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Image by Danielle Cerullo

Bro, Don't Skip Leg Day!

Yeah, admit it you have done it. I think we all have at some point in our life. You look at your training log for the day, and see a brutal session for the quads and hammies. Now you are thinking, man, I want to be able to walk up the stairs to my bedroom tonight, so will just bang out another day of bis, tris, and abs.

I personally love training legs. That feeling when you go to sit down on the toilet and it is painful......simply awesome (most of the time!)

In my opinion, the squat is the king of leg training. This exercise, with it's numerous variations, will destroy your legs and get you the strength and mass that you are desiring, but you have to put in the work, like everything else.

However, the squat is not the only exercise you can hit for training your legs and glutes, so I have listed the top four exercises to hit these areas, that aren't the squat. So if it hurts your back, you have that old high school football knee injury, or you just don't have the equipment, you can still train legs with some great intensity without even having a barbell.

Lunges: Lunges target the quads, hamstrings, and glutes, helping to strengthen and tone your legs. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Take a big step forward with your right foot, lowering your body until your right thigh is parallel to the floor and your right shin is vertical. Your left knee should hover just above the ground. Push off with your right foot and return to the starting position. Repeat on the other leg.

Step-ups: Step-ups primarily engage the muscles in your thighs and glutes. Find a sturdy bench, step, or platform. Step onto it with your right foot and push through your heel to lift your body up. Bring your left foot up to meet your right foot on the platform. Step back down with your left foot first, followed by your right foot. Repeat, alternating the leading foot.

Glute bridge: Glute bridges work the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart. Place your arms by your sides. Lift your hips off the ground, squeezing your glutes as you raise your body. Hold for a second at the top and then lower back down to the starting position. Repeat for several repetitions.

Calf raises: Calf raises target the calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) and can help define and tone your lower legs. Stand with your feet hip-width apart near a wall or stable surface for balance. Slowly raise your heels off the ground as high as you can, lifting onto the balls of your feet. Hold for a moment, then lower your heels back down to the starting position. Repeat for several repetitions.

Remember to start with lighter weights or no weights at all, and gradually increase the difficulty as your strength improves. It's also important to maintain proper form during these exercises to avoid injuries and maximize their effectiveness.

All of the above exercises can be done with just bodyweight or you can add weight by putting on a weighted vest, holding weighted objects from heavy soup cans to dumbbells, or even holding a small child, if you have some of those running around! If you think bodyweight exercises are too easy, try doing a continuous 5 minute walking lunge test and let me know how easy that was. It is guaranteed to wrecking those legs!

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