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The 6 Effective Leg Building Exercises Which No One Does

Pretty much everyone who works out wants strong, sculpted legs.

Not only are tight and toned legs aesthetically pleasing, the strength that comes with them acts as the foundation of every movement we perform, even outside of the gym.

In our quest for lean and powerful legs, many of us do countless sets of machine-based exercises like hamstring curls and leg extensions.

But these exercises don’t measure up to the exercises I’m going to show you today, which are referred to as functional training exercises.

Functional training exercises mimic movements you perform in the real world, and also recruit several major muscles groups at once.

That’s the key to achieving strong and sculpted legs, as these movements (especially when performed with heavy weight) have been shown to increase growth hormone, burn fat for up to 48 hours following your workout, build serious muscle, and increase sports performance.

Below I’ll show you the top weight training exercises to strengthen legs – which will also sculpt and tone every inch of your lower body.

Exercise 1 : Deadlifts

Deadlifts are unparalleled in their ability to improve leg strength, sculpt the glutes and hamstrings, upper thighs, and even strengthen the lower back and core.

As if that weren’t enough, deadlifts also improve posture along with grip and upper body strength.

It’s also a safe and easy exercise, requiring only a barbell weight, dumbbell or kettlebell.

How to Deadlift:

Proper form is crucial while deadlifting. A popular mistake many make, especially when they start to become fatigued, is rounding the lower spine.

Exercise 2 : Platz Hack Squats

The legendary Tom Platz had one of the nastiest legs in the bodybuilding history. He came up with this variation of the hack squats. The Platz hack squats target your outer quad sweep and the teardrop in your quads.

Stand with your heels joined together and your toes pointing outwards. Perform a squat while pushing your knees down and forward. Your heels will come off the base as you squat. As you start pressing up, push onto the outer part of your feet. Doing this will transfer the tension onto the outer quad sweep.

 Exercise 3 : Sissy Squats

Sissy squats have been around since the 1960s, but chances are you’re hearing about them for the first time. Don’t let the name of the exercise fool you. The sissy squats are a great finisher and will fill your quads with lactic acid.

If you’re performing this exercise for the first time, hold onto a squat rack around the hip level or slightly higher. Take a shoulder-width stance and slowly start to lower yourself by bending your knees and pushing them down and forward.

Your back will fall backward while you’re on the descent. Your heels will come off the ground as your knees go down. At the bottom of the movement, your quads should be at least parallel to the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat for reps.

Exercise 4 : Hip Thrusts

Hip thrusts are one of the best exercises for sculpting the glutes and the backside. They can often be lost in the shadows of squats, deadlifts, and lunges, but are truly an exercise everyone looking to sculpt the back of their legs should perform.

Not only are they superb glute sculptors, they can even improve your deadlifts and squats due to fuller extension in the hips (which maximizes the engagement of the glutes).

Exercise 5 : Step-Up

This is arguably one of the more functional exercises on this list. After all, you probably walk up stairs on a fairly regular basis, right? Being a unilateral exercise, it also means a stronger leg can’t compensate for a weaker one, with each leg taking its turn absorbing the full brunt of the motion.

Main Areas Targeted: Quadriceps, glutes

Strengths: The step-up comes in all sorts of variations and can be adjusted to challenge beginners and advanced athletes alike. To provide the resistance, you can hold a barbell, dumbbells or kettlebells (either at your sides or racked at shoulder level), wear a weight vest or just go with your own bodyweight. Step up onto a platform ranging from a height halfway up your shin to where your thigh is parallel to the floor in the start position. Not only does this develop power through the glutes, hips and thighs, but it also helps you practice balance and jumping force, which is helpful if you’re in a sport that requires vertical hops.

Exercise 6 :Walking Lunges

Walking dumbbell lunges are perfect for sculpting the entire leg, but also get your heart rate up while engaging your core stabilizer muscles.

How to Perform the Walking Dumbbell Lunge:

Note that holding the dumbbells above your head (or just holding one with both hands) requires a good deal of balance. If this is too much and you find your form is slipping, try holding lighter dumbbells by your sides during the lunges.