There's very little magic that goes into growing your thighs and butt if you're a guy. The secret ingredients are simplicity and hard work. The exercises you have to do to grow your lower body aren't very comfortable and might leave you gasping for breath. Even if it's tough, stick to training twice per week and your legs will grow.
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As a guy, you're going to have a slightly easier time building muscle than the average female. That's because men have higher testosterone levels, which is one of the most important hormones for building muscle. However, that doesn't mean it will come easily. You're going to have to put in the work to get your results.
The Best Exercises for Leg Muscle
Rather than spending time isolating each individual muscle of your leg, try exercises that work multiple muscles at once and give you a lot of bang for your buck. These exercises are called compound movements and work the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes at the same time. By using multiple muscles in one movement you can use more weight to stimulate your muscles to grow.
Read More: How to Build Leg Muscle Mass
Setting Up A Training Plan
When you want to build muscle you have to stimulate your muscles either by lifting a lot of weight or doing a lot of reps. If you want to use a lot of weight, meaning something that fatigues you in five or fewer reps, you can get away with one workout per week because it will be so intense.
If you want to use lower weight and more reps for your leg exercises -- such as four sets of 10 reps per exercise -- plan for two workouts per week. With lighter weight you can recover faster, which means you can add in a second leg workout to your weekly plan.
The squat is one of the most popular compound lower body exercises in the world. It's stood the test of time as a strength and muscle-building tool that will grow your thighs and butt.
The best squat variation to grow muscle is the barbell squat because you can rest the weight on your back, as opposed to carrying heavy dumbbells in your hands.
Set up for a barbell squat under a barbell in a squat rack. Get under the bar in the center with the bar on your upper back. Your hands should be six inches away from your shoulders. Stand up to unrack the bar. Take one step back, and then get into a squat stance with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and toes slightly pointed out. Drop down as far as you feel comfortable, keeping your back flat and chest up, before standing back up.
You should use a barbell in the deadlift to maximize the amount of weight you're lifting. Start with a barbell on the floor. Put weight plates on either side so that the bar is raised to around mid-shin height.
Walk up to the center of the bar so that your shins are almost touching it. Push your butt back and reach down for the bar. Grip it slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with your hands. Keep your chest up and lift the bar with your legs, finishing in a standing position by thrusting your hips forwards.
Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat
If you're not a fan of the squat or the deadlift, or if you have back problems that make those exercises dangerous, you can try a single-leg exercise. The benefit of these exercises is that you can work one leg at a time without putting too much pressure on your spine. The best single-leg exercise to work your thighs and butt at the same time is the rear-foot elevated split squat.
Start standing in front of a bench. Put one foot on the bench and step the other foot forward three feet in front of the bench. Drop your back knee down to the ground and then come back up, keeping your torso tall. You can hold a dumbbell in each hand to increase the resistance.
Fueling Your Muscles
Doing these exercises will put a lot of strain on your muscles to trigger them to grow. However, they don't magically grow on their own. You have to make sure to help them recover by eating enough food, particularly protein, to give the muscles resources to grow.
Eating more calories than you burn will help you build muscle faster. When you're in a caloric surplus, your body is more willing to put energy towards building muscle. You don't have to eat everything in the fridge, you simply have to eat more than you burn. You might gain a little weight, but that's all part of the process.
How Much Protein to Eat
Eating plenty of protein will help, since muscles are made of protein. You can get it from animal sources like chicken, beef, or dairy. You can also get it from legumes and some grains. Try to have around 0.6 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight, according to a study in the Journal of Sports Sciences. That means a 150-pound man should eat 90 to 120 grams of protein over the course of four to six meals to ensure your body can use the nutrient optimally.
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Effects of Low- vs. High-Load Resistance Training on Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy in Well-Trained Men
- European Journal of Applied Physiology: Effect of heavy strength training on thigh muscle cross-sectional area, performance determinants, and performance in well-trained cyclists
- Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: Muscle Activation in the Loaded Free Barbell Squat: A Brief Review
- Journal of Exercise Physiology Online: Electromyographic Activity of Lower Body Muscles During the Deadlift and Stiff-Legged Deadlift