Ever seen a gym bro who looks like the hulk, only to notice he’s got some super thin chicken legs?
Are you that disproportional dude or damsel yourself? Well, don’t worry, the thing is, you’re not alone.
Trust me, I know the pain, I’ve been there! Thankfully, not anymore.
So yeah, when I tell you about working on your lower body strength, and the eventual lean muscle mass, you can bet I know a thing or two about lower body strength, or lack thereof.
If you’re stuck in a rabbit hole trying to figure out if, or how you can work and grow your lower body, this post got all you need.
Let’s jump right ahead and get those chicken legs jacked.
Table of Contents
- Why Do You Need To Train Your Lower Body?
- How Can You Design Your Lower Body Strength Exercise Regimen?
- Best Lower Body Strength Workouts
- Final Thoughts
Why Do You Need To Train Your Lower Body?
Let’s kick things off by looking at some of the benefits that you stand to gain from training your lower body – at least this will give you a scope of whether this is for you.
It just so happens that it’s easier to train the upper body and push your lower body to the back burner.
But that doesn’t have to be the case. And that’s why the blood, sweat, and tears that go into working the lower body are worth it.
Let’s take a quick peek at the benefits you stand to gain by working your lower body.
Better balance and Agility
Being agile and having the right balance isn’t just about what you can do, it’s also everything about what you can’t – in this case, safety-wise.
The biggest problem with an upper body that’s built like a tank, with a flimsy lower body is that you’re prone to injury, mostly when working out.
Whether you’re an athlete sprinting on the tracks, or executing some punishing lifts, you need to change direction rapidly, either with the whole body or sections of your body.
In most sports, the legs take the brunt of such punishing moves as running, jumping, braking, turning, and even lifting.
If you wondered why it pays to have leg strength, there’s your answer right there!
Strong leg muscles will offer you the needed stability for such movements, and yes, reduce the risk of injury, as I mentioned earlier.
Fast More Efficient Running
Now you know just how important lower body strength is if you’re into sports, but if you’re a runner or a marathoner, you need it way more.
And not just as a sports person, even for your average treadmill runs, stronger legs mean better runs.
In turn, this will mean more toned legs, more power, better VO2 max, and overall stride efficiency.
Fixing Muscle Imbalances
A lot of lower body strength workouts are not just great at giving you that brute strength you need for sports, exercises, and overall everyday life.
You can also fix a lot of muscle imbalances that result from daily life activities – like a sedentary lifestyle, for instance.
Such workouts as some squat variations do a great job at helping fix such potential imbalances. This can carry over to other workouts, daily life activities, and sports as well.
How Can You Design Your Lower Body Strength Exercise Regimen?
Now that you know the benefits you’ll shooting for, let’s get to the exciting stuff – getting your plan underway.
When making the initial choice, be keen to consider some of the most important lower body parts that you’ll be targeting. I mean, hamstrings, calves, quadriceps, and glutes.
Another metric you need to factor in is your level of fitness, how much time you have (or are willing) to put towards this, and what exactly you want to achieve – more of how far you’re willing to push the envelope.
Of course, a warm-up should always be a part of the game, this will save you the risk of injury, and make your workout a little more fulfilling and fruitful in the long run.
And while at it, it’s better to do warm-up moves that sort of simulate the main exercise.
The choice of weights also counts, in that; it’s best to go with weights that give you the best challenge. Again, that’s where the need for understanding your fitness level comes in.
If you’re fit to a certain level, go with weights that will put your muscles through their paces, not too light, but then again, not too heavy to risk wrong form and potential injury.
The Way You Exercise
Even with all the planning that you might put into your routine, you still need to have an order when it’s finally time to get the job done.
The idea here is to hit the heavy ones first, you know, those that work for most muscle groups and suck the most gas out of your tank.
Why, you ask… Well, because at the onset of your workout is when you have the most energy to go on.
This means safer training (you’re less likely to get the form wrong) and getting the most out of each rep, too.
