We hear it all the time, the jokes and jabs regarding “skipping leg day” …but more often than not, how many folks actually do skimp out on doing a lower body strength and conditioning day? Not just for aesthetics, strong and lean legs can carry you far in life – literally. Playing with your kids at the park, picking up something heavy off the ground, or taking you up a mountain on a gorgeous hike all require leg strength and stamina. In this article we’ll be discussing how to get bigger legs in minimum time possible, using the right workout exercises and techniques, that are the fundamentals of big leg muscles.
You might think in order to lose the skinny legs that you have to be training for an ultra-marathon, or be a hardcore bodybuilder – but that is furthest from the truth! Even regular gym-goers and those new to exercise can find benefit in increasing leg strength and size and getting bigger legs….and even improving performance and looks at the same time.
So how to get bigger legs, both safely and properly? Even if you don’t have a membership to the local fitness center or access to turf area, most of these exercises to grow bigger legs can be done just about anywhere with a little bit of space.
Let’s learn some body-weight movements that can help get rid of skinny legs, and add some definition (and strength) to your lower half! Even though you aren’t using any so-called weights, your body in and of itself is more than enough to have a functional workout. On top of that, you don’t want to add any extra resistance to your exercises until you’ve fully mastered the movements themselves, in order to train properly and ensure correct form – and therefore, lowering the risk of injury and increasing your ability to make gains. And don’t forget to buy the right lifting shoes, since wearing the right shoes will help you perform the exercises better.
Why do we need to get bigger legs anyway?
While the answer may seem obvious, you need to work on having a proportionate body. It’s not about getting bigger legs, but about working on your lower body as frequently as you do with upper body. Most beginners work intensively on the body parts that seem important like chest, biceps and abs while neglecting the other major body parts. Your two major muscles in the body that should be your priority are back and legs. In fact, think of your body as a machine. Consider improving every component of your body, and hence obtain better body composition.
Body composition has some extreme benefits for your body. Some of them include anti-aging, better overall health and sustainable weight loss.
If you wish to stay away from the risk of injuries or poor physical mobility, start working on each and every muscle in your body equally!
Benefits of Getting Bigger Legs
Now that you already know why avoiding leg day is a bad idea, we’d now be talking about why getting bigger legs is beneficial for your body. How to make legs bigger? Before that, here’s why you should work on legs:
1) Core Strengthening: Since most of the leg exercises are compound movements, they’re not only strengthening your lower body, but also your Core.
Squats, for example, not just activate your quads, hamstrings and glutes but also your core, simultaneously. Benefits of having a strong core? Let’s keep that for another article. Conclusion? Big leg muscle is somewhat proportional to better core strength(well, we could say that).
2) Burn More Calories: Legs are the one of the biggest body parts in your body, and working on them requires much more efforts than any other body part. Result? More micro-tears. The more you train them, the more energy is needed to move them. And since moving the largest muscle of your body needs plenty of energy, working out on legs give a huge boost to your metabolism.
3) Balanced Body: Having a great upper body and weaker lower body is not just unpleasant to see, but is also home to possible injuries. On the other hand, having a well balanced body with strong lower and upper body is something that is both aesthetically pleasing, and good for your health.
10 Top Exercises to Get Bigger Legs
NOTE: All of these exercises require proper technique and form. The best way to start is to perform these under a certified trainer, master the form and then go on to increase weights and reps.
1. Bodyweight Squats
There’s a reason why they call it “The King of Lower Body Exercises”, and there’s a reason why Squats are said to be the best exercise to get bigger legs. This compound exercise is one of the best when it comes to building muscle and hypertrophy, and works on more muscles at a time than any other exercise can. If building strength and getting bigger legs is your priority, there cannot be a better exercise for you.
