Legs can be one of the most stubborn body parts for men to see a drastic change in.
If you’re just starting off in a muscle-building regimen—hoping to bulk your chicken legs, pull off some stylish short shorts, or get muscle definition like Cristiano Ronaldo’s—improving your leg musculature all begins with the basics.
In terms of training, a beginner should focus on a few fundamentals. You’ll want exercises that train each leg individually (aka “unilaterally”), which ensures equal muscle development. (Imbalances can throw off the quality of your bigger, more complicated lifts down the road.) You’ll also want to train side-to-side (aka “laterally”), which helps build smaller stabilizer muscles crucial for injury prevention. Most importantly, you’ll want resistance training moves that’ll hit the major muscles in your posterior chain—like your glutes and your hamstrings—because they produce the most force in your body.
“With any beginner program, less is more,” says Liz Lowe, C.S.C.S., the head program designer at Scorch Fitness, a high-intensity interval training gym in Sarasota, Florida.
We asked Lowe to put together 10 of the most effective legs exercises for beginners. These will train your legs from all sides—so when you’re putting together your own #legday workout, pick no more than five of these exercises.
For a torching routine that incorporates some of these legs-building moves, check out Lowe’s ultimate legs workout for beginners. The routine will help you hone balance, strength, power, and greater muscle mass in your legs. “It should be done no more than twice a week for recovery purposes,” Lowe advises.
If you find your muscles are getting accustomed to the load or intensity, try mixing in any of the best bodyweight legs exercises for men. And when you feel confident in your strength gains and lifting abilities, try these 10 exercises that’ll work your legs to exhaustion, or try out this 15-minute workout for stronger, more muscular legs.