: This is an exercise that involves a great deal of balance so if you suffer from balance issues you may better either avoid it or just use your own bodyweight while holding on to a fixed object. Definitely never perform with a barbell on your back if you suffer from balance issues.
Variations: There are several ways to perform the exercise.
One way is to alternate each leg. For example do one repetition with the right, then the left, then the right and so on.
A more challenging version is the walking lunges where you walk across the room but in a lunging fashion. For walking lunges the leg being left back has to be brought forward after the lunging action has happened in order to continue moving ahead. This version is reserved for the most advanced athletes.
Lunges can be performed with dumbbells as described above or with a barbell on the back, though the barbell variety is better suited for the advanced athletes who have mastered the exercise and no longer have balance issues.
4. Barbell Hip Thrusts: The Hip Thrust is a glute exercise designed to improve your strength, speed and power. The glutes are designed to extend the hip or pull the leg behind the body. If your glutes are underdeveloped, your speed, power and strength are all compromised. That means you’ll have weaker Squats and Deadlifts as well as lower vertical jumps than you could have otherwise. Aren’t those the things you’re trying to improve?
(i) Begin seated on the ground, legs in a 90 degree angle, back leaning against a bench directly behind you (make sure bench does not move). Gently place a loaded barbell over your legs. Using a fat bar or having a pad on the bar can greatly reduce the discomfort caused by this exercise.
(ii) Roll the bar so that it is directly above your hips while securing it with your hands, and lean back against the bench so that your shoulder blades are near the top of it.
(iii) Begin the movement by driving through your feet, raising your hips upward vertically through the bar – until your body is parallel with the floor (or raised as far as possible) and your shoulders and head are resting on the bench so as to support your weight by your shoulder blades and your feet.
(iv) Hold for a count of one second and then reverse the motion to return to the starting position.
(v) Repeat for the recommended number of repetitions.
Number of Sets: 3-4; Reps: 8-12.
5. Calf Raises: When the gym goers do a leg workout, they usually focus on the large muscles of the thighs and hips — neglecting their lower legs. Taking time to work the calf muscles offers aesthetic and biomechanical benefits. Skipping training for the muscles of the calf can make you prone to injury, so make an effort to target them in your next leg strength-training session.
(i) Begin by holding a pair of dumbbells by your sides. Keep your back straight and your head looking forward.
(ii) Place the ball of your feet on a sturdy elevated structure (Note: make sure that your feet are able to perform full range of motion). This will be your starting position.
(iii) Slowly lift your feet until they are fully extended. Hold for a count of two and then return to starting position.
(iv) Repeat for the recommended number of times.
Number of Sets: 3-4; Reps: 12-15
If you are looking to stimulate some new muscle growth in your legs muscles than this 45-minute legs workout routine is guaranteed to add shape and mass to your legs.
If we have missed any of your favorite leg exercise, please let us know.