8 Lower-Body Exercises for One of the Best Leg Workouts You Can Do

8 Lower-Body Exercises for One of the Best Leg Workouts for Women

This leg workout for women — or anyone, really — has it all, and you can do it right at home. Hit your quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and hips with these leg workout moves.

01 of 09

The Complete At-Home Leg Workout for Women

best-leg-workout-for-women
Peter Ardito

If you think leg workouts for women that include strength moves will bulk you up, you don't know squat (pun intended), says physiologist Brad Schoenfeld, Ph.D., C.S.C.S., author of Strong & Sculpted.

"Not only have EMG studies shown that basics like squats, lunges, and calf raises work the leg muscles best, but women don't tend to build big muscles thanks to a lack of testosterone," says Schoenfeld, who created this leg workout for women with that science in mind. But the real magic is in his mix. "This workout is greater than the sum of its parts, because each move is hitting different fibers in the legs that you are probably overlooking," says Schoenfeld. (Related: The 4-Week Weight Training Plan for Women)

How it works: Do two to three sets of this leg workout for women three times a week on nonconsecutive days, resting for around 30 seconds between sets.

You'll need: A chair or bench, a 5-pound dumbbell, and a towel.

02 of 09

Split Squat

best-leg-workout-for-women-split-squat
Peter Ardito

Targets: butt and quads

A. Stand with back facing a chair (about 2 feet away), hands on hips or clasped in front of chest, and bend right leg reaching behind to place top of foot on chair seat or bench.

B. Squat, bending right leg 90 degrees with knee over ankle. Press through mid foot to stand.

Make this move harder: After each full squat, do a half squat, bending just 45 degrees. (Or amp up these leg workouts for women by tacking on this 30-day squat challenge afterwards.)

Do 15 to 20 reps per leg. Switch sides; repeat.

03 of 09

Pistol Squat

woman in workout clothes demonstrating how to do a pistol squat glute exercise
Peter Ardito

Targets: butt and quads

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands reaching in front of chest. Lift left foot forward a few inches off floor, foot flexed.

B. Squat, bending left knee 90 degrees, holding left leg to hip level in front of body.

Make this move easier: Let right heel hover close to floor or hold onto a chair or wall for support. (Cue up this intense workout playlist to power you through all of these leg workout moves for women.)

Do 5 to 10 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

04 of 09

Goblet Squat

best-leg-workout-for-women-goblet-squat
Peter Ardito

Targets: butt, quads, inner thighs, and hamstrings

A. Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart, toes turned out, holding handle of a single dumbbell vertically with both hands in front of chest (like a goblet), elbows bent out to sides.

B. Squat, bending knees 90 degrees. Press through mid-foot to stand.

Make this move harder: Holding weight in place, jump up slightly as you rise out of squat, landing with knees soft. (Related: Everything You Need to Know About Plyometrics, Plus Knee-Friendly Exercises)

Do 15 to 20 reps.

05 of 09

Three-Way Lunge

best-leg-workout-for-women-three-way-lunge
Peter Ardito

Targets butt, quads, inner thighs, and hamstrings

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands clasped in front of chest. Lunge forward with left leg (knees bent 90 degrees — form check!); return to start.

B. Lunge left leg out to left, toes facing forward, and bend left knee 90 degrees. Return to start.

C. Lunge backward with left leg to complete 1 rep of this leg exercise for women.

Do 15 to 20 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

06 of 09

Good Morning

best-leg-workout-for-women-good-morning

Targets: abs, butt, and hamstrings

A. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding ends of a single dumbbell in each hand; bend elbows by sides to bring weight under chin.

B. Keeping legs straight and maintaining arm position, press butt backward to hinge forward at hips until back is near parallel to floor.

C. Without rounding back, squeeze glutes to return to standing.

Do 15 to 20 reps.

07 of 09

Single-Leg Deadlift

best-leg-workout-for-women-single-leg-deadlift
Peter Ardito

Targets: butt and hamstrings

A. Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing front of thighs.

B. Hinge forward at hips 90 degrees and lift extended left leg behind body so that body is parallel to floor from head to left heel, arms hanging down.

Do 15 to 20 reps. Switch sides; repeat.

08 of 09

Calf Raise Three Ways

best-leg-workout-for-women-calf-raise
Peter Ardito

Targets: calves

A. Stand with balls of feet on bottom step of a staircase, step, or bench, heels hanging over edge, hands on hips.

B. Turn toes inward. Lift heels high, then lower them slightly below level of step. Do 15 to 20 reps.

C. Next, turn toes out 45 degrees; repeat.

D. With toes forward, stand on left leg only, bending right leg behind body; repeat lifts. Do 15 to 20 reps. Switch legs; repeat.

Do 2 to 3 sets of series.

09 of 09

Hamstring Curl

woman in workout clothes demonstrating how to do a hamstring slider curl glute exercise
Peter Ardito

Targets: butt and hamstrings

A. Lie face-up on the floor, arms by sides, legs extended with heels pressing into a folded towel on floor.

B. Slowly pull heels toward butt while lifting hips off floor until knees are bent 90 degrees and body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees.

C. Slide legs forward to return to start.

Do 2 to 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps.

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