Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Basic Leg Exercises

This guide will demonstrate some basic exercises for the legs. First, lets take a look of what the leg muscles are composed of so you know what you're working with:

There are 4 main parts for your legs.
The front top part we call the quads (where your thighs are)
The rear part of your legs are called hamstrings.
The glutes are the muscles in your buttocks :)
The lower part of your leg are the calves.

Now lets walk you through some basic exercises for the legs...
 This is the single best leg exercise that you can do. Squats work the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and hips. It also works the upper and lower back, and abdominals as secondary muscles.
Use a rack such as a squat or power rack to hold the barbell. Place your feet shoulder width apart under the bar. Grasp the bar wider then shoulder width, duck your head under the bar and position it on your trapezius muscles behind your neck. Lift the bar from the rack and take a couple of steps back. Position your feet wider then shoulder width apart with your toes pointed forwards or just slightly out to the sides. Look forward.

Bend your legs and squat down with the bar across your upper back. Your knees should be directly over your toes as you do the movement. Squat down until your upper thighs are below parallel with the floor. Arch your back and straighten out your legs until you are standing upright. Repeat.

**TIP 1** If you're new to squats and you're unable to lift the olympic bar which weighs 45lbs then you can start doing squats with no weights. Just keep your arms in position where the bar would be and practice squats that way. You can gradually increase using light dumbbells and work your way up every week.
**TIP 2** When you squat down try to look up with your head. It will keep the bar on your traps if you're new to working out and your upper back has not developed enough then this will help.

Leg Press
This movement works the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. The leg press allows you to work your legs hard without putting extra stress on your back.

Sit in the leg press machine with your back on the angled seat and your feet on the footplate about shoulder width apart with your toes pointed forward or just slightly out to the sides. Straighten your legs and release the bars at the sides of the machine. There is usually a handle on each side for you to hold on to and stabilize yourself.

Bend your legs and slowly lower the weight until your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Straighten your legs and lift the weight back up to the starting position. Repeat.

Leg Extensions
This movement isolates the quads. This exercise is good for developing muscle detail between the individual segments of your quadriceps muscles.

Sit on the leg extension machine (adjust the seat according to your body). Hook your feet beneath the roller pads and grasp the handles at the sides of the machine for support.
Straighten your legs and lift the weight up. Pause at the top for a second or two to enhance the peak contraction in the quads. Lower the weight slowly to the starting position. Repeat.

**TIP** You don't have to stack on a lot of weights for this. It is not a power move. It is a machine.

Leg Curls
 This movement isolates the hamstrings. This exercise is good for developing muscle detail in the backs of your legs.
Lie face down on the padded bench with your knees just over the edge of the bench. Hook your feet beneath the roller pads and grasp the handles at the sides of the machine for support.

Curl your legs and lift the weight up. Pause at the top for a second or two to enhance the peak contraction in the hamstrings. Lower the weight slowly to the starting position. Repeat.
This movement is great for working the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. This exercise also works many smaller stabilizer muscles because it requires a lot of balance.

**TIP**Lunges using no weights are great for beginners developing their legs For more advanced workouts you can use dumb bells or barbell. Best part of all; you don't need a gym to do it. You can do it anywhere :)

Step out about a couple feet with one leg, keep your toes pointed forward and your front foot flat on the floor. Bend your front leg until your knee is at a 90-degree angle, your back should also bend until it is at a 90-degree angle. Push up and return to the starting position. Repeat for the desired number of reps, then do the same with the other leg out front.You can also alternate legs back and forth doing walking lunges.

Standing Calf Raises
You can do this with a machine or by placing a barbell with weights on your back as if you were doing a squat.
Keep your knees straight. Stand up on your tippy toes and hold this position for a second to enhance the peak contraction in the calves.
Lower your heels back to the floor. Repeat.

These are my basic leg exercises. They are very effective. Remember, legs help you stabilize your upper so once they are more developed you can lift heavier on bench/ deadlifts... etc.


  1. very good one hanh...legs are so important.. haha too cool that you used jenny for the leg extensions pics :D

  2. Hanh,

    I am inspired from your workout along with ice1cube and miniachillies. A big thanks to you guys for making some of us feel good about ourselves. Anyhow, there isn't much I wanted to ask but don't mind me asking more questions later on. For now, I just wanted to know who wrote that song you have on your streampad. The name of it is "The Chosen Ones" but who is the author of it... Thanks man for all the support!

    1. Future World Music - The Chosen Ones

      You can thank my Google-fu :)

    2. Its actually a combination of several different songs. Here is the link on youtube

  3. hi Hanh! whose calves are those in the pics above?

    They look sick! haha I'm currently working my calves twice a week to get them to look like that.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. more updates! thanks hanh. keep doing whatever you're doing because it really matters to us.

  6. Yeah Jonathan's legs are massive. And here I was afraid of working too much on my legs that one day I won't be able to find the right pants size.. I wonder if this guy gets his pants specifically tailored to him.

  7. NinoChamp - Thanks!

    Moht - I'm not sure..

    Dronkos - Jonathan's calves. I thought it was a good shot.

    Joel- Thanks. I will try.

    KeVan- when you get that big, you don't need pants.

  8. lol - wish I could work out at the gym without a top on. Pretty sure I'd get kicked out.

  9. Hanh can you tell me if what i eat in a day is enough for 5,8 152 trying to build lean muscle the picture is in my blog

  10. I like your post bro.. let me ask you a question. i noticed that in the photo the placement of you guys hands. you guys had ur thumbs wraped around the bar with your thumbs in the lock position. i prefer the bar resting in the palm of my hands with my thumbs off of the bar. when i grip the bar this way i feel i get a better workout and i target ALL of my chest that way.. What do you guys think?
    Sports Good

  11. What about them front squats for the quads!!!

  12. Hey hanh what are your opinions on the smith machine hack squats?? my gym is 24 hours and unfortunately has safety regulations.... So they got free weight dumbells, but no squat rack and bench... So the smith machine hack squat is the closest thing to the conventional squat... I mean at least its better than not training my legs at all.....

  13. I stumbled across your videos only yesterday and they are pretty badass. The raw deadlift video is crazy, very motivating. If I ever visit the states, you must let me film a crazy ass video for you =]

  14. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I have truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. After all I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write again soon!
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