15 Best Barbell Leg Workout For Mass and Strength

If you are looking for the best barbell Leg exercises and Workout routine to build a bigger and Stronger leg, then you are in the right place, we will discuss exercises instructions, muscle involvement, pro-tips.

However, It is also important to understand the leg anatomy to understand how to optimally train the lower body.

Leg Muscle Anatomy

The leg is divided into the upper leg (thigh) and lower leg (calf).

The upper leg consists of one bone, the femur, whereas the lower leg consists of two bones, the tibia (located on the big-toe side) and fibula (on the little toe side).

The legs consist of dozens of muscles that flex, bend, extend, adduct, abduct, and rotate your legs and allow movement.

This ultimate barbell leg workout focuses on four main muscle groups — the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.

Understanding how they all fit together and work with each other will ensure you get the most out of your leg workout.

Leg Muscle Anatomy


The quadriceps femoris, located in front of the thigh, has four separate heads: 1. Vastus medialis 2. Rectus femoris  3. Vastus lateralis 4. Vastus intermedius 


The hamstrings, located behind the thigh, are a group of three muscles that originate from the ischium bone of the pelvis: Biceps femoris, Semimembranosus, Semitendinosus 


The gluteus maximus arises from a large area on the rear of the pelvic bone, passes down behind the hip joint, and attaches to the upper femur. This powerful muscle causes hip extension.


The lower leg contains 10 different muscles. The calf comprises two muscles: The gastrocnemius and Soleus.

Other thigh muscles include the following: Hip adductors (Inner thigh), hip abductors, hip flexors.

This blog contains detailed descriptions of all major barbell leg exercises that focus on the quadriceps, hamstring, glutes, and Calf muscles.

The Barbell leg exercises are divided into squat exercises, barbell Deadlift, barbell lunge, and Calf raise exercises.

Best Barbell Leg Exercises and Workout

1. Barbell Squat

The barbell squat is the king of all exercises, the only challenger being the barbell deadlift. Nothing comes close to Squats exercises to build muscle mass and tone the legs muscles.

This Exercise is loved by men because it is great at strengthening the legs and core, shocking the body into releasing testosterone, and promoting the development of body-wide muscle and strength.

Barbell Squat
Muscles Worked

Primary: Quadriceps, gluteals.

Secondary: Hamstrings, adductors, spinal erectors, abdominals.

Execution Technique
  1. Step on the rack so that the barbell rests across the back of your shoulders. Raise the barbell and get away from the rack if you are doing with free weights.
  2. Bend your knees and lower yourself with your back straight and head up until your thighs are parallel to the ground.
  3. Now raise yourself up using only the thigh power, keeping your back straight in a position with legs nearly locked out.
  4. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  • Keep your back straight, torso upright, head up, and feet flat.
  • Start light and add weight gradually, allowing your legs and lower back to adapt.
  • Concentrate on the form.
  • If lifting heavy, have a spotter ready, or use a squat rack or power rack.

2. Front Squat

The barbell squat is another great exercise for your leg workout, and it works the same target and synergistic muscles. However, the barbell front squat recruits more stabilizer muscles, including various back muscles, your shoulders, and your chest.

The barbell front squat is more advanced than the barbell squat. Front Squats with barbell helps build entire thighs and focuses especially on the outer thigh region.

Front Squat
Muscles Worked

Primary: Quadriceps, gluteals.

Secondary: Hamstrings, adductors, spinal erectors, abdominals.

Execution Technique
  1. Step on a Smith machine and get the bar on your shoulders in front of you, grasping it with your crossed arms and lift it off the rack.
  2. Maintain the natural arch in your lower back and keep your head directed forward.
  3. Perform a squat, bending your knees and driving your hips back to lower yourself until your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  4. From this position push yourself back to the starting point.
  • Start light and add weight gradually, allowing your legs and lower back time to adapt.
  • If lifting heavy, have a spotter ready, or use a squat rack or power rack.

