Regular leg exercises do more than provide a firm backside. They promote total body health by engaging a wide range of muscles in your legs, core, and back. Keeping these muscles fit can help support flexibility and strength and burn calories. That’s why Tony Horton encourages women to include dedicated leg exercises in their weekly fitness plan. Learn about some of the best leg workouts for women — and how they help contribute to overall health.
Remember to first speak to your doctor before beginning any new strength workout.
Potential Benefits Of Regular Leg Exercises For Women
Strong legs are important for your overall health. They assist your body with important functions, like bending and lifting. Plus, they literally keep you on your feet and moving around.1
Burn Loads Of Calories With Leg Exercises
Your legs contain some of the biggest muscles in your body. When you engage these big muscles with leg exercises, it burns lots of energy from stored calories. So, working out these large muscles actually helps you burn a substantial amount of calories.2
Compound Exercises May Help Increase Total Muscle Development
Lots of the leg exercises for women below are compound exercises. That means they workout multiple muscles at the same time. The additional effort required to work several muscles causes the body to release growth hormones. This increase in healthy hormones can help to build muscle across the entire body.3
Targeting The Major Muscles Of The Leg
Cardio activities, like running or walking, might not provide enough resistance to actually build muscles in the leg. To really build strength, you may need to do dedicated leg workouts.4
Effective leg exercises for women should target the four major muscles of the leg: the quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. The fundamental movements that activate these muscles are squats, hip-hinges, lunges, and single-leg movements. These muscles and movements can be achieved with bodyweight exercises, free weights, and machines.5
Try These Leg Exercises Out For Maximum Results
These are a few of Tony Horton’s best leg workouts for women. Most of them require few or no weights. The simplicity of these body weight exercises doesn’t mean that they are easy, though. They will challenge your muscles and help you build strength over time. Plus, they can help you establish proper form and technique as you progress toward more advanced leg exercises.6
Bodyweight squats are one of the best compound exercises around. They fire up your glutes, hamstrings, and quads all in one workout routine. This squat variation also creates tension in the abs to help support total body strength.
Note: You can increase the difficulty of this exercise by holding onto a pair of dumbbells.
- In a standing position, step forward with your left leg. Keep the heel on your right leg lifted.
- Keep your head up and your torso straight as you slowly lower down until your back knee almost touches the ground.
- Push back up, and complete ten reps. Then, switch legs and complete ten reps on the other leg.
- As you do this exercise, make sure your front knee does not extend past your front foot.7
This hip-hinge is a great hamstring exercise. It also strengthens the glutes and other muscles along the posterior chain and core. It may help support and strengthen muscles weakened by sitting all day long.8
- Stand with your hands behind your head and your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Engage your core, and slowly hinge forward at the hips. Pull your shoulders back as you lower, and be sure you have a slight bend at the hips — not the knees.
- Stop once you feel tension in the hamstrings, then slowly lift back up to the starting position.
- Repeat for 10-15 reps.9
This deadlift variation targets the glutes and hamstrings, making it a great exercise for firming up the backside. Start with a light set of dumbbells, and work your way up.
- Stand holding a set of dumbbells. Raise your left leg behind you. Bend at the hips, and keep your core tight for balance.
- Lift your leg until your torso is parallel with the ground. The dumbbells should hang straight below your shoulder blades.
- Return your leg to the start position, and repeat with your right leg for 10 reps.10
Lunge variations like this one allow you to engage different areas of a muscle. A side lunge stimulates the side of the glutes to help with hip movements and overall balance.
- Start out in an upright position with your feet flat and touching. Hold your hands together in front of your chest.
- Step your right leg out and lower into a lunge by pushing your hips back and bending your right knee. Your left leg should be straight with toes pointing forward.
- Lift back up by pushing through your right foot.
- Return the right foot to the starting position and lunge to the left. Repeat for 10 reps.11
Build up your glute strength to improve back stability and athletic movement. A barbell offers extra resistance, but you can also do this without weights to start out.
- Set up an easy curl bar or a small barbell in front of a bench. Sit down, and lean the top of your back against the bench to make a 45-degree angle.
- Grab hold of the barbell, and place it on your lap slightly above your pelvis.
- Drive your hips up using your glute muscles until your back is straight and your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
- Return to the starting position. Repeat for 10 reps.12
Inner Thigh Leg Raises
It may look simple, but this leg workout will give your inner thigh muscles a nice extra challenge.
- Start out by lying down on your left side on an exercise mat. Hold your head up with your left arm.
- Bend your right leg up toward your chest then lower it to the ground so that it crosses over your left leg.
- Lift your left leg up by using your inner thigh muscles. Hold, then lower it back toward the ground, but stop before it touches the floor.
- Repeat this up and down for 10 reps, and then switch sides.13
A Stronger You With The Best Leg Workouts For Women
Lower body workouts are a great way to create lean, strong legs. Plus, leg exercises can help support your upper body strength and core stability. The compound movements involved with many leg workouts may also increase calorie-burn and stimulate muscle mass. Follow some of the leg exercises for women above to get started. Of course, be sure to consult a doctor before beginning your new leg routine.