How can I make my legs stronger?

Leg training - building leg muscles effectively and safely

Many athletes value a muscular upper body and neglect the lower area. Well-shaped and trained legs are very important for the overall impression.

Not only a proudly arched breastplate and washboard abs should be on your to-do list. You should also always include your legs in your training at home. Not only that slim stilts do not match the muscular rest of the look at all. Our legs also carry us through life every day. The stronger they are, the easier it is for us. Not to forget the visual advantages of well-shaped legs. We'll show you how you can optimally build up your leg muscles at home.

 

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The leg muscles

Which muscles ensure well-formed legs?

The greatest powerhouse is the four-headed thigh muscle called the quadriceps femoris on the front of the thigh. Its four individual muscles allow the knee to be stretched. The inner muscle component is particularly important because it contributes significantly to the stabilization of the joints. On the back lies the hamstring muscles, which consist of the two-headed thigh muscle (biceps femoris), the half-tendon muscle (semitendinosus) and the flat tendon muscle (semimembranosus). All three act as hip extensors and knee flexors. The lower leg muscles consist of the three-headed calf muscle (Triceps surae), the twin calf muscle (gastrocnemius) and the clod muscles, called soleus. The gastrocnemius in particular acts as a powerful flexor in the ankle and has a stabilizing effect on the knee joint.

The training principles

How can I optimally train my legs?

When training, you should keep a few principles in mind: The main part of your workout should consist of multi-joint and compact exercises. As a beginner, six exercises are usually enough. Two of them should work the leg muscles. Two to three training sessions on non-consecutive days are ideal. In studies, the rule of three has proven to be particularly effective. In other words: You do three sets of 12 to 15 repetitions per exercise with a break of about 60 seconds in between. The load is optimal if the last repetition is strenuous, but you are still performing it technically correctly. After six to eight weeks of regular training, you can increase the load and sometimes train until your muscles are exhausted. But even then, a technically correct movement is important. It is ideal if you alternate between exhaustive and less exhaustive training units. Professionals can train with up to 90 percent of their maximum strength. Then 3 sets of 4 to 8 repetitions are ideal.

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The tools

Which devices can I use to train my legs optimally?

 

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You have two options for training at home: training with free weights and training on multi-gyms. Both dumbbells and kettlebells are very suitable for your leg training. The advantage of free weights: The movements correspond to everyday movement sequences and they are more effective because more muscles are used. However, they are also a little more difficult to perform. Even small changes in the sequence of movements can activate completely different muscles. Training in front of the mirror or with a training partner is therefore recommended. Exercising on a multi-gym is easier in terms of movement. You choose the weight you want and do your exercise. They are therefore particularly suitable for beginners. But professional athletes also train on multi-gyms from time to time, as they can be used to precisely dose the weight.

The leg muscle exercises

What exercises do muscular legs do?

Probably the most effective exercise to build up the leg muscles is the squat, also known as the squat exercise. You can do it in different variations and with different tools. We will introduce many of them to you below. The calf raise is very effective and essential for muscular calves. At a suitably equipped multi-gym, you can also train the individual leg muscles largely in isolation. Here, too, we will introduce you to a few exercises.

 

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Leg training for beginners

Which exercises do I use to build up muscles?

Squats with dumbbells

Exercises the quadriceps femoris and the glutes

You take a dumbbell in each hand and hold it next to your body with your arms outstretched. Then lower your buttocks with your back straight to a 90-degree angle in your knees. Hold briefly and push back up without stretching your knees completely.

Squats with a barbell

Exercises the quadriceps femoris and the glutes

You put the barbell behind your head on your shoulders and stand hip-width apart. The feet point slightly outwards. This allows the knees to follow the feet in an anatomically correct manner. Then tense your abdominal and glutes and squat with your back straight to a 90-degree angle. Hold briefly and then stretch again without pushing your knees all the way through.

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Squats with a kettlebell

Exercises the quadriceps femoris and the glutes as well as the back extensor

Grasp the spherical part of the kettlebell from below with both hands and hold the weight in front of your chest. You are standing a little more than hip-width apart and your feet point slightly outwards. Then you crouch down in a controlled manner with your back straight. The knees point towards the toes. Then press up again in a controlled manner without going into full extension.

One-legged squat

Exercises the quadriceps femoris, glutes and hamstrings

The one-legged squat is also highly effective. You can also do this exercise with dumbbells, barbell and kettlebell. Hold dumbbells on the right and left side of your body. You place the barbell behind your head on your shoulder. You take the kettlebell from below with both hands and hold it in front of your chest. The basic exercise then looks like this:

You go into the lunge step, the chest is raised, the view is pointing forward and the weight is on the front leg. Then slowly bend your knees and hips, whereby the front knee should not protrude beyond the tip of your foot. You lower your back knee almost to the floor. Then slowly stretch out again.

