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A strong lower body is crucial to performance—whether you're looking to improve your sports performance, gym work, or just daily fuctional fitness. And yes, we said "strong lower body." Leg exercises aren't just for quads and hamstrings—these exercises will work your core muscles, improve your balance, and grant you the added benefits of things like grip strength.

For the sake of your physique and training results, here are 8 strength-building lower body exercises to ensure you never skip leg day.

It is essential that when you do any exercise that you perform the movements correctly, if you don't you will receive less then optimum benefit from the exercise. It is very difficult to unlearn bad exercise habits, so it is best to learn the right exercise technique from the very start.

For each leg workout pick 3-4 of these exercises and do 4-5 sets (including warm up sets) for each exercise. You can vary the exercises you do for each leg workout. 

 1 -Squats
This is the single best leg exercise that you can do. Squats work the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and hips. It also works the upper and lower back, and abdominals as secondary muscles.

 Use a rack such as a squat or power rack to hold the barbell. Place your shoulder width apart under the bar. Grasp the bar wider then shoulder width, duck your head under the bar and position it on your trapezius muscles behind your neck. Lift the bar from the rack and take a couple of steps back. Position your feet wider then shoulder width apart with your toes pointed forwards or just slightly out to the sides. Look forward.

Bend your legs and squat down with the bar across your upper back. Your knees should be directly over your toes as you do the movement. Squat down until your upper thighs are parallel with the floor or slightly lower. Arch your back and straighten out your legs until you are standing upright. Repeat.

2 -Front Saqat

Set a barbell on a power rack at about shoulder height. Grab the power with an overhand grip at shoulder width and raise your elbows until your upper arms are parallel to the floor. Take the bar out of the rack and let it rest on your fingertips. Your elbows should be all the way up throughout the movement. Step back and set your feet at shoulder width with toes turned out slightly. Squat as low as you can without losing the arch in your lower back.

3 -Leg Press

First, let’s talk about what many trainers hate about the leg press: It can cause lower-back injury when done incorrectly. And when guys load every last plate in the gym on the sled and try to half-ass a few reps out, with their lower back disengaging from the pad on every rep in part due to woefully inflexible hamstrings and glutes, that’s about as incorrect as you can get. It’s true that it’s one of the most abused exercises in the gym — probably because you can feel like a big shot and handle much more weight than you can on a squat — but used carefully, the leg press can be very beneficial. And just as important, it helps provide variety in what might otherwise be a very squat-centric leg program.

How-To: Sit squarely in the leg press machine and place your feet shoulder-width apart on the sled. Keeping your chest up and lower back pressed into the pad, carefully unlatch the sled from the safeties. Bend your knees to lower the platform, stopping before your glutes lift off the pad. From there, powerfully extend your knees to press the weight up (but don’t lock them out at the top).

 4 -Hack Squats

This movement works the quads, hamstrings, and glutes.

Position yourself on the machine with your feet just wider the shoulder width apart with your toes pointed just slightly out to the sides. Straighten your legs and release the bars at the sides of the machine. Bend your knees and squat down until your knees are just less then a 90-degree angle. Straighten your legs and lift the weight back up to the starting position. Repeat.

 5 -Lunges

This movement is great for working the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. This exercise also works many smaller stabilizer muscles because it requires a lot of balance.

Step out about a couple feet with one leg, keep your toes pointed forward and your front foot flat on the floor. Bend your front leg until your knee is at a 90-degree angle, your back should also bend until it is at a 90-degree angle. Push up and return to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps, then do the same with the other leg out front.

 You can also do lunges with your back leg on a bench, this will give you a better range of motion.

To add weight to this exercise you can place a barbell across your upper back (like in the squat) or you can hold a pair of dumbbells at your sides.

 6 -Leg Extensions

This movement isolates the quadriceps. This exercise is good for developing muscle detail between the individual segments of your quadriceps muscles.

 Sit on the leg extension machine (adjust the seat according to your body). Hook your feet beneath the roller pads and grasp the handles at the sides of the machine for support.

Straighten your legs and lift the weight up. Pause at the top for a second or two to enhance the peak contraction in the quads. Lower the weight slowly to the starting position. Repeat.

 7 -Lying Leg Curls

This movement isolates the hamstrings. This exercise is good for developing muscle detail in the backs of your legs.

 Lie face down on the padded bench with your knees just over the edge of the bench. Hook your feet beneath the roller pads and grasp the handles at the sides of the machine for support.

Curl your legs and lift the weight up. Pause at the top for a second or two to enhance the peak contraction in the hamstrings. Lower the weight slowly to the starting position. Repeat.

 8 -Stiff Leg Deadlifts

This variation of the deadlift works the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. It also works the forearms because you have to grip the barbell.

 Stand in front a barbell with your feet placed shoulder width apart. Bend your legs and grasp the barbell with your hands just wider then shoulder width. Using your back and legs stand up with the barbell at arms length in front of you.

Keep a slight bend in your knees and bend over as if you were going to touch your toes. Keep your head up and your back flat as you bend down. Straighten up to the starting position. Repeat. 

9 -Pistol Squat

Admittedly, you’ll probably feel like an idiot when learning this move. You’ll fall on your can in the bottom position and likely lose your balance repeatedly. You won’t even be able to get all the way down into a full squat at first. We can only urge you, however, to not give up: Those who master this exercise have a tremendous weapon in their leg-training arsenal, and it doesn’t require a lick of equipment.

How-To: Begin in a standing position. Extend one leg straight out in front of you, balancing on your other foot. From here, squat all the way down by lowering your hips and glutes straight toward the floor, bending your knee until your working thigh is below parallel. At the bottom, your nonworking leg and arms will be out in front of you for balance with your planted foot flat on the floor. Drive through that heel to return to a standing position, making sure to never let that heel come up as you rep.

10 -Kettlebell Swing

Stand with feet hip-width apart and the weight on the floor. Grasp the kettlebell with both hands (palms facing you) and, keeping your lower back flat, extend your hips to raise it off the floor. From there, take a deep breath and bend your hips back, allowing the weight to swing back between your legs. Explosively extend your hips and exhale—allowing the momentum to swing the weight up to shoulder level. Control the descent, but use the momentum to begin the next rep.