While standing up straight, make sure that your feet are about as wide apart as your shoulders. With your toes pointed forward (or turned out just slightly), lower your butt down and back behind you, as if you were going to sit in a chair. Keeping your upper body straight (not hunching over), drop down until your quads are parallel with the floor. Make sure that your core is staying engaged and tight, and come back up to a standing position by pushing through your heels and squeezing your glutes.
Have a question about how to get bigger legs? Squats is the answer!
2. Bodyweight Lunges
Another great exercise to get big leg muscles is Lunges. They not only help you get bigger legs, but they’re also helpful in strenghtning your complete lower body and core. Some other benefits of lunges include better balance and coordination as well as better spinal health. Not to mention it is one of those exercises that makes you more functional, impacting your day-to-day activities.
The only one thing that you should keep in mind is using proper form, which is not just for lunges but for every exercise that you do.
While standing up straight with feet shoulder width apart, engage your core and take a big step forward with your right foot. From this position and keeping an upright torso, sink your left knee down towards the ground so that your ending position looks like you’re kneeling. With a 90 degree in the front knee and a 90 degree in the back knee, you’re in the right position! From here, drive up through your front heel and return to a standing position. Alternate legs, or stay on one side at a time. Bodyweight lunges is your answer to how to get bigger legs.
3. Side Lunges
Similar in nature to the bodyweight lunges, with side lunges you are doing just that – lunging either to the right or the left. Standing tall with core engaged, take a large step out to the right side. With toes pointing forward, bend your right knee and sit your hips down and back to the right while keeping your torso as upright and engaged as possible. You might feel a stretch on the inner thigh on the opposite (straight) leg – that’s okay! Lower down as far as comfortably possible, then drive through your heel to stand. Alternate sides here, or stay on one side for multiple reps. Remember to push through your heel and not your toes!
Hence, another best way to build legs is to do more side lunges.
One of the best exercises for strengthening the posterior chain, the deadlift is a movement where you’re in the motion of picking something up off the ground, then putting it back. Just like Squats for lower body, deadlift is often referred to as the “King of Mass Building Exercises”, and there’s a reason for that. If done correctly, deadlift helps you build unparalleled strength and overall mass in the major body parts of your body. If you could rank exercises for overall mass development, Squats would obviously top the list followed by deadlifts.
Did you know? If done with proper form, deadlifts will engage your Back, Gluteus Maximus, Legs, Arms, Shoulders and Trapezius muscles. Another reason why you should include deadlift in your routine.
Without any weight to begin with, stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward. With core engaged, hinge forward at the hips while keeping your weight in your heels and evenly through your toes. Keeping your spine lengthened and shoulders back, bend at the knees and then drive up through your heels to come back to standing. Utilized as an excellent warm-up piece without any weight, deadlifts are typically best done with either a barbell or a set of dumbbells to help increase muscle gain.
5. Calf Raises
This particular exercise is able to be done as a single leg movement, or both legs simultaneously helping you get massive legs fast(stronger calves = stronger legs). If trying it single leg – raise your left knee up off the ground, preferably to the level of your hip bone. From here, engage your core and come to standing on “tip-toe” on the right leg, aiming to try and get your heel off the ground as high as you possibly can. Hold at the top, then slowly lower back down to the ground. Do specified reps on one leg, and then switch and do the other side. If choosing to do calf raises simultaneously, follow the same protocol – just without the knee raise! Some folks also choose to do this while standing on a slightly elevated surface (such as the edge of a box) in order to be able to sink down a bit lower with their heels. Choose whichever feels best for you!
6. Single-Leg Squats
Also known as pistol squats, this version of a bodyweight squat is a bit more challenging than it’s two-legged counterpart, but is one of the best exercise for bigger legs! If you’re stable in a squat and ready to progress a bit, the single-leg squat will definitely present a new move! Standing tall with core engaged, bring your right foot out in front of you, flexing your foot so that your toe is trying to come towards your face. At the same time – while balancing on your left foot – bend your left knee and sit down and back (same as a bodyweight squat, like you’re sitting in a chair), and if possible, drop down on the one leg until your thigh is parallel with the ground. Be aware – this is a more difficult movement, especially balance-wise! If you need to bring your arms out to your sides to balance, that’s okay. Just try and press up through your heel to come back to a standing position, and then switch legs. IMO, this too is one of the best exercises to grow legs in no time!
