How to build leg muscles
The human leg has a lot of muscles, but in this article we will only take a look at a few of the most well-known muscles of the thigh. These muscles can be divided into three groups: anterior muscles, posterior muscles and adductor muscles (located on the medial side).
- The largest and most well known of the anterior thigh muscles are the four muscles that make up the quadriceps femoris. Quadriceps femoris consists of a central rectus femoris surrounded by vastus intermedius, vastus medialis och vastus lateralis. Quadriceps femoris is chiefly used to extend the knee.
- The human thigh has four posterior muscles: biceps femoris, semitendiosus, semimem branosus and popliteus.
- With the exception of gracilis, all adductor muscles insert on the femur and only act on the hip joint. This distinguishes them from most other thigh muscles; muscles that insert on the leg and act primarily on the knee joint. Functionally, the adductor muscles of the thigh are hip muscles.
Freehand Jump Squat
This is an exercise that doesn’t require any equipment. It chiefly targets your quadriceps, but will also give your glutes, hamstrings and calves some exercise. It’s not recommended for beginners, and it can be dangerous for people with knee and/or back problems. It puts a lot of stress on the knees, and an improper landing can cause a sprained ligament.
- Stand up on the floor.
- Cross your arms over your chest.
- Position your feet at shoulder width. Its important to keep your back straight and your head up.
- While breathing in, squat down until your upper thighs are parallel to the floor. (or even lower than parallel). Make sure that your back is straight as you carry out this step of the exercise.
- While breathing out, jump straight up into to air as high as possible, pressing chiefly with the ball of your feet as you take off. Your thighs should be used as springs for maximum thigh exercise.
- It’s important to land on two feet, and your toes should touch the ground before the rest of the feet do.
- Immediately squat down and proceed with a new jump right away.
If you find this exercise too easy, do it holding one dumbbell in each hand.
Barbell Full Squat
This is a great exercise for your quadriceps, and it will also force your lower back, glutes, hamstrings and calves to work. It is not recommended for beginners, and it requires a barbell. Ideally do this exercise inside a squat rack since that’s safer.
- Place the bar on the rack.
- Adjust the height and load the bar.
- Position yourself under the bar so that the back of your shoulders are across the bar.
- Hold on to the bar with both arms.
- Lift the bar off the rack. (Push with your legs as you straighten your torso.)
- Step away from the rack.
- Place your feet at shoulder-width. Your toes should be pointing outwards (just a bit). This is the starting position for this exercise.
- Breathe in as you bend your knees slowly while sitting back with your hips. It’s important that your posture is straight. Do not look down. Continue bending down until your hamstrings are on your calves.
- Breathe out while slowly straightening your legs and extending your hip. For this part of the exercise, you should be pushing the floor with the middle or your foot or with the heel.
This is a stretching exercise for the adductors. No equipment needed.
- Place yourself in a standard pushup position on the floor. This is the starting position for this exercise.
- Jump forward (using both legs) and land with your feet close to your hands. Do not look at the floor while you carry out this part of the exercise.
- Return to starting position and repeat step 2 right away. Do at least 10-20 repetitions.