There’s a noticeable difference between legs with cut calves and taut quads and those that are shapeless. It can be all too easy to neglect your legs when you’re focused on cardio, abs, or arms, but it doesn’t take much time to tighten up and create definition in your legs.
Start by adding a couple of the following leg exercises to your daily routine. With some regular work, you’ll have your own pair of lean, sculpted legs to unveil. In addition to looking great, working out your legs is a major calorie burner since your body’s largest muscles are found in your lower body. What more could you ask for? Here are some of the best lower body workouts to get you started.
1. Pistol squat
If you can bust out a set of squats with your eyes closed, it may be time to take your squat workout to the next level. The pistol squat does just that. Start by standing and hold your arms straight out in front of your body at shoulder level so that they’re parallel to the floor. Lift your right leg off the floor in front of you and hold. Then, push your hips back and lower your hips as low as possible as you shoot your right leg out in front of you, maintaining your balance on your left leg. Pause when you reach your limit and push back into the starting position. Repeat until your left quads and glutes are burning. Then, repeat on the other side.
2. Skater lunge
You’re probably familiar with the standard lunge, but this energizing variation adds a bit of spice to the movement. You’ll be strengthening your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart keeping your arms down at your sides. Take a giant step backwards with your left leg, crossing it diagonally behind your right leg. As you do this, extend your right arm out to the side and swing your left across your hips. Hop about two feet to the left and come into the lunge on the opposite side. Repeat this pattern back and forth for either a set amount of time or reps based on your energy and fitness level.
3. Back squat with calf raises
Ever envied a pair of cut calves? This exercise works out your calves while also giving your glutes, quads, and hamstrings some love. You’ll need a barbell, so test out this workout next time you visit the gym. Start by unracking the barbell from the “high bar” position so it sits just behind your neck, high on your trapezius muscles. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart as you squat deep trying to get your hip crease below your knees. When you’re as low as you can go, push up through your heels to return to standing. From here, raise up on the balls of your feet and contract your calves for a weighted calf raise. Return to the starting position and perform a total of three sets of 15, 12, and finally, 10 reps. For maximum effect, increase the weight as you reduce the number of reps.
4. Diagonal leg lift
If you want to slip a little ab work into your leg day, this exercise is a great one to add to the docket. The move targets your abdomen, obliques, butt, quads, hamstrings, and calves. Start lying on your back on the floor. Bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor with your hands palm-down on the floor and by your hips. When you’re ready, lift your hips off the floor and tuck your left foot under your right thigh, allowing your left knee to point out towards the left. Don’t let your left foot touch the floor. Then, return your left leg to the starting position. Repeat as many reps as possible on the left side before moving to the right.
5. Warrior III
This yoga pose takes balance and focus to maintain and gives your legs and core a solid workout. Start standing with your feet together. Lift your left leg behind you and point your toe. Shift your body weight into your right leg as you continue to lift your left leg behind you. You will start to drop your head and torso so that you form a straight line from your left toe to the top of your head. Your arms should remain tight to your sides with your fingers pointing back toward your left foot. Focus on tightening your core and keeping your back straight. When you’re in position, hold for five slow, steady breaths and release. Repeat on the other side.
6. Stiff-legged deadlift
For a great hamstring workout, start with this weighted deadlift. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart keeping your knees slightly bent. Hold a five pound dumbbell in each hand with your palms facing the front of your thighs, or if you’re at the gym, use a barbell. Keep your head up and shoulders back as you inhale and push your hips back, lowering your torso as you slide the weights down your thighs. Focus on keeping your weight in your heels. Slowly raise back to a starting position and do 20 reps for a total of three sets.