The 10 Best Leg Exercises for Men
As we age, we can assume certain things might happen, however, one of the main factors that many men might not consider is the overall loss of muscle mass. This isn’t something that can completely be avoided – after all, a decrease in muscle mass with aging, called sarcopenia, is natural. On average, you might find that most men lose upwards of 25-30% of their overall muscle mass as they age.
Of course, this loss of muscle comes with its own challenges – from a decrease in mobility and flexibility to issues with functional movement and daily living activities, loss of muscle can be detrimental – especially if falls and injuries coincide with it. Less muscle mass can lead to broken bones, which can set back workout performance and interfere with daily activities as well.
Why Have Strong Legs?
Thankfully, a large piece of the puzzle is easy to solve – and that is lifting weights. There are a plethora of exercises that are extremely beneficial for men to incorporate into a weight training program, whether you are 20, 50, or 70!
While it’s important to have a weight training program that encompasses the entire body, let’s focus on the lower body. There are several benefits of having stronger legs that include improved force production, increased stability, a decreased chance of falling, improved endurance, a decrease in body fat percentage, an increase in metabolism, and a reduction in injuries.
Stronger legs are composed of sturdy quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves – and the strength here will correlate with strength within the core as well. Incorporating leg exercises that improve functional movement and have both single and multi-joint exercises included will not only help to improve the leg strength but improve fitness levels as well.
So, are you stuck with what exercises are best for the legs? Let’s review 10 of the best leg exercises for men today – and then you can determine which ones are best for you and your fitness routine and goals!
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1. Hill Sprints
Although not a movement typically thought of in regards to weightlifting, hill sprints are wonderful for improving strength, power, and endurance within the leg muscles.
2. Single Leg Deadlifts
Having a portion of your workout focusing on bilateral movements is imperative, not only for balance but also imbalances between the two sides. Single leg deadlifts also help to improve mobility within the hip joint and strengthen muscles in the glutes and hamstrings.
Considered one of the top movements for lower body strengthening, squats can be modified for a variety of fitness levels. Not only does this highly functional movement improve extension and flexion at the hip joint, but it also builds strength within the glutes, hamstrings, and quads. The ankles and knees also get a chance to improve mobility as well throughout the movement. These can be done with just bodyweight or modified to include a barbell or other resistance item (i.e. front squats, back squats, etc.)
Another movement that can be modified in several ways, lunges are excellent for not only strengthening the muscles of the legs, but improving overall stability, balance, and coordination. Lunges are a unilateral exercise, and can be done stationary, forward, backward, sideways, and even walking.
These might seem better suited for a class like Pilates, but glute bridges are a perfect way to activate the lower body (as well as the core). Bridges tap into the posterior chain and can help engage the glutes both as a pre-workout movement as well as part of a regular workout routine. Bridges also target the lower back and can aid in decreasing pain within the knee joint.
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Similar to single-leg deadlifts, conventional deadlifts are one of the top movements in weight lifting programs – and for good reasons. Not only is this a functional movement, but it can aid in improving overall performance and help train you to pick heavier objects off of the ground safely.
7. Box Jumps
This high impact activity doesn’t require anything else other than your bodyweight – and can pack a powerful punch! Box jumps are a plyometric movement that not only improves your explosiveness but can also strengthen the muscles of the lower body and improve hip flexion and extension.
8. Split Squat Jumps
Similar to the position you are in for lunges, split squat jumps require a powerful jump in order to change leg positions in the air before landing softly. This movement also builds explosive power and cardiovascular endurance and strengthens the muscles of the glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
9. Kettlebell Swings
Although this movement could be considered a full body exercise, kettlebell swings are perfect for strengthening the hamstrings and glutes when done correctly. The explosiveness behind a swing also strengthens the core and can translate to improvements in other lower-body movements like box jumps.
10. Good Mornings
Typically done as part of a dynamic warmup, good mornings target the hamstrings and glutes. This movement can be difficult to do without rounding the upper back, so ensure that you brace your core appropriately and hinge at the hips in order to execute the movement and give your hamstrings the activation they need.
Although there are plenty of other lower body exercises that you can include in a workout routine, these 10 will definitely set the stage for strengthening the legs appropriately – and putting you on track to better performance, stability, and strength!
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