Not everyone is blessed with perfect genetics. Legs, especially calves, tend to be the most underdeveloped in men who lack these and a proper targeted workout routine. One also needs to ensure sufficient intake of protein and carbohydrates, without which no workout can show results. Provided you have those factors sorted, here are some exercises you can include in your leg day to build a sturdy pair of wheels:
1. Barbell Squat :
The barbell squat is known as the king of all bodybuilding exercises. It is the best compound exercise for packing muscle mass all over your legs and also strengthens the core if done on a regular squat rack and not the Smith machine. Make it a point to go full depth, i.e. till the back of your thighs touch your calves and are below parallel with respect to the ground.
2. Weighted Lunges :
You can do these either with a loaded barbell on your back or with dumbbells in each hand to the side. If you have a lot of space available, you can try doing walking lunges to add variation. Lunges mainly develop the quads and glutes and also stabilize your core. Make sure your range of motion is up to the point where your calves make an acute angle with your thighs.
3. Leg Press :
The leg press machine is one of the few leg exercise machine that incorporate compound movements, which are the best for gaining muscle fast. The most effective way to do the leg press is to descend slowly up to a point where your thighs barely touch your belly, hold the position for about 2 seconds and then thrust back up fast. You can vary your foot placement to change the parts of the thigh muscles you’re hitting.
4. Deadlifts :
Although this movement can be done on back day, it works a large portion of the legs too and helps in packing muscle mass all over your body. There are 4 main variations of this exercise – the conventional, sumo, stiff-legged and Romanian deadlift. The conventional and stiff-legged versions are better for building legs as they provide full range of motion. Stiff-legged deadlifts focus more on the hamstrings and glutes and less on the quads.
5. Standing Calf Raises :
Doing only compound movements is not enough for building calves, which are quite hard to grow for people who lack great genetics. It is important to do at least one exercise, such as the standing calf raise, to target specifically the calves. These are better than seated calf raises as they provide a complete stretch to the calf muscles. This exercise can also be done for a higher rep range like 25-30 reps, as it helps in breaking down the calf muscle fibers.
Leg day is the most debilitating workout day because leg muscles are some of the largest muscles in the body. Your physique is incomplete without having a proportionately built pair of legs. So make sure you get enough rest before hitting legs and give your maximum possible effort.