We all know that one guy/gal with a built upper body and sticks for legs, and let’s be honest:
It doesn’t look good because a developed upper body can only get your physique so far. Your lower body is home to some of the largest muscles in the body, and developing them will play a massive role in how your physique looks and functions.
To that end, we’ve put together this guide, outlining everything you need to know on how to gain weight in your legs and calves.
A Brief Look at Your Leg Muscles
Before diving into the specific tactics, let’s look at what muscles we are trying to develop.
The quadriceps are a large, four-headed muscle that covers the front of your thighs. Its primary function is knee extension (straightening of the leg). For example, as you squat, your quadriceps engage to control you on the way down and contract to extend your knees and bring you back to the top position.
One of the quadricep heads, the rectus femoris, originates from the ilium (part of the pelvic bone), producing hip flexion.
Our hamstrings are the large muscle group that runs down the posterior of our upper legs. Along with the gluteus maximus, our hamstrings extend our hips, such as when performing a deadlift. Another of the hamstrings’ functions is knee flexion, the opposite of the quadriceps’ primary function.
The gluteus maximus is the largest and most powerful muscle in the entire body. Our glutes make up the buttock area, produce hip extension, and play an essential role during weight training, walking, running, jumping, and more.
Our calves are the smallest of the lower body muscles and cover the posterior of our lower legs. The primary function relates to ankle stability and movement (flexion and extension). Aside from that, our calves play a minor role in knee flexion (bending of the legs) because the gastrocnemius crosses the knee joint.
Five of The Best Exercises For Fantastic Leg Growth
1. Barbell Back Squat
Barbell back squats are one of the most effective exercises you can do for impressive leg growth. The exercise is beneficial because it overloads three major muscles in the lower body: the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Aside from that, back squats are helpful because they strengthen a range of upper body muscles, all of which work hard to keep you stable under the load.
Back squats are also beneficial for all kinds of trainees because their overloading potential is excellent, and you can use the exercise to get stronger and build muscle for years.
2. Hip Thrust
Hip thrusts are a somewhat underrated exercise that strengthens your gluteus maximus and hamstrings like no other movement can. The objective is to place your upper back on a gym bench, have your feet flat on the floor, and position a barbell over the crease of your hips. From there, use your posterior muscles to thrust the barbell up, bringing your shoulders, hips, and knees in horizontal alignment.
A fantastic benefit of the hip thrust is that the movement is simple to learn, offers a great range of motion, and overloads your posterior with a lot of weight.
3. Romanian Deadlift
Similar to the previous movement, Romanian deadlifts are an excellent activity to target your posterior: glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. Unlike classic deadlifts where you pick the weight up off the floor, the objective is to unrack the bar from an elevated position and start each rep from the top down. You also have to keep your knees almost straight from start to finish.
As you start descending by hinging at the hips, you load the hamstrings and glutes with more weight, forcing them to grow.
4. Standing Calf Raise
If you’ve ever wondered how to gain weight in your legs and calves, the standing calf raise is a great movement to do. The objective is to flex and extend your ankles repeatedly while having your legs straight. A gym machine is perfect for the activity.
5. Lateral Squat
Lateral squats are an underrated but highly beneficial movement for everyone who’s ever asked themselves, “How do I gain weight in my legs?” Performing lateral squats is beneficial for developing the abductors and adductors––the outer and inner parts of your thighs, respectively.
Instead of lunging forward or back, the objective is to bring your leg out to the side, squat, bring it back in, and repeat for your other leg.
Two Core Training Principles For Fantastic Leg Growth
1. Train Through a Full Range of Motion
When people ask me, “How to gain weight in my legs?” one of the first things I tell them is to train through a full range of motion. The truth is, there are countless training and programming practices you can employ to grow your legs. But perhaps one of the most critical factors is training with a full range of motion. Doing so allows you to cause the best possible stimulus to all involved muscles, forcing them to grow.
Let’s take the squats as an example. Squatting to the appropriate depth allows you to stretch your quadriceps better and forces them to work extra hard off the bottom, resulting in superior growth.
2. Train Your Legs Twice Per Week
Training your legs frequently is also beneficial for causing the best possible stimulus and avoiding the accumulation of junk volume. For example, if you’re doing 16 training sets for your legs each week, it would be much better to split them into two sessions than to cram everything inside a single workout.
This is because there is only so much work your muscles can handle and still grow. Splitting the same amount of work into two workouts would allow you to cause a substantial growth stimulus twice per week.
Learning how to gain weight in your legs and calves can be challenging because there are numerous factors to consider. The entire process takes time, effort, and dedication.
If you’re interested in saving yourself time and frustration, check out my online programs for the guidance you need to succeed.