MOST EFFECTIVE EXERCISES TO GROW YOUR LEGS 


Leg is one of the longest muscles of the human body, working out leg consistently is crucial. Leg muscles engage many other muscle groups of our body. It helps in other lifts, overall athletic performance, and supports health.

In this article of effective exercises series, I'm gonna share you, top most effective leg exercises, that you can do to achieve amazing results. You gonna hit all the muscles of your leg, including- quadriceps, hamstring, abductors, glutes, and calf, with best exercises with proper technique and research studies. 


But before performing these exercises, don't forget to warm up your- lower body, core, and shoulder muscles, with light weight dumbbells, or foam rolling exercise. Doing warm up before starting your exercises have numerous health benefits. It can prevent injuries, and helps in fast muscle recovery etc. Here in this article of fitlifestuff by aayush, I'm attaching a research paper from 'National library of medicine' that you can check out for more info. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16679062/


So the exercises are:


1》 Squats:  Squats is the best exercise when we talk about legs. One of the main reason of performing squat is, squats target your quads more than other leg exercises. 'Journal of strength conditioning and research' held a study, in which they took two groups of people and divided them to do leg presses, and squats. They did this test to measure hormonal levels after performing these exercise. And what they found was, 'the squat group' tend to have more testosterone by 16.7% than the 'leg press group'. They found a little bit increase of growth hormone in squat group, whereas cortisol levels were same. It happened because, squats engage more muscles then leg press. So when we engage more muscles, our body gives much better anabolic response. Squats have larger range of motion, and it activates more overall muscles. Correct form of squatting is, stand with feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointed out. Bend your hips back to squat down until thighs are at least parallel to floor while keeping your upper body straight. Stand again in same form, to start and repeat.  

 

Some people might think that squatting with minimal space between legs, gonna hit your quads more. However, a fitness article from NCB, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26252837/ have clearly shown that, having space of shoulder width of 75% to 110%, have no such difference in quad activation, having shoulder width stance, hits your quads, abductors, as well as glutes, and there's no such difference in quad activation.

A biomechanical analysis, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28570490/ suggest that placing bar on your traps and doing high bar squat, emphasises your quads more, while placing bar on your rear delts and doing low bar squat, target quads more. High bar squats also strain less your lower back and wrists. So, perform 3sets of weighted squats of 6-8reps, with progressive overload for amazing results. 

2》Romanian Deadlift: Eccentric romanian deadlift is a great exercise when it comes to target the other sides of leg, specially your hamstrings and glutes. While doing the eccentric contraction of the deadlift, you are loading and stretching the glutes and hamstrings by creating and maintaining tension throughout the movement. Proper form of performing romanian deadlift is, take an overhand grip to hold the bar at hip level, then draw your shoulders back and keep your spine straight, push your hips back as you slowly lower the bar toward your feet, and then press your hips forward to come into a standing position with the barbell in front of your thighs. 
 
Do atleast 4seconds of lowering phase, to keep constant tension on hamstrings, by not involving or squeezing glutes much.
Romanian deadlift has much hypertrophy benefits, as compared to other hamstring and glute activation exercises, while perform with correct form and proper mind to mind connection. A research, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/250918377_ have shown that, it also targets the development of lumbar extension. So, perform 3sets of 10reps, with progressive overload, for amazing results. 

3》Lunges: Lunges have very large effect on our gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Proper form of doing lunges is, keeping your pelvis neutral, your chest high, and your back straight. After that bend your front knee to the ground in full range of motion to slowly sink into the lunge until your back knee is an inch or two from the ground. This is the starting position. Engage your glutes and hamstring muscles to stand up, and then lower your back into the lunge for one repetition. 
 
According to https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18975260/ this fitness article, lunges have great isometric contractions on your muscles, if done correctly. For good results, perform 10-12rep of 3-4sets with progressive overload. Don't step too far while performing lunges, the danger in stepping too far with a lunge is the loss of balance and overuse of certain muscles,” said Maurice D. Williams, MS, NASM- who is a master trainer and owner of Move Well Fitness. It can cause injuries because, If you step too far forward, then all the pressure is absorbed by the front knee. So, beware while performing it in a correct form.

5》Calf raises: Calves is a pair of muscle, known as triceps surae. Triceps surae is made up of two muscles, known as soleus and gastrocnemius. The soleus sits underneath the gastrocnemius, but soleus is bigger in size, as compared to gastrocnemius. Gastrocnemius have to heads, medial and lateral. So gastrocnemius is a biarticular muscle, it activates when your perform knee flexion, or bending your leg by doing leg curls. Calves flexion and full range of motion is called plantarflexion. 
 
Proper form of doing calf raises is, standing up straight, then pushing through the balls of your feet and raise your heel until you are standing on your toes. Then flex and lower back to the starting position.
There are no such major study or research have been done for proper rep range to grow your calves. But many of the articles and fitness magazines have shown that doing 20-30reps of calf raises for 2-3sets, till you feel the burn and not the pain. Performing this would be better to achieve big calves. Though a research, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31071533/ says that calf circumference reflects calf muscle mass, and you can't make a huge difference in it. So perform calf raises with proper form might increase the size, but you can't grow it more than its circumference.


Also don't forget to stretch your legs, once you done with your workout, as it helps in recovery and prevent many injuries. 


So, that's all for this exercise science article of fitlifestuff by aayush, I've attached all the resource links above, I hope you liked it. Consider commenting your thoughts or suggestions in the comment box. 


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