The best exercises to big builder and stronger legs

Massive arms, bulging chest and shoulders exploding from singlets teamed with skinny, skinny jeans is a look too often found at music festivals.

"Don't forget leg day" has become far too common  jab aimed at guys who smash out upper body sessions while neglecting a glance in the full-length mirror at their puny legs and glutes (bum).

But the best body isn't huge. The best body isn't perfectly ripped. The best body is symmetrical, which means men and women should be training just as hard from the waist down. For summer swimsuits or winter jeans, there's always time to build a nice set of legs and rump.

Build strength and size

It's important to understand the groups of muscles we're talking about.

On the anterior side, you have the quadriceps, the strongest muscles in the body which extend the knee and lower leg. On the posterior side are the glutes, hamstrings, and the calves.

If your legs are weak and require bulk you're training will focus on strength and hypertrophy work.

Opinions vary, but to build strength experts advise lower rep ranges in the four-to-six range (3-4 sets) and to build size increase your reps to the 10-12 range  (three-to-four sets). But your training program ultimately requires both because if you want to get bigger, you have to get stronger.

The essentials

For anyone after sculpted, strong legs there are eight "must do" exercises:

  1. Barbell squat: Basic quadr exercise with weighted barbell on the back;
  2. Dumbbell lunge: Standing quads, hamstrings, and glute exercise;
  3. Deadlift: Posterior exercise that calls on the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings;
  4. Bulgarian split squat: Similar to a lunge but requires more stability;
  5. Barbell front squat: Front loaded squat focusing more on the quads;
  6. Romanian deadlift: Posterior movement for upper hamstrings and glutes;
  7. Seated leg extensions: Machine based movement targeting the quads; and
  8. Olympic lifts: Snatch, power clean, and clean and jerk are complex, compound movements that work the entire body.

There are a million ways to mix and match these exercises to build strength and size and create the perfect leg day.

One idea is to work the anterior side on Leg Day one, then finish with standing calf raises and seated calf raises. On Leg Day two, work the posterior side and finish with the same calf movements.

Leaning up

Most Australians don't need to build like Quadzilla, however, and should instead be focusing on leaning up.

If your goal is keeping leaned and tone, you can do it all with bodyweight or one simple kettlebell and intensity. And even better, all the benefits from the above exercises can still be gained when performed outdoors – no gym required.

Take it to the park

Start with box or bench jumps. Then squats and squat jumps. Stair runs. Skip rope. Put some weight in your backpack and do some walking lunges. Increase the intensity and smash out plyometric lunges. Perform kettlebell swings and one arm cleans. Glute bridges. Side lunges. Step ups.

Here's an outdoor session that will get your legs lean and humming while burning loads of calories.

Four to five rounds of: 100 jump ropes straight into 15 box or bench jumps, then 15 abdominal leg extensions, 15 squat jumps, 20 walking lunges, 15 glute bridges, and 10 burpees.

More than just muscle

That session works all over your bottom half while keeping the heart rate up.

It's a fat-burning-muscle-leaning-weight-losing workout with no barbell or dumbbells required. Whether building size or leaning up, leg workouts should be tough. Your legs should shake and burn. But you don't need to post it all over social media to prove you've just completed legs day with a meme - it's cliché and so 2012.

Lower body sessions are damn important work. Legs get you up the stairs and from your chair, and your legs help you walk and run. Legs day isn't so much looking better at festivals, it's about building a better body for movement and everyday tasks.

Most importantly, a symmetrical body is a healthier body.

Passion for lifestyle change is the cornerstone for everything Michael Jarosky does. A Sydney-based personal trainer, he cajoled thousands of Executive Style readers to undertake his "Cut The BS" diet, and champions a charity weight-loss event, Droptober.

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Know someone who constantly skips leg day? Tag them in the comments section below.