If you're a runner, cycling enthusiast, or just enjoy going to the gym, there's a good chance that your legs aren't an area of weakness. While arm strength and other muscle groups may be lacking in some people, this isn't often the case with those who have particularly strong feelings about their lower body.
The reason for this is simple: leg muscles are used pretty much anywhere there's movement, making them incredibly important as they essentially power every stride we take as well as any pedaling motion applied to a bicycle or stationary bike.
In running terms, hamstring flexibility is also key – it allows us to push off from our heels and stay upright while not succumbing to gravity. This means developing quad strength shouldn't be ignored either.
Table of Contents
- What are the benefits of working out your legs
- What are the best exercises for lean legs?
- How often should I work out?
- How should I eat?
- Where can I buy affordable yet premium gear for the outdoors?
It's clear then that legs are an area that should be paid close attention to when it comes time to hit the gym. But, what if you aren't sure where to start?
In this article, we’ll talk about the benefits of working out your legs, the best exercises for them, and how often you should work out. We’ll also talk about theessential gear that you need if you’re working out your legs outdoors.
Benefits of working out your legs
The benefits of building leaner, stronger, and more capable leg muscles are plentiful.
At the most basic level, everyday life will become easier as discomfort or injury is reduced thanks to improved balance and coordination. This can also lead to better posture which in turn may help alleviate back pain, too.
Secondly, by having leaner muscles, your body composition might change for the better. Lean muscle mass burns more calories than fat at rest so you'll burn fat while doing nothing apart from carrying yourself around! It could even lead to weight loss, of course.
And here's the kicker: If you're already lean but notice that your legs are lagging behind, don't lose heart!
Putting on lean muscle mass will help fill out gaps in your legs making them look leaner overall. This may be very beneficial for people who want to bulk up their lower body without adding too much unwanted size elsewhere.
So now that we know what can be achieved with leaner leg muscles, it might seem tempting to skip ahead and start building them right away - this is a common mistake.
Working out legs should be approached with care. Failure to build up strength appropriately risks injury that could bring an end to our leg training routine before it even starts.
What are the best exercises for lean legs?
There are a lot of exercises that can be used to target the leg muscles, but what makes the most sense when starting out?
Generally speaking, compound exercises are favored as these activate multiple muscle groups which leads to more lean mass being built overall.
For legs specifically, focusing on squats and deadlifts will ensure that you're working your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves at the same time. From there, any number of isolation exercises can be applied with calf raises being just one example.
As always though it's important not to rush into things – see how each exercise feels before attempting anything too heavy or complicated. Don't let your personal trainer or anyone else bully you into doing something you don't feel comfortable with either; this is your body and only you know what's best for it.
Here are some leg exercises that you can do to stronger and leaner legs:
Try squats if you want leaner legs! Famous, and often dreaded, the squat is the best way to strengthen the legs, butt, and even your core!
The name might sound intimidating but it's actually a pretty simple exercise to do. The only equipment required is an open space and something sturdy like a chair or bench to rest your arms on while doing the squat. Doing this helps keep your balance as well as offers a little bit of extra support for your lower back.
Here are the steps to perform this exercise:
- Start in a standing position with your legs hip-distance apart.
- Draw your belly button in, keep your chest up and facing forward, and slowly bend your knees.
- Go down as far as you can (as far as is comfortable) but do not pass the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor (as if you were sitting in a chair).
- Repeat fifteen to twenty times for each leg and complete three sets.
There are many different variations of the squat, for example, you can also try a one-legged squat. Try the one-leg squat on a wall, making it much easier to balance. As you become more comfortable you can experiment with even more variations.
You should try calf raises next! To do these lean against a wall or something sturdy with your legs together and both feet flat on the floor.
- Lean forward slightly then rise up onto your toes before lowering yourself down again.
- Do this ten to fifteen times, completing three sets.
This motion can then be repeated in order to complete one repetition – however, it may take some time to build up enough strength first.
When doing this exercise make sure you only raise yourself up on your tiptoes instead of bending them as well – otherwise lean muscle mass on your calves will be hidden by layers of fat!
Springing, moving as fast as you can in 15-30 second intervals, is a great cardio workout that is great not only for your heart but also helps you develop strong and also leaner legs. Incorporate sprints into your runs and jogs for a more intense workout.
How often should I work out?
Since legs have a lot of big muscles, they need a lot of rest in order to recover from the strenuous activity so don't be afraid to take a break if you begin feeling fatigued or achy. This will also prevent your muscles from becoming overworked.
Remember that lean muscle mass needs time to recover after being broken down during exercise, and working out legs every day for example is likely more than our bodies can handle!
One way around this problem is by dividing up workout sessions into two separate days per week. This can be achieved in one of two ways, depending on your schedule.
Firstly, you could take the previously mentioned approach by working out intensely for a short period and taking a long rest before doing so again later. Alternatively, you could work out lean legs every day but reduce the intensity slightly each time to give yourself more breathing room before going all-out once more.
Important note: Always take time to recover
Be sure to allow your muscles to rest and recover after an intense workout. 48-72 hours is the recommended recovery time before working the same muscles again.
During this time avoid weights. However, you can still do some cardio, and work out other parts of your body, such as your back, arms, and core.
How should I eat?
In order to get leaner legs, we need to focus on burning fat while building lean muscle mass at the same time. If not, then, it's likely that our lean muscle will simply be hidden underneath a layer of fat - which is unhealthy and undesirable!
In order to achieve this seemingly difficult goal, stick to a diet rich in fresh vegetables and lean proteins such as lean meat, lean chicken, and low-fat dairy products. Avoid saturated fats at all costs – these are typically found in processed meats such as sausages and bacon, as well as fatty cheeses and cream.
Don't skip out on carbs, however. A diet with too little carbohydrate will cause our bodies to burn lean muscle instead of fat! That said, stay away from starchy carbohydrates like bread or pasta.
Your body is going to prefer lean muscle mass over these foods if given the choice to follow a low GI diet instead. This means eating lots of fruits and vegetables while minimizing your intake of simple sugars.
Repeat the mantra “Abs are made in the kitchen” for an extra boost when it comes to your lean legs. While you can work them out all day, they won’t get any leaner if no attention is paid to what you eat.
Buy GearTOP Outdoor Essentials
If you’re looking to test your progress when it comes to how strong your legs have become by going on an outdoor adventure, make sure to stock up on all the essential gear!
If you’re going on a long hike, always make sure to have a top of line sun protection to keep skin damage at bay. Pick and choose fromwide brim sun hat options that feature UPF 50+ - the highest level of sun protection from fabric.
We have everything you need at the GearTOP shop!
If you want to keep your outdoor adventures safe and enjoyable, make sure that your legs are in top shape. You can learn more about how to strengthen them by reading our blog post on the benefits of lean and strong legs.
Remember also to have a healthy diet so you have the fuel necessary for all those miles! We've provided some exercises as well if you're looking for something new.
Which leg strengthening exercise do you like best?