Do you wear sweatpants to the gym because you’re insecure about your scrawny legs? Does it seem like no matter what you do, jacked legs will never be in your future?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, stick around – we’re about to go over the best ways to add some muscle mass to your lower body!
Table of Contents
Here’s Why You Want a Bigger Lower Body
Nothing takes away from your massive upper body gains more than a skinny lower body. But a bigger lower body is about a lot more than just the circumference of your quads.
Here’s a Look at Why a Bigger Lower Body Should Be on Your to-do List!
- Stronger legs mean greater balance, especially as you get older.
- Squats and deadlifts are ⅔ of the Big Three lifts.
- Leg strength can improve sprinting and power-based activities.
- Leg exercises sometimes build core and back muscles too.
Most importantly, you want people to take you seriously at the gym.
5 Quick Lower-body Muscle Building Tips
Do More Than Squats
A few sets of squats on the squat rack is not “leg day.”
Yes, squats hit just about every muscle in the lower body – that includes your quads, hamstrings, calves, and glutes. But your quads are the primary focus on squats and the other muscles aren’t hit quite as hard.
So you’ll want to add more exercises to leg day when it comes to building your upper legs.
- Leg curls
- Good mornings
- Straight-legged deadlifts
- Hip thrusts
- Squats (all types)
- Leg extensions
- Leg presses
Add Calf Exercises
Your calves definitely get a decent workout whenever you work your quads. So you might assume that you can just skip calf exercises and leave it to your squats to put in the work.
That’s exactly why your lower legs are so skinny!
You need to be doing exercises that specifically target the calves to add mass to your lower legs. That includes exercises that hit both muscles in the calves – the soleus and gastrocnemius.
That means you need to be doing both seated and standing calf raises.
You use your legs to walk around and run on a daily basis.
So, doing 15 or more reps per set on a leg exercise isn’t going to do much for muscles that are already built to handle endurance.
It’s time to do fewer reps at heavier weights. And you’ll see that these two concepts go hand in hand when it comes to muscle building.
Generally speaking, you should aim for the 8 to 12 rep range for building mass.
But that doesn’t mean choosing any old weight and getting to 10 reps. If your leg muscles aren’t even slightly tired as you near that 10th rep, then you’re using a weight that’s far too light.
You don’t want to lift too heavy where you hurt yourself. But you also don’t want to lift too light where you’re just wasting your time at the gym.
Extend Your Leg Workouts
3 sets of front squats just aren’t going to cut it if you really want a bigger lower body.
You’re looking to put your body under enough stress where those much-needed microtears happen and make muscle growth a possibility.
So, your options are to either extend your one leg day or split it into two days.
You should be looking to get at least 90 reps per week in total for major muscles like the quads and hamstrings. You can go a little easier on calves with around 40+ reps per week.
More isn’t always better, so be sure to listen to your body and its limits.
Allow for Recovery Time
Even though you use your legs every day to get around, your legs aren’t used to carrying an extra few hundred pounds as they do during your leg workout.
Your leg muscles need time to recover between workouts.
You’ll probably want to give your legs between 2 and 3 days of rest between workouts. But you might want to extend this rest period if your legs are still aching and weak by the time your next leg day arrives.
Overworking your leg muscles causes even further tearing and might actually cause a breakdown of muscle.
Why Your Legs are Skinny
Before you solve any problem in life, you want to figure out what’s causing it first. In this case, you need to figure out why your legs are so skinny in the first place.
Here’s a look at some possible reasons.
- You missed the genetic lottery – some people believe that leg muscles (especially calves) are linked to genetics, so you might have to work extra hard to build these.
- You completely skip leg day, go entirely too light, or your leg day is just a few sets on the squat rack.
- You’re neglecting the other muscles in your legs – like your hamstrings and calves – which means the only muscles you’re building are your quads.
- You aren’t eating enough protein to pack on the muscle mass.
The good news is that most of these problems are entirely fixable with a few changes and a little bit of hard work.
The Role of Diet
As much as you might assume that skinny legs come from not working your legs hard enough, there’s a chance that you’re just not fueling your body correctly. A poor diet might lead to cutting your workout short and slowed gains.
Here are some things you want to focus on in your diet to guarantee big legs.
- Protein: You need to be eating at least 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight.
- Carbs: You need to be eating carbs prior to your leg workout to give you more energy.
- Creatine: This is a great way to encourage your body to pack on muscle mass.
- Pre-workout: This is an alternative if low energy during a workout is your issue.
And most importantly, you need to make sure that you’re eating more than enough calories.
Not only does this give you the energy to outlast your previous workouts, but it’s also hard for your body to put on muscle when you’re losing weight.
If you happen to gain too much weight, you can always cut later.
How Do You Build a Bigger Lower Body?
Building a bigger lower body is going to require a lot of hard work.
You’ll want to add some variety to your workouts and focus on your quads, hamstrings, and calves individually. Make sure you’re lifting heavy weights and pushing your lower body to its physical limits.
You’ll also want to take a good look at your diet to see that you’re fueling your body right for building muscle.