For many strength athletes, the training day for the legs is an important component of their training program. They love it when the blood is pressed into the thighs with the leg curls. We hope that you can learn more about the anatomy and physiology of the leg muscles with the following text. The leg muscles are divided into the following four major muscle groups:

  • calves
  • long seatbone muscle
  • gluteus
  • Quadriceps muscle

If you want to do a successful weight training for the legs, then you should know about the functions of each muscle exactly. This helps you to train the individual muscle groups intensively and effectively.

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1. The anatomy of the gluteus muscle

The gluteus muscle group consists of three so-called gluteus muscles, which consist of the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. The muscles of the torso and pelvic areas of the ilobostalis lumborum, multifidus and quadratus lumborum or iliopsoa are also responsible for the outward appearance of the buttocks, depending on the presence of adipose tissue. The effects of the large gluteus muscle on the various processes of movement of the femur in the hip joint are important and should therefore also be considered in the functions for the leg movements. The gluteus maximus is responsible for the extension of the hip joint and the upper body in humans. These functions are especially needed when getting up from sitting. The gluteus muscle also plays an important role as an abductor and adductor, as the upper part of the muscle supports the insertion of the thigh and additionally tightens the fascia of the outer thigh.

2. The anatomy of the quadriceps muscle

The quadriceps femoris muscle is a four-headed thigh muscle, one of the strongest and largest muscles in humans. He is responsible for the appearance of the front of the thigh and consists of the following muscles: Musculus rectus femoris, Musculus vastus medialis, Musculus vastus lateralis and the Musculus vastus intermedius. The quadriceps is the only muscle responsible for the extension of the knee joint. It is therefore the most important muscle for all movements that require an extension of the knee. Knee extensions are necessary, for example, when walking, climbing stairs or moving out of the squat. Since it creates a muscle tension when standing, it prevents buckling of the knee joint. The vastus medialis muscle is responsible for internal rotation and the vastus lateralis muscle for external rotation of the knee joint.

3. The anatomy of the long ischial muscle (Hamstring)

The long seatbone muscle is also known as the buttock muscle or hamstring and forms the muscle group located at the back dorsal to the thigh muscles. This back thigh muscle group consists of the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus muscles. The main functions of this muscle group consists of the hip extension and the knee. Especially in sports activities such as running or cycling an extension of the knee joint in the movement phase is generated by the long seat leg muscle. In cycling, especially the biceps femoris muscle takes over the movement that is important for the pressure on the pedals.

4. The anatomy of the calf

The calf or gastrocnemius muscle is a group of muscles consisting of the three muscles, the gastrocnemius muscle, soleus muscle and the plantar plantar muscle.

  • Gastrocnemius muscle

The two-headed gastrocnemius muscle originates at the distal femur, limits the popliteal fossa and radiates with its tendon fibers to the Achilles tendon.

  • Soleus muscle

The soleus muscle, also called the soleus muscle, lies beneath the gastrocnemius muscle and swells laterally below it. Its tendon fibers also radiate along with the fibers of the gastrocnemius muscle into the Achilles tendon.

  • Plantaris

The plantaris has its origin in the femur and in the joint capsule of the knee joint. Its tendon fibers radiate into the soleus muscle as well as into the Achilles tendon. Since the gastrocnemius muscle can act on two joints, it is responsible for many important functions such as the flexion of the foot and knee joint. Its main function, however, is to bend the foot downwards. This movement of the foot is required, for example, when walking, running, jumping or cycling. Especially in the transmission of power to the ball of the foot, the gastrocnemius muscle has a balancing and stabilizing effect.


The knowledge of the anatomy of the individual muscle groups can signifi- cantly benefit training athletes and bodybuilders. If you know exactly how your legs work and what muscles they are made of, then you can effectively and specifically put together your leg exercise program. The legs are crucial for stabilizing the body and overall posture. Furthermore, they provide an overall aesthetic impression, because what good is a huge breast, if you have only very thin legs for your posing available.

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