We Asked an Expert How to Build Stronger Leg Muscles — These 3 Compound Exercises Were Her Answer
Compound exercises aren't just great for saving time during your workouts. In addition to utilizing multijoint movements that work groups of large muscles, they can be done with minimal equipment, unlike many isolation exercises that only work one muscle at a time. And while you may think your legs get plenty of exercise already from running, walking, or other cardio it's important to take the time to focus on strengthening your legs, so that you can prevent injury and increase flexibility.
"Working two muscle groups at once is essential to improving total body coordination," Ellen Piccolotti, NASM-certified personal trainer and fitness instructor and CEO of X2o Studio in Los Gatos, CA, told POPSUGAR. "Your body has to work harder to balance, and it takes extra focus to make different muscle groups work together." Try these three moves from Ellen to get stronger legs stat, helping you add more power to all your future workouts.
Squat to Side Lunge
- Start with feet slightly wider than hip distance apart. With feet parallel to each other, slowly start to sink into your heels, like you're going to sit in an imaginary chair.
- Hover at the bottom of the squat for a few seconds before pressing evenly into both heels and slowly standing back up.
- When you come to the top of the squat, keep your left leg straight and transfer all your weight into your right glute. Slowly lower into a side lunge on your right leg. Your left leg should stay straight with pointed toes, with minimal weight on it.
- Add a couple of pulses at the bottom of the lunge before your slowly stand back up.
- Perform another squat and then go into a side lunge for the left leg.
- Repeat on both legs 10 times each for one complete circuit. Perform the circuit twice.
Sumo Squat to Calf Raise
- Start with feet wider than hip distance and toes facing opposite directions. Keeping your weight in your heels, lower yourself down into a deep sumo squat. Add a couple of pulses to the bottom of your squat before you slowly stand up, keeping your back straight.
- As you come to the top of the squat, transfer weight from your heels to your toes and slowly rise up into a calf raise (keeping feet in sumo squat stance). Squeeze calves the entire time and try to balance on your toes for at least five seconds.
- Slowly bring yourself down from the calf raise and immediately go back into a sumo squat.
- Repeat each move 10 times each for one complete circuit. Perform the circuit twice.
Squat Press to Jump Squat
- Start by holding a pair of 5-lb. dumbbells in each hand at shoulder height. With feet hip distance apart, slowly start to sink into your heels, lowering into a squat.
- When you get to the bottom of the squat, power up, drive your hips forward and engage your glutes as you straighten your legs back to standing. At the same time, press your dumbbells above your head into a shoulder press.
- Squat back down a second time, and this time as you come up, keep your dumbbells at shoulder height and push off your glutes into a squat jump.
- Lower back into a squat and repeat. Alternate between a squat press and squat jump, repeating each 10 times for one complete circuit. Perform the circuit twice.