Best Leg Exercises for Mass: 3 Muscle Increasing Routines

leg workout

Good Leg Workouts Add Body Symmetry

You probably came here because you were looking for some good leg workouts. If truth be told, legs are probably the least favorite part of the body to train if you ask most guys.  If you are anything like most of the dudes, you probably struggle with working out your lower body because the exercises designed to build leg muscle and strength are typically boring and monotonous.

What’s more, depending upon your geographic location, there is a good chance that others will never see your legs because of the weather! Perhaps it is this reason so many men focus almost exclusively on upper body workouts that concentrate on the chest and arms.

Here is the deal – good leg workouts are important. What many guys don’t realize is that the leg muscles are actually the largest and most powerful muscle group in the body. If you neglect to work them out regularly, you take away from your body’s total symmetry and end up looking a big goofy.

Have you ever seen a guy with an impressive upper body but really tiny bird legs? If so, you know what I am talking about. It just doesn’t look right!

Leg Muscles and Workouts

This article will offer 3 good leg workouts that you can do to help you add muscle and mass to your lower body. The leg workout routines involve basic, compound movements that specifically focus on the quads (quadriceps), the calves (soleus and gastrocnemius muscles) and the hamstrings (bicep femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus).

Is it important that you know the names and locations of these muscles so that when you train them, you do so with a focused, intentional and mindful approach. I am providing an illustration below that gives you a visual of the leg muscles so that you have a better idea of their location.

Focus on Leg Workouts: Muscles of Leg

muscles of the leg for workouts

Leg Routine Information

There are a couple of things to keep in mind before doing any leg workouts. First, you will want to know your body type. For example, are you an ectomorph, mesomorph or endomorph? Knowing your body type can go a long way in helping with designing your leg workout routine in a way that yields good results.


Staring a good leg workout routine requires a bit of caution. I say this because I want you to avoid potential injuries. And so it is for this reason it is important you stretch out your legs before engaging in any of the workouts mentioned below. The reason for this is because, as mentioned previously, the leg muscles are the largest muscle group in the body.

They require strong blood flow and need to be properly warmed up. You can stretch out your leg muscles through a few simple moves, as suggested by the Mayo Clinic. The last thing you want is to develop a leg cramp, which can totally derail your routine or tear a muscle.

Leg Workout Frequency

Finally, I would like you to keep in mind the three leg exercises I am mentioning here are simple in nature, meaning they target your leg muscles universally.

These are great if you are a beginner or someone looking to ease back into including legs back into your routine.

Generally speaking, you should try to workout your legs twice a week, with one day being a “heavy” day and the other being light.

1. Leg Extension (Seated)

The seated leg extension is a great exercise for your quads (rectus femoris), which are the muscles located in the front part of the upper legs.

The rectus femoris is one of four muscle heads that make up the quadriceps muscle group. This is where you and most people will see the most bulk when wearing shorts because the rectus femoris visually pops out in appearance, similar to how bicep muscles ideally appear when you have on a t-shirt.


Locate a leg extension machine and take a set. If necessary, adjust the bar so that the pads are touching the lower area of your legs. When you are ready, grip the side bars of the machines with your hands.

Now slowly extend your legs upward until they are straight. Squeeze your quads when fully extended and hold for 1-2 seconds. Using a controlled, deliberate motion, slowly return back to the starting position.


Try doing 2-3 sets of 8-15 reps while adding small, incremental amounts of weight. Once again, use light weight when first starting out with this exercise.

2. Lying Leg Curls

If you are looking for more good leg workouts info to help build muscle around the back part of your legs, the lying leg curl is a great choice. This particular exercise targets the bicep femoris (aka hamstrings) and includes the added benefit of tightening your butt (gluteus maximus). I admit this is an exercise that many do not like because it can be intense. With that shared, if you are looking to increase the girth of your legs and shape your butt, lying leg curls need to be part of your lower body workout approach.


Locate a lying leg curl machine (plated or stacked). If your gym has an angled machine, use it as opposed to a flat one. The angled machine helps to reduce pressure on your back, which is an area prone to injury when workout out the lower body or any of the back muscles.

Make sure the extension apparatus is properly adjusted so that the lowest part of your calves are resting comfortably on the pads. Start out with a light weight.  Grab the side handles of the machine. Now keeping your tummy and back flat, make sure your legs are full extended and your toes straight. Consider this your starting position. Now take in a big breath.

Without lifting your upper legs from the pad, curl your legs upward as far as possible while exhaling. Once you are fully contracted at the end of curl, squeeze lightly and hold for about a second.

Now take a deep breath and slowly return your legs back to the starting position. If you experience tightness in between sets, try getting up and walking a bit. Suggestion


Try doing 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps while adding small, incremental amounts of weight. Remember, light weight is key with this exercise when you are doing it for the first time to avoid possible injury.

3. Seated Calf Raises

If there is one set of muscles that guys complain about most, it is their calves. The size, width and shape of a person’s calve muscles are mostly determined by genetics. With that shared, this does not mean you cannot grow your calves in a way that transforms them from being slender carrot sticks to impressive spheres of bulk. A good leg exercise that targets your soleus and gastrocnemius muscles (calves) is the seated calf raise.


While sitting on the machine, position your toes on the lower part of the platform with your heels extended off the metal. With your lower thighs positioned under the pad, check to make sure the bar is properly adjusted and make corrections as necessary. Grab the hand holds. This is your starting position.

Slowly lift your heals with a bending motion and release the safety bar. While taking in a deep breath, gently lower your heals until they are completely stretched. Now, exhale and carefully raise your heels upward by extending your ankles. The pressure should be placed on the balls of your feet. At this point, you should feel a deep stretch in your calves as your conduct the lift. At the top of the extension, hold for a second and squeeze lightly.

Now slowly return your calves back to the starting position and rest for 1-2 minutes in between sets.


Try doing 3-4 sets of 15 reps.  Again – start off with light weight and gradually add more on in small increments. Focus on contracting the calf muscles during this lower body exercise so you can feel the squeeze in soleus and gastrocnemius muscles.

body builder legs


Good Leg Workouts Summary

All of the lower body leg workouts mentioned here should be considered as part of your total body workout. These lower body exercises presented above are specifically designed to target the muscle groups involving the quads, hamstrings and calves. There are of course a number of other lower body exercises that you can do as part of a comprehensive, good leg workout approach. I wanted to cover the basics in this post so that you had a foundation point from which to start.



If you are looking for more advanced leg exercise, considering picking up a copy of Stronger Legs and Lower Body by Tim Bishop. This is an easy to understand book that provides step by step instructions on how to build lower body muscles, like your legs!

I hope you found the information on good leg workouts helpful. Thanks for visiting Men’s Culture.

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About John D. Moore 391 Articles
Dr. John Moore is a licensed counselor and Editor-in-Chief of Guy Counseling. A journalist and blogger, he writes about a variety of topics related to wellness. His interests include technology, outdoor activities, science, and men's health. Check out his show --> The Men's Self Help Podcast