Want Strong Legs? Try Doing These According To Science

What two leg exercises would you first add to a strength training routine at the gym? It will depend on individual goals and what’s available in terms of exercise equipment. With all things being equal, one way to determine what the best leg exercises are is through research. More specifically, electromyography or EMG research, is a topic that should be part of the decision making process. Previous content that looked at EMG was published here.

Best Leg Exercises via EMG Research

An EMG device is basically used for measuring very small amounts of electricity generated by muscles right below the surface of the skin. The result of electrodes placed on the skin, show what percentage of muscle area is activated during a specific exercise. According to various EMG research data, the following leg exercises rate highly when looking for the best in class for muscle activation.

Free Weight Exercise: Squat

From an EMG standpoint, the best free weight exercise, no surprise here, is the Squat exercise. It’s a complete multi-joint exercise that is also functional.

Trainer Tips

  • Doing drop sets is great for improving the amount of weight someone is lifting with the Squat. This is where you reduce the weight by about 25 percent once muscular failure is reached, and then continue with your set.
  • Manipulate the rest time between sets to increase training intensity.
  • Try to increase reps – on occasion – from 8-12 (for hypertrophy training) to more in the 12-15 repetition range.
  • The deeper you go in a Squat, the more you activate your quads and glutes but beware of the knee joint.
  • The best angle is about 70-degree or thighs “roughly” just below parallel with the floor.

Machine-based Exercise: Hack Squat

When it comes to an equipment-based exercise to activate the thigh muscles, run to get in line for the hack squat. EMG data was actually higher in some studies than even a barbell Squat most likely because individuals can push a heavier amount of weight.

Leg Focused Training Programs

The Jefit app currently features more than 3500 different strength training programs on its platform. The following three are just a few with a strong focus on the legs and lower body.

Lower Body Strength Program

Barbell Workout (3-Day Split)

8-Weeks to Bigger Legs

Stay Strong Together

Jefit, named best strength app by Sports Illustrated, Esquire, GQ, Men’s Health, Greatest, Forbes Health, and many others, has a community responsible for 92,000,000 workouts to date! The app, which recently passed 10 million downloads, comes equipped with a customizable workout planner and training log. The app has ability to track data, offer audio coaching cues, and can share workouts with friends. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals.

Michael Wood, CSCS

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