Leg compound exercises are a great way for building lower body muscle strength, mass and power. Not only do compound exercises allow you to target different leg muscle groups all at once, but they also offer coordination and mobility benefits while also boosting your overall athletic performance.
Compound lower body exercises are a more time-efficient way of giving the legs the workout they require by targeting multiple muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes, hip abductors and hip adductors.
The best thing about leg compound exercises is that they even target the core muscles and help stabilize them. They help you burn a significant number of calories, too.
If you want to work on your lower body strength while also boosting power in the legs, consider practicing the below-given exercises.
Leg compound exercises for strength and muscle mass
Here’s a look at the five best compound exercises for developing muscle strength and power in your legs:
#1 Barbell deadlift
The barbell deadlift is one of the best compound lifts for legs. It's the most popular exercise among weightlifters, as it targets the entire leg muscles, including the hamstrings, calves, quadriceps and glutes.
Apart from targeting these lower body muscles, the barbell deadlift also works on the core, latissimus dorsi, lower back and trapezius muscles.
To do it:
- Stand behind a barbell with the feet positioned at shoulder width.
- Bend the knees, and grab the barbell with the hands placed outside the knees.
- Push your chest out, and slowly stand up while pushing the hips back.
- Lower the barbell towards the floor, and once it touches the floor, get back to the starting position, and repeat the exercise.
#2 Leg press
The leg press is among the most important leg compound exercises that target the calves, quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. This machine-based exercise is suitable for beginners and advanced exercisers alike.
To do it:
- Set yourself on the leg press machine with the legs extended straight on the plate in front of you. Keep your knees bent throughout the movement.
- Engage your glutes, quads, abs and hamstrings, and slowly push the plates as high as you can. Do not lift your feet while pushing the plates.
- Get back to the initial movement, and repeat the exercise.
#3 Barbell squat
The barbell squat is one of the best compound lower body exercises that help develop massive power in the legs. This exercise targets the hamstrings, calves, glutes and quadriceps and works on the midsection, too.
To do it:
- Stand with your feet at a shoulder-width distance, and place the barbell on top of the shoulders.
- Hold the barbell tightly with your hands, and keep your posture upright.
- Squat down by pushing the hips back and keeping your back absolutely straight.
- Lower down till your glutes go below the knees, and stand back up to the starting position.
#4 Barbell hip thrust
Barbell hip thrusts are also among some of the most productive leg compound exercises that target the glutes as well as the quads, calves and hamstrings.
Although this exercise is considered a glute and quad isolation exercise, it can be performed as a well-rounded compound leg exercise.
To do it:
- Sit on an exercise mat in front of a bench with your legs extended in the front. Lean back slightly so that the shoulders rest on the bench.
- Place a barbell across your thighs, and bend your knees.
- Press your heels into the floor while thrusting your hips towards the ceiling.
- Pause at the top for a few seconds, and lower your hips back to the floor.
#5 Kettlebell swing
Kettlebell swings are one of the most strengthening leg compound exercises that target different muscle groups at once, including the hamstrings, glutes and quads.
This exercise also targets some of the major upper body muscles like the spinal erectors and the upper back muscles.
To do it:
- Stand with your feet at shoulder-width distance and knees slightly bent.
- Grab a kettlebell with both hands between your legs.
- Bend forward at your hips, and swing the kettlebell up at your shoulder height while thrusting your hips forward.
- Swing the kettlebell back between your legs, and repeat the movement.
Regular practice of the aforementioned leg compound exercises can provide you with amazing benefits. They can help build strength and muscle and keep the lower body away from injuries and pain.
However, before you start these exercises, seek guidance from a professional trainer to monitor your progress, and, most importantly, keep your form in check.