Lower body is my absolute fave of all workouts. I’ll survive an abs and upper body workout with the trusted dumbbells I just got, after reeading it’s reviews on https://dumbbellsreview.com/ironmaster-adjustable-dumbbells-review/, but I actually enjoy working out my lower body. Do any of you feel that way? What’s your fave type of workout?
I’m also loving resistance workouts right now, especially with weights. It’s probably because I’ve been training for a half marathon (one month left to go – yay!) and I’m super over cardio. DONE with it! But….I love it. Wait, what?
Anyway, cardio is great and so good for our hearts, so that will always be a must in workout routines. But I’ve seen the most change and results in my body since I’ve started taking crazy bulk dbal and lifting weights! So we’re doing this, friends!
For this workout I used these 9lb weights, but be sure to use a weight that’s challenging (and not too heavy) for your routine. I also love these adjustable weights for workouts like this At-Home Lower Body Workout!
Also, check out the At-Home Upper Body Workout and this 7-Minute Abs routine to complete your workout regime!
- 1. Goblet Squat
- 2. Banded Lateral Walk
- 3. Single-Leg Deadlift
- 4. Sumo Deadlift
- 5. Staggered-Stance Deadlift
- 6. Lateral Lunge
- 7. Thruster
- 8. Suitcase Deadlift
- 9. Bulgarian Split Squat
- 10. Sumo Squat
- 11. Banded Hip Thruster
- 12. Calf Raise
- 13. Reverse Lunge
- 14. Good Morning
- 15. Prisoner Walk
- 16. Curtsy Lunge
- 17. Step Up
- 18. Pistol Squat
- 19. Mini Band Step Out With Leg Lift
- 20. Mini Band Clamshells
- 21. Mini Band Kickback
- 22. Lying Lateral Leg Raise
- 23. Rainbow Kick
- 24. Glute Bridge
- 25. Single-Leg Glute Bridge
- Lower Body Toning Workout
- Low Lunge Leg Taps
- Lunge Glute Raises
- Sumo Pulses with Heel Lift
- Curtsy Lunge Raises
- Tone Lower Body
- Appropriate Fitness Routine for Lower Body Toning
- General Facts About Spot Toning
- Exercises to Tone Your Lower Body
- Introducing our breakthrough plan
- 1. Horse Pose Plié
- 2. Horse Pose with Heels Lifted
- 3. Starfish
- 4. Carousel Horse
- 5. Narrow Athletic V
- 6. Narrow Athletic V Twist
- 7. Sumo Squat
- 8. Power Leg
- 9. Standing Leg Lift
- 10. Plank
- If you’re looking for lower body exercises that adds more size and symmetry to your lower body muscles, then you need to read this article.
- The Main Workout Goal
- Exercise 1 – Barbell Back Squats (Quadriceps Emphasis)
- Exercise 2 – Romanian Deadlifts (Hamstrings/Glutes Emphasis)
- Exercise 3 – Bulgarian Split Squats (Quads/Hams/Glutes Emphasis)
- Exercise 4 – Glute Ham Raise (hamstring emphasis)
- Sample Lower Body Workout
- Leg Training for Women: The Complete Guide With Workouts
- Why Women Should Train Legs
- Anna McManamey on Strength Training
- Leg Exercises for Women
- Leg Workouts for Women
- Get a Leg Up
Start with feel shoulder width apart, a weight in each hand. Raise weights above shoulders, keep back straight and head raised. Slowly lower into a squat (as if you’re sitting into a chair), then slowly return to starting position.
2.) Alternating Lunges
Start with right foot forward and left foot behind, keeping legs straight. Place a weight in each hand and place arms by your side. Bending both knees, slowly lower down until each leg is bent to about a 90 degree angle. Slowly return to starting position and switch legs.
Stand with feet together, a weight in each hand, and arms in front of legs. Keeping back straight, slowly lower the weights down. Return to starting position. This exercise might be one of the most strenous on the list, and you might feel undulating pain in your spine. But if you are a guy and were to Go here to buy official VigRX Plus, you’d find your testosterone levels surging, pushing up your threshold for pain.
4.) Sumo Squats
Start with feet wider than shoulder width apart. With a weight in each hand, raise arms above the shoulders and keep back straight. Slowly lower into a sumo squat, then slowly return to starting position.
5.) Raised Leg Lunges
Start with right foot forward and left food raised behind you on a chair or step. Place a weight in each hand and place arms by your side. Bending your right knee, lower down to a 90 degree angle (keeping knee from going in front of your toes). Raise back up to starting position and repeat.
Lay down on your back, bring feet close to your body. Engaging the gluten, raise hips towards the ceiling, then lower back down and repeat.
7.) Crossover Donkey Kicks
Starting out on hands and knees, lift one leg to a 90 degree angle. Engaging the glute, bring leg down and across the opposite leg. Raise and return to a 90 degree angle.
8.) External Calf Raises
Start with legs together and turn feet outward, 45 degrees. Engaging the outer thighs, lift up on to your toes. Return to starting position and repeat.
9.) Internal Calf Raises
Start with legs together and turn feet inward, 45 degrees. Engaging the inner thighs, lift up on to your toes. Return to starting position and repeat.
Disclaimer: It is important that you consult your doctor before starting new fitness regimes. By doing this workout, you are participating at your own risk. Modify the workout to fit your body’s needs and remember to listen to your body!
ICYMI: Working out your legs is super-important—beyond just looking awesome. They’re literally what keep you moving all day, so building strength in your lower half (yes, butt included) is crucial.
Unfortunately, too many people neglect leg day (a) because they think they’re already working their legs all day, especially if they’re doing workouts like running or biking and (b) because the leg muscles are so large to begin with, it takes longer to see results. Don’t do that! You should be doing exercises that target your legs at least once a week.
Start working three or four of these moves into your workout routine, and switching things up every couple of weeks. You may not see the difference right away, but you’ll definitely feel it—and if you keep at it, you’ll definitely start to notice more definition in your legs over time.
1. Goblet Squat
How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a kettlebell in front of chest, elbows pointing toward the floor. Push hips back and bend knees to lower into a squat. Push yourself back to start. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.
2. Banded Lateral Walk
How to: Place a mini resistance band a few inches above ankles, and stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Maintaining a tight core, step left foot out to the side, followed by right. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 10 steps in each direction.
3. Single-Leg Deadlift
How to: Holding a dumbbell in either hand, stand on left leg with palms facing toward thighs. Keep left leg slightly bent while hinging forward at hips, extending right leg straight behind you, until torso is parallel to the floor. Dumbbells should be lowered straight down as you move until they’re almost touching the floor. Drive into left heel to return to standing. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 reps on each side.
