Want stronger, more toned legs? Whether your fitness goal is weight loss, an increase in muscle mass or decreased body fat, strength training the lower body is key. The right exercises will not only help tone your entire lower body (and create that enviable round bottom), but also strengthen your core and provide more stability for every movement you do — in the gym and out.
These exercises are meant to be performed slowly. Remember: They are not cardio; they are strength training. Unlike a HIIT workout or cardio in which you’re moving quickly, these exercises are meant to be done with attention to detail. Concentrate on moving slowly and deliberately throughout the entire exercise and squeezing the glutes at the top.
Perform this 5-minute routine every other day to allow your muscles to repair and recover after each workout.
5-minute glute and leg workout
This is a great warm-up exercise to kick off this 5-minute routine (or any workout routine for that matter!). To begin, lie on your back with your head resting on the floor. Keep your arms straight at your sides with your palms on the floor and bend your knees so that your heels are directly under your knees. Slowly raise your hips towards the ceiling by curling up your lower back, middle back, and then upper back. Once you’re up in the air, take a deep breath in, squeezing the glutes. Then, exhale as you slowly roll down one vertebra at a time. Repeat 10 times.
This exercise works the quads, hamstrings, and glutes (especially at the top when you squeeze). Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward. Pull your naval in towards your spine, and then squat by bending at your knees and reaching your glutes back as if you’re sitting in a chair. Press down through your heels and then stand back up. Repeat this 10x. For a modification, squat only halfway down before returning to standing.
Squat into Side Leg Lift
This progression from a basic squat will fire up your hamstrings, quads and gluteus maximus, while focusing on the gluteus medius (the side hip) during the leg lift. To perform this, first do a squat. Then, as you stand up extend the right leg out to the right and lift it up as high as the hip to work the outer right hip and thigh. Place the foot back down and lower into a squat. Repeat 10 times. Then perform on the other side (performing as leg lift with the left leg).
Single Leg Deadlift
Standing upright, balance on the right foot. Extend the left leg behind you, and lean your torso forward reaching your arms towards the floor, allowing your left leg to lift up towards the ceiling behind you. Keep the leg straight and squeeze the left glute at the top. Then lower the leg back down towards the ground and bring your torso up to center. Repeat 10 times, then switch sides.
Back Lunge & Lift
Start standing with your feet as wide as your hips. Then, step your left foot back and lower down into a lunge. Press down through the right heel as you lift the left leg straight up behind you to work the hamstring and glute. Then lower back down into the lunge. Repeat this 10 times and then switch sides.
Beginner modification: Take out the leg lift and perform a standard backwards lunge. If you need extra support, hold on to a railing or a table to help with balance.
Crunched for time? Try these workout routines
- Need to loosen up? Try this 5-minute stretch routine
- A 15-minute strength training routine for March
- A 5-minute routine to tone your arms
- A 10-minute cardio workout you can do at home
- A 15-minute full body HIIT workout — no equipment required