These Are the 9 Best Leg Exercises for Your Lower Body Workout

Workouts

Does the thought of “leg day” at the gym make you groan? If you’re new to the world of lower body workout routines, it’s only natural that you might find these exercises a bore. Never fear. Believe it or not, some of the best leg exercises can also be the most interesting and engaging. Adding them to your routine should be a pleasure, not a chore.

From lunges and squats to more technical moves, there’s a whole host of toning leg exercises that you may well wish to try for yourself. Luckily, we’ve got all the insider details for you. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best leg exercises to get you started on your journey toward leaner, slimmer legs.

Tips for Creating a Beginner Leg Workout

Every woman would love to have shapely yet strong legs. With that in mind, if you’re ready to add a new workout to your fitness regime, consider a beginner leg workout. Incorporating the best leg exercises into your routine doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re not certain where to start, here are some tips that could help you out.

Learn the basics

woman doing leg exercises in a white room

The first step to perfecting your beginner leg workout is learning the basics. Familiarizing yourself with some of the most common exercises (which we will review soon enough) will help you understand how each one works. When you have done your homework, you can go about customizing the best leg exercises so that they suit you. Adding weights and extra repetitions to your sets will take your regime to new levels.

Share your goals

woman's legs with grey fitness leggings and white sneakers on green grass

Do you find it hard to stay motivated when it comes to reaching your fitness goals? One tip that you could use to keep you on track is to share your intentions on social media. According to a study from American University, sharing your experience online can help you stay motivated when it comes to working out and losing weight.[1]

Taking a picture of you at the start of your journey, describing what your aim is, and sharing it online could be the key to reaching your ideal body shape and weight. The social support you gain when you reach out to others online could help propel you forward.

Avoid gear and equipment

fit woman doing squats for leg exercise

You don’t need to join a gym to complete a beginner leg workout. In fact, some of the best leg exercises require absolutely no equipment whatsoever. When you first start out, you might want to veer toward exercises that you can do at home. For example, you can try lunges, bridges, and squats without leaving the house or using extra gear.

Know the key muscles

woman lying on her side on an exercise mat doing leg exercises in a gym

Before you get started with your lower body workout, it’s worth learning about the muscles in your legs. Your glutes are in your butt, your hamstrings are in your thighs, and your calves are below that. Of course, there are more technical terms for the specific muscles but knowing these will be essential to your training. Now that you understand where each of them is, you can decide on the exercises that suit your beginner leg workout.

Take things slow at the start

woman doing squats in a gym

If you’ve never done lower body exercises before, you might want to take things slow. Some of the best leg exercises may be challenging when you first try them. The secret here is to persevere and keep working hard at each of the exercises. The stronger your muscles get and the more comfortable you get, the easier the moves will be.

Get some expert advice

woman in a park with her fitness trainer doing leg exercises

Of course, should there be a specific result that you’re hoping to achieve, it could be worth getting some expert advice along the way. Enlisting the help of a personal trainer could be just what you need to learn the best leg exercises for you. You should explain what you’re hoping to get out of your beginner leg workout and listen to their advice.

Now that you understand how to create your beginner leg workout, it’s time to get started on some of the specifics. So long as you dedicate yourself to this task and work hard, you should find that practice makes perfect. In the next sections, we will be looking at nine of the best leg exercises and some pro tips to help you take them to new heights.

The Top 5 Lower Body Exercises for Legs and Glutes

Whether you’re hoping to slim down or just tone up, regularly focusing your routines on your lower body and legs is an absolute must. Many women find that the lower part of their body is naturally curvaceous. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, engaging in regular leg exercises at home or the gym could help you to perfect your physique.

Of course, creating a lower body workout for women is all about tailoring the exercises to your needs and skills. That means that you should always work to your own level. As a golden rule, if something hurts, you should stop. Should you find that this is repeatedly an issue for you, it’s worth talking to a professional and getting some advice.

Ready to get started? By combining some of the best leg exercises with some lower body exercises, you can create a regime that will attack all the key muscle groups. That should help you to shape your legs and tone them up. Let’s take a moment to look at the top five lower body exercises for legs and glutes.

1. Single Leg Deadlift

woman doing single leg deadlifts with weights

When we talk about the best leg exercises for your lower body, you can’t miss out the single leg deadlift. This move is strikingly easy to learn, although it takes a whole load of balance to get right. With this particular exercise, you’re attacking your glutes and hamstrings while also putting pressure on your core and abs too.

