Squats help you get shapely legs, but they incorporate your entire body into one compound exercise for a strengthening move that challenges your balance and flexibility as well. Master these squat moves for killer legs that not only look great but are strong and functional too. You can use more or less weight on your squats and complete more or fewer repetitions depending on your goals.
Squats are versatile as you can do them at home bodyweight style or at the gym with a squat rack depending on your preference. In addition, you can turn them into more of a cardio workout by doing them in a jumping pattern. There are a few variations that are ideal to put an emphasis on different parts of your leg. It’s important to include both dynamic and static squat moves to recruit both fast and slow twitch muscles for a complete strengthening approach. Incorporate these moves into your lower body strengthening and you’ll be pleased with how muscular and toned your legs will look!
Weighted Back Squat Leg Exercises
The weight back squat is an effective movement to increase muscle mass as it breaks down muscle fibers to build back stronger leg muscles after rest and recovery. It focuses on your butt muscles, so make sure to contract your glutes throughout the movement.
- Start at a squat rack and lift the bar onto your back.
- The weighted bar should rest on the top of your shoulders.
- Roll your shoulder back and down to get into proper posture with a neutral neck.
- Start the movement by pushing your butt back and then bending your knees to sit back into a squat position.
- Lower until your knees reach a 90-degree angle with the floor and raise up by contracting your butt muscles.
- Be sure to keep your knees tracking outward throughout the movement.
- Begin with three sets of 10-12 repetitions. Increase the intensity of this exercise by adding weight or increasing sets or repetitions.
Remember to use enough weight to challenge yourself, but not so much that it compromises your form.
Jumping Bodyweight Squats
Incorporate jumping squats to challenge your legs in a dynamic way. This exercise recruits your fast twitch muscle fibers and works on the strength in your legs for quick explosive movements. It targets your quads and butt, as you will definitely feel them the next day after completing a series of jump squats.
- To position yourself, get in a hip-width standing stance.
- Roll your shoulders back and down and then push your butt back and lower into a position where your legs are at a 90-degree angle in relation to the floor.
- Immediately explode back up into a jumping motion using your arms to help push you upward.
- Quickly lower back down into your next squat and repeat the movement for 25 repetitions in a row. Complete three sets.
If you would like more of a challenge, you can increase the repetitions and sets or even hold lightweight dumbbells.
Dumbbell Wide Squat for Killer Legs
Dumbbell wide squats help recruit all different muscles that help shape and tone your legs. By stepping out a little bit wider than the usual hip-width stance, you will engage your butt and quad muscles to a greater degree due to the angle of movement. In addition, it will help increase ankle mobility and the power of your hips when moving in a squat pattern.
- Stand in a hip-width stance and step each foot out one step.
- Point your toes out at 45-degree angles and sit back with your butt.
- Make sure to keep your knees tracking outward as you come up from the movement by contracting your glutes.
- Complete three sets of 10-12 repetitions.
Increase the intensity of this exercise by adding weight or increasing sets or repetitions.
Bulgarian Split Squat Variations
The Bulgarian split squat focuses on your butt and hamstrings along with the rest of your leg muscles. The isolated positioning of the exercise puts an emphasis on your butt and hamstrings for a toned backside.
- To complete this movement, find a bench and put your left foot on the edge of the bench.
- Take a step forward and lunge with your right leg while your left foot is on the bench.
- Lower to a 90-degree angle with your knee, and come back up by contracting your glute muscles.
- Hold dumbbells in each hand for added intensity. Complete three sets of 10-12 repetitions.
As always, increase or decrease your weight depending on your desired intensity.
About the Author: MAGGIE YOUNG