Six Exercises To Build Big, Balanced Legs

Building strong, balanced legs is not only essential for athletic performance but also for achieving a symmetrical physique.

Whether you’re aiming to increase muscle mass, improve strength, or enhance your overall lower body aesthetics, these six exercises are your ticket to bigger, more powerful legs.


Barbell squats are the king of leg exercises, targeting the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and even the calves. Start with the barbell resting comfortably on your upper traps (high bar position) or across your rear delts and upper back (low bar position). Lower yourself by bending your hips and knees, keeping your chest up and your back straight. Descend until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then push through your heels to return to the starting position.


Although traditionally considered a back exercise, deadlifts also heavily engage the muscles of the lower body. They strengthen the posterior chain, including the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. Begin with the barbell on the ground in front of you, feet hip-width apart. Bend at the hips and knees to grip the barbell, then stand up by driving your hips forward and straightening your knees. Lower the barbell back to the ground with control.


Lunges are excellent for targeting each leg individually, helping to correct muscle imbalances. Stand tall with your feet together, then step forward with one leg and lower your body until both knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your front knee aligned with your ankle and ensure your back knee lowers towards the ground without touching it. Push through the heel of your front foot to return to the starting position and repeat on the other leg.


The leg press machine allows you to safely lift heavy weights while targeting the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Sit comfortably with your back flat against the pad and your feet shoulder-width apart on the platform. Push the platform away by extending your knees and hips until your legs are fully extended. Lower the platform back down under control.


RDLs emphasize the hamstrings and glutes while also working the lower back and core. Hold a barbell or a pair of dumbbells in front of your thighs with a shoulder-width grip. Keep your knees slightly bent and hinge at the hips to lower the weight down your thighs while keeping your back straight. Lower until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, then return to the standing position by squeezing your glutes.


Strong calves complement well-developed thighs. Stand on a raised platform with the balls of your feet firmly planted and your heels hanging off the edge. Perform this movement on a Standing Calf Raise Machine or hold a dumbbell in each hand for added resistance if needed. Push through the balls of your feet to lift your heels as high as possible, then slowly lower them back down.

Tips for Building Big, Balanced Legs:

  • Progressive Overload: Gradually increase the weight or resistance you use to continually challenge your muscles.
  • Mind-Muscle Connection: Focus on contracting and squeezing the muscles you are targeting with each exercise.
  • Full Range of Motion: Perform exercises through their full range of motion to maximize muscle activation and growth.
  • Rest and Recovery: Allow adequate rest between workouts to promote muscle repair and growth.
  • “KEEP IT HOT”:  As a general rule, throughout the range of motion while performing your repetitions, be sure to keep activation and tension within the targeted muscle. Oftentimes when performing reps, many people will pause at the top of a movement, ultimately resting before continuing the set. You are leaving too much “flavor on the table” when you do this. In addition, this can be dangerous if pausing the weight with knees hyperextended.
     Incorporate these exercises into your leg training regimen with proper form and intensity, and you’ll be well on your way to sculpting impressive, balanced legs that command attention both in and out of the gym. GAINZ

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