Best Leg Exercises to Build Muscle Fast

Do you do enough leg exercises?

Do you know that legs have the biggest muscles in your body?

I am talking about upper leg muscles:

  • Glutes
  • Quadriceps (quads)
  • Hamstrings

even though there are two more muscles below your knees, lower leg muscles:

  • Calves
  • Tibialis
Leg exercises - Leg Muscles

Leg workouts are known to be very challenging and hard, from a physical and mental point of view, such that very often it's better to dedicate a whole workout session just to legs without training any other muscle group.

Personally sometimes I do bicep exercises or tricep exercises together with legs, just because they're small muscles and don't take too much energy.

But this is just what works for me, I know many people that don't like that.

Leg Muscles

I want to give you a tip:

When You Train Legs Do High Reps (15-20)

Legs are used to endurance, we can run or walk for a very long time every day (well, for running we need training right?). The best way to train your legs is to do high reps.

For the rest of the body you can build muscle doing sets of 6-8 reps, but when it comes to legs, high reps is your best bet.

How many?

I'd say at least 15 reps, 15 to 25.

Have you ever heard of the 20 rep squat? It's a specific legs workout that has been known for some decades and proven to be the best of all the leg exercises.

Quadriceps Exercises

Quads is one of the biggest and most powerful muscle groups in our body.

Quads workouts include compound exercises like:

that are basic leg exercises to develop strength and volume in all the areas of the quadriceps.


Beside compound movements, your workout should include some isolation exercises like

where you can also focus the work on the internal or external quads, depending on how you orientate your toes.

Free Squat
Leg Extension
Leg Press
Dumbbell Lunges

Hamstrings Exercises

Hamstrings are not as big as quads, and especially not as powerful.

Try doing leg extensions with 100 lbs. and leg curls with the same weight.

Crazy harder right?

I my opinion the best way to train them is doing isolation exercises like:

Standing Leg Curls

Seated leg curl

but It's also always good idea to do compound exercises for hamstrings too:

  • Barbell goodmornings
  • Stiff legged deadlifts
Barbell Goodmornings
Stiff Legged Deadlift

Then there are other leg exercises that work hamstrings as secondary muscles:

Glutes Exercises

I am sure that women will be more interested in glutes exercises, isn't developing a nice butt one of the main goals for girls.

I would say so, and they have really good reasons!

Men, instead, train their glutes mostly as secondary muscles in their leg exercises routines.

The thing is, there are not many isolation exercises for glutes, except:

  • Glute kickbacks
  • Flutter kicks
Glute Kickbacks
Glute Flutter Kicks

Generally speaking glutes are complementary muscles that are used when you do other compound exercises like:

As you can see there are several exercises that work your glutes, that is why bodybuilders don't usually train their glutes specifically.

Calf Exercises

Calves are composed of two muscles, don't ask me the scientific names (Wikipedia will certainly answer that). Just so we are on the same page, let's say that there is one internal and one external, and together they form the calf muscle.

Calves are used a lot in our daily life every time we walk. Calf exercises are all very similar and do the same thing: calf raises.

Then you can do this from a seated or standing position, with a machine or with dumbbells:

  • Standing calf raise at the machine
  • Seated calf raise at the machine
  • Dumbbell calf raise
  • Toe press on leg press
Standing Calf Raise Machine
Seated Calf Raise Machine
Dumbbell Calf Raise
Toe Press

It's Extremely Important to Do Leg Exercises

Unfortunately, most people don't care for their leg muscles as mush as they care for the upper body muscles.

I am talking about the average Joe that goes to the gym, the type of guy that spends more time texting with his iPhone than exercising.

I was watching a guy the other day, he was lifting probably 60% of what he should. No fatigue on his face, curling with one arm and holding his phone with the other hand...

Oh my goodness!

I've seen the guy many times. Have you ever seen him doing legs? No really, tell me because apparently when he did legs he did 3 sets of leg extensions and some dumbbell calf raises.

That's it.

I don't need to mention that this guy looks the same as six months ago.

I guess he goes to the gym just to "stay in shape" as building muscle must not be his goal for sure.

If you want to build muscle, please do leg exercises and do them well

I mean with effort and passion, the same that you dedicate to the bench press.

Beside the fact that a bodybuilder with skinny legs looks ugly, working your legs can be beneficial to build muscle in other parts of your body.

Remember that when you train big muscles you stimulate your body to produce more testosterone and HGH, and with more of these anabolic hormones in your body you can make bigger gains in the rest of your body.

Dedicate one day to leg exercises, I agree that perhaps it can feel like a boring day, but it's well worth it.

