Legs exercises that are better than the back squat? Is it possible?

If you have small legs and think the only way to grow them is by squatting heavy, then you need to rethink your approach.

Troy Adashun explains how he switched up his leg training and managed to achieve impressive strength and muscle gains without using the barbell back squat.

He argues that there are many other lower body exercises that are better when it comes to hypertrophy of the lower body.

Source: Photo courtesy of CrossFit Inc.

“I wanted to make this video because, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to squat heavy weights to grow your legs. Today’s leg workout for growth will contain no barbell squats whatsoever.”

“When I started lifting, I thought squatting as heavy as I could was the best way to get bigger legs, but it turns out I was training more for strength than hypertrophy. Try this leg workout for bigger legs and feel the difference in the rep ranges, pacing of each rep, and overall exercise selection.”

“These leg exercises will blow up your legs in a short and intense workout. I call this type of training the balloon method, and it’s how I train to grow any muscle.”

Exercises that are Better than the Squat for Lower Body Muscle Gain

1. Legs Exercises that are Better: Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat

Probably one of the most painful and effective leg exercises that exists.

Go nice and deep, and don’t cheat the movement.

athlete performs Bulgarian split squat with dumbbell

You will feel this all the way from your glutes to your quads.

Stick to a 10- to 12-rep range for maximum muscle growth gains.

Keep the knees over the toes and overload each leg, one leg at a time. To make the exercise even harder, try paused reps. Hold the bottom position for at least 3 seconds to maximize time under tension.

2. Legs Exercises that are Better: Dumbbell Walking Lunges Super Set with Hands Over the Head Walking Lunges

This will further fatigue the legs in a functional and challenging way.

Again, the superset will extend the time under tension, which will result in more muscle growth.

Growth Tip: Add bodyweight versions of each exercise as a super set.

3. Legs Exercises that are Better: Dumbbell Sumo Squats

This is an excellent alternative if you are experiencing any lower back issues or are recovering from an injury.

It is impossible to load as heavy as you would for a back squat, and it forces you to keep your core and spine upright and tight.

You can choose to perform this with an elevated heel if you find ankle mobility an issue. Simply place your heels on a weight or bumper plate.

Make sure to squeeze at the top and concentrate on the mind muscle connection.

4. Legs Exercises that are Better: Leg Extensions Super Set with Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

Go for 3 sets of 12 reps of both exercises. The RDLs must be performed immediately after completing the leg extensions.

Form Tip: Point your toes out slightly and squeeze your quads as tightly as possible at the top of the movement.

Troy Adashun believes that the following equation, performed within the right rep ranges, is a great principle for leg growth: “Intensity + Consistency = growth.”

Video

Stop Bench Pressing! 3 Chest exercises better for chest gains

TIME-STAMPS FOR VIDEO:

  • 00:00 Why Squats are killing your gains
  • 00:15 The truth about chicken legs
  • 00:50 The perfect leg workout for fast growth
  • 01:50 One of the most painful leg exercises you can do (but it works!)
  • 03:00 DB walking lunges superset for growth
  • 04:45 Great barbell squat alternative
  • 05:20 Great superset for quads and hamstrings

As a final disclaimer, Troy states that consistent back squatting in the 10 – 12 rep range is a phenomenal way to grow your legs. However, he bebelieves that or beginner athletes this runs in parallel with a higher risk of injury than many of the other exercises that he included in his video.

Muscles of the legs

Your legs are full of lots of muscles that control movement in different ways. Some help you walk, while others help you run or jump. The quadriceps are located at the front of your thigh, while the hamstrings are located on the back side. Both groups of muscles work together to provide power and stability when you’re moving around.

Quadriceps (Quads)

The quads are the muscles that make up your thighs. They extend or bend your knees and straighten your hips. The quadriceps consists of four individual muscles: vastus lateralis, rectus femoris, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius.

Vastus Lateralis

The Vastus Lateralis is one of your quadriceps muscles. It’s located on the outer side of your thigh, and it helps you extend your leg. The Rvastus lateralis is a large muscle that can be strengthened with exercises such as lunges and squats.

Mat Fraser flips off Dave Castro

The vastus lateralis is located on the outer side of your thigh.

The vastus lateralis is located on the outer side of your thigh. The muscle extends from the middle of your knee to the top of your patella (knee cap), and it lies underneath a layer of fat.

The vastus lateralis is one of four large muscles making up the quadriceps group in your leg: rectus femoris, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius are its three counterparts. A small portion of each has an anterior attachment point at your pelvis called an iliotibial band or ITB (pronounced I-T-B). This band helps stabilize and support these muscles as they bend your knee forward or back during exercise or daily activities like walking up stairs or climbing into bed after a long day at work.

Rectus Femoris

The rectus femoris is a quadriceps muscle. It makes up one-quarter of your thigh muscle and originates at your pelvis and inserts at the tibia and patella. This segmented muscle is responsible for flexing your knee joint, which helps you move forward when running or walking uphill.

ectus femoris also helps to stabilize your hip as you perform other movements that involve twisting or bending in different directions (for example, kicking a ball).

The rectus femoris runs down the center of your thigh.

The rectus femoris is one of the quadriceps muscles, located on the front of your thigh. This muscle runs down the center of your thigh from your hip to your knee, attaching to the patella (knee cap) in its final few inches.

This muscle is responsible for extending (straightening) and flexing (bending) the knee joint, which allows you to move forward and back in walking motions, as well as turn and twist when running.

Vastus Medialis

The vastus medialis is a muscle located on the inner side of your thigh. It attaches to your knee cap and helps you extend and flex your legs. It also helps you flex your knees by turning inwards. The vastus medialis can help prevent injuries like ACL tears because it is used to stabilize the knee joint during movement.

The vastus medialis is located on the inner side of your thigh. It attaches to your knee cap.

The vastus medialis is located on the inner side of your thigh. It attaches to your knee cap, and helps straighten your leg.

Vastus Intermedius

Vastus intermedius is located underneath the rectus femoris and extends from your hip to your knee. It attaches to your knee cap, which helps it extend and flex legs, as well as flex knees.

The vastus intermedius is located underneath the rectus femoris and extends from your hip to your knee.

The vastus intermedius is located underneath the rectus femoris and extends from your hip to your knee. It is a quadriceps muscle, which means that it helps flex your knee.

Hamstrings

The hamstrings are located on the back of your thighs. These muscles help you extend and flex your legs. They also work with your quadriceps to flex or bend your knees, as well as help prevent injuries such as ACL tears.

If you’re an athlete who needs to increase speed, stability or power, having strong hamstrings is beneficial. For example: if you’re playing football (American or otherwise), having strong hamstrings will allow you to make sharper turns when running downfield because they help keep your body upright while sprinting instead of letting it fall forward when turning left or right at high speeds like it might otherwise do so easily without strong hamstrings supporting them!

Your legs are full of lots of muscles that control movement in different ways

Your legs are full of lots of muscles that control movement in different ways. The quadriceps and hamstrings are the main muscles on the front and back of your thigh, respectively. The vastus medialis is on the inside of your leg. Abductor muscles (the gluteus medius and minimus) support hip motion while adductor muscles (adductor longus, brevis and magnus) squeeze in from each side to hold things together!

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