3. Deadlift

The deadlift is the King of all exercises. It is the best exercise for posterior chain muscle strengthening.

Barbell Deadlift works your whole body including the Lower back, upper back, arms, legs, and buttocks. It is the biggest muscle builder, recruiting more muscle motor units than any other exercise.

This exercise can be performed using either a barbell or a pair of dumbbells. Must add this exercise in your barbell leg workout to build Stronger and bigger leg.

Barbell Deadlift
Muscles Worked

Primary: Erector spinae, Gluteals, Hamstrings.

Secondary: Trapezius, Latissimus dorsi, Quadriceps, Forearms.

Execution Technique
  1. Place a barbell loaded with weights in front of you. Grab the barbell using an underhand grip with one hand and overhand grip with the other hand. Remember to keep your back as straight as possible and contract your back and hamstrings.
  2. Now raise the bar from the ground using your hamstrings and glutes. You should keep your legs slightly bent, back straight and head looking up. The initial movement is to be provided by your heels and not toes or elbows.
  3. Raise it to the point where your body is erect. Do not hyperextend your body as the weight shifts to the lumbar spine. Hold the bar for a moment at the top of the lift and remember to lockout. Complete the lift and do not go only halfway through.
  4. Now lower the bar slowly at a steady slow pace by bending at the hips first and then at the knees and let the weight touch the ground for a moment before you begin the next rep.
  • If performed deadlift incorrectly, it can cause more harm than good. Keep the back straight at all costs.
  • Lower back muscles take along to recuperate and hence once a week heavy deadlifts will do the job.
  • Go full range of motion and keep form correct. Avoid jerky movements and keep them controlled.

4. Stiff-Leg Barbell Deadlift

If you’re looking for a straightforward leg workout that you can do with a barbell to build mass and strength, then stiff leg barbell deadlift, is a great staple exercise to get you started.

It is a variation of the deadlift and an exercise used primarily to target the muscles of the hamstrings and gluteals.

The stiff-leg deadlift for hamstrings requires a lighter weight than that used during traditional powerlifting for strengthening the lower back.

Stiff-Leg Barbell Deadlift
Stiff-Leg Barbell Deadlift
Muscles Worked

Primary: Hamstring, Gluteals.

Secondary: Spinal erectors, Quadriceps.

Execution Technique
  1. Grasp a barbell using a shoulder-width pronated (overhand) grip or a mixed grip.
  2. Keeping your back straight, head up, and hips low, lift the barbell into a standing position.
  3. Flex your knees a little and push your hips backward and slowly lower the barbell down the front of your legs. Descend until you feel a mild stretch in your hamstrings.
  4. Exhale as you pull the barbell back up to the starting position by pushing your hips forward.
  5. Repeat for the desired number of reps.
  • Keep your knees stiff, your back and arms straight, and your head up.
  • Do not allow the bar to drift away from your body during the lift. Keep the barbell close to your body.
  • Keep soft knees and ensure the movement occurs primarily at your hips.

5. Barbell Lunges

When doing leg workout with barbell, them must do barbell lunge, as it is a brilliant exercise that helps you to strengthen your legs.

Barbell Lunges are a power move to build thigh and butt muscles. Learn the correct technique and blast your thighs now.

Use Barbell Lunges leg exercises to develop balance, coordination, and the unilateral (one-sided) functional strength of your legs, which is important for athletic performance and overall fitness.

Barbell Lunges
Barbell Lunges
Muscles Worked

Primary: Quadriceps.

Secondary: Gluteals, hamstrings, adductors.

Execution Technique
  1. Holding a barbell behind the neck stand upright.
  2. Keeping your back straight take a step forward bending your knees and getting them as close to the floor as possible.
  3. Push yourself back to the starting position and repeat with the other foot.
  • Bend as far and low as possible without losing form.
  • Keep your torso upright and your head facing forward.
  • If you suffer from balance problems, it is best either avoid it, or just use your own body weight while holding on to a steady object.

