There are 3 very common barbell exercises for the legs, and many people think that they are all among the best leg exercises.
The 3 most common leg exercises with a barbell are squats, dead lifts, and lunges. There are classic ways to perform each exercise, but they all have many variations that slightly change the emphasis of the exercise.
The beauty of all of these leg exercises is that they are highly functional. Functional exercises are simply exercises that simulate activities that people do on a daily basis.
We squat, lunge, and lift things all the time. So in addition to improving overall fitness, these exercises can also help with improving daily activities and sports activities.
Total Body Exercises
Another benefit of all of these exercises is that they all work lots of muscles at one time. There is major emphasis on the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calfs, but all the stabilizers in the foot, ankle, knee, and hip also work during. Also, the core muscles will work really hard in all of these, and the shoulders and scapular stabilizers will work really hard during the dead lift.
These barbell exercises are all total body exercises, which means that they burn tons of calories and help to strengthen your entire body.
You can work each leg muscle individually (with exercises like hamstring curls, leg extensions, inner and outer thigh machines, butt machines, and calf raises), but it will take you much more time and not be as beneficial as squats, or dead lifts, or lunges.
Balance and Core Improvement
Because these leg exercises are done standing instead of sitting, they all improve balance to a higher degree than other leg exercises in which you are not standing.
Balance is important for athletes and regular people. Improved balance can increase speed and agility and decrease the risk of falls. Standing leg exercises (even when done on 2 feet) will improve balance and coordination more than any seated leg exercises.
Barbell Squats are one of my favorite exercises, and the squat is regarded by many as the king of all leg exercises.
Barbell lunges are the exercise that works the most on balance because the split stance shifts your center of gravity. And lunges are probably the toughest exercise on the knees because there is less stability in the lunge position.
Barbell Dead lifts place the most emphasis on the lower back muscles. Many people injure their lower backs when they lift something that is too heavy, so practicing the dead lift in a controlled environment can help to strengthen the lower back.
If you are a power lifter, bodybuilder, or athlete these barbell exercises for your legs are a must. And if you are a regular person trying to get in shape, these exercises can definitely help you improve your fitness, tone or build your leg muscles, strengthen your leg muscles, and help you lose weight.
The standard Olympic barbell weighs 45 pounds, but you can use other sizes or body bars that weigh as little as 9 pounds.
As always, listen to your body when including any exercises in your workout. If you feel ankle, knee, hip, or lower back pain during any of these exercises, check your form or consult with an experienced trainer or licensed health professional.
There are many different leg exercises to choose from so don't feel like you have to use a barbell. If you have access to barbells, try including them periodically. Change up your workout every 4-6 weeks and remember to have fun exercising.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Charles PT/PT