• You're all caught up!

The Best Exercise for Big Hips & Legs

author image Peter Chou
Peter Chou is a journalist with more than 15 years experience. He has coached track and field for 20-plus years and competed as a runner himself. Chou has won several championships during his athletic career.
The Best Exercise for Big Hips & Legs
A woman is squatting in a gym. Photo Credit sylv1rob1/iStock/Getty Images

The hips and legs comprise many muscles, such as the large gluteus maximus and the quadriceps. To train most of the hip and leg muscles simultaneously, you need to turn to a compound, or multi-jointed, exercise. The best such exercise is the squat. You can do this movement with any type of free weight equipment or solely using your own body weight as a means of resistance.

Learn to Squat

Learning the correct execution of the squat is essential if you want get the most bang for your buck in terms of muscular action while minimizing your chance of getting seriously hurt. Using just body weight, stand with your feet a little bit more than shoulder-width apart, giving you a strong base and optimal balance. Turn your feet slightly toward the outside for a more comfortable stance. Stand with your legs, hips and torso fully vertical, and straighten your arms in front of your body. You can place one hand over the other if you'd like. Squat as far as comfortably possible by bending at your hips and knees. Try to at least reach the point where your thighs are parallel to the ground. Then rise back to the starting position by straightening your hips and knees. If you're a beginner, then stick to body weight squats for the first few weeks. Do them two to three times per week. Complete five sets to muscular failure or perform at least 15 to 25 repetitions.

Add Some Weights

Once body weight squats become easier to execute, add some weights in the form of a barbell, a pair of dumbbells or a pair of kettlebells. Using weights will help you get bigger hips and legs. When using a barbell, hold it over your upper back during the motion. As for dumbbells and kettlebells, hold them by your sides with arms straight, or hold them over your shoulders with arms bent. Do five sets of eight to 12 reps using the heaviest weight possible, two to three times per week.

Muscle Manipulation

In addition to your gluteus maximus and quadriceps, squats also work your hamstrings and calves. To focus more on the gluteus maximus and hamstrings, lean forward more during execution of the squat. To shift more of the work on the quadriceps, keep your torso more upright during the motion. As for your calves, you can work them more by doing a toe-raising movement at the end of each repetition. To do so, just rise up on your toes as much as possible when your body is upright.

Safety First

Prior to each squatting session, run or jog for 10 minutes to warm up your hips and legs. This will increase your body temperature and increase blood circulation to your muscles. Do the same after your workouts, as part of a cool down. During this concluding phase of your workout, jog lightly as the goal is to lower your body temperature rather than raise it.

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
THE LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Nutrition, Workouts & Tips
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.



Demand Media