6. Zercher Squat

The Zercher squat’s set up is quite unique, as you wedge the barbell in your elbow creases and hold the weight up by bracing your core and arms.

The Zercher squat places a high amount of loading on the anterior legs, upper back and traps, and the biceps and elbows.

Zercher Squat
Zercher Squat
Muscles Worked

Primary: Quadriceps, gluteals.

Secondary: Hamstrings, adductors, spinal erectors, abdominals.

Execution Technique
  1. Stand with a shoulder-width grip while holding a barbell at chest height in the crook of your crossed arms.
  2. Carefully step backward from the rack and stand with a wide stance, with your knees and feet pointing out diagonally in the same direction.
  3. Keeping your back straight and body upright, letting your glutes track backward to lower yourself  until the bar touches your thighs.
  4. At the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor, reverse direction, driving up forcefully through your heels to the standing position.
  • Clasp fingers together while holding the barbell.
  • Do not round your back. Keep the back straight with a natural arch in your lower back.
  • Use elbows pads to decrease discomfort on your arms. Another option is to place two barbell pads on the bar for each arm.

7. Side Lunge

The barbell lateral lunge is the best variation of the side lunge that people typically perform when they want a little more glute involvement with the movement pattern.

The unilateral movement of side lunges can help you to improve muscular imbalances, increase strength in each leg, and benefit from a functional movement.

Side Lunge
Side Lunge
Muscles Worked

Primary: Quadriceps.

Secondary: Gluteals, hamstrings, adductors.

Execution Technique
  1. Place a barbell on your traps and stand with your feet about shoulder width apart.
  2.  Step out to your right as far as you can with your right foot. The forefoot should be turned out slightly as you plant it on the floor.
  3. Squat, shifting your weight to the left until your left leg is about parallel with the floor. Extend your left leg back up to lift your body up.
  4. Repeat in the same manner with your left leg, and continue alternating legs each rep until all reps are completed.
  • Do not lean the torso forward as you rise out of the bottom of the lunge.
  • Always push through your heels to protect your knees.

8. Jefferson Squat

If you’re looking for a way to get more creative with your barbell leg workout, why not try Jefferson squats?

It is an old technique that you just don’t see many people utilizing anymore, but it truly is an excellent workout because of the way that it tests and works your lower body.

It requires kind of a balancing act (Asymmetrical movement), there’s an element of building up coordination and stabilization to keep the bar centered, which also helps to avoid injuries.

Jefferson Squat
Muscles Worked

Primary: Quadriceps, gluteals.

Secondary: Hamstrings, adductors, spinal erectors, abdominal.

Execution Technique
  1. Straddle a loaded barbell placed on the floor and running sideways between your feet.
  2. Squat down to pick up the bar, grabbing it with one and facing palm backward and one hand facing palm forward.
  3. Hold the bar as you stand with a grip that’s wider than shoulder-width. Bend at the knees and hips, letting your glutes track backward to lower yourself.
  4. At the point where your thighs are parallel to the floor or the bar touches the floor, reverse direction, driving up forcefully through your heels to a standing position.
  • Keep your feet flat, your chest up, your back straight, and your shoulders back.
  • Ensure that the weight is evenly distributed between your two legs.
  • The lower you squat, the better the results will be, use smaller weight plates, so you can squat down further.

9. Box Squat

The box squat is a compound exercise that uses a barbell and plyometric box to work for muscle groups throughout your body.

The posture of box squats puts slightly less pressure on your knee joints when compared to front squats or back squats.

This is a great exercise for learning how to squat because it reinforces the sitting-back portion of the squat. It is the best option for beginner who is doing barbell leg workout.

Box Squat
Box Squat
Muscles Worked

Primary: Quadriceps, gluteals.

Secondary: Hamstrings, adductors, spinal erectors, abdominals.