As I always say though, the form is very important, especially when you train big muscles like legs. An incorrect squat form, for example, can be dangerous and cause other issues like hemorrhoids.

What are your favorite leg exercises? Would you recommend intense legs workout to make overall big gains?

Leave a comment, I am always curious to hear your opinion...

Best Leg Exercises

Free Barbell Squat for Legs Workout

Seated or 45 Degree Leg Press for Legs Workout

Leg Extensions for Legs Workout

Leg Curls for Legs Workout


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18 Responses

  1. Avatar Blanca Guevara
    Hi I'm Blanca, I do leg press 2 days a week but I have a question: how many sets and repetitions you recommend me? I'm 46 years old and my weight is confused because before to go to the gym my weight was 127 now I'm on 130 pounds. I do 4 days a week heavy weights (upper and lower body) and 3 days a week cardio. Thanks for your help.
    • Cristian Cristian M.
      The actual weight is not that important. Muscle weighs 4 times fat for instance, so you may be burning fat but gaining weight simply because you are replacing it with muscle. I am actually training twice a week now, and I don't have a leg day, so what I do is: each time I go to the gym I start with 1 set of 10 (squat machine), followed by 1 set of 20 reps (using a weight that barely allows me to complete 20 reps). You can do the same with the leg press. Cheers.
      • Avatar Ali
        Hi Christian, I have been working out since three years now. You may say it my ignorance or lack of knowledge that I don't use to give time to legs. I have built my upper body somehow but I lack muscles and strength in my legs which I do feel now. Kindly If you can propose me now a better way to start my legs exercises in a week, and how many times should I go for legs muscles in a week?
        • Cristian Cristian
          Ali, that's bad to hear :). Again, I would start doing the <a href="" title="20 Rep Squat for Massive Gains" rel="nofollow">20 rep squat routine</a>. At least 2 or 3 times a week, start your workout with 20 reps of squat. Start easy, you need to go gradually now. Read this too. <a href="" title="To Bulk Up Legs, This Works Like Crazy" rel="nofollow">To Bulk Up Legs, This Works Like Crazy</a>
      • Avatar Blanca
        Thank you.
    • Avatar Carl
      Muscles are heavier you won't be fat but muscles will add weight
      • Cristian Cristian
        The number on the scale doesn't really matter. If it's lean muscle, I'd be glad to weigh more :)
  2. Avatar Larry P
    Deadlifts for sure, fronts squats dumbbell squats leg press biking
  3. Avatar Ace
    Hi...whenever I do leg work out, my heart feels like it's having a hard time pumping and it is way faster than normal. It gives me anxious and light headed. Any idea what that might be ?
    • Cristian Cristian
      It depends, it might be that you're lifting too much. Or the breathing, make sure you exhale when you lift (or push) and inhale while you relax. Also, I'd go see the doctor and maybe run some tests if it feels wrong.
  4. Interesting and well said.
  5. Well said and advice well taken. Legs or nothing!
  6. Avatar Taylor
    Great article, can anybody help with this? I am a teenage girl and I dont have "scrony" legs but they are pretty skinny. I am pretty tall, and super thin, i weigh around 95-100 pounds, I am crazy flexible, so i stretch every single day but I dont work out right. I need to know how to make my legs look better also butt workout, definatly need it. How long do you think it would take to build up leg and butt mussel? Also my dad has a bench press but thats all the machinery we have. Thanks!
  7. Avatar Yesenia
    Hi my name is Yesenia, I'm 29 yrs old I workout my legs twice a week because they told me I'm supposed to at least them rest 2 days. I try to do as heavy as I can and I do 3 sets of 20 reps of everything you named on here.. I do cardio only once a week. But my legs are still not looking muscular.. am I doing something wrong do I need to drink more protein?
    • Cristian Cristian
      Maybe you don't take in enough calories to increase your mass and have a hard time gaining legs muscle. Try to reduce your reps to like 3x10 now so that you can increase the load and see how it goes. What works great for some may not work great for everybody. Another way is to start an amino-acid cycle.
      • Avatar Blanca
        You're right Cristian, that happened to me and I did change the series and repetitions also I increased the proteins. Right now I'm doing 4 sets (8 to 10 repetitions) and I gained muscle. I have a question Cristian: amino-acid is the same that BCAA. Thanks.
        • Cristian Cristian
          Yes amino acids is BCAA
  8. Avatar Sonia
    HI I am Sonia. I suffer from "thunder thighs" and they have been my problem area since college. I am 30 years old and m doing the 30 day squat challenge. What exercises should I be doing??