4. Sumo Deadlift
How to: Holding two kettlebells or dumbbells, stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed out. Position weights in front of thighs, palms facing in. Keeping knees slightly bent, press hips back as you hinge at the waist and lower the weights toward the floor. Squeeze glutes to return to standing. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.
5. Staggered-Stance Deadlift
How to: Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in left hand in front of thigh, with right hand in fist held to the right of body. Stagger legs, stepping left foot back and right foot forward. Left heel should be lifted a few inches off the ground. Push hips back as you hinge forward, lowering the weight while keeping it close to left leg. Once hips reach 90 degrees, return to start. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 reps on each side.
6. Lateral Lunge
How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a weight in each hand so they hang down toward the ground. Take a big step to the side with right leg, pushing hips back, bending right knee, and lowering body until right knee is bent 90 degrees and weights are framing right foot. Do this slowly and with control; it should take about two seconds. Push back to start. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 on each side.
How to: Hold dumbbells in either hand next to shoulders, palms facing each other. Stand tall with feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping torso as upright as possible throughout the entire movement, lower body until the tops of thighs are parallel to the floor. Push body back to standing position as you press the dumbbells directly over shoulders. Lower the dumbbells back to starting position. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.
8. Suitcase Deadlift
How to: Hold dumbbell with left hand, feet shoulder-width apart and right hand clenched in fist. Keeping abs engaged and knees soft, sit hips back to slowly lower dumbbells until it reaches middle of left shin. Back should be parallel to the floor. Pressing through heels and engaging abs, quickly return to start. Squeeze glutes once you’re completely upright. That’s one rep. Do 10 reps, then switch arms and repeat.
9. Bulgarian Split Squat
How to: Start standing about two feet in front of a step, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Extend left leg back and place left foot on step. Bend knees to lower body as far as you can (or until knee hovers right above the ground), keeping shoulders back and chest up. Pause, then press through right heel to return to start. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.
10. Sumo Squat
How to: Stand with heels shoulder-distance apart, then turn toes open slightly. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in front of hips. Bend knees, reaching hips back, and lower down into a squat. Allow arms to hang so that the weight remains under shoulders. Lower until hips are slightly below the level of knees. Pause at the bottom for two seconds, then drive into heels to return to standing. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.
11. Banded Hip Thruster
How to: Lie on the floor with a resistance band around both legs, positioned just below knees. With chin tucked in, push up through hips to lift bum off floor. Clench bum at the top, and open, then close legs. Shoulders, hips and knees should be in a straight line. Lower back down in a slow, controlled movement. Do 3 sets of 15 reps on each side.
12. Calf Raise
How to: Start standing, feet slightly wider than hips-width apart. With a long, tall spine and abs drawn inward, rise up onto the balls of feet with knees straight but not locked. Pause at the top, and squeeze calf muscles. Lower back down with control. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 15 reps on each side.
13. Reverse Lunge
How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart, and hold dumbbells in either hand at sides. Step back with right leg and bend both knees as you lower until knees are both bent at 90-degree angles. Push through left foot to stand, then repeat on the other side. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 reps on each side.
14. Good Morning
How to do it: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell with both hands behind tailbone. Keeping knees slightly bent and torso straight, slowly bend from hips until upper body is parallel to the floor. Hold for 5 seconds and return to start. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.
15. Prisoner Walk
How to: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, and cross hands in front of chest. Slowly sit hips back and down into a half squat position. Keeping hips stable, lower right knee down to the ground, followed by left. Bring right foot forward, followed by left, and return to half-squat position. That’s one rep. Complete 3 sets of 12 reps.
16. Curtsy Lunge
How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Take a big step back with right leg, crossing it behind left side at the same time. Bend knees and lower hips until left thigh is nearly parallel to the floor. Keep torso upright and hips and shoulders as square as possible. Return to start. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 on each side.
17. Step Up
How to: Start standing facing a box or step, holding dumbbells in front of chest. Place left foot on the bench and right foot on the floor. Pushing through left foot, lift body up until you’re standing on top of the bench. Drive right knee up until it forms a 90-degree angle. Pause, then return to start. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 reps on each side.
18. Pistol Squat
How to do it: Start standing with feet hip-distance apart. Lift right leg while sitting hips back and bending left knee, bringing body as low as possible while keeping torso upright. Arms can be held out in front of chest or out to sides for balance. Driving through left heel, stand up to return to start. Repeat on the other side. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 reps on each side.
19. Mini Band Step Out With Leg Lift
How to: Place band just above ankles and stand with feet hip-width apart. Engage core, bend knees slightly, and hinge forward at the hips a bit. Then side step once with right leg, bring right leg back in, and lift right leg out to the side and back in. That’s one rep. Do 20 reps, alternating sides.
20. Mini Band Clamshells
How to do it: Lie on right side with knees bent. Place mini resistance band around thighs, just above knees. Place left hand on left hip and form a 90 degree angle with right arm to prop yourself up and remain stable. Working against the band, squeeze glutes and thigh muscles to press left thigh up as far as you can. Then slowly bring left thigh back to starting position. This is one rep. Do 10 reps on each side.
21. Mini Band Kickback
How to: Get on hands and knees. Put one end of mini band around right foot and position the other end on left thigh, just above knee. While keeping abs tight, contract glutes to slowly kick right leg back until it’s straight. At full extension, squeeze glutes for a second. Slowly bring it back down. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 15 reps on each side.
22. Lying Lateral Leg Raise
How to: Lie on right side, resting right elbow on ground just below right shoulder, and placing left hand on the floor in front of chest for stability. Right leg should be straight on the ground, and left leg should be bent over right leg. Without moving any other part of body, slowly raise right leg as high as you can. Pause, then return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 reps on each side.
23. Rainbow Kick
How to: Start on all fours, hips directly over knees and shoulders directly over wrists. Keeping spine neutral and core engaged, straighten right leg out to the side or at a 45-degree angle, so the tips of toes are just above the ground. Lift right leg up and around in a rainbow arc behind you, bringing toes near the ground on the other side of left leg, then come back to starting position. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 15 reps on each side.
24. Glute Bridge
How to: Lie on back with knees bent, feet on the floor 12 to 16 inches from butt. Brace core, then press into heels and squeeze glutes to raise hips toward the ceiling. Hold the position for two seconds before lowering to start. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.
25. Single-Leg Glute Bridge
How to: Lie on back with arms out to sides, knees bent, and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Lift left leg straight to point to ceiling with foot flexed. Squeeze glutes to lift hips evenly off the floor, then lower. That’s one rep. Do 3 sets of 12 reps on each side.
Ashley Mateo Ashley Mateo is a writer, editor, and UESCA-certified running coach who has contributed to Runner’s World, Bicycling, Women’s Health, Health, Shape, Self, and more.
