The leg muscles are among the largest muscles in the body. Their size and strength are exceedingly important for a variety of reasons, which is why it's so unfortunate they're one of the most overlooked muscles in the body.
Here at the Fit Father Project, our biggest focus is to help men lose weight, build muscle, and feel better. Our most popular program, FF30X, has encouraged thousands of men to live happier, healthier lives. Believe it or not, leg workouts are one of our most powerful tools.
A regular leg routine is easily one of the best things you can do to gain more strength, burn more calories, and improve your fitness.
Reasons Why Everyone Should Be Doing Leg Workouts
It stands to reason that if you want strong legs, you’re going to want to do the most efficient leg workouts for men.
Strengthening your legs is not the only purpose of a leg workout. There are a variety of benefits, which is why everyone should be doing them more often:
Leg Workouts Help Maintain Your Nervous System
You may be surprised to learn that the latest research has linked neurological health with the signals sent to the brain by your leg muscles. These signals to your brain are just as important as the signals your brain sends to your muscles!
The study specifically looked at the effect of reduced muscle mass on the nervous system and found that people who lost leg muscle mass also experienced a negative impact on their nervous system.
Leg Workouts Strengthen Your Core & Improve Balance
Virtually every leg strengthening exercise you can think of requires you to balance and support your own weight and usually the additional weight of a pair dumbbells.
This means you aren't just building leg muscle, you’re also strengthening your core and improving balance.
In short, you’ll be better able to perform other exercises and be less likely to fall over.
Leg Workouts Help With Cardio
You may not think of leg exercises as cardio, but they are. The fact is that the blood has to be pumped around your extremities faster than normal.
If the exercise gets your heart rate up, but you're still able to hold a conversation, then it’s a cardio exercise. Most leg exercises fall into this category.
Leg Workouts Promote Fat Loss
Your leg muscles are the biggest group of muscles in your body. A compound exercise that involves multiple leg muscles will burn more calories than any other exercise.
In addition, your strengthened leg muscles will be larger and burn more calories at rest than they used to. A pound of muscle burns approximately 5 times more calories than a pound of fat even when resting.
That has to count towards your weight loss goals.
Leg Workouts Reduce Lower Back Pain and Prevent Injuries
If you already suffer from lower back pain, then it is important to choose your leg exercises carefully. Most exercises involve the back, which is why you need to do them properly in order to avoid injury.
If done correctly, you’ll strengthen your hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, and glutes, effectively reducing the risk of a back injury.
Leg Workouts Improve Your Looks
It’s important not to forget that well-defined legs look good. This can make you more appealing to that special someone, but the crucial consequence is that you’ll feel better about yourself.
This will translate into greater self-confidence, which can transform your life as you achieve things that previously seemed impossible; all because you suddenly believe you can.
Yes, the right leg workouts for men are that powerful!
How to Use Leg Workouts to Burn Fat & Build Muscle
Most people start doing leg exercises in order to build muscle. Working your legs will help with this, but it will also burn extra fat.
The difference is at the resistance level.
Low resistance with high reps (bodyweight for 15-20 reps), will stimulate your body to burn more energy. If you don’t have sufficient in your blood, then the fat in your fat cells will be converted to energy, helping you to lose weight.
High resistance with low reps (dumbbells for 6-8 reps), will focus more on muscle growth. This is because your muscles will be pushed to their limits, tearing the microfibers.
As the fibers heal naturally, within a 24-48 hour window, your muscles will get larger and stronger.
A mixture of the two, doing different compound leg exercises on different days, will help you to build lean muscle while burning fat.
The following is a playlist that features our favorite leg exercises for men.
Leg Workouts for Men That Really Work
They say talk is cheap. You’ve seen the benefits, but what you really need is some exercises to get you started. Check out the following leg workouts for men and try the routines. It will quickly make a difference in your strength, stamina, and self-confidence.
The Wall Sit
Stand approximately 1-2 feet from the wall, then slowly lower yourself into a seating position as though sitting on a chair. Your hands should remain by your side during this, and your back should rest against the wall. If it doesn't re-position your starting position, try again.
Your legs should be bent at 90° with your feet flat on the floor. Hold for a count of 5, return to the starting position and then repeat.
To make these more challenging add some dumbbells.
Top Tip: Dumbbells are better than barbells for this as you’ll need to maintain balance, forcing you to engage your core.
Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart, slowly lower yourself down by bending at the knees. You need to keep your back straight but at a 35°-45° angle forwards; if you don’t you’ll fall over backward. Hold for a count of 5 and then repeat.
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and a dumbbell in each hand. Move one leg forward, bending it 90° at the knee so that your thigh is parallel with the floor. Your other leg goes behind you, also bent with the knee nearly touching the floor.
Hold for 2 seconds and then return to the starting position before repeating with the other leg; that’s one rep.
You should use the dumbbell that fits with your goals, lighter for fat burning, heavier for muscle building.
The deadlift is a fantastic exercise that works nearly all the muscles in your body; the key is to get your form right.
Place your barbell in front of your feet and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees, keeping your back straight but angled forward.
Grip the bar firmly, for safety you should grip one hand palm facing inwards and the other with palm outwards.
Lift pushing up through your legs until you are standing straight. Your arms remain straight, and the barbell will be approximately waist height. Hold for a moment then lower back to the floor.
Stand on a step or the bottom stair in your house. The rear half of your foot should be off the stair. Slowly push yourself upwards onto tiptoes and then back down. You may need to hold on for balance when you first do this.
If you wish you can go lower than your starting position and then return to the start point.
This is very similar to the standard squat. Your feet start wider apart than a standard squat, and you’ll need a kettlebell or dumbbell which is held just below your head, in front of your chest, with both hands.
Lower yourself down as you would a normal squat. Your elbows can briefly rest on your knees before you drive yourself back up to the starting position.
This is very similar to the dumbbell lunge previously described. However, instead of driving your leg forward, you drive it backward, creating a 90° bend at the knee. The difference is that both legs will be at a 90° degree angle.
Drive back through your front leg to bring yourself back into the starting position.
The real benefit is that you’re less likely to go too far and overbalance and you’re more closely mimicking daily activities, like walking and running.
Donkey Calf Raises
This is a step up from the standard calf raise. You’ll definitely feel the burn with this exercise.
You can do donkey raises one of two ways:
- Get a volunteer to sit on your back, or
- Strap a weight to your waist with a belt, so that the weight hangs below your stomach.
The first option is preferable if you have a willing partner. If not, you’ll be stuck with number 2.
You’ll need to stand on a step and complete the same moves as described in calf raises. The real difference is the extra weight. It doesn’t matter how good you are at standing calf raises, you’ll feel the burn.
It’s best to do this with a cable machine in the gym or a resistance band. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and something for your hands to rest on.
Then attach the resistance band to one foot, and the other end should be secured in front of you with no slack. Slowly lift your leg so that it is straight behind you; you’ll be fighting the resistance band to get it there. Hold for a count of 2 and then return to the floor.
You can swap legs straight away or do your reps with one leg and then the other.
Glute Ham Raise
This is one that will really test your limits, but you’ll need a friend to help.
You'll also need a bench in which you can lie flat, with your feet tucked into place, preventing them from moving as you exercise. If you don’t have a footplate, your friend will need to hold your feet in position.
It’s worth noting that the more room you have between your knees and the footpad the easier this exercise will be.
Now squeeze your glutes, hamstrings, and abs, forcing your body to bend at the waist and move into an upright position. It’s hard but worth it.
Choose the Right Workout for Your Goals
The exact workout you choose will depend on what you are trying to achieve. Here are some ideas to help you choose the right routine:
- Squats – 3 sets of 8-10 reps with maximum weight possible
- Deadlifts – 4 sets of 8 reps with a 1-minute break between sets
- Glute Ham Raise – 3 sets of 8-10 reps or until failure
Target Your Glutes
- Dumbell squat – 4 sets of 8-10 reps with maximum weight possible
- Reverse Lunge – 3 sets of 10-12 reps without rest
- Kickback – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Deadlift – 4 of 8-10 reps, the last rep should be nearly impossible for you
Starting Out Workout
- Goblet squat – 4 sets of 10-12 reps with 1-minute rest between sets
- Calf Raises – 3 sets of 15 reps with a 60-second rest between sets
- Wall Sit – 3 sets of 10-12 reps
- Donkey Calf Raises – 2 sets of 8-10 reps
Join Us & Start Your New Routine Today
You should be feeling inspired to get started with your leg workouts for men right now. I know I am!
Inspiration and motivation are great starting points. But if you're ready to take it up a notch, join the FF30X program and gain the support of other men who are working towards a similar goal to yours.
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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on leg workouts for men.