  • Targeted muscles: Glutes, abdominal, and hamstrings
  • Repetitions: 3 sets, 5 reps each side per set 

How to do it: Before you start, you will need a small kettlebell or dumbbell. Try to aim for a weight that is manageable for you, such as six kilos or eight kilos. Start in a standing position with the weight in your left hand. Lean forward from the waist and move your right leg out backward as you do so. It may take a while to balance so take things slowly!

Lower the kettlebell down so that it almost touches the floor and stays parallel to it. Pull the weight back up and, as you do so, lift your leg back into standing position. Repeat this exercise for around five reps and then switch sides.

Pro Tip: When you’ve perfected the single leg deadlift, it could be time to take things up a notch. As you come back into standing position, bring your knee upward to your waist for one final move. Doing so will intensify the leg workout routine.

2. Simple Squats

woman doing simple squats in a park

They might be the bane of your exercise routine, but you should never skip out on simple squats. These are some of the best leg exercises when you’re trying to boost your hamstrings, calves, and glutes in one swift move. To start out, you don’t need any extra gear or equipment, other than perhaps a mat. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Targeted muscles: Glutes, hamstrings, and calves
  • Repetitions: 2 sets, 15 reps per set 

How to do it: Start with your feet a hip-width apart and your knees bent. Hinge the top of your body slightly forward and your butt backward. Squat down as low as you can go while keeping your weight leaning back as though you’re sitting into the squat. Hold and then come back up into the starting position. Repeat this move 15 times per set.

Pro Tip: Of course, if you’re looking for a way in which you can add an extra level of intensity to this leg workout routine, there’s a simple way to get it right. Use a resistance band to boost the difficulty. Place your feet on the band before you start squatting and hold the other end of it in each hand. As you squat down, pull the band upward for some extra pressure.

3. Wall Sit

woman smiling doing wall sits outdoors

You may already be familiar with the wall sit exercise. It happens to be commonplace in many beginner leg workout routines. The reason for that is that it’s easy to do and people of all skill sets and fitness levels should have no problem getting to grips with it. 

  • Targeted muscles: Glutes and quads
  • Repetitions: 10 reps (20 seconds per rep) 

How to do it: Stand parallel to a sturdy wall and lean backward onto it. Bend your knees and slide down the wall so that the majority of your weight is supported by your legs. Your knees should be at a 90-degree angle while your back is straight and flat on the wall.

You should feel a stretch and pressure spanning your legs. This feeling will increase in intensity the longer you hold the pose but stay strong throughout. Stay in this position for around 20 seconds and then slowly release. 

Pro Tip: The stronger your leg muscles get, the longer you should be able to stay in this position and support yourself. Try increasing the length of each repetition incrementally. You could work your way up to 40-second holds over time.

4. Lunge Kick

woman doing lunges with dumbbells

Of course, it should go without saying that lunges are some of the best leg exercises. However, rather than sticking to the same old move all of the time, it could be worth adding a kick to it. Here’s one of the most effective lower body exercises that you can do in the comfort of your own home. 

  • Targeted muscles: Glutes
  • Repetitions: 3 sets, 10 reps per set 

How to do it: Start with your legs hip-width apart. Move one leg backward and bend the opposing knee to bring you into lunge position. Next, bring the back leg up and kick forward to complete the move. You will need extreme levels of balance and core strength to get this right, but it’s worth the practice. 

Pro Tip: Should you wish to take things up a notch, it’s worth adding some weight into the mix. Try holding a small dumbbell or kettlebell as you complete the activity. You should find that it increases the intensity and makes for a more difficult move.

5. The Bridge

woman lying on an exercise mat with her pelvis raised doing bridges for leg exercise

Next up, let’s talk about the bridge move. While this exercise may look a little odd, it can help to tone your glutes and quads. It might just give you a killer butt and some seriously strong legs. It is also a real calorie-burner, which means that it’s ideal if you’re trying to lose weight.

  • Targeted muscles: Glutes and quads
  • Repetitions: 3 sets, 20 reps per set 

How to do it: Start by lying on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. Put each of your arms down the side of your body (you will need them for support in a moment). Next, lift your pelvis off the floor and thrust it upward. Hold and then release. Repeat this exercise 20 times per set. 

Pro Tip: Want to add extra pressure to your glutes? Take a small round bar weight (no more than five kilos) and rest it across your pelvis. You will need to hold it in place while completing the exercises. The weight will add an extra edge to the move.

Try These Leg Toning Exercises for Slim Legs

Are you hoping to slim down your legs? Including some effective toning leg exercises in your beginner leg workout could be the answer. Many of the common moves you find in a standard leg workout routine will help you tone up.

That’s because they put pressure on your muscles and work them hard. Contrary to popular belief, this will not mean that you bulk up. Instead, it should give you shapely, strong legs. Let’s take a look at some of the easiest yet most useful leg exercises for women.