Whether you want to increase your sports performance, lose weight, or just make everyday movement easier, strengthening your lower body is key. “Your legs are the wheels that carry you through the day, so you want them to be strong,” says Gerren Liles, one of the founding trainers of MIRROR, a full-length mirror that streams 50+ live workouts each week and has an extensive library of on-demand workouts.
Many people call your core your foundation of strength, but Liles says your legs are its support center because your muscles work in tandem with each other to complete a movement. “When you’re training with certain leg exercises, proper form requires things like core engagement to ensure safe and full range of motion. For example, when doing a deadlift, activating your abs is key to protecting your lower back and keeping your spine safe,” he explains.
So how many times should you work out your legs? Liles recommends doing leg workouts three to five times a week, depending on your combination of strength, conditioning, and other modalities. “Your legs will often get quite the workout, whether it’s through pure strength training or in a variety of formats, like HIIT, yoga, and barre,” Liles says. However, he doesn’t recommend doing the same type of leg exercises on back-to-back days, like doing deadlifts today and tomorrow. “You want to give them at least a day to recover and rebuild the muscle fibers from lifting,” he says.
From your butt to your thighs to your calves, this lower-body workout will hit every muscle in your bottom half—and then some. Do this lower-body workout designed by Liles at least three days a week.
Time: ~20 minutes
Reps: 6 to 12 reps for 3 to 5 rounds
Equipment: 1 heavy dumbbell, 1 pair of medium-heavy weights, a yoga mat, and a pair of gliders or small hand towels.
Apparel: ALO Yoga Unity 2-in-1 Shorts in Hunter/Dary Grey Marl, ALO Yoga Amplify Seamless Muscle Tank in Hunter Heather, and APL’s Men’s Techloom Breeze Knit Lace-Up Sneakers
THE workout of all workouts to sculpt your lower body in the best way possible! This lower body toning workout combines both weighted and body weight moves to shape your thighs, booty, calf muscles, and more. A simple, yet effective fitness circuit you can do anywhere.
Full instructions below.
I have never, ever known a woman that didn’t want killer legs and a perky booty. But I’ve known lots that didn’t want to kill themselves to get it- including myself 😉 You can run and stair-step and squat your way to a great lower half, but movements that truly challenge you, keep your body guessing, and use all sorts of different muscles in one single workout is the key to toning and sculpting everything waist-down.
This lower body toning workout is fun, it’s different, it’s challenging. So grab a few heavy weights (I used 10 pound hand weights), or no weights at all! Let’s get started with this lower body toning workout!
Lower Body Toning Workout
Grab two heavy weights and start with your feet hip-distance apart. Bend your knees to lower yourself down (pushing your booty back and making sure your knees don’t extent past your toes). Give yourself two counts to reach your lowest possible squat position, then two counts to come back to standing, pausing for just a split second for each count. Do this for 15-20 repetitions.
Low Lunge Leg Taps
Step your right foot behind your body into a backwards lunge (left knee bent) and lower down so your palms are bracing the ground (hands directly stacked beneath your shoulders). Keep your right leg extended as you gently tap your right foot out to the 45 degree angle, then across the midline of your body to the opposite 45 degree angle. Continue this side-to-side tap for 15-20 repetitions (both side taps count as one). Then do the same thing on the other leg for 15-20 repetitions.
Lunge Glute Raises
Stand upright and place your hands in a prayer position, directly in front of your chest. Step back with your right leg and sink into a low lunge position. Next, swiftly lift your right leg off the ground (still behind your body), keeping a slight bend in your left knee while your right leg is elevated and fully extended. Squeeze your booty at the top, then place your right leg back down and return to the lunge position. Do this for 15-20 repetitions, then switch legs.
Sumo Pulses with Heel Lift
Stand with your feet wide apart, toes facing outward and knees stacked directly above your ankles. Bend your knees to lower your body and place your hands in prayer in front of your chest. Lift your right heel off the ground and stay on the ball of your foot as you gently press your body even lower to the ground. Next, lift your upper body a few inches then back down as you switch feet, alternating the heel lift every time you pulse downwards. Do this for 15-20 repetitions, counting both the right and left heel lift as one.
Curtsy Lunge Raises
Grab one heavy weight and hold it directly in front of your chest. Step your left foot behind and across your body and lower down. Hold the weight in front of your chest the entire time as you extend your legs and sweep the right leg up and out to the side, bending at the knee. Lower your right leg back down and across your body to the curtsy luge. Do this for 15-20 repetitions then switch legs.
YOU DID IT! Fab job – now time to repeat. Do this 3-4 rounds of this lower body toning workout, adding or subtracting the amount of repetitions as your fitness level allows.
Beginner? Start with 10-12 reps instead of 15-20.
Be sure to share this with a friend or two that needs a great sweat session you can do anywhere. Love workouts just like this? Then you have to check out this 30 Minute Home HIIT Workout, 50 Pyramid Workout, Garage Total Body Circuit with Dumbbells, Summer Workout Series: Total Body Tone, or the Sculpted Barre Arms Workout!
Tone Lower Body
Individuals often define their personal fitness goals to include toning, reshaping, and losing weight from the lower portions of the body. One of the primary reasons most people cite for toning the lower body is physical appearance.
Most individuals do not feel comfortable (both physically and mentally) having excess fat on the buttocks, legs and thighs, and toning these areas can have a very positive effect on self-esteem, motivation and overall mental well-being.
While spot-specific exercise routines can be difficult, they do have the ability to promote the most efficient and visually apparent results. For this reason, you will want to regularly perform various exercises that specifically target the muscle groups of the lower body.
Toning, reducing inches and losing weight in the lower portion of the body can be very challenging for many individuals, as there are several factors that contribute to the bodily characteristics of each individual. For example, genetics, activity level, dietary habits and even hormonal factors all play a role in an individual’s lower body characteristics.
This being said, setting fitness goals for the lower portions of the body should be centered around a solid fitness routine (both cardiovascular and strength training) and a nutritionally-balanced, calorie-conscious dietary regime.
Appropriate Fitness Routine for Lower Body Toning
A proper lower body fitness routine should include a variety of cardiovascular activities. Cardiovascular activities are designed to elevate an individual’s heart rate to their target heart rate, and thereafter maintain that heart rate for a minimum of 20 consecutive minutes.
Cardiovascular exercises are an excellent way to burn calories and facilitate weight loss. When choosing cardiovascular activities, it is best to choose exercises that you enjoy or have always wanted to try. By doing so, the probability of performing the exercises on a regular basis will improve, and your motivation will remain at a higher level.
Examples of exercises that could be added to a cardiovascular exercise routine are running, brisk walking, swimming, biking, aerobics classes, various sports (i.e. basketball, tennis, soccer) and various cardiovascular equipment (i.e. treadmills, stair climbers, ellipticals).
