One of the best ways to pack on the most muscle in the shortest amount of time is by completing compound exercises, which focus on building several muscles at once. If you take squats for example, this movement doesn’t only involve your quadriceps or glutes.
They also target the core, abs, back, and even your hamstrings as well. So performing compound exercises whether its for building upper or lower body strength makes the most sense. We use isolation exercises as less of a way to pack on muscle and more for toning purposes.
If you want to pack on the most muscle possible, then compound exercises are without a doubt, the way to go. Some compound exercises are even capable of working out both your lower and upper body at the same time, as well as your core. In this post, will be covering the best compound exercises for building lower body strength.
Spend just 30 to 60 minutes at the gym focusing on these lower body compound workouts and you’re done. Follow that up with just a few isolation exercises and you’ll have done everything possible to build the most amount of muscle and stamina in the least time possible.
Let’s get started!
Lower Body Compound Exercise #1 – Squats
Of course, one of the best and if not the most effective exercise for building lower body strength are squats. Almost your entire lower body will be targeted when you do the squats and you can make your lower body workout even more effective, by adding the following variations into your routine (specifically the back and front squat).
It’s always good to mix up your exercises now and then to target different muscles, and to keep your body guessing. Squats should be a staple to any workout routine as they not only target a lot of muscle groups at once, but stimulates muscle building by releasing growth hormones. Here are some squat workout and variations we recommend you focus on.
A. Back Squat
- Targets: Quads, Glutes, & Hips
- Secondary Muscles: Calves, Hamstrings, & Upper Back
- How To Perform: Position the barbell on your upper back and hold it at shoulder width apart. Keep your back straight, slowly bend your knees and hips until your quads are parallel to the floor, then extend to bring your body back to the upright position.
B. Front Squat
- Targets: Quads & Lower Back
- Click here to see how to perform a front squat.
C. Zercher Squat
Lower Body Compound Exercise #2 – Dumbbell Lunges
Right next to squats are dumbbell lunges, which might not do much for the upper body, but are absolutely dominant for building lower body strength. I can’t begin to tell you the large number of dumbbell lunge variations out there. There’s the reverse lunge, lateral lunge, offset lunge, anterior leaning lunge, fighting lunge, pulse lunge, jumping lunge, lunge twist… Ok, I think you get the point.
But the endless number of variations when it comes to lunges just goes to show how prevalent they’ve become for building lower body mass. While the general consensus might be that they aren’t as effective as the squat, they still make a great addition. And the reason for that is because they are a unilateral movement – meaning each leg is worked out separately. This allows for much more core activation then allowed by the squat and allows for better growth of muscles that are used for stabilization. If you’re not big into lunges, just start by doing the basics. That should be enough for now.
A. Static Lunge
- Targets: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, Abs, & Calves
- How To Perform: Stand with one foot forward and the other foot back. Straighten your back and lower your hips toward the ground until your knee is near the ground. Use your front heel to get back up to the starting position.
B. Walking Lunge
- Targets: Quads, Glutes, Hamstrings, & Obliques
- Click here to see how to perform a walking lunge.
Lower Body Compound Exercise #3 – Deadlift
The deadlift is a powerful exercise that should be done with care and precision in order to avoid injury and muscle strains. It’s not the kind of exercise, you rush into, but when done right can be as effective as squats. When you do deadlift make sure you’re always wearing a weight lifting belt for stability and to encourage proper form. Here are a list of weight lifting belts for women. While the deadlift is one of the most effective exercises for maximizing lower body strength, you don’t want to compromise the strength you already have by performing the wrong technique.
Compound Exercises For Lower Body Strength
Anyway, those are the 3 compound movements you want to focus on in order to build more lower body strength and tend to be the most favored as well. The problem with only focusing on these compound movements is the fact that most of the times you’re not going to hit the posterior chain, which is why we included the variations.
For example, switch up your squat routine. Do back squats one day, and front squats on the other. Same goes for the kind of lunges you do. This way you’ll begin to target your hamstrings more often and muscles that typically aren’t as activated as your quads and glutes are.
By focusing on other variations, you’ll be in a much better position to maximize the amount of muscle you can build. Also, when it comes to working out the lower body, I only like to focus on these core compound exercises. I find isolation exercises like leg extensions and curls to be a waste of time. Then again, it could all depend on your goals. But, if you’re looking to build more strength, then definitely go with these core exercises.
Thanks for checking this post out. Feel free to leave any comments or tips below!