Every time you move your body, whether you’re getting up from a chair, walking around the block, bending over to pick something up off the floor, or jumping into the air, you use several different muscle groups in your legs. If you want to keep these muscles strong, take advantage of these two ultimate leg workouts that follow
But before you jump into the workouts, take a few minutes to read about the important muscle groups of your legs. Understanding these muscle groups will help you make sense of how important these workouts are. You’ll also learn how to avoid allowing these muscles to become weak and injured.
Ultimate Leg Workout
Your legs are the powerhouse of your body. On a metabolic level, the muscles that sit just below your hips and above your knees are responsible for boosting your body’s ability to use energy and burn fat. The muscles below your knees are responsible for allowing you to stay mobile and agile. These ultimate leg workouts will allow both the upper and lower parts of your legs to work in harmony, staying strong and fit.
It’s easy to neglect the important muscles of your legs. When it comes to keeping your legs strong, it’s not just power that matters. You also need to make sure that you’re maintaining a good range of motion for the muscles, as well as the supportive ligaments and joints.
This ultimate leg workout will certainly test the limits of your legs’ strength, but will also ensure that your body is moving in all planes of motion so that you remain agile and injury-free.
The Best Leg Workouts to Prevent Weakness
Of the many muscles that make up the leg region of your body, there are eight groups: the gluteal group, the quadriceps group, the adductor group, the hamstring group, the sartorius group, the extensor group, the peroneal group, and the flexor group. Generally speaking, it’s common to engage all the muscles that allow us to move in a linear fashion. In other words, any muscle that keeps us moving in a straight line gets more use. However, the opposing muscles – or those that help us maintain other functions, such as moving side to side, or bending over to get something off the floor often get neglected.
These are the two best leg workouts you can do for your body to ensure that the strong muscles that keep you moving forward stay strong. These workouts will also encourage the muscles that can become weak to become strong as well!
The Two Best Leg Workouts for Your Body
Do your best to do each of these workouts at least once a week. Two workouts a week is all you need to improve your leg strength and your mobility. If you decide to do more than just the two workouts a week, be sure to do them on non-consecutive days.
Recovery is important with these leg workouts. You’ll need at least one day of rest in between days for your legs to recover and your muscles to regenerate.
Have a question about how to do any of these exercises? The definitions for each are all given below in alphabetical order.
Ultimate Leg Workout #1
Ultimate leg workout #1 is a blend of full leg muscle development, balance and flexibility. There are six core exercises to this workout.
Move yourself through three cycles of this workout for optimal results.
The end of the workout includes a pigeon stretch. An explanation of how to do this stretch, along with definitions of the remainder of the exercises can be found below the workout.
1 – 20 Alternating Lunges
2 – 30 Alternating Curtsy Squats
3 – 15 Deadlifts
4 – 20 Step Ups
5 – 15 Single Calf Raises (each leg)
6 – 60 Second Bridge Pose
Stretch: Pigeon Stretch
Ultimate Leg Workout #2
Ultimate leg workout #2 focuses on power, agility and endurance. You’ll get your heart rate up doing this workout. The big muscles of your legs demand a lot of blood-rich oxygen, so expect to get a little winded.
Power through this workout a total of three times for optimal results. After you finish this workout move onto the frog stretch to open up your hips and feel great for your next workout.
An explanation of how to do the frog stretch, along with all of the others, can be found below the workouts.
1 – 20 Bodyweight Squats
2 – 10 Single Leg Deadlifts (each leg)
3 – 30 Speed Skaters
4 – 20 Plie Squats
5 – 20 Step Ups
6 – 30 Second Single Leg Bridge Pose (each leg)
Stretch: Frog Stretch
Ultimate Leg Workout Exercise Definitions
You can do all of these exercises without using any equipment. However, if you’d like to add some weight to your workouts, adding in a pair of dumbbells or a manageable barbell is entirely up to you.
Using a set of dumbbells will give you more stability and balance. Using a barbell is a great option, too, however
Start by standing with your feet about hip-width apart. Step one foot out about two to three feet in front of you. Bending your front knee, and dropping your back knee closer to the ground, enter a lunge position. Keep your back straight and don’t let your front knee
extend beyond your toes. Return to a standing position. Alternate legs, or repeat continuously on the same leg.
Tip: Avoid the mistake of leaning forward over your knees. Protect your knees and keep your shoulders in line with your hips.
Alternating Curtsy Squats
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart. Step one leg back and across the opposite leg, like a curtsy, then squat down. Come back to a standing position and repeat on the opposite side. You can do this exercise with no additional weight, or you can hold a barbell over your shoulder. Because this exercise requires some balance, moving from side to side, start with a lighter weight until you have the confidence to complete the exercise successfully.
Tip: This exercise works the sides of the hips, helping to shape and tone your bottom. Your backside will thank you later!
Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart. Drop down by bending your knees, as if you’re going to sit into a chair. Return to a standing position. For these ultimate leg workouts, in particular, you don’t need to add any extra weight on. Use these bodyweight squats as a good warm up, limbering up your joints and loosening up your muscles.
Tip: Try to get your thighs as parallel to the floor as possible. Focus on keeping your shoulders pointed up toward the ceiling, getting your bottom back as far as possible and keeping your knees over your toes. Draw your abs in through the entire exercise and squeeze your bottom on the way up.
Begin by standing tall with either holding a barbell or two dumbbells in front of you. Draw your abs in. Keeping your back straight, put a slight bend in your knees and bend forward until you feel your hamstrings (the back of your thighs) engage. Return to standing.
Tip: It’s easy to injure your back doing a deadlift. The bend in your knees will take some strain out of your lower back. As you hinge forward, think of pulling your shoulder blades back and down your back. This will help keep your back straighter. When you bend your back, you don’t work your hamstrings, so it’s important to try to get this right.
