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It’s not uncommon to see guys in gyms with killer chests, ripped abs, mighty arms- all standing on a foundation of rather ordinary legs, not quite the perfect physique you would have expected. It’s not that their legs would look so odd or puny on the average, non-body builder guy. But in contrast to the rest of their muscled body, they stand out. What can they or anyone do to build leg muscle mass and definition?
The best single exercise for building muscle mass is doing squats. This involves holding a heavy barbell behind your shoulders and lowering you body by bending at the knees. If this sounds very exhausting and tricky, you’re right. They are certainly not good for anyone with weak knees. Since there are other good leg exercises available, it might be best for an absolute beginner to forgo squats with barbells until they gained more strength and more agility and precision in working with free weights.
In general, they require great concentration and careful movements so that you manage your legs do the work and get the benefits.
If you’re going to do them with a barbell, have some next to you to help you.
There are other, easier ways to do squats. Instead of using a barbell, you can hold dumbbells at your side and perform them.
Don’t be put off if you’re not able to master squats. For one thing, if you want to become muscular but are not looking exactly for body builder legs, you can achieve nicely muscled and strong legs without doing squats.
But there are also machines and benches that hold free weights you can use to develop your legs. The advantage of a machine or bench is that as you get fatigued you don’t have to worry about extricating yourself from a heavy barbell or falling.
Another big advantage is that it’s easier to maintain good form and actually work the leg muscles. The weights remain just where they are as you tire; the barbell can acquire a life of its own as you tire.
The exercises you can perform using a bench with weights are leg extensions and leg curls. You can really isolate and develop the quad muscles at the back of the legs as well as the muscles in the thigh. A side benefit is that it can help strengthen your knees. As with all weight training, increase your weight as you are able to. There’s a big difference between challenging yourself and over-doing it.
What about developing your calves? If you go to a gym, you will find a machine that allows you to do calf raises to isolate the muscles in your calves. There also happen to be free standing, non-weight lifting, ways to work your calves. Try doing calf raises by leaning against a wall and raising yourself up on your calves. As you do a set and begin to really feel it, make sure to maintain your form. That is, make sure you are lifting up on your calves and not compensating for your tired calves by using other muscles.
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