How to Build Your Lower Body Strength

Three Methods:Using Weights or Weight MachinesStrengthening With Resistance From Your Own BodyMaking Good Lifestyle Choices

Lower body strength helps us in many ways, from walking to running to building endurance. The primary muscles in the lower body that you should focus on to build your lower body strength are the abductors, or the major thigh muscles; gastrocnemius, or the calf muscles; gluteus maximus, or the behind; hamstrings, or the muscles in the back and top part of your legs; and the quadriceps, or the anterior thigh muscles. In order to strengthen these muscles, you’ll need to do a number of exercises.

Method 1
Using Weights or Weight Machines

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    Strengthen your thighs using a thigh abductor weight machine. Abductor machines allow you to specifically target your thigh muscles as you push against the resistance of the weights. You’ll want to shoot for 8 to 12 reps of these kinds of strength training exercises.[1]
    • Sit with your legs inside the machine and your feet resting on the foot rests while pushing the weights out to work your outer thighs.[2]
    • To work your inner thighs, place your legs on the outside of the machine with your feet on the footrest and your legs spread. Bring your legs together, pushing in against the weight.[3]
    • For these machine exercises, start off with 20lbs of weigh resistance and see how you feel after your reps. If you think you can handle more, do more. Otherwise, try to slowly increase your weights by 5-10lbs every few weeks.
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    Build the muscles in your thighs and hamstrings using a leg extension machine. The hamstring muscles are some of the most important in your body. They run through your butt and down into your legs – so you use them almost constantly when you are walking or moving.
    • Sit on the machine and place your legs behind the bar. The bar should rest against the front of your ankles. Slowly push outward against the weight until you fully extend your legs in front of you. Slowly lower to the starting position. Repeat 8 to 12 times per set.
    • Locate and position yourself on a supine machine, one that allows you to rest face down at an angle with your legs extended behind you. You will be lying on your stomach at an angle. Place your ankles under the bar. Slowly push against the bar to raise it toward the ceiling until your legs curl at more than a 90-degree angle. Lower your legs and the bar back to the starting position. Repeat 8 to 12 times for each set.
    • Try starting out with 20lbs of weights for these exercises and increase by 5-10lbs every few weeks as you become comfortable with the new weights.
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    Use free weights to work your calf muscles. Stand on a level surface and place a weight on each shoulder. You should balance the weight and help it stay in place with your hands. Slowly rise up on your toes and back down.[4]
    • Start out with one 10lb weight one each shoulder and slowly increase the weight over time.
    • Repeat 8 to 12 times in a set.
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    Enhance your thigh muscles with resistance bands. Loop the ends around your ankles. Stand so that you can steady yourself against a stationary object – like a wall or door post – and so you have room to move your feet from side to side. To work the outer thigh, keep one leg immobile and push your other foot out to your side so that your leg is working against the resistance of the band.[5]
    • To strengthen your inner thigh, start in the same position but instead of moving your foot out to the side bring it across the body to the other side while working against the resistance.
    • You will need to do this 8 to 12 times for each muscle on each leg.

Method 2
Strengthening With Resistance From Your Own Body

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    Use your body weight to work your calf muscles. Stand on an elevated surface with the ball of one foot firmly positioned and the heel hanging over the edge. Slowly lift the other foot off the floor and using the planted leg, push your body up and then back down to your starting position.[6]
    • Repeat 8 to 12 times and then switch to the other leg.
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    Perfect the lunge to strengthen your gluteus maximus. This exercise can be done using your own body weight or with free weights for additional intensity. Lunges are great for working out a variety of muscles as well, including your thigh muscles.[7]
    • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your arms at your sides with or without free weights.
    • Step one foot out in front of you in a large step, while keeping the back foot planted.
    • Once your front foot is in place and steady, bend your knees and lower your body to the floor.
    • Slowly push up and step back into your original position.
    • Repeat this 8 to 12 times on each leg for each set.
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    Perform squats. Squats are a way to exercise by using your own body as a weight. These reps are great for building muscles, but they’re also a good exercise to keep in your repertoire because they end up working your whole body, not just your leg muscles.[8]
    • To do this exercise, place your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your arms in front of you. Bend your knees and bring your body toward the ground until you are in a squatting position. The top of your thigh should end up just slightly lower than your knee. Hold this position for a few seconds and then come back up. Repeat the process as many times as you can comfortably.[9]
    • To make this exercise more intense, try doing one-legged squats as it is more difficult and therefore will help you build lower body strength more quickly and efficiently.

Method 3
Making Good Lifestyle Choices

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    Let your body rest between workouts. The rest period between workouts is one of the most crucial times for muscle growth. Without a significant stress-free break for your body, your muscle gaining will not be as substantial as it otherwise could be if you were resting properly between workouts.[10]
    • The more quickly your body is able to recover during these break times, the more quickly your muscle strength will increase.
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    Develop a consistent workout routine. Consistency is key to developing lower body strength. Plan out your workouts and stick to your plan whenever possible. Make activity part of your daily life and incorporate your strength training into your routine. After a little time, it will feel weird to skip the strength training.[11]
    • Try to make movement part of your life whenever possible – walk to the store instead of driving, take the stairs instead of the elevator, etc.
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    Start learning about protein. Go to your local library and pick up a book on protein. Search on the internet and study all about protein. The importance of protein is essential to your diet and strengthening your muscles.[12]
    • Know what protein is for. Protein builds muscle and repairs your muscle tissues. The protein aids in repairing your body after it has been worked out. It is essential that you take in enough protein as part of your diet.
    • Read the labels on all food products. Scan down on the label to where it discusses protein. Essentially if its 5 grams or 10 of protein, that is good. If you have quite a bit of food and it has only a few grams of protein, then that is not very good.
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    Eat more protein. Research what foods have a good source of protein, such as eggs. An egg is small but has about 7 grams of protein. Try beans, small in size but they have a large amount of protein proportionate to their size. Meats are also a very good source of protein.[13]
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    Be cautious with your diet. Try cutting out foods from your diet. If you want to make way for foods high in protein, you have to take out foods low in protein. It seems logically simple but you have to be dedicated to it.[14]
    • The bread in a hamburger has hardly any protein, yet the meat does. You have to decide if making these kinds of sacrifices is worth it to you, but eliminating foods that are low in protein will help you build muscle strength.


  • A repetition is the completion of one exercise.
  • Your targeted muscles should feel fatigued and should slightly burn by the end of each set.
  • Usually 8 to 12 repetitions make up a set.
  • The number of repetitions and sets that you do to build your lower body strength depends on how your body feels.

Article Info

Categories: Leg Strengthening Exercises