Add weight slowly, starting with 20 pounds and working your way up.
Start this stretch by coming down onto your hands and knees. You’ll want a yoga mat or something soft underneath your knees. Open your legs and feet out wide until you feel a good stretch through your adductors (inner thighs).Hold the position here, or slowly open your knees wider and wider while stretching back. Relax your hands and forearms down onto the ground until you’re in a frog-like position. Hold for about three minutes.
Tip: This is a great hip opening exercise. If you have tight hips, do this stretch daily. Hold for as long as possible, minimally three minutes.
Single Leg Bridge Pose
Start by lying flat on your back with your knees bent and hands
resting at your sides. Push your hips up toward the ceiling, keeping your feet firmly planted. Lift one foot up off the ground and hold. Continue to press in on the heel of the foot that is still supporting the bridge pose.
Tip: Squeeze your glutes (bottom) and try to prevent your hips from dropping. If you look down at your body toward your knees, you should be able to clearly see your hips and thighs. Hold this position for the designated period of time.
Single Leg Calf Raises
Start by standing with your feet flat, spaced just a few inches apart. Ideally, this exercise is done best with the balls of your feet resting on a step, however the floor will work. Lift one heel off the ground/step, coming up to the balls of your feet, driving your heel up into the air. Bring your heel back down to the ground and repeat calf raises on one side until complete before switching over to the opposite side.
Tip: The muscles in your calves are important, but smaller than some of the other muscles through your thighs and bottom. Expect your calves to feel as if they’re on fire as you reach the end of each set.
Single Leg Deadlift
This is a more advanced version of a deadlift. Don’t progress to this exercise until you’ve mastered the traditional deadlift. Begin by holding a barbell or two dumbbells with both hands in front of you. Without rocking your hips, lift one left up, bend your knee and extend that heel behind you. Put a slight bend in your knee and slowly hinge forward. Remember to draw your abs in. Repeat the exercise on one leg before moving on to the other.
Tip: This exercise takes a lot of balance, so take your time. One leg may feel “easier” to do than the other. This is because everyone has better balance and strength on one side versus the other. Remember not to go down too far, keep your back straight and actively go for the engagement of your hamstrings.
Begin this important stretch in a runner’s lunge position by kneeling on your left knee with your right knee bent at 90 degrees. Slowly open your right knee down until it touches the ground. Extend your left leg back as far as possible until you start feeling a deep stretch through the right hip. Try to get your right hip as close to the ground as possible.
Tip: Try to relax into this pose and hold for several minutes on each side. If you can’t get your hip all the way down to the ground, don’t worry. Just put a thick towel or a yoga block under the side that’s getting the stretch for extra support.
This is a great exercise for opening up through the hips and strengthening the inner thighs, or adductors. Start this exercise holding two dumbbells or a barbell over your shoulders. Walk your feet out just outside the width of your shoulders, then turn your feet out to 45 degrees. Drop down into a squat, allowing your knees to track over your toes. As you return to standing, squeeze your glutes.
Tip: The key to this exercise is making sure that your knees track over your toes. It’s easy to allow the knees to come in, but you’ll develop greater strength and mobility by driving the knees out.
Start this exercise with your feet about hip-width apart, knees bent and bent over slightly. Jump laterally to your left, landing on your left foot, allowing your right foot to swing behind you. Immediately jump laterally to your right, landing on your right foot, allowing your right foot to swing behind you. This exercise works the outer glute area, especially the notoriously weak glute medius.
Tip: Start with small jumps, then grow bigger. This will allow your confidence to build and your ankle strength to develop.
This exercise should be done with a sturdy bench, step or riser that is about knee height. Lower is okay, but higher is not. A step that is too high could lead to a knee injury.
Place your right foot on a sturdy bench, step or riser. Step up. Drop back down onto the ground, holding the right foot on the step until the number of repetitions for that leg is complete. Switch to the left leg, placing your left foot on the step
Tip: When you step up, put your weight on your heel, not the ball of your foot. This will take stress off your kneecap, transferring it to your glutes instead.
Maintaining Your Progress
This guide to keeping your legs toned and strong will not only keep your metabolism up, but will also keep your body moving better. After you establish a base of three ultimate leg workouts every week (on non-consecutive days), aim to maintain your leg strength by doing at least two of these routines a week.
It’s also important to maintain strong cardiovascular health as well. Be sure to do at least 30 minutes of cardio – whether walking, running, riding the elliptical, swimming, or cycling to maintain more optimal heart health.
These workouts are great to do whether you’re at home or in the gym. You will need some basic equipment to get you started. A simple set of dumbbells will work. If you want to start today, but don’t have a set of dumbbells are are looking for an equipment-free guide, then try these 5 easy at home workouts for beginners.
Here are a couple other tips that will help keep your momentum high:
As you exercise more, your body’s demand for water will increase. With every workout, drink an additional 12 to 16 ounces of water in addition to what you’re already drinking.
You’ll probably feel pretty sore after your first couple of workouts. This is completely normal. Take some time to stretch your legs after your workout, and anytime you’re feeling sore. The soreness is related to microtears in your muscles that develop as they become stronger. Generally speaking, sore muscles are a good sign!
Don’t forget to rest. You don’t need to workout each and every day. It’s always good to keep moving, but these ultimate leg workouts are ideal to do on non-consecutive days, giving one day of rest in between.
There will probably be days where you feel like you just don’t want to workout or maybe don’t feel like you’re seeing much of a difference and want to quit. These are the times when you need to push forward the most. Keep with your routine as much as possible and don’t stop. Eventually you’ll see the results you desire.
Enjoy the workouts. Stick with it. After a couple of short months, your legs will thank you for all the hard work.