The leg extension hits the quads without engaging too many other leg muscles.

The Best Leg Routine for a Natural Bodybuilder

by Damon Verial

Natural bodybuilders sculpt their bodies without any performance-enhancing substances, and leg workouts are crucial to their ability to enhance muscle growth throughout the body, not just in the lower portion. But with the large number of muscles in the legs, choosing a precise routine to work the legs can be difficult. Yet with the right exercises, you can hit all the major muscles of the legs while still getting out of the gym on time to pick up the kids.


Located in the front of your thighs, these muscles are the most prominent for bodybuilders. A well-rounded leg routine will always include some exercises that put a heavy focus on the quadriceps. Exercises for the quads require you to straighten your legs from a knees-bent position. To target your quads, consider adding squats and leg extensions to your routine. Squats are extremely useful in that they train the quadriceps and hamstrings, while at the same time releasing high amounts of natural growth hormone that leads to muscle growth throughout your body. Leg extensions are useful as well due to the fact that they target the quadriceps specifically, without engaging or tiring out too many other muscles in the legs.


The hamstrings are right behind the quadriceps, on the other side of your leg bone. Whenever you bend your knee, you are using your hamstrings. In this way hamstring exercises are the opposite of quadriceps exercises. Like the quadriceps, the hamstrings have two useful exercises: the deadlift and the leg curl. The deadlift is a reverse squat in motion, but the same as a squat in that it hits many muscles in your legs and also contributes to natural growth hormone release throughout the body. The leg curl is to the hamstrings what the leg extension is to the quadriceps -- It targets the hamstrings specifically, allowing your other leg muscles to save their strength for more targeted exercise.


The calves are made up of the set of muscles below your knee. But despite their number, the calf muscles do not need to work separately. With one or two exercises, you can target them all. Add calf raises or calf presses to your routine. They both work the same muscles, with the main difference being where the weight is. For calf presses, the weight is above you, and you are in a reclined or declined position; you push the weight away from you with your calf muscles. For calf raises, you use just your own body weight. For these you push your own weight up with your calves. To increase the resistance you could hold a pair of dumbbells to increase your standing weight while you push yourself up to your toes with you calves. Do not forget to add a reverse calf exercise to your mix. A reverse calf raise or reverse calf press is the same as a calf raise or calf press, but you are ending up with your toes in the air instead of the ball of your foot. These will primarily work the muscles of your shin.


The muscles in the hips are connected to the legs; well-developed hips add to the muscular look of the upper legs. But hip exercises don’t work the hips exclusively. Adding some hip exercises to your leg routine will allow you to hit some of the muscles in the upper leg area that tend to elude direct workout. This is because most hip exercises require you to move your entire leg. Good mornings, hip abductions and wheel rollouts are all prime choices for the hip portion of your leg routine.


  • Human Anatomy; Elaine Marieb, et al.
  • Functional Anatomy for Sport and Exercise; Clare Milner

About the Author

Having obtained a Master of Science in psychology in East Asia, Damon Verial has been applying his knowledge to related topics since 2010. Having written professionally since 2001, he has been featured in financial publications such as SafeHaven and the McMillian Portfolio. He also runs a financial newsletter at Stock Barometer.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images