Leg Day Workout: 15 Best Leg Exercises
Everyone wants to have perfectly shaped and toned legs, especially women who want to look sexy and fabulous. However, you don’t get those shapely legs without doing some hard work and sweating it out in the gym. The best way to get your perfect pair of legs is to do leg workouts on a regular basis. Some people concentrate on shaping their arms and getting those six-pack abs, but they don’t do much leg exercises. In order to look fit and gorgeous all over, you need a constant dose of leg day workout. Here are 15 of the best leg exercises that you should include in your regular workout routine.
Lunges are perfect for your leg day workout because it strengthens your legs and buttocks. According to most experts, lunges are considered one of the most effective exercises for the lower body. This exercise targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes.
Start by standing tall, lifting your chest up, and looking straight ahead. Your feet must be slightly spread apart. Inhale and slowly step forward using your right foot. The foot should be pointing forward and avoid lunging too far forward. Bend your right knee with your thigh and lower leg forming a right angle. Lower down your left leg until the knee is almost touching the floor. Pause for a few seconds and then rise back up pushing off your right leg until you return to your starting position. Exhale as you start coming up. Switch to the other leg. Do 1 to 3 sets consisting of 20 repetitions, which mean 10 reps for each leg. When doing this exercise, always make sure that your head is up and your back is straight. If you feel any discomfort in your knees, then discontinue the exercise.
Wide Squat is included in the list of the best leg exercises because it targets almost all the leg muscles. It works the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and hip flexors.
Your starting position should be standing straight with your feet spread wide and your toes are pointing straight ahead. Your lower back should be arched slightly and have a slight bend in your knees. Make sure to keep your head up, chest lifted, and your core tight. Lower your body by bending your hips and knees as if you are going to sit on a chair. Pause when your thighs are almost parallel to the floor. Slowly get back up to your starting position and straighten your legs, but avoid locking the knees. Do 1 to 3 sets consisting of 15 repetitions.
If you want to add more variations and difficulty to this leg exercise, you can use a dumbbell and hold at your sides or between your legs. Don’t continue with this exercise if you experience any pain on your knees or lower back.
Outer Thigh Lifts
This is one of the best leg workouts for shaping your outer thighs. You start by lying on your right side with your head shoulders and hips aligned. Extend your right arms straight or you can put it under your head. Your left arm should be resting on your left hip.
Keep your right leg straight and flexed, and slowly raise your right leg up. Hold it for a moment, and then lower it slowly. Hold your leg up for 2 counts and lower it for 4 counts. Remember to lower your leg slowly and with more control than the lifting. Repeat this process 8 times, and then turn over and repeat the exercise on the other leg. Avoid rotating your body forward or backward when doing this exercise. As you progress and master the outer thigh lifts, you can go up to 3 sets.
Inner Thigh Lifts
Inner thigh lifts should be included in your leg day workout since it tones, strengthens, and tighten your inner thigh muscles. For your starting position, begin by lying on the floor on your right side. Make sure that your head, shoulders, and hips are aligned. Prop up your upper body using your right elbow, which should be under your shoulder. Place your weight on your hip and elbow. Bend your left leg and position on the floor in front of you.
Keep your right leg straight with foot flexed and toes pointed outward. Raise your right leg slowly off the floor. Pause for a few seconds at the top of the movement and slowly lower your leg back to the floor. Do 20 lift repetitions and switch sides to work out your other leg.
When doing this workout, make sure your body is constantly aligned during the movement. As you progress through this exercise, you can work your way up to 4 sets. You can also put a light ankle weight on your leg if you want to make this exercise more challenging.
As the name implies, this leg exercise targets the calf muscles. After taking care of your thigh muscles and glutes, you should also include your calves on your workout. Calf raise is one of the leg exercises that would need a dumbbell. Start by standing straight with your legs shoulder-width apart. Remember to keep your toes pointing forward. Hold the dumbbell in each hand and just let it hang on your sides. Lift up your heel as high as you can off the ground until you are standing on the front of your feet and toes. Slowly lower your heels back again to the floor. You can do 15 repetitions and complete 2 sets. You can make this leg workout more challenging by trying to rise up on just one foot. And keep in mind to always control your balance during the movement.
The best leg exercises are the ones that work out almost every muscle in your lower body. The jump squat is included in this list because it targets your hamstrings, quads, glutes, and calves. Plus, it also improves your core stability, as well as your hip and ankle mobility. Start by holding a dumbbell in both hands in front of your chest and standing with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointed outward. Try to keep your back straight up and chest out. Bend your knees and push back your hips until both your thighs are parallel to the floor. Jump forcefully upward as high as you can. Land softly and drop back down to your squat position to begin your next rep. Remember to maintain control and balance, especially when landing softly. You can do 2 to 3 sets consisting of 10 repetitions.
