How to Design a Leg Workout Using the 15 Best Exercises

How to Design a Leg Workout Using the 15 Best Exercises

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Strong legs have benefits beyond aesthetics. Leg strength is necessary for even the most basic daily activities like walking. This means that including leg exercises in your program is essential for maintaining good health.

But you might be unsure about where to start.

Making an efficient leg workout doesn’t have to be difficult, whether you’re sweating it out back at the gym or working out at home pandemic-style. Let’s start now.

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Movement patterns in a good leg workout

Simplicity is preferable when creating an efficient leg workout. Squats, hip hinges (deadlifts), and lunges are the fundamental lower body exercises that should make up the majority of your programming.

These exercises naturally concentrate on the primary leg muscular groups—the glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves.

There are numerous variations and methods to advance once you have mastered these moves, which will keep you challenged.

Here’s a quick breakdown to help you plan your leg workout: Squats are a good place to start, followed by hip hinges, and finally single-leg motions.

How many sets and reps should you do in your leg workout?

Pick 3-5 exercises for each leg workout as a beginner trying to improve overall fitness while adhering to the idea of keeping things straightforward. After that, perform each exercise for 3 sets of 8–12 repetitions, being sure to exhaust your muscles but not to the point of failure.

Why are there only five exercises? You’ll be able to concentrate on those crucial moves and give your best effort. Your workouts may become ineffective if they last for too long.

How many times per week should you work legs?

According to recent studies, there is little difference between training the main muscle groups once per week and three times per week when striving to maximize muscular growth.

The volume of your resistance training—the number of sets and reps you’re performing—is what most influences your muscle growth. Working the same muscle area more than once a week tends to result in worse results than sessions with higher volume (such as 3 sets of 12 reps or even 4 sets of 8 reps).

Leg exercises benefit from simplicity. Squats, hip hinges, and lunges are the only exercises you should do, and you should only perform three sets of 12 repetitions of each.

How to warm up and cool down properly

Without an appropriate warmup and cooldown, a workout cannot be considered effective.

To get your heart rate up and your blood flowing during your warm-up, try to start with 5 minutes of easy cardio. If you have the time, spend 5 minutes releasing soft tissues on the foam roller.

After that, begin a dynamic stretching practice that includes lunges, and squats using only your body weight, hip openers, and leg swings.

It’s a good idea to perform a more involved stretching exercise after your workout.

Warm up with a brief dynamic stretching exercise, some mild aerobics, and foam rolling. Stretching is a great way to relax.

Exercises for your leg workout

Use this list of the 15 most effective leg exercises as a starting point for designing your next leg workout.

1. Back squat

The back squat is an excellent exercise for working the posterior chain, which refers to the back of the body and includes the glutes and hamstrings.

The proper way to act:

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder distance apart and a barbell loaded on your traps. Your eyes should be directed forward, your chest should be lifted high, and your toes should be angled outwards ever-so-slightly.

Drop down toward the ground by bending your knees, sitting back into your hips, and lowering yourself toward the ground. It is important to make sure that your knees move slightly outward and do not cave inward.

You should squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, or as far as your mobility will allow you to go, and then push yourself back up to the starting position.

2. Front squat

A front squat allows you to focus on developing the front of your body, particularly your quadriceps.

The proper way to act:

When you are ready, load a barbell onto the front of your shoulders and support it by hooking your fingers in an underhand grasp on either side of your shoulders. Raise your elbows and keep your focus on what’s in front of you.

You should lower yourself toward the floor by sitting back into your hips, bending your knees, and lowering yourself down. Make sure that your legs are tracking outward and that your chest is staying proud while you fight the urge to collapse forward.

You should squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground, or as far as your mobility will allow you to go, and then push yourself back up to the starting position.

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3. Romanian deadlift

The Romanian deadlift is an excellent exercise for increasing mobility in the hips in addition to strengthening the glutes, hamstrings, and calves.

The proper way to act:

Keeping one barbell or dumbbell in each hand, perform the exercise. Throughout the action, be sure to keep both your back and your sight straight in front of you.

You should start by bending forward at the hips and dropping your weight toward the ground while simultaneously bending your knees slightly. Allow the weights to move in close proximity to the line of your legs as you lower them and continue to lower them until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.

After pausing, start standing up by thrusting your hips forward and allowing your glutes to provide the most of the strength.

4. Good mornings

The “good morning” exercise is a hip-hinge action that will help you wake up your hamstrings.

The proper way to act:

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder distance apart and a barbell loaded onto your traps.

You should bend your knees slightly and hinge at the hips while you slowly slide your torso toward the ground, which will cause your butt to move in the opposite direction. Throughout the movement, keep your chest up high and your focus unwaveringly ahead of you.

After lowering yourself to the point where you feel a stretch in your hamstring, return to the starting position by contracting your glutes.

5. Walking lunges

Walking lunges are a great way to strengthen your quads, hamstrings, and glutes, but they may also be challenging for your balance.

The proper way to act:

Put your feet next to one another to begin. If you want to practise weighted walking lunges, you should be sure you hold a dumbbell in each hand.

Step forward and lunge forward with your right leg until your thigh is parallel to the ground while keeping your chest lifted and your vision fixed directly in front of you.

You should be able to come back up to the beginning position by pushing up through your right heel.

Keep moving forward while putting weight on your left foot.

6. Reverse lunge

The reverse lunge, which is a kinder variation of the forward lunge, is an excellent exercise for executing the optimum placement for a lunge.