In addition to a cardiovascular fitness routine, a strength training routine should be considered as well. There are several health and fitness benefits that are only derived from strength training.
For example, strength training increases an individual’s metabolic rate (rate at which their body burns calories), maintains bone density and improves structural strength. As stated earlier, there are many factors that contribute to improving tone, reducing fat and increasing lean muscle mass in the buttocks, legs and hips.
Whenever you train muscles in your lower body, remember to work opposing muscles and keep your movements relatively controlled. Developing tone, reducing excess body fat and increasing lean muscle mass in stages is one of the most effective ways to achieve long-term fitness goals.
In other words, setting strength, body weight, body measurement and muscle density gain milestones on a 1 to 3 month interval is an excellent approach to maintaining your workout schedule, achieving your personal fitness goals and maintaining a high level of motivation.
General Facts About Spot Toning
Spot toning a specific area for weight loss is actually not possible: When an individual exercises, their body will lose weight everywhere. However, as your body continues to shed excess body fat, certain areas will begin to slow in the amount of fat they lose while other areas with a higher density of body fat will continue at their previous rate.
The body determines where fat is eliminated: As an individual begins to lose weight, their body will determine the location where it will utilize fat stores and convert them to energy. As such, you can’t burn fat directly from your legs and buttocks simply by targeting those areas during exercise.
Prominent locations for the storage of fat: One of the first locations where noticeable gains in body fat can be seen is around the abdominals. Thereafter, body fat gains are typically observed in the thighs and hips.
Benefits of strength training: Strength training will increase an individual’s metabolism, and hence the number of calories their body burns on a daily basis. In addition, strength training will tone the muscle that is being exercised and possibly even increase the lean muscle mass of the specific muscle.
When spot training a specific part of your body, remember that resistance counts for more than just the number of repetitions. Therefore, 15 repetitions with high resistance will be far more valuable than performing 30-50 repetitions with moderate to low resistance.
The number of fat cells in a body are predetermined: When an individual loses body fat, they are not eliminating fat cells. The only way to decrease the number of fat cells in a body is through liposuction. In reality, the density of fat cells decreases as an individual loses weight. This is due to the body utilizing the fat stored within the fat cell as energy. Conversely, when an individual gains weight, their body does not manufacture more fat cells. Instead, it enlarges the ones that already exist. This fact is beneficial to understanding how toning works.
Combine global and targeted exercises: Many exercises work the glutes (buttocks) as a secondary muscle group. For instance, while squats work the quadriceps (rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, vastus medialis and vastus lateralisas) as the primary muscle groups, they also work the glutes. Many exercises designed to work other lower body muscle groups also work the glutes as well. Combine these types of exercises with targeted gluteals exercises to achieve even quicker results.
Remember, fat loss is determined by the body and cannot be body area-specific. On the other hand, increasing lean muscle mass is more a function of stressing a particular muscle or muscle group through high-resistance exercises and protein intake.
Always allow your muscles time to recover: It is important to always remember to allow your muscles the necessary time to recover before exercising them again. Virtually all muscle gains are obtained during rest, not during exercise. By not allowing your muscles the required time to recover, you will delay the achievement of your fitness goals and increase the risk of injury.
Exercises to Tone Your Lower Body
It is important to remember that to successfully tone the various areas of the lower body, cardiovascular and strength training exercises must be combined with a nutritious, healthy and low-fat diet. By doing so, each individual will not only increase the probability of achieving their optimum body weight, but also their personal fitness goals and overall good health as well. Remember, losing excess fat is the first step to toning a specific portion of the body. Finally, it is important to remember to exhale on the hard portion of each of the exercises listed below (concentric) and inhale on the easy portion of the exercise (eccentric).
Barbell Squats: Begin in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a barbell in both hands behind your head, resting the barbell on the upper section of your shoulders. Choose a weight approximately equal to 50% to 75% of your maximum (intensity). Bend your knees so that you lower your body into a squatting position. Lower your body until the top of your thighs to the front of your shins creates a 90 degree angle. As you lower down into the squat position, remember to keep your back straight and your head up. Perform 5 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions per set.
Single Leg Extensions: Lie face-up on a bench with your knees hanging off the end of the bench and the bottoms of your feet on the floor. Your knees should be at right angles. Let your arms hang naturally towards the floor. Extend your left leg (straighten your knee) so that it is parallel with the floor. Return it to the starting position. After performing all repetitions on your left leg, repeat the exercise with the right leg. Perform 4 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
Lying Leg Curls: Begin this exercise by lying on your stomach on the leg curl machine. Grasp the hand grips with your hands and place both of your ankles under the leg pads. Pull both ankles towards your lower back and then slowly return them to the starting position. Perform 3 sets of 10 to 12 repetitions.
Standing Outer Leg Lifts: You may use a railing or chair to maintain your balance for this exercise. Begin in a standing position with your feet together. Keeping your leg straight, raise your left leg out to your side until it is parallel with the floor. Return your left leg to the starting position. After performing all of your repetitions with your left leg, repeat this exercise with your right leg. This exercise is designed to work the outer thigh and hip muscles. Perform 3 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions.
Walking Dumbbell Lunges: Begin in a standing position with your feet about shoulder-width apart. While holding a dumbbell in each hand, place your left leg in front of you and bend at the knee until your right knee is almost touching the floor. Just as in the squat, your left knee should not extend past your left toe. Push yourself back up with the leg extended to the front to begin walking forward. After performing all of the repetitions with your left leg, repeat this exercise with the right leg being the leg that is being placed in front. Perform 3 to 5 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions per leg.
Dumbbell Lunges: The only difference between this type of lunge and the previous lunge (walking dumbbell lunges) is that you push yourself back up to the starting position with your front leg. Begin in a standing position with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Place your left leg in front of you and bend at the knee until your right knee is almost touching the floor. Just as in the squat, your left knee should not extend past your left toes. Push off with your left leg so that you return to the starting position. After performing all repetitions with your left leg stepping forward, repeat this exercise with your right leg placed in front. Perform 3 to 5 sets of 12 to 15 repetitions per leg.
Leg Extensions: Begin this exercise by sitting in the leg extension machine and grip the hand grips with both hands. Place both feet behind the ankle pads. Extend your legs so that you fully straighten both legs. Return to the starting position and repeat until you have completed the necessary number of repetitions. Perform 5 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
Barbell Stiff Leg Dead Lifts: Grip a barbell with both hands, shoulder-width apart, and hold it in front of your thighs with your arms fully extended. While keeping your legs straight, bend at your waist as you lower the barbell towards your toes. Return to the starting position while keeping your back fairly straight and repeat. Perform 3 to 5 sets of 8 to 12 repetitions.
