Building the muscles in your legs can lead to athletic performance gains, make it easier to perform certain tasks throughout your day and contribute to improvements in physical appearance. The American College of Sports recommends two weekly sessions of resistance exercises to increase muscular strength and endurance. Many exercises done at home can build strength and muscle size.
Jumping lunges elevate your heart rate, contributing to calorie expenditure, while strengthening your legs and building muscle. Specifically, jumping lunges build strength in your gluteus muscles, thighs and quadriceps. Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees slightly and straighten your back. Step your right foot forward 24 inches, stacking your right knee over its corresponding ankle while lifting onto the toes of your left foot. Slowly, lower your left knee toward the ground, bending your right leg as your body descends toward the floor. Right before your left knee contacts the ground, push up through your left toes and right heel and jump off of the ground. Change your leg positioning in the air and reestablish your balance. Lower into another lunge and repeat until you complete the desired amount of repetitions.
A Different Approach
Single leg squats build leg strength individually, allowing you to focus on the muscular and strength capabilities of each leg. Stand up straight, positioning your feet hip-width apart and bending your knees slightly. Straighten your back and relax your shoulders, pulling your shoulder blades down and together. Lift your right foot 12 inches of the ground, positioning your foot slightly in front of your body. Stick your buttocks out behind you and keep them there throughout the exercise to maintain knee and ankle alignment and protect your joints from injury. Lower your hips to the ground, bending your left leg as you descend and stopping when the back of your left leg reaches parallel to the ground. Lowering this far may be too difficult at first: Lower halfway and build foundational strength before doing the full squat. Push up through your left heel, straighten your left leg and repeat until you complete the desired amount of repetitions. Lower your right foot to the ground and do the same on your opposite side.
Backed Against a Wall
Wall squats with leg raises build leg muscles, specifically the quadriceps, located on the front of your legs, directly above your knees. Leg raises provide additional challenges to the quadriceps while building muscular strength in your thighs. Stand with your head, shoulders, back and hips pressed against a wall. Walk your feet 24 inches in front of your body, stacking your knees directly over your ankles. Sliding down the wall, lower your hips to the ground, parallel to the floor. Hold in this position for 30 seconds and then lift your right foot 12 inches off of the ground and straighten your leg. Hold for 15 seconds, lower your foot to the ground and do the same with your left leg.
Stand and Stretch
Calf raises target your calves and shins. Stand six to 12 inches away from a wall or wall mirror. Place your feet hip-width apart and parallel to each other. Put your hands on the wall at shoulder height. As you exhale, raise up onto your toes. Hold the position for two seconds and then, as you inhale, lower your heels to the floor. Perform eight to 12 reps. Add variety by doing single calf raises. Perform the maneuver as stated above, except begin with one leg bent at the knee and the foot off the floor. Do eight to 12 reps and then repeat the single calf raises on the other side.