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Leg and arm workouts: Exercise ideas for your biceps and lower body

Blast your bis and thigs with these trainer-made leg and arm workouts.
Written By  James Jackson
Last Updated on 13th August 2021
A man doing some leg and arm workouts

The biceps muscles, commonly called the biceps brachii, are an excellent body part to train with your legs because the muscles don't interfere with each other.

Some coaches also believe that training your legs with your upper body will actually make the likes of your biceps and triceps grow faster since, they claim, squats and other such compound leg exercises produce a significant amount of growth hormone.

We'll see if this claim stands up to scrutiny a bit later on.

In the meantime, you can check out our trainer-designed leg and bicep workout routines. There are programs for various types of goals, as well as workouts that cater to different equipment availabilities in case you can't get to the gym.

The 5 best exercises for arms and legs

Just before we get into the actual leg and arm workouts, let's take a look at the individual exercises that make up the routines. This way, you'll be able to achieve the best possible results by performing each movement with the optimal muscle-building form.

1. Squat to bicep curl

A man performing a squat bicep curl

The squat to bicep curl is a challenging exercise for your biceps and legs that provides phenomenal muscular stimulation and a good cardio workout to boot.

With just a simple pair of dumbbells, you can take full advantage of the squat curl to get your bis and thighs burning without even going to the gym.

You can also intensify this already effective exercise by performing a bicep curl (or multiple bicep curls) at the bottom of your squat to place an additional isometric challenge on your quadriceps.

  1. Hold a pair of dumbbells by your sides with a neutral grip.
  2. Squat as low as you comfortably can.
  3. Push yourself back up using your legs and glutes (keep your back flat).
  4. Perform a bicep curl once your knees are fully locked out.
  5. Squat down again and repeat for 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps.

2. Squat curl press

Man performing a dumbbell squat curl press exercise

If you want to improve your cardiovascular fitness and strengthen your entire body in the process, then make sure to include the dumbbell squat curl to press in your next arm and leg workout.

This unconventional, calorie-burning exercise trains your glutes, quadriceps, deltoids, triceps, biceps, forearms, abs, and spinal erectors in one fell swoop. It's practically the most efficient muscle-building movement that you can do in the gym (or in your living room, for that matter).

  1. Hold a pair of weights by your sides with a neutral grip.
  2. Squat down as deep as you comfortably can.
  3. Once you feel a good stretch in your glutes and quads, push yourself back up until your knees are locked out.
  4. Perform a bicep curl by lifting the weights toward your shoulders.
  5. As your forearms push up against your biceps at the top of the curl, press the weights over your head.
  6. Once your elbows are locked out overhead, reverse the motion by lowing the dumbbells first to your shoulders and then back to your sides.
  7. Repeat for 3-5 sets of 6-12 reps.

3. Lunge curl

Man performing a dumbbell walking lunge with biceps curl

The lunge curl makes an excellent addition to any legs and arms workout because it enables you to develop better lower body symmetry by training each leg separately.

This is significant because if there's one area that's prone to muscular imbalances, it's the legs in general and the quads in particular.

Moreover, because this effective exercise is also remarkably simple, you can perform it at home with just a basic pair of weights and a spare 5-10 minutes.

  1. Hold a pair of weights by your sides with a neutral grip.
  2. Take a big (but not excessive) step forward with one leg and then lower your hips and the knee of your back leg toward the ground.
  3. Perform a supinated bicep curl while you're in the lunge position—curl the weights toward your shoulders while keeping your elbows still.
  4. Push yourself back up so that your feet are now together.
  5. Do the same with your other leg and perform 6-10 reps per side.

4. Dead curl press

A man performing a dumbbell dead curl press

If you want to save time by working as many muscles as possible in the same exercise, then make sure to include the barbell dead curl press in your leg and arms workout.

This fat-blasting movement burns a ton of calories and gets your heart pumping, which naturally makes it great for losing weight and improving your body composition.

Try and perform your reps as explosively as possible so that you can stimulate the broadest possible variety of (especially fast-twitch) muscle fibers. This approach will help to promote lean muscle growth so that you can sculpt a toned physique—not just a skinny body.

  1. Load a light weight onto a barbell.
  2. Stand in front of the barbell with your feet about hip-width apart and your shins almost touching the bar.
  3. Grab the bar with an underhand grip just inside shoulder width.
  4. Push your hips back while keeping your chest up and your spine flat.
  5. Push through the floor and deadlift the barbell off the ground.
  6. As the bar comes up your shins, thrust your hips forward while driving your chest up and back.
  7. Curl the bar toward your shoulders once you've completed the deadlift by locking your hips out (squeeze those glutes).
  8. Then press the bar straight over your head (as explosively as possible) until your elbows reach full extension.
  9. Reverse the motion and repeat for 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps.

5. Reverse lunge curl

Man doing a reverse lunge with bicep curl

Grow your glutes and build your biceps by performing reverse lunges with a bicep curl.

This dynamic, unilateral exercise is similar to the regular lunge curl; the difference is that the reverse variation emphasizes the glutes over the quads.

As such, when you're doing an exercise for arms and legs, it's essential to think of the individual muscles (hamstrings, glutes, calves, etc.) that make up those two body parts because the most optimal exercise for your thighs isn't necessarily the best glute-builder and vice versa.

The reverse lunge curl is great for building the legs as a whole, but it's undoubtedly a glute-dominant exercise.

  1. Hold a pair of dumbbells by your sides with a neutral grip.
  2. Lunge backward until the knee of your back leg touches the floor.
  3. Press through your front leg to push yourself back up.
  4. Perform a bicep curl at the top of the rep (once your knees are locked out), and then repeat the movement with your other leg.
  5. Perform 3-5 sets of 6-10 reps per side.