It is important to remember that in order to tone, reduce excess body fat, increase lean muscle tissue, and muscle density in your lower body, you must incorporate cardiovascular exercises and strength training exercises into your fitness routine along with a healthy and well-balanced diet.
In addition, regularly including a strength training routine that focuses on moderately heavy weights at a reasonably low level of repetitions will increase lean muscle mass, muscle density, physical strength, and the rate at which your body burns calories.
Spot training (exercising specific muscle groups) is an excellent form of strength training and is effective at toning, reducing fat and increasing muscle density. Combining and adding these three approaches to your daily lifestyle will allow you to more rapidly achieve your personal fitness goals.
Introducing our breakthrough plan
Many of us have hang-ups about an area below the waist that we’d love to, well, actually love. And while we can’t promise you that this 10-minute workout will give you the twiggy thighs of a runway model (who really wants those anyway?), we can get you to your personal best, slimming inches off your hips, belly, butt, and thighs, with our new program developed by Barre3 founder Sadie Lincoln.
We tested the simple routine on 27 busy women, and every single one experienced a lower-body transformation. Legs became lithe and lean, hips and thighs shrank, and waists took shape. And after 8 weeks, the participants lost up to 18 pounds and 12 inches and ended the program feeling stronger, sexier, and more confident than ever.
“At first these exercises seem easy because there’s no impact on your joints, and the movements are small and controlled. But after a few reps, your lower body starts to heat up,” says Lincoln. “You’re barely moving, but your body is clearly burning fat and building muscle.”
Maximize each pose with Lincoln’s 3-step formula:
Step 1: Hold it
Every exercise starts with an isometric hold. This forces your muscle fibers to work extra hard to keep you stable.
Step 2: Move a little
Next, you’ll layer on small, 1-inch movements. By moving your body just an inch, you get even deeper into your muscles.
Step 3: Move a lot
Finally, you’ll do larger movements, such as a squat. This raises your heart rate, burns calories, and energizes your body.
1. Horse Pose Plié
Targets: inner thighs, butt, and core
Stand with feet more than hip-width apart, toes turned out to 2 and 10 o’clock, shoulders over hips. Bend knees and slide torso 6 inches down imaginary wall, bringing knees over ankles and in line with second toes (a). Hold for 5 breaths. Push feet down and straighten legs while sweeping arms out to sides and overhead (b), then return to starting position and immediately go into next rep. Do 15 reps.
2. Horse Pose with Heels Lifted
Targets: inner thighs, hips, calves, and core
Stand with feet more than hip-width apart, toes turned out to 2 and 10 o’clock, shoulders over hips, and abs tight. Bend knees and slide torso 6 inches down imaginary wall, bringing knees over ankles and in line with second toes. Place right hand on back of chair for balance. Lift heels off floor and press evenly through toes. Hold for 5 breaths. Keeping heels lifted, slowly lower hips 1 inch, then press into balls of feet and lift hips up 1 inch. Continue 1-inch movements for 30 reps.
Targets: inner thighs, hips, and waist
Stand with feet more than hip-width apart, toes turned out to 2 and 10 o’clock, shoulders over hips, and abs tight. Bend knees and slide torso 6 inches down imaginary wall, bringing knees over ankles and in line with second toes. Place right hand on back of chair and keep left arm low (a). This is the starting position. Hold for 5 breaths. Press into right foot and straighten right leg, extending left leg out to side and sweeping let arm overhead (b). Return to starting position, then immediately go into next rep. Do 15 reps on each side.
4. Carousel Horse
Targets: thighs, butt, and core
Rest hands lightly on back of chair, feet parallel and hip-width apart. Step back with left foot and bend both knees into a lunge and hold, with right knee over right ankle and left knee under left hip. Keep hips level and facing chair, core engaged, and shoulders directly over hips. Hold for 5 breaths. Lower back knee 1 inch toward floor, keeping front knee directly over ankle. Press feet into floor to lift up 1 inch. Continue 1-inch movements for 30 reps. Repeat on opposite side.
5. Narrow Athletic V
Targets: thighs, butt, and core
Stand with heels together and toes 3 to 4 inches apart, creating a V shape with feet. Press heels firmly together, then lift heels slightly off floor, coming onto balls of feet. Bend knees and lower hips 6 inches, keeping spine long and shoulders over hips. Rest right hand lightly on back of chair or bring palms together in front of chest to challenge balance. Hold for 5 deep breaths. Bend knees to lower hips 1 inch, then press heels together and lift up 1 inch. Continue 1-inch movements for 15 reps.
6. Narrow Athletic V Twist
Targets: thighs, butt, waist, and core
Stand with heels together and toes 3 to 4 inches apart, creating a V shape with feet. Press heels firmly together, then lift heels slightly off floor, coming onto balls of feet and resting hands on hips. Bend knees and lower hips 6 inches, keeping spine long and shoulders over hips. Hold for 5 breaths. Keeping hips and legs still, use abs to twist upper body to the right, reaching left arm forward and across body (a). Keeping core engaged and hips still, return to center and repeat twist to opposite side (b). Do 16 reps, alternating sides with each rep.
7. Sumo Squat
Targets: thighs, butt, and core
Stand with feet more than hip-width apart, toes pointing out to 1 and 11 o’clock. Bend knees and lower hips into a squat, bringing hands together in front of chest and keeping knees stacked over ankles and chest lifted (a). Hold for 5 breaths. Press into feet and straighten legs, extending arms overhead (b). Return to starting position and immediately go into next rep. Do 15 reps.
8. Power Leg
Targets: thighs, calves, and core
Stand a forearm’s distance from back of chair, feet hip-width apart, with toes, knees, and tops of thighs pointing straight ahead. Place palms lightly on back of chair, then lift heels a few inches off floor and press balls of feet into floor. Bend knees and slowly lower hips a few inches, keeping hips over ankles, shoulders over hips, chest lifted, and abs tight. Hold for 5 breaths. Keeping heels lifted, bend knees and slowly lower hips 1 inch toward floor, then press into balls of feet and lift up 1 inch. Continue 1-inch movements for 30 reps.
9. Standing Leg Lift
Targets: hamstrings, butt, and core
Stand with feet hip-width apart, palms resting lightly on back of chair. Extend left leg back, pointing foot and lifting toes a few inches off floor. Keep standing knee slightly bent, abs tight, chest lifted, and hips pointing straight ahead. Hold for 5 breaths. Engage left glutes and hamstring and slowly lift left leg up 1 inch, then lower left leg 1 inch. Continue 1-inch movements for 30 reps, then repeat on opposite side.
Come into plank position, palms directly under shoulders and abs tight. Keep heels, hips, and shoulders in 1 long line. Hold for 1 minute. To modify, do a standing plank with hands on a stable, waist-high surface, such as a kitchen counter.
