Build muscle definition without going to the gym with this home workout for bigger legs. You can gain mass in your lower body with the equipment you have at home by learning which muscles to work and how to train them. Exercise consistently for stronger, more muscular legs and better fitness.
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How to Build Muscle Mass
Strength training is an important part of keeping your body healthy, especially as you get older. In fact, you can expect to lose 3 to 5 percent of muscle mass each year after the age of 30, states the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This is due to decreasing levels of testosterone in men and estrogen in women.
Luckily, muscle loss can be prevented with regular weight training, either through a home exercise program or at the gym. If you're interested in exercises for bigger thighs at home, the key is recruiting the right type of muscle fibers, says the American Council on Exercise.
There are two types of muscle fibers in the body: type I and type II. Type 1 muscles fuel endurance training. Type II muscle fibers, on the other hand, are larger and more powerful. These are used during short intense bursts of exercise and have a higher potential for building lean mass compared to type I fibers.
If you lift lighter weights and perform lots of reps, you'll only stimulate the type I fibers. Heavy lifting will activate those mass-building type II fibers. Furthermore, you need to get the number of repetitions, rest time and workout frequency right to build lean mass. Your diet matters, too.
Weight, Reps and Frequency Tips
One of the most important factors in building muscle mass is using the right weight. The weight needs to be heavy enough that you can do 10 repetitions, but the last two reps should be very difficult, according to the American Council on Exercise.
Although the last two reps should be difficult, you should still be able to maintain proper form. If you can't, then it's time to switch to a lighter load. As you get stronger, it's important to gradually increase the weight to continue building muscle mass.
Next comes workout frequency. The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) states that hypertrophy, or muscle growth, occurs with an intermediate number of reps with higher weights and short rest periods. They recommend three to five sets of six to 12 repetitions for building mass.
Rest for just one to two minutes between sets. This rest interval range leads to higher levels of serum growth hormone during exercise, which results in increased muscle mass. If you rest for longer between sets, your muscles will get stronger but may not get bigger.
It is also vital to get in several training sessions per week for optimal muscle growth. A small study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise in January 2019 has found that the more often men trained each week, the more mass they gained.
The American Council on Exercise recommends women to train four to five days a week to gain lean mass. A 24-hour rest period after a hard training session is essential for proper recovery. For example, you may perform lower body exercises one day, upper body exercises the next day and continue alternating. Take at least one day off each week.
If your goal is to build mass, focus on strength training and limit cardio, such as running on the treadmill, as recommended by the American Council on Exercise. They report that cardio exercises reduce the amount of glycogen stored in the muscle, which may limit muscle growth. A better alternative is high-intensity interval training, or HIIT.
In addition to your home leg workouts for mass, don't forget to watch your diet and make sure you're eating healthy high-protein foods and complex carbs to fuel your body.
Home Workout for Bigger Legs
Home leg workouts for mass should engage all the major muscles of the lower body, including the quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteal muscles. The following seven exercises for bigger thighs at home can be broken up so you are doing three or four one day and the other exercises another day.
The American Council on Exercise notes that it's important to switch up the exercises for optimal muscle growth. With this approach, you will activate different parts of the motor units in muscle fibers.
Make sure the weight is heavy enough and follow the guidelines outlined above to maximize your gains. Perform six to 12 reps per set and do three to five sets per exercise. Rest only one to two minutes between sets.
Move 1: Squats
- Hold a heavy dumbbell in each hand or use a barbell and a squat rack.
- Stand shoulder-width apart.
- Squat down as if you are sitting in a chair. Maintain a neutral back.
- Keep your hips back, with your heels on the ground.
- Return to a standing position and repeat.
Although squats are some of the best exercises for bigger thighs at home, those with knee issues may want to try the following movements, as recommended by the American Council on Exercise.
Move 2: Deadlift
- Hold heavy dumbbells or barbells in your hands.
- Keeping your knees slightly bent, lean forward by pushing your rear end toward the wall behind you.
- Don't let your back round or bend — keep it flat the entire time.
- Bend forward, with the weights hanging down in front, until you feel tightness in your hamstrings.
- Return to standing and repeat.
Move 3: Glute Bridge
- Lay on your back, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Place a weight across the bony part of your hips.
- Push your heels into the floor as you lift your hips to the ceiling.
- Return to the starting position. Repeat.
Move 4: Step-ups
- Find a box or stair that is the same height or slightly lower than your knees.
- Hold dumbbells in your hands for more intensity.
- Place your right foot on the box and step up.
- When you reach the top, lift the left foot into the air.
- Return to the starting position and repeat with the same leg or the opposite leg.
Move 5: Rear Lunges
- Hold a pair of dumbbells in your hands or a medicine ball in front of your chest.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Step back with your right foot and lower your right toward the ground while leaning forward slightly.
- Press your left foot into the ground and pull yourself back up to standing.
- Perform the desired number of reps with one leg before switching to the other leg.
Move 6: Lateral Lunges
- Hold one dumbbell vertically or a medicine ball in front of your chest.
- Start with both feet parallel.
- Step directly to the right, keeping your left foot stable into the ground.
- As your right foot touches the ground, use your left hand to reach for your right foot.
- Return to standing by pushing your right foot into the ground.
- Repeat for the desired number of reps and then switch sides.
Move 7: Kettlebell Swing
- Hold a kettlebell between your legs, with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
- Lean forward by hinging at the waist or pushing your hips back to move the kettlebell between your legs.
- In one explosive motion, push your feet into the floor and bring your hips forward to move the kettlebell in front of your body.
- Allow the kettlebell to come to rest between your legs. Repeat.
Don’t use your shoulders to swing the kettlebell. All the motion should come from your hips, not your upper body.
Make sure you are getting plenty of rest. Anabolic hormones like growth hormone and testosterone are produced during those deep REM cycles of sleep, according to the American Council on Exercise.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "4 Keys to Strength Building and Muscle Mass"
- American Council on Exercise: "7 Techniques for Promoting Muscle Growth"
- American Council on Exercise: "A Girls Guide To Gaining Muscle: Weight Training"
- National Academy of Sports Medicine: "Back to The Basics: Hypertrophy"
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: "Resistance Training Volume Enhances Muscle Hypertrophy But Not Strength in Trained Men"
- American Council on Exercise: "6 Lower-Body Exercises to Do Instead of Squats"