Without-doubt, Squats are the most comprehensive leg building exercise - avoid squats at your peril. I've overheard many excuses for not performing squats, but the truth of the matter is, if you have no pre-existing injury (e.g. knees or back), squats will greatly improve the strength of stabilising muscles and reduce the risk of injury. Even in many circumstances of injury, squats are included as part of rehabilitation. A case in point, I train a lovely lady that has Spina Bifida (split spine) and suffers paralysis of her feet and buttocks and has two replacement knee joints. Squats (hack squats with a swiss ball) were on the menu for her rehabilitation and they've helped improve her quality of life dramatically!
There's many variations of Squats. If you suffer from shoulder discomfort when performing them (i.e. through shoulder reconstruction), try using a Safety Squat Bar or perform Leg Blaster Squats. If you have lower back problems, try Hip Belt Squats (taking your lower back out of the equation). If you have Achilles Tendon issues, you may find Hack Squats more comfortable. Knee complaints, again, try Hack Squats - this time on a Smith Machine with Chains.
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