I have always had strong legs because of how active I’ve been throughout my life. Sprinting the 400-meter in track, running on the beaches in Florida, wakeboarding/surfing throughout my childhood, and now hiking mountains in Colorado. I feel doing all theseactivities really gave me a good starting point to work with when I started doing bodybuilding type movements in the gym. I had a good foundation of muscle, but parts of my legs were lacking more than others.
I compete in the bikini division and having proportional, toned legs is very important. Bikini competitors need to have full rounded glutes that are symmetrical to their body, with noticeable hamstring insertions. Through my many years of lifting weights I want to share my favorite leg exercises that I feel have really impacted my leg growth. If you are looking to compete in bikini or just want to havetoned legs and roundedglutesin general; then these exercise below should be incorporated into your leg day routine.
Squat - Squatting is one of the top exercises that everyone should be incorporating in their leg day routine. I squat because it burns the most calories and is one of the few actions where you’re using all of the muscles in your lower body. It’s my first exercise I hit on leg day because it uses up most of my energy. I need to be extremely focused while performing the squat because I need to make sure I’m doing the action correctly, so I don’t hurt myself. Form is huge when it comes to squatting. I have been doing it for more than three years now and I still feel my squat needs much improvement.
Deadlift - Deadlifting is hands down my favorite exercise for legs! Its one of my stronger lifts and I always feel like a BEAST in the gym when I deadlift. There are two kinds of deadlifts that I incorporate into my programing; conventional and sumo. I do both on different days because they both are using different muscle groups. Conventional stimulants more of the hamstrings,and sumo is more hips and outer thighs.
Hip Thrust - I love hip thrusts! Just started doing this exercise about a year ago and it has really built my glutes up. Any movements where you’re extending your hips are going to activate the glute muscles. It’s an awkward movement at first and people may look at you funny if they have never seen someone preforming this type of hip extensionbefore. But once you get the setup down you will then realize how amazing it is. It’s the only movement where I get that burning feeling in my glutes, which I personally love. I recently purchased the hip circle by Mark Bell and I recommend using it during hip thrust to help activate your glutes even more. This is my strongest lift I can pull in the gym, which is 315 lbs. for 8! Over this last yearI’ve seen a lot of growth in my glutes just because of the hip thrust. The best part about this hip extension is that it’s not only working your glutes but your quads and hamstrings as well. If you want to improve in any of your lifts you need to have strong glute muscles.
Glute Kick Backs - There are many ways in which you can perform this exercise. You can do it with the cables, the reverse hyperextension machine, or some gyms actually have a machine for glute kickbacks. I personally like doing glutekickbacks on the reverse hyperextension because I can add heavy weight. I also like this machine because I can really push myself on the reps because it doesn’t put any pressure on my lower back.
These are the main leg exercisesI’ve been doing for the last few years. I’m now getting out of theintermediatestage of lifting and more into the advance side to really improve my overall appearance. I’m all for performance in the gym but at the end of the day I am getting judged on my physique.I’m slowly progressing in all of these movements I listed above, so I’m not afraid to go heavy and complete less reps. With the hip thrust and glute kicks backs I started off doing 3 sets of 20 reps, but now I’m doing 4 sets of 8-10 reps. I’m about to start adding in front squats to my leg days because I need towork more on the anterior part of my body.Front squats are going to help grow my quads and strengthen my core.
Why do you care?
In my opinion doing a variety of exercise doesn’t matter as much as variables like volume, intensity, and frequency. I suggest not changing up your exercises every 4 to 6 weeks, but instead sticking to the same movements for months or years. You want to stick to the same exercises so you can really focus on advancing and getting stronger in all of them. I’m now at the point where I progressed for years in the same movements so I’m ready for a change. Since I’m a bikini competitor I really need to focus on looking symmetrical, so I’m trying to build up the week points on my body.