Leg and arm workouts

Now that you've seen the most effective leg and arm exercises for building muscle, it's time to piece the individual movements together into full routines so that you can start enjoying the results.

Hypertrophy-focused leg and arm workout

A man performing a leg and arm workout

1: Barbell squat — 3-5 sets of 6-8 reps

2: Romanian deadlift —3-5 sets of 6-8 reps

3A: Leg extension — 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps

3B: Hamstring curl — 3-4 sets of 10-15 reps

4: Standing calf raise — 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps

5A: Wide grip standing barbell curl — 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps

5B: Lying tricep extension — 3-5 sets of 10-12 reps

6: Bayesian bicep cable curl — 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps

7: One-arm pushdown — 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps

8: Hammer kettlebell curl — 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps

This 10-exercise, high-volume leg and arms workout will challenge even the most hardcore of bodybuilders. If you're cutting or don't have the work capacity to perform the routine in one go, then you can split the session into AM and PM workouts without affecting your results in any way.

In fact, splitting the workout into two may lead to better results because you'll be fresher and, most likely, stronger for the second set of exercises.

We implement paired sets where possible to save time and where there’s no interference. For example, leg extensions and legs curls train opposing muscle groups, so there's no interference on the muscular level.

However, squats and RDLs both work the glutes intensely, so it's not possible to pair them together without weakening yourself on your subsequent sets. And besides, if you're even remotely strong, then there's no way that you can perform heavy compound exercises in a back-to-back fashion without suffering some kind of strength loss or severe repetition drop-off.

Bodybuilding legs and biceps workout

A man doing exercise for his arms and legs

1: Hack squat — 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps

2: Leg press — 3-5 sets of 12-15 reps

3: Romanian deadlift — 3-5 sets of 8-10 reps

4A: Leg extension — 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps

4B: Seated leg curl — 3-4 sets of 12-15 reps

5: Narrow grip preacher curls — 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps

6: Behind the neck cable curl — 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps

7: Hammer rope cable curls — 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps

This 8-exercise legs and biceps workout focuses on isolating each body part as much as possible so that you can maximize your muscle hypertrophy.

For example, with hack squats, you don't need to balance a bar on your back or stabilize your core as much, so you can focus purely on building your quads.

Likewise, with preacher curls, you can't swing the weight up because your arms are braced against the pad, so your biceps have to handle all of the tension by themselves.

We've programmed the lower body exercises first because most people have better bicep development than they do leg development. But if your biceps are genuinely lagging, or if they're simply a big priority for you, then there's no harm in training your bis before your legs, providing, of course, that you don't get tempted to skip the lower body portion of this leg and arm workout.

Time-saving arm and leg workout

A man performing a legs and biceps workout

1: Squat curl press — 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

2: Lunge curl — 3 sets of 6-8 reps (per leg)

3: Reverse lunge tricep extension — 3 sets of 6-8 reps (per leg)

4: Dead curl press — 3 sets of 8-12 reps

Save time and get toned anywhere with this convenient leg and arms workout.

This routine requires nothing more than a pair of dumbbells and about 20-30 minutes of your time, depending on how many sets you do.

The routine kicks off with the squat curl press, which is an excellent exercise for legs and arms because it works so many muscles in one simple movement.

Then it's onto the two lunge variations to sculpt symmetrical legs and toned arms. The first lunge focuses on your thighs and bis, while the second type emphasizes your glutes and triceps. So you’re getting a full-body workout here.

The dead curl press is your final test and one which will challenge your cardiovascular system almost as much as your muscles. It's a great exercise for increasing your calorie expenditure at the end of your leg and arm workouts because it targets virtually every muscle in your body.

Can you train legs and biceps on the same day?

A man training his legs and biceps on the same day

Yes, it’s completely possible to train your legs and biceps on the same day. The real question is, should you?

While the majority of exercises for arms and legs don't interfere with each other, it can be very difficult to put forth the effort to train your biceps properly after a challenging leg workout.

So if you're lifting with muscle hypertrophy in mind, then you're probably better of working your legs and biceps on different days of the week, or at the very least splitting the exercises into separate Am and PM sessions.

Of course, if you just generally want to become stronger and/or more muscular, then you can absolutely train your legs and biceps on the same day. This is because you won't be doing as many sets and exercises as a bodybuilder who works their muscles from every conceivable angle.

Additionally, while squats and other such compound leg exercises indeed produce more growth hormone than isolation drills, this hormonal environment alone isn’t enough to make your arms grow without direct training; hypertrophy is a local process.

Conclusion: Which leg and arms workout is the most effective?

As you might have guessed by now, there's no one magical arms and legs workout that's best for everyone; the optimal workout for you comes down to your training goals, commitment level, and equipment availability.

For example, someone seeking to maximize their muscle growth will need to perform higher training volumes by doing more sets and extra exercises.

They would also need to train their arms and legs separately because full-body movements, such as the squat curl press, don't maximize lower body hypertrophy since you can squat far more than you can bicep curl.

On the other hand, if you just want to get yourself in better shape, then performing leg and arm workouts is a great idea because they're highly effective for burning calories and thus helping you develop a leaner physique.

Moreover, you can create hybrid exercises (like the squat curl or lunge tricep extension, for example) to save time, increase your training intensity, and supercharge your calorie burn.

James Jackson
James Jackson is a personal trainer who uses his expertise in strength and conditioning to create helpful workout tutorials that show fitness enthusiasts how to build muscle while staying safe in the gym. He draws on the latest sports science data as well as tried and tested training techniques to get the best results for his clients without them having to live in the gym.
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