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Leg Day Workout
Your leg day workout is a critical component of developing your overall physical fitness. Leg training is particularly important for increasing lean muscle mass, because the largest muscles in your body are in your legs. Perform leg exercises that involve multiple joint movements before isolation exercise, which only involve a single joint articulation. Exercises that target smaller muscles should come toward the end of the workout -- you typically want to expend more energy working larger muscle groups.
Goals and Reps
The number of repetitions you perform for each leg exercise depends on you fitness goals. Use the amount of weight that exhausts your muscles in four to six repetitions to maximize muscle growth and strength gains. Use a 12 to 15 repetition range to build some strength while increasing muscle stamina, or increase muscular endurance with lighter weight that exhausts your muscles within 20 to 25 references.
Upper leg exercises target your quadriceps and hamstrings, which are the muscle groups that form the front and back of your thighs, respectively. Variations of the squat exercises are ideal for your quadriceps. Perform 10 to 12 sets of exercises, such as the barbell full squat or parallel squat, for stamina or strength training. Alternatively, perform five sets for muscle endurance training. Exercises that involve moving your thighs back while maintaining tension in the back of your thighs are ideal for your hamstrings. Finish the upper leg portion of your workout with five sets that target your hamstrings, such as back extensions or reverse hyperextensions.
Exercises for your lower legs target the triceps surae muscles, which are your calves. Your calf muscles are responsible for plantarflexion movements, such as pointing your toes out, which bend your ankle to move the top of your foot away from your body. Developing your calf muscles enhances your ability to progress with other leg exercises. Strong calves are particularly important for stabilizing squatting exercises. Perform four sets of exercises that target the calf muscles to complete the weightlifting portion of your day workout. According to electromyography analysis, which measures electrical activity produced by muscle contractions, the best exercise for your calves are calf raises with heavy weights.
Perform stretching exercises for all of your leg muscles immediately after your workout while the muscles are still warm. Stretch your quadriceps by standing on one foot, and holding the opposite ankle up to your buttocks. Slowing move the bent back away from your pelvis until you feel a stretch. Stretch your hamstrings by bending forward to touch your toes while keeping your legs straight. Stretch your calves by resting your toes and the balls of your feet on a raised surface or step, and pushing the back of your foot down while keeping your legs straight.
Miguel Cavazos is a photographer and fitness trainer in Los Angeles who began writing in 2006. He has contributed health, fitness and nutrition articles to various online publications, previously editing stand-up comedy and writing script coverage as a celebrity assistant. Cavazos holds a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and political science from Texas Christian University.