The proper way to act:

You should stand with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders apart and your arms hanging loosely at your sides.

Take a step backward with your right foot and lunge forward until the angle formed between your left leg and the ground is 90 degrees. Maintain an upright position in your torso.

Return to the beginning position by bringing your weight up through your left heel.

7. Lateral lunge

As humans, the majority of our motion takes place in front-to-back planes of motion. Stability and strength can be improved by performing side-to-side motions like lateral lunges, for example.

The proper way to act:

To begin, spread your feet further apart than hip-width apart.

Keep your torso upright while bending your left knee and sitting back into your left hip. Keep your left knee bent. Maintain as much of a straight line as you can with your right leg while you bend your left knee to a 90-degree angle. Do this while keeping your right leg as straight as possible.

Repeat after I tell you to push back up to the starting position. Carry out the allotted number of repetitions on each side.

8. Stepup

The stepup is a great exercise for improving your strength, balance, and power.

The proper way to act:

Place a bench or some other elevated surface in front of you by a distance of about one foot as you stand. If you wish to perform a weighted step up, you will need to keep a dumbbell in each hand.

You can either lift your left knee for an additional challenge or step onto the bench with the entirety of your right foot. Then, push up through your heel to bring your left foot to meet your right foot, or you can do both.

When you are ready, return to the beginning position by stepping down with your left foot.

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9. Glute bridge

The only equipment you need for this workout is your own body weight.

The proper way to act:

Position yourself so that you are lying on your back with your knees bent, your feet flat on the floor, and your arms resting by your sides.

Take a deep breath in and press through all four corners of your feet while activating your core, glutes, and hamstrings to bring your hips up as high as you can.

After pausing at the peak, gradually lower yourself until you are in the beginning position.

10. Hip thrust

The hip thrust is a great exercise for developing your glutes’ strength and size.

The proper way to act:

Place a barbell, dumbbell, or plate on your hips while seated on a raised platform like a bench or sofa. You can also do this exercise by standing up. Throughout the entirety of the activity, you will be required to use your hands to maintain the weight.

To get into position, slide your back down the bench until your knees are bent and your feet are flat on the ground. Position your feet so that they are shoulder-width apart. Your thighs should be positioned such that they make an angle of ninety degrees, and the bench should be positioned so that it is directly below your shoulder blades.

Keep your chin tucked in and your bottom toward the ground as you sink your butt. Reduce your height while maintaining a stable footing, and cease lowering yourself when your torso is at an angle of 45 degrees with the ground.

Apply upward pressure via the soles of your feet until your thighs are once again perpendicular to the ground. At the height of the movement, squeeze your glutes, and then slowly return to the starting position.

11. Goblet squat

The goblet squat is a variation of the traditional squat that is less taxing on your back than the traditional squat, yet it still strengthens your quadriceps and glutes.

The proper way to act:

To begin, grab a dumbbell so that it is upright in your hand and position both hands so that they are underneath the top of the weight. Put the dumbbell up against your chest, and make sure to hold it there the whole time you’re doing out.

Squat down, seating back into your hips while bending your knees. This is the starting position. Maintain an upright posture and bend forward as much as your range of motion will allow.

Return to the beginning position by bringing your weight up through your heels.

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12. Leg press

Although machines like the leg press lack some of the benefits of free-weight exercises, they do allow you to quickly isolate specific muscles, in this case, the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. This is an advantage that free-weight exercises do not have.

The proper way to act:

Place your back and head on the pad that comes with the leg press machine as you sit in the seat. Position your feet so that they are hip-width apart. The angle formed by your legs should be 90 degrees.

Put some effort into engaging your core, and stretch out your legs. At the top, take a moment to pause, but be careful not to lock your knees.

Bending your knees will allow you to return the plate to its initial position more slowly.

13. Leg curl

Utilizing the leg curl machine, you can target your hamstrings and calves individually.

The proper way to act:

Place yourself in the leg curl machine so that you are resting on your stomach, and position the roller pad so that it is slightly above your heels. To stabilize yourself, grab the support bars that are located on either side of the machine.

Engage your core muscles and elevate your feet while simultaneously pushing the pad closer to your butt.

Make a little pause at the peak, and then slowly lower yourself back down to the starting position.

14. Bulgarian split squat

The Bulgarian split squat is a great exercise that works both your legs and your core.

The proper way to act:

Face away from a knee-level bench or step and stand approximately two feet in front of it. Raise your right foot behind you and rest the top of it on the bench. Lift your right leg behind you.

Make a small forward lean at the waist, and while doing so, proceed to drop yourself down on your left leg while bending the knee. When your left thigh is parallel to the ground, you should stop moving forward.

To return to a standing position, apply upward pressure through the sole of your left foot.

15. Single-leg deadlift

By performing the single-leg deadlift, you may strengthen your hamstrings and improve your balance at the same time.

The proper way to act:

Take a hold of a set of dumbbells. Throughout the action, be sure to keep both your back and your sight straight in front of you.

Put your weight on your left leg and start to hinge at the waist while maintaining your left knee bent. This motion should be done while keeping your left knee soft.

Your body should make a straight line from your head to your toes as you continue to lean forward and push your right leg up and back. Make sure that your hips remain level with the ground at all times.

After pausing, proceed by going back to where you started and doing it again. Carry out the required amount of repetitions for each leg.


When developing a leg workout, the most successful strategy, especially for those just starting out, is to keep things as straightforward as possible. Pick three to five exercises, focus on your form, and observe how quickly your leg strength improves.

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