Skeletal muscle mass makes up about 35 percent of your bodyweight. This number will vary depending on the size of an individual. Men carry about 36 percent more muscle mass compared to women. It is vital to build and maintain muscle as we age. The best way to do this is with regular bouts of strength training for the rest of your life. When the focus is on leg exercises, there are a few you can do that offer more bang for the buck.
Exercises for Building Muscle
There are many leg exercises to choose from when trying to build lower extremity muscle mass. What works best, however, are exercises that involve multiple muscle groups needed to perform the movement. These types of exercises are know as compound movements. Compound exercise refers to the engagement of multiple joints to stimulate entire muscle groups and multiple muscles. Research also shows that compound exercises produce greater amounts of testosterone and growth hormone.
With this in mind, here are some of the best compound exercises to add to a leg training program. The first exercise, the deadlift, in some minds can be either a back or leg exercise. Since there is a great deal of glute and hamstring muscle recruitment during the movement, we are calling it a leg exercise and a very good one at that! A good goal is to aim for 3-5 leg exercises for your leg routine.
Some of the Best Compound Leg Exercises
The barbell deadlift or a Romanian deadlift are terrific exercises that everyone should do. Not only do they engage a great deal of muscle mass, it allows you to perform “hinging” at the hips which is a movement many stop doing as they age. According to Team Canada powerlifting coach, Ari Silverberg, “A hip hinge is a movement pattern that involves bending or flexing at the hips, while primarily keeping your knees straight, or at the minimum, only having limited knee flexion. Examples of hip hinge movement patterns are exercises such as: deadlifts, good-mornings, and kettlebell swings.”
Who does not love to Squat? It is considered one of the best, and most functional, lower extremity movements you can perform. Talk about a lot of benefit for single movement. Performing a barbell squat strengthens the following muscle groups:
- Adductor Magnus
- Erector Spinae
- Abdominals and Obliques
- Upper Back and Latissimus Dorsi
Adding the hack squat to your lower body workout is a great complement to squats and deadlifts. Stick with a shoulder-width stance when performing the movement. Do not go too heavy at first, slowly build up the amount of weight you lift. Exercises like a hack squat and leg press may at times give a false sense of ones lifting ability. One of the keys to the exercise is getting low enough to form a ninety degree angle in the knees and hips. When you try to lift too heavy, too soon, this may not happen.
One of the best dumbbell leg exercises you can do. You’ll get your glutes, hips, hamstrings and quads burning. Dumbbell lunges will also build strength in your calf muscles and your abs. The exercise offers great versatility, with forward, reverse, side lunges or multi-directional sets. play with the placement of the dumbbells. Begin with the dumbbells down by your side. Eventually, try holding them at shoulder height, with arms fully extended overhead or these option using one dumbbell only. When you eventually need more variety, bring out the weighted vest, kettlebells or sandbag.
Barbell Hip Thrust
Many experts believe the hip thrust is an underrated exercise because it not only overloads the glutes but the hamstrings as well. It can also be a replacement for other leg exercises, if back issues prevent you from doing certain exercises like a heavy squat. For additional information on this exercise read more by Brett Contreras, PhD, CSCS.
Work on adding these five compound movements into your strength training routine, if you’re not already. There is a reason why they are some of the most popular Jefit exercises.
Use Jefit App for All Your Workout Needs in 2022
Jefit, named a top rated app for 2022 by PC Magazine, Forbes Health and others, comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit as you live your fitness lifestyle.