Inner Thigh Pulse

woman doing inner thigh pulse leg exercises

Many women worry about their inner thigh area. It’s true that it can be hard to tone this particular section of your body. However, some of the best leg exercises target this area specifically while helping you to slim down. A fantastic example of this is the inner thigh pulse. Try this exercise in the comfort of your home or at the gym.

  • Targeted muscles: Hamstrings
  • Repetitions: 3 sets, 20 reps per set 

How to do it: Stand with your legs hip-width apart and your knees in a soft pose. Bring one of your legs up and bend your knee as you do so. Your leg should be out in front of your body. This is position number one. Lift the leg upward so that it reaches a 90-degree angle from your body. This is position number two. Pulse up and down between the two positions 20 times per set. The motion should be controlled and steady. 

Pro Tip: If you’re new to this exercise and find it hard to maintain your balance, don’t panic. Stand near enough a wall so that you can hold your opposing arm out to it and steady yourself. As your core strength grows and you become more centered, you should be able to stop using the wall and do this exercise freestanding.

High-Knee Toe Taps

women's feet doing toe taps on benches in a fitness class

Often an integral part of a HIIT leg workout, the high-knee toe taps exercise can be adapted for home workouts too. All you will need for this one is a chair that is just below knee height. The fast-paced movement will give you a quick, fat-burning cardio burst while focusing the attention of your legs.

  • Targeted muscles: Hamstrings and glutes
  • Repetitions: 2 sets, 20 reps per set 

How to do it: Start by standing around a foot away from the chair. Make sure that the chair is sturdy before you begin! Keep your knees soft and tap one of your toes on the top of the chair. Switch sides and do the same with the other leg. The key is to do this move swiftly and precisely for the most effective results.

Pro Tip: Why not try a timed challenge? When you feel comfortable with this particular exercise, you could try to get faster and faster. Putting a timer on your set will help to keep you on track and get you moving quickly! It’s sure to get the blood pumping.

Leg Raises

woman doing side leg raises for leg exercise

Want to shape the upper part of your legs? Some of the best leg exercises are actually the simplest ones. Engaging in a set of these lower body exercises will help to tone up your muscles while slimming down your legs. You should add these moves to your regular leg workout routine for the most effective outcome. The more you practice them, the more you will notice a major difference in your legs.

  • Targeted muscles: Calves and hamstrings
  • Repetitions: 2 sets, 20 reps per set 

How to do it: Lie on your side and elevate the upper half of your body with your arm. You will need to use your arm for support while you’re doing these exercises. Keep your legs parallel to one another and lift the top leg upward. Again, the motion should be controlled and precise. Repeat the movement 20 times per set. 

Pro Tip: There are two ways in which you can take this exercise up to the next level. Of course, you can add extra repetitions to the set. For example, you might want to take it up to 30 repetitions per set. You could also grab a small round bar weight and rest it on your top leg while doing the exercises. Either way, you will get more out of the routine.

Side Lunges

woman doing side lunges for leg exercise in an outdoor park

Side lunges are some of the best leg exercises that you can do pretty much anywhere. If you’re creating a home workout routine, you simply have to add these lower body exercises into the mix. These are leg toning exercises, which also means that they should help you to slim down in this area while getting into shape.

  • Targeted muscles: Calves and hamstrings
  • Repetitions: 4 sets, 10 reps per set 

How to do it: Start with your feet hip-width apart. Step one leg outward and bend the knee as you do so. Lean your other leg at an angle to allow this movement. That should bring you to the side lunge position. Stay there for a couple of seconds and then return to the starting position. Alternate legs and repeat this move 10 times per set. 

Pro Tip: Why not add a resistance band into the mix for the ultimate workout? When you get into the starting position, lay the band flat on the floor and stand each foot on it to hold it in place. As you step outward, take the band with you so that you’re working against the resistance it provides. The tighter you pull the band, the more intense the move.

9 Best Leg Exercises for Your Lower Body Workout

Conclusion

Now that you’ve got all the details of the nine best leg exercises, what are you waiting for? You could combine all of the above to create a seriously effective lower body workout. It’s also worth noting that you can change certain moves to suit your own needs.

Remember, you need to take things slow when you first start out and work to your own level. As you improve, you will find that these exercises become easier and easier to execute. Then, it’s time for stage two. Adding in our pro tips will help you increase the intensity and difficulty of your individual routine.

It couldn’t be easier to get your legs looking the best they ever have! Why not start today and begin training in a whole new way? Before you know it, you will see some remarkable improvements in the area. Good luck!

References

  • [1] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1094996817300361

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