Execution Technique
  1. Place a box or bench that is about knee height behind you in the power rack or squat rack.
  2. Unrack the bar and move back so that you are several inches in front of the box or bench.
  3. Your posture should be tall, with your feet wider than hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Your shoulders should be directly over your hips, with your head and neck in a neutral position.
  4. Squat back and down until your glutes make contact with the box, and immediately explode back up by pressing through your heels until you’re back in the standing position. Do not “plop” or fully sit down on the box.
  • As you stand, keep your chest high and squeeze your glutes
  • The goal is to squat down slowly and softly on the box and then immediately explode up.
  • Do not sit on the box and rock backwards, as this leads to compression of the spine; just pause and immediately raise.

10. Good Morning Exercise

The good-morning is one of the best hamstring exercises for mass and strength.

It is known as a good morning because of the movement in the erector spinae which resembles the rise out of the bed to stretch.

The erector spinae muscles of the lower back work isometrically to keep the spine in an extended position, while the hamstrings and gluteus maximus work isotonically to perform hip extension.

Good Morning Exercise
Muscles Worked

Primary: Erector spinae.

Secondary: Gluteus Maximus, Adductor Magnus, and Hamstrings.

Execution Technique
  1. Stand holding a barbell (or Weight) on the back of your shoulders, grasping the barbell at each side. Can also perform the exercise as in the bodyweight version.
  2. Keeping your knees slightly flexed and your back and neck neutral, inhale as you flex your hips to lower your torso until it is close to or fully horizontal.
  3. Exhale as you raise your torso back up to the starting position by extending your hips.
  4. Complete the desired number of repetitions.
  • Keep your back and neck neutral throughout the exercise.
  • It is recommended that the lifter avoid rounding (flexing) or rotation (twisting) at any point during the movement.
  • Keep the movement slow, the form strict, and the weight light.

10. Barbell Step Up

The barbell step-up is a great exercise for building lower-body strength and power. This exercise targets quadriceps and also involves calves and glutes & hip flexors.

The step-up is a great all-round exercise that is perfect for all, since it can be modified to create a challenging workout for anyone, whether you have just started exercising or have been training for years.

It has a low risk of injury and, with a few adjustments, offers a good cardio and strength workout.

Barbell Step Up
Muscles Worked

Primary: Quadriceps.

Secondary: Gluteals, hamstrings, Soleus, Gastrocnemius

Execution Technique
  1. Place a knee-high box or bench in front of you and grasp a barbell supported on the back in each hand.
  2. Stand with your feet in a comfortable hip-width stance. Step forward with one leg onto the step and drive through that thigh to bring your body upward.
  3. Bring the trailing leg to the top of the step and stand on the box, then step back with the opposite leg to the floor and lower yourself.
  4. Alternate legs with each rep. Repeat for the desired number of repetitions.
  • Control the movement, using your muscles to slowly lift and lower yourself.
  • Be sure to keep your low back in its natural arch and your upper body upright throughout the whole movement.
  • Keep your body upright and your feet and knees pointing in the same direction.

12 Barbell Hip Thrust

The barbell hip thrust is a popular exercise which is used to target the glutes and hamstrings for muscle and strength-building purposes.

Now, a lot of people are afraid to perform this movement or just not interested since it requires a little setup, and may even look a little funny.

Barbell Hip Thrust
Muscles Worked

Primary: Gluteus Maximus

Secondary: Quadriceps, Hamstrings

Execution Technique
  1. Place a loaded barbell next to, and parallel to, a bench.
  2. Slide your legs under the barbell and sit on the floor with your back against the side of a bench. The barbell should be over your hips.
  3. Grasp the barbell at each side. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, approximately shoulder-width apart.
  4. Keeping your torso rigid, exhale as you raise the barbell by extending your hips until they are fully extended.
  5. Hold for a count of two and squeeze your glutes.
  6. Inhale as you lower the barbell by flexing your hips. Do not allow the barbell to touch the floor.
  • To prevent the bench from tipping over, place it against a wall.
  • If the barbell hurts your pelvis, use padding.
  • Keep your torso rigid. Your back shouldn’t arch, and your pelvis shouldn’t tilt.
  • All the movement should occur in your hips.

