How to Build Leg Muscle at Home

Complicated leg weightlifting machines are not always necessary in order to build and maintain leg muscle. With a regular exercise plan, you can increase leg muscle mass at your home. Keep in mind that although strength training exercises are essential for building solid muscle, they should be combined with regular aerobic exercise and a healthy diet for maximum results. If you have had leg injuries in the past or have any pain during leg exercises, see your doctor or a licensed physical therapist before you begin a workout routine.

Begin your day with leg muscle stretches. This will prepare the leg muscles for daily activities and exercise. Stretch the hamstrings by sitting on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. Reach toward your toes, breathing deeply for at least 20 seconds. Repeat three times, then stretch the quadriceps. Stand up with the legs a hip-width apart, and bring one foot up toward your buttocks, bending your leg at the knee. Hold onto the leg for 20 seconds, then repeat with the other leg. Finally, stretch the calves with standing calf raises. Stand erect and slowly raise onto your tiptoes for one second, then lower. Repeat at least 20 times.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Unless you are overweight, don't worry about decreasing your calorie intake. In order to effectively build muscle, you must actually increase the amount of calories you consume each day. Choose foods that are high in lean protein, good carbohydrates, and healthy fats, such as lean meat, whole wheat products, and fish. Limit fried and processed foods. If you are active throughout the day, eat small meals every couple of hours in order to keep the metabolism at a high rate. And of course, stay hydrated.

Work out the upper legs every other day. Upper leg workouts isolate the quadriceps, thighs, glutes and hamstrings in order to build muscle mass. Example of upper leg exercises include squats and lunges. Do the exercises while holding a dumbbell in each hand or a barbell over your head for an added challenge.

Work out the lower legs on the days that you rest the upper legs. The primary muscles in the lower legs are the calf muscles, which are divided into two main muscles: the gastrocnemius, which can be seen on the back of the leg, and the soleus, which lies underneath the gastrocnemius, according to the Fit Step website. Be sure to exercise both in order to maximise muscle strength and mass.

Combine strength training and diet with regular aerobic exercise, which improves overall muscle functioning and aids in fat loss. Choose aerobics that target the legs for optimal results. Examples include walking, running, jogging or biking. If you are new to aerobic exercise, start out with three 30-minute sessions per week, and gradually increase to at least four hour-long sessions.

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About the Author

Nicole Crawford is a NASM-certified personal trainer, doula and pre/post-natal fitness specialist. She is studying to be a nutrition coach and RYT 200 yoga teacher. Nicole contributes regularly at Breaking Muscle and has also written for "Paleo Magazine," The Bump and Fit Bottomed Mamas.