Diet and exercise are just as important if you want to gain weight as they are for losing weight.
And there are plenty of exercises and lifestyle changes you can make to help bulk up your legs.
Read on to learn how to get bigger legs through exercise, what exercises to avoid, and how you can modify your diet and lifestyle.
Squats are meant to increase muscle bulk in your legs and butt. Squats are best for building quad muscles (the quadriceps femoris in the upper leg).
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Place each hand on each hip and tighten your stomach muscles.
- Slowly bend your legs and keep your torso straight like you’re trying to sit down.
- Move down until you’re in a sitting position and your upper legs are parallel to the ground.
- Stay in this position for at least 10 seconds
- Slowly stand back up, keeping your torso straight.
- Repeat as many times as is comfortable for you.
Lunges are also good for legs and butt muscles.
- Stand and tighten your stomach muscles.
- Move one leg forward like you’re stepping forward.
- Lean ahead like you’re about to kneel so that each knee is at a 90-degree angle.
- Put weight back onto your heel to return to your original stance.
- Repeat on one leg as many times as is comfortable.
- Repeat on your other leg.
This exercise is simple and helps bulk up calf muscles in your lower legs.
- Stand upright somewhere flat with your feet facing forward and your stomach muscles flexed. For an extra challenge, you can also stand on a slightly raised ledge using the front half of your feet (see above).
- Raise up on the front of your feet like you’re trying to stand on the tips of your toes.
- Stay in that position for a few seconds.
- Slowly return to your original position.
- Repeat as many times as is comfortable.
This one requires a leg press machine or similar gym equipment, but it can help you target specific areas in your legs that are otherwise hard to work out.
- Sit on the machine with your feet flat on the press. Some equipment is designed where you sit in a partially reclined position or even lie on your back.
- Slowly and carefully push the press away from you with your whole foot while keeping your head and back stable. Don’t just use your heels or toes.
- Hold for a moment without locking your knees.
- Slowly bring the leg press back down toward you.
- Repeat as many times as is comfortable.
Try to avoid or limit any aerobic and cardio exercises such as running or swimming. These exercises help reduce extra fat and shape your muscles over time, but they’ll work against you if you want to bulk up.
You can still do cardio or aerobics in small amounts to help tone muscles and shave off any excess weight on top of muscles, though. This can help you get definition in your legs for the shape or look you want.
Here are some foods to eat and some to avoid while you’re trying to bulk up your legs. Some of the
- meats like sirloin steak, pork tenderloin, chicken breast, and tilapia
- dairy like cheese, yogurt, and low fat milk
- grains like oatmeal, quinoa, and whole-grain breads
- fruits like bananas, grapes, watermelon, and berries
- starchy vegetables like potatoes, lima beans, and cassava
- vegetables like spinach, cucumber, zucchini, and mushrooms
- nuts and seeds like walnuts, chia seeds, and flax seeds
- legumes like lentils and black beans
- cooking oils like olive oil and avocado oil
Supplements map help increase the effectiveness of your bulking exercises and sustain a long-term workout plan, but understand that they’re not closely monitored for safety or efficacy by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
- whey protein mixed into water or protein shakes to increase your protein intake each day
- creatine monohydrate to energize your muscles for extra long or intense workouts
- caffeine to help give you
extra energyfor increasing the length or intensity of your workouts
Foods to limit or avoid
Here are some foods you should try to limit if you’re trying to bulk up, especially right before or after a workout:
- alcohol, which can reduce your ability to build muscle if you
drink too much of it at onceor over time fried foodslike french fries, chicken strips, or onion rings, which can cause inflammation or digestive and cardiac conditions
- artificial sweetener or sugars in sweets and baked goods like cookies, ice cream, and sugary beverages like soda and even electrolyte-enhanced drinks like Gatorade
- foods high in fat like beef or heavy creams
- foods high in fiber like cauliflower and broccoli
Here are some lifestyle changes you can make to help increase the effectiveness of your workouts and stay healthy overall:
- Sleep regularly for 7 to 9 hours around the same time every day.
- Reduce stress by meditating, listening to music, or doing your favorite hobbies.
- Decrease or eliminate alcohol use and smoking. Quitting can be difficult, but a doctor can help create a cessation plan that works for you.
- Don’t push yourself too hard. Take it slow so that you don’t rush in and injure yourself or become too fatigued. Start small and add an extra rep or minute when you think you’re ready.
Bulking up is more than just doing the right exercises. It’s also eating, drinking, and sleeping right so that your whole body can help contribute to your muscle and bulk gain.
Start slow and gradually add in bulking exercises and transition to a diet more conducive to gaining weight, muscle, and allowing your body to use exercise and nutrition to its fullest potential.