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If you’re looking for lower body exercises that adds more size and symmetry to your lower body muscles, then you need to read this article.
This article is a continuation of my “upper body workout” post where I discuss how to best set up your upper body workouts. In this article however, we’ll cover how to set up your lower body workouts based on current scientific literature and our understanding of muscles. You’ll also be provided with a free PDF of the workout at the end of the article – so stick around!
The Main Workout Goal
The main goal of the exercises should be to train your lower body muscles in a balanced manner. This not only makes your lower body look more aesthetic and proportional, but it also greatly decreases your risk of injury.
So how do we do this? Well in this workout, we do this by adequately training the following muscles: the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves.
Different Muscles Trained
These are the main muscles that will contribute to the “aesthetic” of your lower body – and each muscle should be strengthened and grown in proportion to the others. But in order to accomplish this, we need to pick the right exercises.
Exercise 1 – Barbell Back Squats (Quadriceps Emphasis)
When it comes to quadriceps development, squats are going to be your best bet. Although squats will heavily involve the glutes as well and will definitely contribute to their growth, they have been repeatedly shown in numerous studies to elicit very high quadriceps activation when compared to other exercises.
And given that squats are an exercise that can be easily and effectively overloaded with weight, I’d highly suggest including them in your workout.
As for whether to perform back squats or front squats, I’d suggest using back squats on one of your lower body days and then perform front squats on your other day. Another option is to rotate between them overtime if you only perform one lower body day per week.
This is because although research shows that overall quadriceps activation is very similar between the front and back squats, research also shows that front squats may better activate certain quadriceps muscles that aren’t as well activated during the back squat.
For example, this table from a study from the journal of strength and conditioning research shows that certain quadricep muscles like the vastus lateralis and the rectus femoris are less activated during the back squat and moreso in the front squat.
Muscle Activation & Biomechanical Analysis
Thus, for more balanced and full quadriceps development, it’s probably a good idea to incorporate both the back and front squat in your weekly routine.
Exercise 2 – Romanian Deadlifts (Hamstrings/Glutes Emphasis)
This next exercise is a variation of the traditional deadlift. Although the muscles worked will be quite similar between the two variations, Romanian deadlifts will put more emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes. This is because the knees are kept relatively straighter throughout the movement.
One 2014 study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared hamstring activity in 4 different hamstring exercises – Romanian deadlifts, leg curls, glute ham raises, and good mornings.
Of the 4 exercises, Romanian Deadlifts and glute ham raises came out on top. Since Romanian deadlifts allow greater weight to be lifted and are easier to progressively overload overtime, I’d highly recommend including them in your lower body workout to strengthen the posterior chain.
And in terms of form, you want to perform them similar to how you would a traditional deadlift but instead keep your legs relatively straight throughout each rep. This is done by pushing the hips back and keeping your lower back straight as you lower the weight.
Romanian Deadlift Pointers
How low you go will depend on your mobility, but generally aim for below your knees and then contract your hamstrings and glutes to push the hips forward as you bring the weight back up.
Exercise 3 – Bulgarian Split Squats (Quads/Hams/Glutes Emphasis)
As shown in my leg workout article, the Bulgarian split squat is something I think everyone should incorporate somewhere in their routine. They do a great job of hitting all the major leg muscles but with more emphasis placed on the posterior chain.
One 2010 study from the Journal of Sport Rehab found that the Bulgarian split squat more heavily involves the hamstrings and glutes than the back squat. In addition, one 2016 study by Speirs and colleagues suggests that the Bulgarian split squat may be just as effective at increasing back squat strength as the back squat itself – while placing less strain on the lower back!
Therefore, it’s clear that the Bulgarian split squat is a great complimentary exercise to use with squats for both muscle and strength development.
And the fact that it’s a unilateral exercise (meaning just one leg is worked at a time) helps prevent muscle imbalances from developing which is likely to happen if you only stick to bilateral exercises like the squat and deadlift for example.
Another important thing I want to mention regarding this exercise is foot placement.
One 2014 study from the Journal of Applied Biomechanics showed that a longer step length, such that the shin is vertical, makes the split squat more hip-dominant meaning that more emphasis is placed on the hamstrings and glutes.
Bulgarian Split Squats Shorter Length
Whereas a shorter step length makes the split squat more knee-dominant, meaning that more emphasis is placed on the quadriceps.
Bulgarian Split Squats Longer Length
So you can apply this information in your workout by either taking a longer step if you want to target more of your hamstrings and glutes, or take a shorter step if you instead want to put more emphasis on your quads.
Exercise 4 – Glute Ham Raise (hamstring emphasis)
This last exercise is something I’m personally a big fan of (and the literature seems to be as well)! It will put the most emphasis on the hamstrings but will also involve other posterior muscles like the glutes and lower back.
Now we already know glute ham raises are great at activating the hamstrings when compared to other hamstring exercises based on the results of the 2014 EMG study I mentioned earlier.
What this study also illustrates is that glute ham raises compliment Romanian deadlifts very well in terms of hamstring development. They found that although activation of one of the hamstring muscles (the long head of the biceps femoris) was maximized in both exercises, activation of the other two hamstring muscles was not. They were activated the highest concentrically (the way up) during the glute-ham raise and highest eccentrically (the way down) during the Romanian deadlift.
Simply meaning that it would be a good idea to include both in your routine.
This idea is further supported by a 2015 study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning research. The researchers found that activation of the upper hamstrings can be maximized with hip dominant exercises (e.g. Romanian deadlift), whereas activation of the lower hamstrings seems to be maximized with more knee-dominant exercises.
Glute Ham Raise Muscles
This makes sense since the short head of the biceps femoris only crosses over the knee joint, and therefore can only be trained through knee flexion.
Therefore, including both a hip-dominant hamstring exercise like the Romanian deadlift AND a more knee-dominant exercise like the glute ham raise is recommended. This not only helps with balanced development of the hamstrings, but also contributes to injury prevention (especially in athletes).
Now for those who don’t have a glute ham raise machine available at your gym, one knee-dominant alternative I’d recommend are leg curls on a stability ball. Additional alternatives are listed in the PDF mentioned at the end of this article.
Sample Lower Body Workout
So to sum up the video, here’s what your workout could look like:
Barbell Back Squat: 3-5 sets of 6-8 reps
Romanian Deadlift: 2-4 sets of 8-10 reps
Bulgarian Split Squat: 2-4 sets of 6-10 reps
Glute Ham Raise: 2-4 sets of 8-12 reps
Standing Single Leg Calf Raise: 2-4 sets of 6-10 reps
Seated Calf Raise: 2-4 sets of 10-15 reps
I’d also advise adding in one or two calf exercises as well. I’ll be covering calves in more detail in a future article. Beginner lifters should probably stick to the lower end of the volume recommendations. Whereas more intermediate lifters should probably stick to the higher end of the volume recommendations.