7. Hack Squat
This version of a squat can be done either using a machine, or a barbell and it said to be could prove to be one of the best exercises to grow legs. If on a machine at your local fitness center, load up the weights appropriately and place your back against the pad with shoulders down and back (you’ll be in a slightly crouched position). With feet shoulder width apart, stand up straight, release the safety handles, and bend your knees down into a squat position – making a 90-degree angle with your knees. Extend through your hips and knees back to a standing position, and repeat!
If done properly, this exercise could help you increase leg size in no time. As I’ve always mentioned, perform every exercise with a trainer’s supervision not just to get the right technique and form, but also to prevent injuries.
8. Leg Press
A popular piece of equipment in most gyms, the leg press is great for developing leg muscles. Seated on the machine, keep your back straight and your head against the headrest. Place your feet in front of you on the foot pad shoulder width apart, with toes pointing up. The seat should be arranged in such a way so that your knees are starting at a 90-degree angle before pressing. Push through your heels (keeping your toes on the pad) and drive away, making sure to not lock your knees out at full extension. Slowly return to starting position, leaving an inch or so between weight plates.
9. Dumbbell Step-Up
Step-ups are a great addition to get big legs fast, and are easy to do if you have a box or bench handy. With a dumbbell in each hand and standing straight, place your right foot on the box. Pushing through your heel, drive up to full extension through your hips and knee at the top. Slowly lower back down towards the floor; you can stay on one leg and complete as many reps as you’d like, or alternate legs with each rep. My best answer on how to make your legs bigger? Include step-ups in your workout.
10. Leg Curls
The leg curl machine is excellent for isolating hamstrings and calves, and is typically an easier machine to work to help you get bigger legs. Adjusting the leg pad to the proper position is key for this exercise! You’ll start by laying on your stomach, and have the leg pad positioned at the back of your ankles (make sure its not sitting high up on your calves, or your range of motion will be severely limited!). Gripping the handles on the sides of the machine, slowly flex your knees, bringing your heels towards your glutes. With core engaged, return to starting position. Repeat for as many reps as desired. The best way to build big legs is to include 4-5 working sets of leg curls in your workout.
If you need a visual of these muscle building exercises, check them out here. If you’re new to some of these movements, that’s fine too! Stick with just your bodyweight to begin, then you can slowly add dumbbells, kettlebells, or a barbell into your routine to challenge yourself more and reach those leg-bulking goals and get thicker legs!
Remember that as you’re doing these exercises and incorporating them into your workout routine that change is key – different variations of these movements done with different weights will keep your body guessing, which will limit plateaus in training and activate muscles in different ways in order to boost gains. The key to get bigger legs? Change!
Granted, these are just a few of the physical activities and exercises that you can do to bulk up the legs a bit – but none of it would be possible without adequate nutrition! Make sure that you’re getting enough protein in your diet in order to supplement your muscle building workouts and get bigger legs. While protein intake will be different for everyone, you want to get at least .8 g/kg of body weight. Essentially, this can be up to 35% of your daily caloric intake.
Between getting enough protein, carbohydrates, and fats in your diet and being consistent with your leg-building workout routines, you’ll notice your legs getting bigger and massive sooner than you think – and lose the chicken legs for good. Got your answer on how to get bigger legs? Now it’s time to hit the gym with this knowledge!
Kevin Jones is a full-time professional fitness expert. When he isn’t in the gym, he is offering practical research, fitness plans and nutritional tips to the world. Kevin regularly contributes to many fitness and health authority websites. With a passion for family, fun, and fitness, Kevin has found a way to manage and combine these three aspects in an effective and successful way.