Here are leg exercises you can safely do at home and have your leg muscles as strong as the rest of your body!
Your Leg Muscles
Before we examine the leg exercises, let us look at the muscles populating them.
The major muscle on the front of your thigh is the quadriceps, that is divided into four portions (the Latin “quadriceps” literally meaning “four heads”): the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis and vastus intermedius.
On the back of the thigh we find the hamstrings, who are made up of four muscles as well: the biceps femoris’ long and short head, the semitendinosus and the semimembranosus. The hamstrings and the quadriceps have to stay in balance, or you change the mechanics of your knee.
Of course your leg doesn’t end at the knee. Below it are the calf’s muscles: on its back the major players are the gastrocnemius and the soleus, on the front it’s the tibialis anterior.
Exercising The Quadriceps
Let’s start with a safe and simple quad exercise for beginners, the get-up.
Once you have mastered that, the dumbbell lunge is an excellent exercise to continue with. Depending on how big you make the step forward, you can (de-) emphasize how much you want your gluteus maximus (your buttocks) involved: the longer you make the lunge, the more work the glutes will do along with the quads.
Next up is the step-up, that once was as popular as the squat (more on that one later). Today you don’t see it done as often, yet it trains more muscles than the squat – while targeting the quads, you also get work done by the calf’s gastrocnemius.
If your knees give you trouble, choose an object not as high to do your step-ups. The higher the step-up, the more the stress on the knee.
Exercising The Hamstrings
As I mentioned above, muscular imbalances between the front and back of your thigh influence knee mechanics. They have to stay in balance or you run the risk of knee pain. This is where an isolation like the hamstring curl comes in.
Exercising The Lower Leg
For your calves a great exercise is the calf raise, that works the gastrocnemius and the soleus.
If you feel too wobbly doing calf raises standing, try the seated variety.
For the front muscles of the lower legs I still have to do a video. For now I recommend the reverse calf raise.
So What About Squats?
Why no squats on here? Because you work out at home, possibly without someone watching out for you, and I don’t want to be responsible for you doing some irreversible damage to your back.
At some point I’ll probably do a video on squats, but I still have to figure out how to bring across that it’s an exercise you really have to do right!