YouTube Video On The Workout
See below for a video that sums everything up and shows you how to properly execute each lower body exercise in this workout:
Free PDF Download
And as I’ve done with my upper workout video, I’ve compiled all of this information into an easy to follow free PDF so that you guys can have it when you’re at the gym. It shows you the full workout, how to set up two lower body days per week, exercise tips with visuals, a progression scheme to use, and more. Simply follow the link below to get a copy of this sent to you.
Feel free to let me know if you have any questions down below. And give me a follow on Instagram , Facebook , and Youtube where I’ll be posting informative content on a more regular basis. Cheers!
Lower Body Leg Workout Exercises and Routines For The Gym Within the downloadable PDF, you’ll have access to lower body leg workout with exercise tips.
Leg Training for Women: The Complete Guide With Workouts
As a contest prep coach and someone passionate about fitness, it’s always great to see women willing to step off the treadmill and begin putting in consistent work in the weight room. Not falling victim to the old myth that weight training makes women “big and bulky,” these women understand the importance of resistance training in achieving their ideal physique.
Even though many women want to develop their lower body, it’s unfortunate to see so few women utilizing the exercises shown by research to be the most effective at gaining muscle and strength.
Instead, women tend to gravitate towards endless sets of the hip adductor machine, cable glute presses, and hours on the Stairmaster each workout – leaving much to be desired in terms of muscular adaption and improved body composition.
Although these exercises are beneficial in their own right, below are some aspects of leg training that should be considered in order to make the most of your efforts and get you closer to your goals.
Why Women Should Train Legs
Muscle Fiber Recruitment
The biggest issue with the exercises I listed above is that they stimulate far fewer muscle fibers than compound movements. By incorporating compound lifts into your workout program in place of some of the current isolation movements such as the glute press, you can benefit more from each exercise, and simultaneously cut down on the amount of time you need to spend training your legs.
Take the hip adductor machine for example. The majority of women perform this exercise religiously, but it is solely stimulating the adductors of the leg such as the adductor brevis, adductor longis, and gracilis.
You’ve never heard of these muscles? That’s because they are very small in comparison to other muscles of the leg like the rectus femoris that makes up part of the quadriceps. Training smaller muscles like the adductor group is helpful, but let’s compare this exercise to a barbell back squat.
The squat will activate muscle fibers within the quads, hamstrings, glutes, adductors, abductors, abs, lower back, and to a smaller extent the calves. So with just one set of squats, you can activate not only the muscles stimulated with the adductor machine, but many more to go along with it. Considering this point alone, it’s easy to see why focusing a program on an exercise such as squats could be beneficial for a female trying to improve her lower body.
Another very common mistake among gym members in general, but women new to the gym especially, is not using sufficient resistance to prompt the muscle to adapt and grow. It can be easy to go through the motions and to stop a set once any type of discomfort becomes apparent. However our bodies are extremely adaptive to their environment.
To go along with that, muscle tissue is very metabolically expensive to the body – meaning it takes a lot of fuel to build and maintain muscle tissue. This being the case, past the minimum required for everyday activity, your body will in a sense be very “stubborn” when prompted to add more muscle tissue it would then have to consistently fuel and maintain.
Related: 9 Things Women Gain by Lifting Weights
This is where you have to step in and give it a little encouragement! In order to add new muscle tissue, a trainee must provide enough resistance to force the body to adapt by adding new muscle tissue to keep up. For readers of this article, this means that being willing to push yourselves each workout to lift more weight, or more repetitions, is imperative for developing new muscle tissue and improving the appearance of your legs over time.
A second point to consider is that of muscle fiber recruitment. Above we discussed the effect of exercise complexity in recruiting more muscle fibers. Another determinant of muscle fiber recruitment is, you guessed it, sufficient overload.
Whether it’s through lifting a heavier load for low reps, or a lighter load for more reps, a variety of rep ranges has been shown to positively influence muscle growth if performed with adequate intensity1. However a common characteristic among essentially any training program is taking each set to absolute, or close to absolute, muscular failure.
As a muscle exerts near maximal effort, a greater percentage of its fibers will become active. However, as a muscle or muscle group adapts and gets stronger, it will actually begin recruiting fewer fibers to lift a given load. In the gym, this means if you typically squat 100lbs for 3 sets of 10 repetitions in your workout, the first couple of weeks your body will adapt by becoming stronger. After that initial adaption however, the subsequent sessions of 3×10 squats with 100lbs will result in less overall muscle activation.
At this point, a trainee would need to begin either adding weight to the bar or increasing volume by doing more repetitions, sets, or both over time. If you’ve started an exercise program and initially saw noticeable improvements, yet after the first few weeks you were left staring in the mirror wondering why things weren’t progressing, this is a very likely reason for the plateau.
Not only will focusing on compound movements prompt more muscle growth, but they will also help you burn more calories during your training sessions.
Compound exercises like the squat and leg press, when performed correctly and with the right intensity, are certainly not easy. They require whole body stabilization, greater cardiac output, and require more force to be exerted by multiple muscle groups. In addition to helping you make more consistent improvements in muscle strength and size, this also means expending a lot more calories.
By consistently performing big movements, you can gain more muscle, burn more calories, and achieve a greater cardiovascular benefit compared to focusing solely on isolation movements. Now that you’re burning more calories by performing compound movements regularly, you can more easily maintain a leaner, more athletic physique year round.
After reading the phrase “get bigger and stronger” several times already in this article, you may be left wondering how in the heck anyone expects you to train like this without getting big and bulky like most men when training like this. The concern is understandable, however one major difference between male and female athletes can put your mind at ease.
Not only are women from Venus and men from Mars, but they also have vastly different hormone profiles. In terms of gym performance and physical appearance, testosterone is one of the biggest focuses when determining muscle building capacity. Without sufficient levels of testosterone, a human’s muscle building potential can be quite limited.
For female readers, this can be a huge relief since females generally have much lower concentrations of testosterone than men. To give you an idea of how much of a difference it is, a reference chart provided by the Mayo Clinic lists the average male 19 years or older as having a total testosterone concentration of 240 to 950 ng/dL. In contrast, women of that same age range generally have concentrations of only 8-60 ng/dL. That’s a mere 3-6% testosterone concentration of their male counterparts.2
Of course these are ranges since hormone concentrations can change as we age and, to a smaller degree, based on lifestyle habits. For the concerned female though, since testosterone levels are a major factor in the potential for muscle growth, this means even if you lift as heavy as possible week after week, your muscle building potential is much lower than the average male.
