Developing a strong lower body is one of the best ways to build a great physique and lose fat.
Those that ignore legs and try to hammer on the rear delt flys tend to struggle with their fitness goals.
Leg day usually tends to be the day that gets forgotten and sometimes running is even justified on this day.
That is a seriously misguided attempt. I would rather have you doing leg extensions, curls, and presses (I am not really a proponent of these for developing lower body strength).
The muscles in the legs are some of the biggest in the body and must be trained.
The bigger the muscle, the more work that it can do. Work is expressed in the form of calories and therefore, bigger muscles burn more calories.
It becomes no surprise when people struggle to lose weight yet they are ignoring 2/3 of their body.
The following list is my favorite exercises for developing lower body strength.
I do not care which variation is chosen here. Front, back, goblet, Zercher, overhead, etc. are all viable choices.
People are individual and different squats fit different lifters. Also, personal preference comes into play. If you love front squats, most of your gains will come from them.
Squats are great for developing the quads and the glutes, but a parallel squat must be achieved to involve the glutes. ¼ squats do not count (and leg presses are not squats).
Again, different variations are going to fit different people here.
Deadlifts may be the king of all exercises and you can choose one that fits you.
Conventional, Sumo, Hex Bar, Kettlebell, and I would even consider rack pulls/elevated deadlifts in the same category.
People new to deadlifting can start with the kettlebell, those with tight hips can go hex, sumo, or elevated, and those with enough mobility can go conventional.
Deadlifts are great for building the glutes and hamstrings while also training the muscles of the back.
3. Bulgarian Split Squat
Performing a split squat with the rear foot elevated is one of the hardest quad dominant exercises. The quads will be burning and the glutes will be confused with what just hit them.
This is a bit of an advanced exercise but it can be modified with different ways of loading the bar.
A kettlebell/dumbbell can be held in the goblet position, a bar can go on the back, or a bar can be held overhead to progress from easy to hard.
Improving performance in this lift has great transfer to the back squat. Building strength on the legs individually will benefit both of them together.
4. Walking Lunge
Not for the faint of heart. Walking lunges (done properly) get the glutes and quads working hard.
They are especially hard because the body needs to be decelerated when taking a step. There then needs to be a push to take the next step.
This does not occur in other lunge/split squat variations. Add these to the end of a workout if you really want to finish it with a bang.
5. Hip Thrusts
Here is one of the best pure glute strength exercises you can do. It is not the most flattering or comfortable position though.
Bret Contreras is a huge proponent of these and even says that they activate the glutes greatly.
Hip thrusts can be loaded with a barbell or chains. These two have had the most success with my clients even though I am sure you can load it with other methods.
Get over the fact that a barbell is basically crushing your pelvis and start building and unstoppable set of glutes.
Skinny jeans have become commonplace in recent years. People that train their legs have a snowball’s chance in hell of fitting into skinny jeans.
Opt for the stronger look and start working on the lower half. You may need to buy some new clothes, though.