Leg Training – Exercise and Execution

Today, I am going to share some some legs training tips, which is different from the previous leg video.   This time is from a hypertrophy standpoint, discussing:

  1. Basic knowledge on legs
  2. Recommended exercises
  3. Training methods


Leg Basics

Legs includes front & rear side of thigh and hips, as well as calves.  This video only will discuss thigh and hips, not calves.

  • Front Side: Quadriceps: knee joint extension ( & hip flexion),  aka. Leg Extension.
  • Rear Side: Hamstrings: knee point flexion ( & hip extension), aka. Leg Curl.
  • Hip: Gluteus Maximus: Hip Extension, aka. Hip Thrust (Glute Bridge).


We should warm up before working out.  Prepare your body by some dynamic stretch/warm up sets.


In fact, many leg compound ex. like Squat, Romanian Deadlift can train the whole thigh and hips.  I will recommend 5 bodyweight exercises for legs.




#1 Squat

Weighted or not, squat is still the fundamental exercises for your lower body.  It will target your legs, hips and core.   How to perform Squat properly is a huge topic to discuss, some of which are discussed now:


1. Execution

Squat is initiated by your Hips, followed by your knee.  Look like you have to sit down but not kneel down.


Kneeling down will make your knee bend too much and cause huge load on it.


Beware that you should not sit down too backward neither.  Knee joint should slightly bend based on your body movement.  Otherwise your upper body will be too oblique, causing huge load on your lower back,  as well as instability of the body.


Compare both forms.


2. Foot position

Medium or wide width is recommended.  Your knee and foot toe should pointing the same direction with a slight outward.

Because everyone has different body ratio and flexibility, everyone should find their right positions for themselves.  Try different foot stance & distance.  Judge by comfortability, mobility, depth of squat, ease of exerting force etc.  A good position should allow you to squat heavily & safely.


3. Depth

  • 90° is safe and recommended for average people.
  • Below 90° will cause more load in the joint and muscle, thus increasing the chance of injury.  Only advanced lifters should consider a full squat to the bottom.



If you think bodyweight (air) squat is too easy, you may try the next exercise .


#2 Pistol Squat

This exercise is more intense and require relatively high stability as well.  It will also target your legs, hips and core.  Hold one leg straight on air, some leg stiffness is acceptable for most people.  Squat with another leg with help of your core strength.  Raise both of your hands to the front for balance.


If you cannot perform this move, please assist with both hands by grabbing (pulling) a bar or something.


#3 Lunge/Bulgarian Split Squat

Lunge is one of the most common leg exercises.  It will also target your legs, hips and core.  The primary force is exerted by the front leg.  If you find it too easy, please try weighted version in the gym.

Otherwise, you can try Bulgarian Split Squat as well.  Hold up one of your leg at the back.  Squat with the front leg.


#4 Glute Bridge

This targets the hips.  Lying down and lift your core with your hips.  Hold a while at the top and squeeze your hips.  The harder version one-leg version.  Hold one leg with your arms and then lift up your core.  Remember to squeeze your hips, otherwise, the stimulation will be diminished.


#5 Glute-Ham Raise

This targets the hamstrings.  Prepare a thick mat.  Kneel down on the mat.  Support your ankle with stuff.  Better do it with the machines in the gym.  The original version of this move is very difficult.

  • The easiest progression is more like a hyperextension.  Only to move your upper body.
  • A next progression will leverage with your knee joint and move the body above it.  Support with both hands for easier progression.
  • A harder progression will be Slow Negative of Glute-Ham Raise.  Assist with your hands for the concentric portion.

Note that:  You must perform this ex in a mat, or otherwise your knee will suffer.



Training Methods

  • For beginners:  Please learn the exercises properly first.  Then increase the volume gradually.
  • For advanced:  Bodyweight leg exercises are relatively low intensity,  so you may train with higher reps.  Or else make use of super set / drop sets,  Like Bulgarian Split Squat + Lunge, which can provide metabolic stress for muscle growth.
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