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The Best Leg Exercises for Muscle Definition

author image Henry Halse
Henry Halse is a Philadelphia-based personal trainer, speaker, and writer. He's trained a wide variety of people, from couch potatoes to professional athletes, and helped them realize their own strength, determination and self-confidence. Henry has also written for various fitness and lifestyle publications, including Women’s Health, AskMen and Prevention.
The Best Leg Exercises for Muscle Definition
The Best Leg Exercises for Muscle Definition Photo Credit: bekisha/iStock/GettyImages

Work your legs hard to make the muscles grow and gain definition. Use exercises that target the quads and hamstrings to fatigue your leg muscles so that you can build them up, bigger and better. This is the time to use more specific leg exercises, rather than general strength movements.

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Some leg exercises, like squats, use a lot of weight but not all of it is focused on your legs. Similar to the deadlift, a lot of the weight is carried by your back and ab muscles, as well as your glutes.

Read More: How to Relieve Sore Leg Muscles

If you want to build up the definition of your leg muscles, you have to work them specifically. The best way to do that is to use exercises where you put all or most of the focus on your legs, rather than the surrounding muscles of your body.

Single-leg exercises, where you work one leg at a time, help you target the leg muscles. That's because you're focusing all of the weight on one leg, but not using so much weight that you need to use other muscles to help.

Machine exercises are also good for targeting specific muscles because the machine takes care of the extra work for you, putting you in a fixed position so that all you have to do is flex the muscle that you're trying to work.

Leg Press

Sit in the leg press machine with your back flat against the chair. Adjust the machine so that you are in the bottom of a squat position from the start, with your knees at a 90-degree angle.

Plant your feet at shoulder-width apart and turn your toes out slightly. Press through your heels and straighten out your legs, then slowly bend them back to the start position.

Use the leg press machine to focus all of your effort on leg muscles.
Use the leg press machine to focus all of your effort on leg muscles. Photo Credit: Sjale/iStock/GettyImages

Leg Extension

Adjust the leg extension machine, so your shins are behind the bottom pad and your knees are bent more than 90 degrees. Sit with your back flat against the chair and kick your legs out until your knees are straight. Then, slowly lower them back down to the bottom again.

Sliding Leg Curl

Put two sliders on the floor or use towels if you're on a hardwood surface. Lie down on your back with your legs straight and your heels on the sliders.

Pull your heels in toward your butt and bridge your hips up, keeping your upper back on the ground. Stop when your heels are right below your knees. Then, slide back out until your butt hits the ground and your legs are straight.

Read More: How to Build Leg Muscles at Home

Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat

Stand 3 to 4 feet away from a bench or chair, facing away from it. Stand on one leg and place the top of your other foot flat on top of the bench or chair.

Lower yourself down with the front leg, using the back leg as support, until your back knee is close to the ground. Then, drive up using the front leg until it's straight. Hold dumbbells in each hand or a barbell on your back to add resistance.

Romanian Dead Lift

Stand up tall, holding a barbell in front of you with your hands shoulder-width apart. Slowly stick your butt back and slide the barbell down the front of your thighs, past your knees, and down to mid-shin level.

Keep your shoulders back and chest out to keep your spine flat as you go down. When you hit the bottom of the movement, keep your weight in your heels and stand up by thrusting your hips forward and leaning back.

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