Many men neglect the legs and butt, in favor of training the “mirror” muscles, such as the arms, chest and shoulders. Training the large and oft overlooked muscles of the legs and butt helps to burn fat and may do as much for building upper body mass as any other exercise, if not more. Add these exercises to your routine to build the quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteus maximus, which make up the legs and butt.
Barbell squats build the legs and butt better than any other exercise, according to “3-D Muscle Building” authors Jonathan Lawson and Steve Holman. With the hands shoulder-width apart, gripping a barbell nestled between on the upper back, you squat down as if sitting on an invisible stool. After descending to where the upper legs are parallel to the floor or just below, you return to the standing position, without locking out the knees at the top. Alternatives to squats are hack squats, front squats machine squats or dumbbell squats.
Deadlifts resemble a reverse squat, only the bar starts on the ground against your shins and you lift it with a staggered grip (one palm up and the other down) from a “dead” stop, bar ending up at about mid-thigh level. To perform a dealift, stand with your feet beneath the barbell, bend your hips and knees, lower your body into a deep squat and grab the bar, shoulder-width apart. While keeping your back straight and head up, drive through your heels, extend your hips and knees and pull the bar up as you return to a standing position. Reverse the order of the lift to lower the bar to the floor. Authors Jonathan Lawson and Steve Holman say that deadlifts work nearly 80 percent of the body, including the powerful muscles of the legs and butt.
Leg presses make a reasonable alternative for those who cannot perform squats or deadlifts correctly due to lower back injuries. They target the muscles of the legs and butt, however leg presses put more emphasis on the hip flexor muscles, according to “”3-D Muscle Building”. Leg presses are typically performed while seated on a special exercise machine. To do a leg press, sit with your back against the padded back support. Hold onto the handles on the sides of the machine and put your feet flat on the platform. Extend your knees and push the platform away from your body and then slowly return to the starting position. The authors recommend you avoid locking out your knees to keep continuous tension on your legs.
Lunges make another powerful addition to a leg workout. You can use a barbell, dumbbells or the self-spotting Smith machine to perform lunges. It is important to start light because lunges create an intense contraction in the muscles of the legs and butt. To perform dumbbell lunges, hold a weight in each hand and position your arms straight by your sides. Alternating legs, one at a time, lunge forward as far as is comfortable and lower your body toward the floor while keeping your knees behind your toes. When your upper leg reaches the point parallel to the floor, extend your front leg's hip and knee to return to a standing position. With walking lunges, for example, you take an equal number of paces with each leg in one direction, rest a moment and then return to your original starting place by lunging back in the other direction.