Tips for Building Leg Muscle
While there are many ways to go about building leg muscle, it might take a bit of trial and error before you find a routine that best suits your body. Before we get into suggestions about building leg muscles, it's important that you understand the muscles you will be demanding so much of once you start your leg workout. The quadriceps (aka "quads") are the muscles located in the front of your thigh. In the posterior thigh area (back of the leg) there is another group of four muscles that make up the "hamstrings". These two groups work together to bend and extend the knee and to flex the hip. Although you will likely concentrate a great deal on the muscles located in the thighs, you might also want to target the calf muscles, which is essentially two muscles, the gastrocnemius and the soleus. These muscles are important for raising the heel of the foot.
Although we are all have our own areas of particular strength, the leg muscles are meant to be able to summon a great deal of strength at the blink of an eye. Maybe this ability traces back to the mishaps that occurred during the saber-toothed tiger hunts of our forefathers (surely they learned the advantages of being able to sprint), or maybe it's simply that as homo sapiens, our legs are the foundation of our entire body and built for endurance and power. Whatever the cause, the fact that our leg muscles are naturally predisposed to give us a surge of strength when we call on them makes building leg muscle all the more difficult because we have to focus more on endurance rather than brute strength training.
One of the keys to building lean muscles in the legs is to switch up your exercise routine. Instead of doing the same five or six exercises every time you work out, it's important to throw in some new exercises here and there. This not only keeps you from getting bored, but it will also work as a means to alternate the levels of challenge between endurance and strength, which will get you results faster. You can vary your routine by incorporating work outs with weights, such as squats, and others that require no weights, such as lunges.
Another thing you must remember is to allow your muscles plenty of time to rest. This is so important, but many gym-addicts ignore this rule! Any time you give a muscle group a serious work out, mini-tears develop in the fibers of the muscle. The body's way of taking care of this is by filling in the gaps with newly created muscle. This is how muscle grows! If you were to work out every day, or even every other day and push the same muscle groups too hard, your body isn't going to get the chance to rest and repair the muscles. How long should the muscles be allowed to rest? If you're getting a pretty serious workout (especially with weights!), then give your muscles about five or six days. Say you spend a few hours at the gym on Sunday. Most of this time was spent working on your legs. Try to steer clear of any serious leg exercises until the next Friday. You can always fill in the time by working on your arms or abdominals.
You don't even have to limit yourself to the gym. Bicycling and walking are terrific and often overlooked exercises for building leg muscle. Although you would have to put in more hours doing these exercises, they can be as low or high impact as you wish and can be fun to do with friends or family members. Other great leg exercises to look into include standing calf raises, leg curls and extensions, leg presses, and stiff legged dead lifts. For great endurance training, you can even look into pilates or yoga classes or DVDs that concentrate on the lower body.
Building leg muscle may seem time consuming--and it is--but the key is to remember that these muscles are already very powerful whether they look it or not! In order to get some real results, you're going to have to put in some real time with resistance and endurance exercises.