Men: Guide by muscle
The legs represent half of the body in terms of volume, but are often overlooked by bodybuilders, who prefer to maximize upper body muscle development. This is a mistake that should never be made, because it is absurd to have a muscular bust and legs that are not: on the one hand because it unbalances the appearance of the physique as a whole, but also because than when a muscle group is not worked like the others, it is the muscle growth of the whole body that comes to a halt. Indeed, the body constantly tries to maintain a balance and when the balance of the masses is not respected, muscle building stops so as not to amplify this imbalance. Thus, many are those who complain of stagnating for a long time, of no longer gaining muscle even by training hard and eating a diet rich in protein and high in calories. Having muscular legs is a must and to stand out, develop your quadriceps and your hamstrings!
- 1 The thighs: a muscle group made up of 3 muscles
- 1.1 Exercises to strengthen the quadriceps
- 1.2 The hamstrings
- 1.3 Exercises to strengthen the hamstrings
- 1.4 adductors
- 1.5 Exercises to strengthen the adductors
- 2 The exercises to favor to strengthen the thighs
- 3 An example of a program to strengthen the legs
- 4 Our tips for optimizing leg muscle development
The thighs: a muscle group made up of 3 muscles
The thighs are divided into 3 distinct muscles:
Exercises to strengthen the quadriceps
Place your feet naturally, shoulder width apart. Descend below the line of the knees and on the ascent, push off with the heel and the outside of the foot.
The leg extension
For effective quadriceps recruitment without putting pressure on the knees, make sure your knees are placed at the joint height of the machine.
The oblique press
The oblique press makes it possible to work heavy without putting pressure on the back. However, be careful not to roll up the pelvis during the descent: the lower back and buttocks must remain flat.
The horizontal press
As with the work on the oblique press, be sure to keep your lower back and glutes flat against the seat and backrest.
In forward lunges, you can straighten your back leg or bend it. The back should remain as straight as possible.
The sissy squat
The sissy squat is an isolation exercise that engages the quadriceps. Hold on to a bench or squat rack.
The front squat
The front squat is a variation of the squat that more specifically engages the quadriceps and hamstrings, while putting less pressure on the lower back.
The hamstrings are located at the back of the thigh and are involved in knee flexion and hip extension. They consist of 3 bundles:
– The biceps femoris
– The semitendinosus
– The semi-membranous
Exercises to strengthen the hamstrings
The elongated leg curl
To properly recruit the hamstrings, make sure that the tube of the device touches your hamstrings at the end of the climb. Keep your head in line with your back so as not to put pressure on your lower back.
The seated leg curl
Make sure your knees are at the same height as the knuckle of the machine before you start your set.
The standing leg curl
The standing leg curl is a great isolation exercise for the hamstrings. It allows in particular to reinforce the curve of the back of the thighs.
Straight Leg Deadlift
The straight leg deadlift is a basic exercise that engages the hamstrings, lower back and glutes. Be sure to make a pendulum movement so that the hamstrings are well stretched during the exercise.
The adductors are the muscles of the inner wall of the thigh. The adductor is adductor of the thigh, external rotator of the pelvis, extensor and flexor.
Exercises to strengthen the adductors
To do a good sumo squat, keep your back straight and sink your pelvis between your adductors while looking straight ahead.
Machine adductions isolate the adductors. Mark a slight pause in maximum contraction and control the eccentric phase well.
The exercises to favor to strengthen the thighs
The above exercise lists help recruit quads, hams, and adductors from different angles. Nevertheless, building your thighs requires above all the mobilization of all these muscles which work in synergy during polyarticular movements. This is the case of the squat, which involves the quadriceps, hamstrings and adductors. Thereby, the squat is an exercise to be favored for the overall development of the thighs. Also, the oblique press makes it possible to recruit the quadriceps and the hamstrings: the quadriceps in the concentric phase and the hamstrings in the eccentric phase. At last, forward lunges are also very useful and can be considered a polyarticular movement. Indeed, the front lunges, the walking lunges and the side lunges involve the quadriceps, the hamstrings and the adductors, in addition to strongly soliciting the glutes. It is important to include these exercises in any program for the legs because they recruit all the fibers and promote the secretion of anabolic hormones by the body. All other movements, analytical, are useful for increasing congestion and fine-tuning the work of these muscle groups. In the off season, you can build strong, bulky thighs simply with squats and front lunges! Obviously, you are not a powerlifter and we advise you to incorporate at least one isolation movement in each leg session.
The basic exercises that best recruit the thighs
The sumo squat
Straight Leg Deadlift
The thigh press
An example of a program to strengthen the legs
Our tips for optimizing leg muscle development
Warming up is important for working all muscle groups, but it is even more important for leg training. Indeed, many joints come into play and a simple injury can prevent you from training for months, destroying your hopes of progress. Do at least 10 minutes of stationary cycling. Next, warm up your pelvis, knees and ankles. Feel free to stretch your adductors, hamstrings and quadriceps before your workout. Some specialists oppose stretching before strength training because it can lead to loss of strength. Know that this loss of strength is measured in grams and that it is better to push a little less heavy and not injure yourself, since your objective is to gain muscle volume and not just strength.
Place your feet correctly
When squatting, the placement of the feet is essential for the correct execution of the movement. Some people advise spreading your feet shoulder width apart and placing your feet at “10:10”. It’s a valid rule, but everyone has their own biomechanical quirks and it may not be right for you. A rule that works every time: put the bar on your traps and your shoulders, then take it out of the rack. Then, without looking at your feet, let them fall into place on their own, naturally, until the starting position feels comfortable.. Proceed to the descent, and stop when the hamstrings touch your calves (this corresponds to a 45° flexion). During the rise (push), remember to take good support on the heel and the outside of the foot.
Wear a belt
For the straight leg squat and deadlift, we advise you to wear a weight belt. The belt does not protect against injuries, but it helps keep the stomach tight and limits pressure in the lower back.
Contract abs and glutes
During the squat, press and straight leg deadlift, be sure to Contract your abs and glutes for the duration of the movement.
Before your session, during your session and after your session.
Between each series, stretch the muscle in short jerks, without pain. This helps to stretch the fascias (the membrane that wraps the muscles) and to bring more blood into the muscle fibers.
After your sessions, or at the end of the day, stretch gently and longer, keeping the stretch for at least one minute on each muscle (hamstrings, quadriceps and adductors). Also stretch your psoas and your glutes to free the lumbar area from muscle stiffness.
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