Looking to add a little junk to your trunk? A bit of juice in the caboose? A touch of “hell yeah” to the derrière? Gaining healthy muscle weight in your legs, glutes, and calves can be tricky.
But never fear. Any day can be leg day if you do your homework.
Here’s how you can support your workout routine with leg-specific methods for gaining mass. Give them a go — you’ll be dancing in a Nicki Minaj video in no time.
Wanna add bounce to your thighs and booty? There’s no solution quite like good ol’ diet and exercise. The good news is, you don’t have to live in the gym or completely derail your eating habits.
There’s plenty you can do in your own home to make noticeable leg gains. We’ve broken down these exercises by which area of the legs they bulk up.
The best exercises to gain size in your legs and butt: Squats and lunges
Anyone can gain upper leg size by doing squats and lunges.
These target your glutes, as well as the quadriceps and hamstrings. But the perfect squat also takes core strength, stability, and ankle mobility.
Find a comfortable stance with your feet shoulder-width apart, then:
- Put your hands on your hips.
- Tense your abs.
- Keeping your torso upright, slowly sit down.
- Lower yourself into a sitting position until your upper legs are parallel to the floor.
- Keeping your torso upright, raise back up to a standing position.
Be sure to keep your posture upright and avoid putting too much strain on your knees. Practicing squats with a chair at first helps you nail the “sitting” motion.
These are also great for the glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, and core. Working those big muscle groups is fantastic for your metabolism. Lunges also give your balance and all-round coordination a kick in the pants.
Start from a standing position and:
- Tighten your abs.
- Take a big step forward with one leg. (“One small step for man…”)
- Lower the back knee down until both knees reach a 90-degree angle.
- Push through the front leg to return to the starting position.
As with squats, it’s important to keep your posture upright with your chin up and head forward. Once you’re comfortable doing lunges using your own body weight, introduce weights to really put some boot in your glute.
The leg press: A great exercise to gain mass in your thighs
If you’ve got access to a gym, a leg press machine can help turbocharge those sweet, sweet leg gains. Each machine is different. Some start you out flat on your back, others in a reclining position.
Either way, from there:
- Push with your weight spread evenly across your foot, keeping your head and back in line.
- Stop before you fully straighten and lock your knees.
- Slowly return to the starting position.
Remember to exhale as you push, and avoid raising your head. Be sure not to place your hands on your legs.
Gaining mass in your lower legs: Calf raises
Calf raises are an incredibly simple but effective option for bulking up your lower legs. They can work wonders on your calf muscles.
That means better balance and stability — great if the rest of your workout routine involves jumping or heavy lifting.
To pull off the perfect calf raise:
- Stand on a step or raised ledge with your heels hanging off.
- Tense your abs and raise up onto the balls of your feet like you’re trying to stand on tiptoes.
- Pause briefly at the top.
- Return to your starting position with a slow lowering motion.
Okay, we admit, this might not be the most exciting exercise on Earth. But developing your calf muscles can cut your risk of injury during the rest of your workout. So get ’em in.
Diet’s going to play a big role in your sought-after regular weight gain.
Studies found that eating 2.3 to 3.1 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight each day is a good way to boost muscle mass. Between 15 and 30 percent of your calories should come from fat, the rest from carbs.
In practice, the best foods for gaining muscle mass are:
- meat like steak, pork, and chicken
- olive oil or avocado oil for cooking
- grains, including whole-grain bread, oatmeal, and quinoa
- bananas, grapes, melon, and berries (y’know, all sorts of fruit)
- potatoes, lima beans, cassava, and other starchy veg
- spinach, cucumber, zucchini, and mushrooms
- cheese, yoghurt, low fat milk, and other dairy items
- nuts and seeds like walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseed
- lentils and black beans
If supplements are your thang, you can try creatine monohydrate, caffeine, and beta-alanine. But be aware that the FDA doesn’t regulate supplements in the same way as medications, so you need to be careful about which products you buy.
Foods to avoid when bulking up your legs
Some foods are going to do you more good than others when trying to get bigger legs as fast as you can. To speed up your muscle development, steer clear of:
- alcohol (it’s not a food, and don’t let those vodka Jell-O shots tell you otherwise)
- fried foods
- sugars and artificial sweeteners
- high fat foods like beef and cream
- high fiber foods like cauliflower and broccoli
Smoking is also a pretty terrible idea if you want to put on muscle mass.
Any of the above foods are fine from time to time as a treat — don’t punish yourself. But stick mainly with the foods in the first list if you’re looking to biggify your leggos.
Squats, lunges, and calf raises are great home exercises for gaining weight in your legs. If you’ve got a gym membership, leg presses can be a huge boost to your thighs.
Diet’s also super important, so make sure you go in on the protein and veggies and avoid junk meals, fatty foods, and those with loads of fiber.
Working yourself too hard risks injury. And nobody’s getting a big thicc booty from a hospital bed. Take care of yourself.