Basic Leg Workout

Basic Leg Workout


a) Stiff leg deadlift

The Stiff Legged Deadlift is a great exercise for your legs. It primarily targets your hamstrings, but also works your lower back.

With the bar on the floor, stand directly in the centre of the bar with your body straight and your feet about shoulder width apart and your knees slightly bent so that you do not harm yourself.

Then bend at the hips and grab the bar, making sure that you stay straight and do not bend anything more than your torso forward at the hips. When you grab the bar you will want to make sure that your arms are shoulder width apart and you are holding the bar so that your palms are facing the ground.

Lift the bar to about hip level.  Lower the bar back down, almost to the ground, but do not set it back down.

Continue lifting the bar and lowering it until you have completed all of the reps in your set and then set the bar back on the ground.

Stiff leg deadlift

b) Lying leg curls

This exercise is performed to work your Glutes & Hamstrings.

You need lying leg curl machine to perform this exercise.

Lie down the lying leg curl machine with your face towards the machine.  Fix your feet under the foot pad resting the pad over your ankles.  If there are handles to the machine, you may hold them with your hands. Otherwise, gripping the front of the machine bench you are lying on, solves the same purpose.

Stay there calm while lying on the bench.  Do not arch your spine.

Now curl your legs upwards by bending your knees such that your hamstrings are fully contracted.  Hold there in this position for a count of one.  Steadily get back to the starting or initial position.  Repeat the above steps to get your reps completed.

Lying leg curls

c) Standing leg curls

This exercise works your hamstrings.

You need a Standing leg curl machine, but if your gym does not have one, you can use a leg extension machine as well (as demonstrated in the picture).

Position your body in the standing leg curl machine by firmly planting one foot on the ground and resting the leg pad on the back of your ankle. Grip something in front of you and curl the weight up towards your body. Fully contract your hamstring when you reach the top of the movement and then lower the weight under control back to the starting position. Continue until you have reached muscular failure and then switch legs.

Tip: To maximize the stimulation to your hamstrings, make sure that you use a full range of motion. This means curling the weight all the way up towards your body and getting a full stretch at the bottom. Do not rest the weights at any point during the exercise as this will take the stress off of your hamstrings.

Standing leg curls


a) Leg Press

The seated leg press machine works many of the same muscles as the squat, without putting as much load on the spine and knees.

The primary muscle group targeted by the seated leg press is the quadriceps at the front of the thighs. This four-headed muscle is responsible for the extension of the knee, which is what happens as you press the platform of the leg press machine with your legs.   Other muscle groups that benefit by this exercise are gluteus maximus, adductor magnus and soleus.

Sit on machine with back on padded support. Place feet on platform. Grasp handles to sides.

Push platform away by extending knees and hips. Return until hips are completely flexed. Repeat.


Adjust seat and back support to accommodate near full range of motion without forcing hips to bend at waist. Keep knees pointed same directions as feet. Do not allow heels to raise off of platform, pushing with both heel and forefoot. Placing feet slightly high on platform emphasizes Gluteus Maximus. Placing feet slightly lower on platform emphasizes Quadriceps.

Leg press

b) Leg Extensions

Leg extensions target your quadriceps only.

Sit on apparatus with back against padded back support. Place front of lower legs under padded lever. Position knee articulation at same axis as lever fulcrum. Grasp handles to sides for support.

Move lever forward and upward by extending knees until legs are straight. Return lever to original position by bending knees. Repeat.


Stabilizers may be used during heavy resistances to prevent body rising off of seat.

Leg extentions

c) Walking Lunges

Walking lunges is a fantastic exercise.  It targets your quadriceps, but also works on you gluteus maximus, adductor magnus and soleus.

Stand with dumbbells grasped to sides.  Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.  Look straight ahead, straighten your back and pull abdominal muscles in tight.  Take a large step forward landing on heel first. The step should be long enough to where the back foot’s hell lifts off the ground.

Lower yourself, while breathing in, until your legs are at a 90 degree angle with keeping your weight on forward heel.  Your knee should line up over the top of foot and not over the toes.   Your rear leg should almost touch the floor.  Stand on forward leg with assistance of rear leg.  Repeat by alternating lunge with opposite legs.


A long lunge emphasizes Gluteus Maximus; short lunge emphasizes Quadriceps.

Walking lunges


a) Standing calf raises

Position yourself on a standing calf raise machine.  Space your feet a bit closer then shoulder width apart. Stand up on your tippy toes and hold this position for a second to enhance the peak contraction in the calves, then lower your heels as far down as you can getting a good stretch throughout the calves.

This is a basic calf movement that works the gastrocnemius muscles.

Standing Calf Raises

b) Seated calf raises

Adjust the knee pads of the machine so that you can sit with your knees snug to the pads.  Place the balls of your feet on the foot block, with your feet a bit closer then shoulder width apart, toes pointing forward.

Rise up as high as you can on your tippy toes.  Hold this position for a second to enhance the peak contraction in the calves.  Lower your heels until your calf muscles stretch down as far as possible and hold the stretched position for a second.

This exercise targets the soleus muscles because it is performed with your legs bent at a 90° angle.   This exercise also works the gastrocnemius muscles are as secondary muscles.

Seated Calf Raises

Useful tip:

If you have your feet turned in, you focus mainly on the gastrocnemius’ lateral head.

If you have your feet turned out, you focus mainly on the gastrocnemius’ medial head.