Gaining size and strength in your legs is not an easy task. Proper training is required to truly increase the mass in muscle groups like your buttocks, thighs and calves.
Fortunately, it is possible to accomplish this goal without too much equipment or even a gym membership. Try some convenient, yet effective, exercises at home to build up the muscles in your legs.
To properly build strength and bulk in your lower leg, work out this muscle group two to three times a week, doing two to four sets of eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise. If you are unable to maintain proper form or experience increased pain while completing an exercise, be sure to stop to avoid risk of injury.
1. Single-Leg Sit to Stand
This simple exercise will make you feel the burn in your thigh muscles, but it only requires the use of a chair.
HOW TO DO IT: Sit in a knee-level kitchen chair with your feet on the ground. Extend your right leg in front of you and use your left leg to stand up. Do not use your arms or momentum to help you.
Then, keeping your right foot off the ground, slowly lower yourself back to the chair without plopping. After a set, repeat the exercise with your left leg extended.
2. Heel Raise
Heel raises target your gastrocnemius, the bulkiest muscle in your calves.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with the heel of your right foot hanging off the edge of the step and your left leg held in the air. Holding a railing or banister, lower your right heel toward the ground. When you are unable to go any farther, reverse direction and rise up onto your right toes. Once a set is complete, do a set with your left foot.
3. Single-Leg Wall Squat
Wall squats help to strengthen and sculpt your quadriceps, a group of four muscles in the front of your thigh.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your back to a smooth wall and lean your buttocks and shoulders against it. Your feet should be approximately 12 to 16 inches away. Lift your right foot off the ground and slowly slide your body down the wall until your left knee makes a 60-degree angle. Maintain this position for 10 seconds and then slide back up again.
The depth of the squat can be increased to add to the challenge. Repeat the exercise on the other leg once you finish a set.
4. Single-Leg Bridge
Single leg bridges focus on building mass in your buttocks by targeting the gluteus maximus muscle.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your back with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle and your feet on the floor. Extend your left leg in the air in front of you and lift your butt off the ground with your right leg. Keep your spine is straight and hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds before lowering yourself down again. Perform the exercise on both legs.
5. Pistol Squat
This advanced glute and quad technique challenges the strength and stability in your lower legs.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand on your right leg with your left leg and arms extended in the air in front of you for balance. Slowly bend your knee and squat down until your right thigh is parallel with the ground. Be sure to keep your right knee from going beyond the end of your toes.
After a 1 to 2 second hold, return to the starting position. Once you are done with a set, do the exercise on your opposite leg.
6. Donkey Kick
This strange-sounding exercise is another effective way to activate your butt muscles.
HOW TO DO IT: Get onto your hands and knees. Tie one end of a resistance band around your right foot and hold the other end with your hands.
Begin by drawing in your stomach muscles and then extend your right leg in the air in back of you as you straighten the knee. Keep this position for a second or 2 before bringing the leg back under you. Balance the exercise out by completing it with each leg.
- Journal of Athletic Training: Electromyographic Analysis of Single-Leg, Closed Chain Exercises: Implications for Rehabilitation After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction
- American College of Sports Medicine: Quantity and Quality of Exercise for Developing and Maintaining Cardiorespiratory, Musculoskeletal, and Neuromotor Fitness in Apparently Healthy Adults: Guidance for Prescribing Exercise