13. Barbell Hip Bridge

The barbell hip bridge is a good starter move for butt, hamstring, and low back muscles.

When you spend the majority of your day sitting, your glute muscles can get weaker, while the hip flexors in the front of your thighs can shorten, making them feel tight.

But when you practice glute bridges regularly you are targeting your glutes, hamstring and your lower back muscles, those muscles that are meant to hold your body upright will be getting stronger.

Barbell Hip Bridge
Muscles Worked

Primary: Gluteus Maximus, Erector Spinae.

Secondary: ObliquesQuadriceps, Rectus Abdominis, and Hamstring.

Execution Technique
  1. Lie supine (on your back) under a loaded barbell and position the bar so that it is over your hips.
  2. Grip the barbell to keep it in place, and flex both knees to plant both feet flat on the floor.
  3. Exhale as you raise the barbell off the floor by fully extending your hips.
  4. At the top of the movement, squeeze your glutes and hold for a count of two.
  5. Inhale as you slowly lower the barbell back to the floor.
  6. Repeat for the prescribed number of repetitions


  • Do not push with your arms.
  • Don’t overextend your back during the exercises, this may cause lower back pain.

14. Barbell Standing Calf Raise

The barbell standing calf raise is a machine-based exercise targeting the muscles of the calves, particularly the gastrocnemius or upper calf muscle.

It is usually performed for moderate to high reps, such as 12-20 reps per set or more, as part of the lower body portion of a workout. Must add this calf exercise in your barbell leg workout arsenal.

Barbell Standing Calf Raise
Muscles Worked

Primary: Gastrocnemius.

Secondary: Soleus.

Execution Technique
  1. Stand upright with a barbell supported on your upper back.
  2.  Hold the barbell with both hands facing forward.
  3. Push off the balls of your feet to raise your heels as high as possible. Make sure to flex your calf at the top of the contraction. Hold the contracted position for a second.
  4. Breathe in as you return to the starting position by lowering your heels.  
  5. Repeat the desired the repetitions.
  • Your knees should remain extended.
  • Don’t let your heels touch the floor throughout the set.
  • Use the maximum range of motion by allowing your heels to drop as far as possible and then raising them as high as possible.

15. Barbell Seated Calf Raise

Finally, if you’re looking for one more effective leg workout, try the barbell Seated Calf Raise.

The Barbell seated calf raise is a one of the best strength-gaining exercise that targets your calf muscles and accelerates their growth.

It specifically activates and stresses the soleus calf muscle, and so the exercise is best performed by maintaining an angle of 90 degrees at the knees.

Barbell Seated Calf Raise
Muscles Worked

Primary: Soleus.

Secondary: Gastrocnemius.

Execution Technique
  1. Sit on the end of a bench, chair, or anything similar and place the barbell on the end of your thighs near your knee but not on your knee, of course. 
  2. Sit up straight and place the top half of your feet or balls of your feet on the elevated object so that your heels are hanging off. 
  3. Lower your heels just until you feel a decent stretch in your calves, and then flex your calf muscle to lift your heels as high as you can. Squeeze and hold for a second. 
  4. Lower your heels back down and repeat. 
  • Do the reps in a controlled way and limit momentum at the top of the movement.
  • Use the maximum range of motion by allowing your heels to drop as far as possible and then raising them as high as possible.


If you’re a beginner or need to strengthen your legs, use the barbell without any weights.  As you improve, or if you’re already advanced, add additional weight, so you can increase the intensity. 

These barbell leg exercises and Workouts are hard to beat!  A strong lower body is important for your overall health and fitness, so be sure to never skip a leg day! 

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