Some leg exercises can be a bit challenging for many people. The pistol squat is one of those leg workouts that require a good balance, strength, and coordination. But as long as you don’t give up and you master the training, it would be very beneficial for your leg day workout. The main areas targeted by the pistol squat are the hamstrings, quads, and glutes.
Begin by standing straight up and extend one of your legs out straight in front of you. This is where your balance should play out because you will just be standing on one foot. Lower your body slowly down bending your knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor.
Once you are at the bottom, your extended leg and arms should be out in front for balance, and your other foot planted firmly on the floor. Go back up by driving through your heel until you are back at your standing position. Also, make sure that you never let your heel come up as you do your rep movement. You can do 3 sets of 1 to 3 reps.
Some of the best leg exercises are simple and easy to perform, especially for beginners. One of these leg workouts is the step-up exercise, which can also be adjusted for advanced athletes, developing power, jumping force, and balance. It targets the quadriceps, glutes, and hips.
You can start by holding a dumbbell in each of your hand while positioning yourself in front of a high step, platform, or bench. Your feet should be in shoulder-width apart, and then step one leg onto the bench or platform and use your thigh muscle to push your body upward. Bring the other leg up and stand on the platform or bench with both feet. Return to the floor by stepping back with either of your legs. You can choose to repeat with the same leading leg for all the rest of your reps and then switch to the other leg, or you can try to alternate your legs for each step-up. You can do 15 reps for each leg.
Calf Raise Bridge
Calf Raise Bridge is one of the leg exercises that are great for working out your calves, glutes, and hamstrings. Start by lying on your back with your legs bent and your feet hip-width apart flat on the floor. Hold dumbbells on each hand and place it on your hips. Slowly lift your hips as high as possible while squeezing your buttocks or glutes. Make sure you are pushing up on the balls of your feet. Pause for a few seconds and slowly lower your lips down to the starting position.
Bulgarian Split Squat
The Bulgarian Split Squat should be included in your leg day workout because it is very effective in strengthening your quads, hamstrings, and glutes. This exercise also uses dumbbells to provide muscular balance on both sides of your body.
Start this exercise by grasping a dumbbell in each hand. Put one of your foot forward and place the other foot behind you on an elevated platform. Go down slowly while bending your front knee. During this movement, make sure that your knee does not go out ahead of your toes. When the knee is almost at 90-degrees, push up with the heel of your front foot and return to a standing position. Remember not to forcefully lock out your knee.
If you want to add more lateral movements to your leg exercises, then you should add side lunge to your leg day workout routine. This exercise is excellent in working out your hamstrings, quads, and glutes.
First, you stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. And then you take a big step to your right. Bend the right knee and push back your butt while keeping your left leg straight. While doing the movement, maintain your chest out and lifted and your core tight. Repeat on the other side.
This is one of the best leg exercises that target not only the lower body but also the core, back, and shoulders. This exercise strengthens your hamstrings and glutes and burns a lot of fat. Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart and the kettlebell on the floor. Grasp the kettlebell with both hands, keep your lower back flat, and extend your hips to raise the weight off the floor. Inhale while bending your hips back, letting the weight of the kettlebell to swing back between your legs. Explosively extend your hips and exhale. The added momentum should allow the kettlebell to swing up to shoulder level. Make sure to control the descent of the kettlebell, and then use the momentum to start the next rep.
Goblet squat is a great addition to your leg day workout because it is easy on your lower back and it strengthens your quads, lats, hip flexors, hamstrings, and glutes. It also builds up core strength and burns a lot of calories. Start by holding a dumbbell vertically on your chest. Both hands should be cupping the head of the dumbbell. Tighten your core while lowering your body, pushing your hips back, and bending your knees as far down as you can. Pause for a bit and then push yourself back up to your starting position.
Farmer’s Walk On Toes
This is one of the simplest leg exercises but it will test your strength and endurance. It targets your calves, abs, and forearm. Hold a pair of heavy dumbbell at your sides while keeping your body straight. Slowly raise your heels and walk forward on tiptoe for 60 seconds. You can walk forward or you can also walk in circles.
Swiss Ball Hamstring Curl
This is one of the best leg exercises that focus more on your hamstrings. You can start by lying on the ground with legs extended straight and your feet up on a Swiss ball. Dig your heels into the Swiss ball and lift up your hips while bending your knees, thus pulling the ball towards your hips. And then, push the ball back out slowly using your heels and lower your hips to about ¾ of the way down. You can do 3 sets of 10 reps and rest for 45 seconds in between sets.