Episode 40 – The 3 most valuable ways to train your legs for size and strength


Gotta love leg day!


Legs, “paddles”, “sticks”, whatever you want to call them you need to train them. There’s nothing better for your metabolism and your overall size and strength than leg workouts. Although it might be a little scary to step into the “jungle” of the power rack area, don’t be! Be confident and take time to train your legs for size and strength! But first.


Leg physiology 101

The legs are basically made up of a few different parts:

  • The lower leg muscles such as, the calf complex (gastrocnemius and soleus) at the back and the tibialis anterior at the front. These muscles help with movement and stability at the ankle joint. 


  • The upper leg includes the quadriceps and hip flexors at the front and the hamstrings and gluteals at the back. These are essential in the squat and bend motions (push and pull) as well as stability and strength at the knee and hip joints.


Ok, let’s have a look at the three most valuable ways to train your legs for size and strength.


Legs day

1.Barbell back squat

Barbell back squat is a brilliant exercise for every workout program. There are two basic bar positions (low bar and high bar), but let’s focus on getting the bar comfy on your back first. Once you’re more experienced, feel free to try bar position variations.


What does it work?

This motion will work the quads, hammies and gluts in particular but will also include the back, mid-section and upper body as well. So, ironically while it is a leg exercise it also works the whole body quite well!


How to do them?

Once ready, get the bar in a comfy position on the back of your neck and symmetrical about the shoulders so you’re balance is even. Place your hands on the barbell – again symmetrically – to further stabilise the barbell. Place your legs shoulder width apart, brace your core, eyes level and then move into the squat.  When ready, move back to the starting position.

Note: when performing the back squat there are a few things to setup first. Number one, make sure the safety racks and the bar hooks (hooks that hold barbell on the rack) are all at the correct position for safe and effective entry and exit from the exercise. 

Note 2: keep your chest proud throughout the motion and go down as far as good posture allows.

Barbell back squat

What are the other two valuable ways to train your legs for size and strength?.. Read on below.



2.Dumbbell alternating lunges

Dumbbell alternating lunges are a must for isolating each leg effectively. These lunges will also add size and strength in a way that will leave you hanging for more!


What does it work?

Lunges are similar to squats and will work the hammies, gluts, and quads in particular while at the same time includes some stability from the calves and mid-section to keep your body upright. It also creates work for the arms and shoulders as well.


How to do them?

To lunge, hold the dumbbells in each arm, stand shoulder width apart and then take a step forward with your left leg. While keeping your legs on “train tracks” (parallel not like a “tight rope” walker), start to lower your right knee to the ground and then return to the beginning. Repeat for the other leg.

Note: keep your torso upright – chest proud.

Dumbbell alternating lunges

3. Swissball hip extensions with leg curls

Swissball hip extensions with leg curls are a great exercise for the bend motion of the legs.


What does it work?

This exercise is wonderful for working the hammies, calves, gluts and mid-section in particular.


How to do them?

To perform this exercise, lie on your back with your feet on the swiss ball. Drive your weight into the heels and lift your hips into the air. Once there, continue to dig your heels in and curl the legs under the hips. Once finished, return your legs back to the beginning position and then lower your hips to the ground.

Swissball hip extension with leg curls

Train your legs for size and strength

It’s time to get to it! Leg day is now easier than ever once you have these three leg exercises in your program. These three leg exercises are essentials in the world of leg size and strength development. They are also fantastic in skyrocketing your metabolism to maximise your health & fitness. Train your legs for size and strength and your body will thank you for it.

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-John Towner thank you for the photo


  • Chek, P. (2009) How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy!
  • Cooley, B. (2005) The Genius of Flexibility: The smart way to stretch and strengthen your body. Fireside
  • Erhman, J. Gordon, P. Visich, P. Keteyian, S. (2003) Clinical Exercise Physiology. Human Kinetics Publishers, Inc.
  • Porth, C. (2002) Pathophysiology: Concepts of Altered Health States (6th Ed.) Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins
  • Scientific Publishing, Ltd. (no author) (2006) Scientific Publishing’s Anatomy Chart Book. Scientific Publishing Limited
  • Sherwood, L.(2004) Human Physiology: From Cells to Systems (5th Ed.) Thomson, Brooks/Cole

Chris Everingham lives and breathes health & fitness.

Chris Everingham lives and breathes health & fitness. International Athlete, Elite Performance Manager for the Philippine Volcanoes rugby teams, qualified Dietitian / Nutritionist and qualified educator. Chris Everingham combines more than 10 years of experience and education together to deliver the best strategies to grow your mindset, rewire your habits and transform your life.


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