If you have such workouts as barbell hip thrusts, barbell squats, front squats, and the like, do them first when you’re most fired up and focused, and then move on to the easier ones.
Sets and Reps
Still on getting everything right, having a variety of sets and reps is very much part of the game. If you are focusing on building both muscle mass and strength, this would be a great start.
However, if your main goal is to increase your lower body strength, then lifting heavier will help you ante up your overall one-rep max.
My personal favorite is going with 85% of my 1-RM, with the total reps within 10 to 25 reps… and I’d recommend giving it a shot.
You don’t have to do this in one go, however, you should be totally fine if you prefer splitting the reps up into several sets.
Like, say 2 sets of 5 reps, 3 sets of 5 reps, 5 sets of 3 reps, 5 sets of 5 reps… your call!
Best Lower Body Strength Workouts
All the preparation and planning would come to naught if you don’t have any great lower-body strength workouts in mind, right?
Not to worry, here are some great workouts worth trying.
Box Step Up
What makes the box step up cool is just how easy it is to do. All you need is a raised platform or a strong box that you can step on with one foot.
Next, bring the other foot to the top of the platform, and then return to the base of the platform with a controlled descent. And tada, you’ve completed a box step up.
After several steps, once you have the form down pat, you can add some weight or do jumps instead of steps to ante up the intensity and difficulty to build explosive strength.
This workout gives you a sort of a breed between the stability effect you’d get with the lunge and the strength that a squat offers.
Bulgarian Split Squat
Here’s another workout that doesn’t necessarily require any complicated equipment to pull off.
To get the form right, start by standing straight in front of a raised platform, or bench. Place one leg on the raised platform, and then lower your body until your hips are level with your front knee.
Using your back heel, push your body up to return to the starting position. You can increase the difficulty by increasing the drop angle or throwing some weight into the mix.
Lunges are hands down among the workouts that hit your lower body the heaviest, more so if you’re out to get a great deal of stability, which rolls over to other workouts as well as everyday life.
To do lunges, start by standing with your legs shoulder-width apart. With a step forward, drop your hips as far as having them parallel to your knees and the quads running perpendicular to your shins.
Return to the starting position by pushing your front leg. Repeat on the other leg.
You can do this enough times to master the right form, and then you can add some weights, like dumbbells to make the workout a little more challenging.
For those seasoned gym bros with a high fitness level under their belt, bodyweight workouts like the ones we’ve discussed above might not cut it.
If that’s the case, then weighted options like deadlifts and squats will give you the needed results, faster.
The deadlift is particularly great for your lower body, and not as complicated as you might think.
To do a deadlift, start by standing in front of the bar with your feet at hip-width apart, and pick the weight from the floor. Maintain a straight back, and digging with your feet into the floor, rise with the weight to stand straight while the weight is at your waist level.
The squat is pretty much the be-all-end-all when it comes to building lower body strength.
And not just the lower body (mostly your glutes) this quintessential movement also works your lower back to some extent.
Besides, you can easily modify the squat to a wide range of variations, but this is best advised only after you’ve mastered the move to perfection.
And once you have built enough strength, to perform like 20 bodyweight squats, you can now consider adding weights to the mix.
Other great workouts for building strength in your lower body include the glute hamstring raise, donkey calf raises, and hip thrusts.
Whether you’re a complete beginner looking to grow your lower body strength along with the rest of your body, or a seasoned maestro who’s just been sidetracking your lower body, it always pays to put in the effort and see the results.
The ideas I have shared with you guys in this post, and the different workouts we’ve looked at should set you on the right trajectory to achieving great lower body gains.
Whichever route you take, just keep at it – consistency is key.
But remember to prioritize safety, both with bodyweight and resistance training options. You want to build strength (and potentially mass, too) and not end up crippled.
Starting with light weights or bands (or no weights at all) to master the form first is the best thing you can do, then you can bring in the weights to ramp it up and get your desired gains.