Calf raises

Exercises the two-headed calf muscle and the clod muscle

Another exercise that you can do with dumbbells, barbell or kettlebell. You take dumbbells and kettlebells in your right and left hands, and place the barbell behind your head on your shoulder.

Stand with the balls of your feet on a stable platform or step board. Your body is very straight. Then you lift both heels as high as possible, hold them briefly and lower them again.

Leg curls on the multi-gym

Exercises the hamstring flexors

Depending on the multi-gym, you can do the leg curls sitting or prone. The exercise is self-explanatory, the multi-gym dictates the movement. Controlled and not jerky movements are important. Try to keep tension permanently.

Leg extension on the multi-gym

Exercises the quadriceps femoris

With this sitting exercise, you can train the quadriceps, one of the largest muscle groups in the body, in isolation. This exercise is self-explanatory as the multi-gym dictates the movement.

 

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Leg training for advanced users

How can I train my legs even better?

The following exercises are a bit more difficult. They either strain more muscle groups or you have to try to keep your balance while doing some exercises at the same time.

Front squat with barbell

Exercises the quadriceps femoris, glutes and hamstrings

In this exercise, the barbell rests on the front of the shoulders. You are standing upright and a little more than hip width apart, with your feet pointing slightly outwards. Then raise your chest and then squat with your back straight until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold briefly and press up again in a controlled manner.

Bulgarian squat with dumbbells or barbell

Exercises the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, biceps, and clod muscles

For this exercise, you need a low bench or step that you stand in front of with your back. When working with dumbbells, take them in both hands and hold them on the sides of your body. You place the barbell behind your head on your shoulders. Then you bring one leg back and put the tip of your foot on the bench or step. From this position you slowly bring your back knee down until your front thigh is parallel to the floor. Hold briefly and press up again. Change legs after each set.

 

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Lunge to the side with a dumbbell or kettlebell

Exercises the quadriceps femoris, the hamstrings and the two-headed calf muscles

You stand up straight and hold the dumbbells or kettlebells at chest height. Then you take a big step to the side with one leg, keeping your upper body straight. The knee of the straight leg must not protrude beyond the toes. The thigh of the bent leg is parallel to the floor. Then return to the starting position. Change side.

Climbing stairs with dumbbells, kettlebells or a barbell

Exercises the quadriceps femoris, the hamstrings, the glutes, the two-headed calf muscles and the clod muscles

For this exercise, you need a weight bench, a fixed stool or another stable, raised platform. You stand in front of the bench and then place your left foot on the bench. It is ideal if the upper and lower legs form a right angle. Then you press your left heel into the bench, tense the thigh and gluteus muscles, push yourself up and place your right foot on the bench. Then you get off the bench with your right leg. Change side.

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Seated calf raises with a barbell

Above all, it trains the clod muscle

You sit on a weight bench or a stool and place a sufficiently heavy barbell on the front of your thigh. You then push them up by bringing your heels up.

Leg training for professionals

Which leg exercises are suitable for professionals?

If you have been training for a long time and have a lot of leg strength, you may be looking for exercises that are particularly challenging. So here are three exercises for professionals:

Hackenschmidt squat with barbell

Mainly trains the quadriceps femoris, but also the glutes and hamstrings

You take the barbell in an overhand grip and bring it up behind your body in the upright position. The feet are shoulder-width apart and are slightly turned outwards. Then you go into the squat by slowly lowering the barbell behind your body. You bend your knees so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. The back is straight, the buttocks stretched out backwards. Then straighten up again.

Lunge with a barbell over your head

Exercises the quadriceps femoris, glutes, hamstrings, deltoids and back extensors

This exercise is very demanding because you have to keep your balance at the same time. You stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart. Bring the barbell upwards in the wide overhand grip, bend your elbows slightly. Then, with the core muscles tensed, take one leg forward with a large step until the back knee almost touches the floor. Hold briefly, then shift your weight onto your back leg and return to the starting position.

Deadlift with barbell

Exercises the glutes, the hood muscles, the back extensor muscles, the straight abdominal muscles, the hamstrings and the quadriceps femoris

Highly effective exercise that is also part of powerlifting. The barbell is in front of you under your feet. You take the barbell bar more than shoulder width in the interchangeable handle. Then lift the dumbbell by pressing your legs firmly into the floor and straightening your knees and hips. The back is completely straight. Go up to the stand, then lower the weight in a controlled manner. Change handle.

Tip: You can also do this exercise with dumbbells.

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