The exceptions to this are those women who just so happen to be genetically more likely to gain muscle (which is pretty rare) or those who choose to use performance-enhancing drugs to alter their hormone profile for greater muscle growth.
Knowing this, female readers can rest assured that the old myth of weight training making women bulky is far from accurate. Know that the small increases in muscle size will serve to improve your physique. As long as your diet is in check, and body fat levels are kept within a reasonable range, becoming big and bulky is a fear best forgotten as you begin pushing yourself more in the weight room.
Anna McManamey on Strength Training
It can be difficult to take so much advice contrary to the common practice of most women in the gym when the advice comes strictly from a male writer. Understanding this, I reached out to fellow Team Wilson athlete, and phenomenal physique competitor, model, and coach Anna McManamey to get her opinion on the subject:
As a coach, I’ve definitely noticed a shift in the way women are training. In recent years it seems more women are starting to incorporate at least some form of strength work into their programs, which is great to see. But it’s the amount of weight they’re lifting and choice of exercises where I see the biggest mistakes being made.
Whenever I’m approached by a new female client, the main concern I hear is “I don’t want to look manly” or “I don’t want to look bulky, I just want to lean out and tone.” I even had one client whose husband was so concerned about her losing her femininity she actually kept it a secret from him that she had even contacted me! But my response is the same to all of them: in order for you to sculpt a shapely figure and have definition, you need to build muscle. And to do that you need to lift, and you need to lift heavy.
If the weight is only a few kilos/pounds to begin with, and that’s heavy for you, then that’s fine, but you need to be really struggling by those last few reps. Making your way around the machines casually busting out 15-20 repetitions and barely breaking a sweat is not going to cut it.
The point where my clients start seeing significant improvements to their physiques is when they increase the intensity of their training sessions. Their metabolism increases, so they start looking leaner and they begin building muscle which gives them that more defined and shapely look without losing their curves.
The truth is, women have to work extremely hard for every gram/ounce of muscle they put on their frame. You will not turn into Arnold Schwarzenegger overnight, it simply doesn’t happen. Furthermore, that “bulky” look is usually the result of gaining muscle without monitoring your diet. To achieve definition you need to be dropping fat as well as gaining muscle, so assessing your food intake is important too.
Related: Learn How to Calculate your Daily Calorie Needs
Another common mistake I see women make is in their choice of exercises. Again, there seems to be this endemic fear that performing heavy compound movements like squats and deadlifts are for “men only” and are going to somehow strip you of all femininity.
I think these misconceptions are largely driven by misinformation in the media: “Do a hundred crunches a day to shrink your waist,” “do bicep curls to tone your arms,” “glute kick backs for a tighter butt,” “tricep extensions to banish bingo wings.” As a result, I see so many ladies in the gym prioritizing only certain muscle groups – namely glutes, arms and abs – and completely neglecting others.
This is not only ineffective but over time is likely to lead to muscular imbalances and potential injury. I make a point of educating my clients that this kind of spot reduction is a myth, and the best results are achieved through a well-rounded and balanced program, incorporating larger, heavier compound movements that recruit more muscles and burn more calories.
Aesthetic benefits aside, some of the best and most rewarding results I have seen from my clients are the improvement in their mental strength. After all, there’s nothing like finishing a tough weight session to make you feel like you can take on the world. When many of the girls first come to me they feel down on themselves, unhappy with their appearance, and lack confidence.
After a few weeks of consistent training and monitoring their diet, the change in their self-esteem is mind-blowing. Many of them are not aware of the physical and mental strength they truly possess, and it’s not until they start hitting PRs, or busting out flawless push ups or chin ups that they become aware of their capabilities. This starts to carry over into other aspects of their lives – their careers, family life, how they manage stressful situations. It’s incredibly rewarding to see.
Leg Exercises for Women
If I were to pick just five exercises for a female client of mine to focus her lower body training around while completely maximizing each workout, I would easily choose:
- Barbell Squats
- Romanian Deadlifts
- Walking Lunges
- Leg Press
- Barbell Hip Thrusts
These five movements are fantastic for hitting all of the muscles of the lower body, expending more calories in a workout, and even training movements that are applicable to real life such as squats helping with sitting down and standing up throughout the day, or lunges improving walking gait and activities like climbing stairs or running.
Once a program is built around these movements, other isolations movements like glute presses, calf raises, or step-ups can be added in to complement your training. Below are a few various workouts that can be used in different situations to help you get more out of each workout and achieve the show stopping legs you’ve been dreaming of.
Leg Workouts for Women
The Time Saver
The holidays, keeping up with those crazy kids, meeting the deadline for that big project you’re overseeing at work. Countless things can make for a hectic schedule – even with the best of time management skills. Being busy doesn’t have to be synonymous with being sedentary though. With a little ingenuity, great workout sessions can be knocked out with virtually any combination of supersets, circuit training, or short rest periods.
This template will allow you to still incorporate those beneficial compound movements mentioned earlier, while saving time to take care of other obligations during busy times of the year. Not to mention, this workout will be great for increasing metabolic stress and cellular swelling through high amounts of blood entering the muscle.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you have a bit more time, devoting several weeks to a higher volume program with more total sets and reps can be great for spurring new growth and improving overall work capacity.
The Strength Builder
Getting stronger and seeing more and more weight collect on the bar is empowering in and of itself. But to sweeten the pot even more, focusing on lower rep schemes can improve myofibril hypertrophy, a type of muscle growth which occurs as muscle fibers themselves become larger through mechanical stress (like the stress that occurs while lifting heavy weight for few reps).
This is in contrast to sarcoplasmic hypertrophy that is believed by many to occur through higher rep schemes that induce cellular swelling and metabolic build-up to potentially increase the overall volume of muscle tissue – workouts similar to the time saver workout above for example.
As mentioned, this workout will focus on myofibril hypertrophy through the lower rep scheme that you will see below. In addition, as I’ve witnessed both in clients as well as in my own training, getting used to lifting heavier weight seems to have a carry over effect once athletes switch back to slightly lower weight and higher rep schemes. After lifting heavier weight, lifting lighter weights can be less mentally challenging, and training with a given weight for more reps and sets can feel easier.
|1. Barbell Squats||5||5||2:00|
|2. Leg Press||5||5||2:00|
|3. Barbell Front Squat||3||4-6||1:30|
|4. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts||3||4-6||1:30|
|5. Hip Adductor Machine||3||10-12||1:00|
|6. Hip Abductor Machine||3||10-12||1:00|
Get a Leg Up
If one of your goals is to achieve better looking legs, it’s time to take control of your own progress by implementing time and research proven exercises that can get you better, and more timely results than the mainstream training strategies pushed on most women by silly social norms and misinformation. Using the above workouts as a starting point and template, get a leg up on your goals and the other women in the gym and start attaining the physique you’ve always wanted.