25 Leg Exercises That Are Here To Make Leg Day Way More Interesting

25 Leg Exercises

Unfortunately, too many people neglect leg day (a) because they think they’re already working their legs all day, especially if they’re doing workouts like running or biking and (b) because the leg muscles are so large to begin with, it takes longer to see results. Don’t do that! You’ll get the biggest bang for your workout buck by doing strength exercises that specifically target your legs at least once a week.

Oh, and by the way, you don’t need to use a heavy barbell or any crazy equipment to really work your lower-body, either. Some of the best leg workouts for women use simple equipment like dumbbells, a stability ball, some resistance bands, and maybe a kettlebell, to reap serious leg day rewards.

To save you some trouble, I broke down 25 of the best leg exercises you can do. Start incorporating them into your own leg workouts by choosing four big moves that involve multiple joints, like squats, deadlifts, and lunges. From there, add in three or four simpler accessory moves, like clamshells or kickbacks.

Switch things up every few weeks to stay engaged and you’ll definitely feel (and see!) the benefits.


Time: 10 to 20 minutes

Equipment: Looped resistance band, stability ball, dumbbells

Good for: legs

Instructions: Choose seven or eight exercises from the list below. Perform three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps of each move. Then, rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continuing onto the next.


1. Goblet Squat

How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart and hold a weight in front of chest, elbows pointing toward the floor. Push hips back and bend knees to lower into a squat. Push yourself back to start. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: This beginner-friendly way to load up your squats also activates your core.


2. Banded Lateral Walk

How to: Place a mini resistance band a few inches above ankles, and stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Maintaining a tight core, step left foot out to the side, followed by right. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps per side, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: This move warms up your glutes and hits your often-overlooked glute medius muscles.


3. Single-Leg Deadlift

How to: Holding a weight in either hand, stand on left leg with palms facing toward thighs. Keep left leg slightly bent while hinging forward at hips, extending right leg straight behind you, until torso is parallel to the floor. Weights should be lowered straight down as you move until they’re almost touching the floor. Drive into left heel to return to standing. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps on each side, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: This unilateral (single-side) exercise targets your hamstring and glutes and challenges your balance.


4. Sumo Deadlift

How to: Holding two kettlebells or dumbbells, stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, toes pointed out. Position weights in front of thighs, palms facing in. Keeping knees slightly bent, press hips back as you hinge at the waist and lower the weights toward the floor. Squeeze glutes to return to standing. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: This deadlift variation really targets your glutes, hamstrings, and back.


5. Stability Ball Bridge

How to: Start lying on back with arms by sides, legs bent at 90 degrees (shins parallel to mat) and feet on stability ball. Push down into soles, upper back, and arms to lift hips off ground a few inches. Return to start. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: Performing bridges with a stability ball challenges your hamstrings, glutes, and balance in a whole new way.


6. Lateral Lunge with Balance

How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands at sides. Take a big step to the right, then push hips back, bending right knee and lowering until right knee is bent to 90 degrees. Push back to an upright position, lifting knee and pulling it into chest with arms. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps on each side, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: Most workouts focus on forward-and-backward movements, but lateral (side-to-side) movements are important for well-rounded fitness.


7. Squat with Heel Raise

How to: Stand with heels wider then shoulder-distance apart, toes turned out slightly. Bend knees, reach hips back, and lower down into a squat. Drop arms down in between legs. Then, drive in into heels to stand up, circling arms out to the sides. At the top, lift arms straight up overhead and press up onto toes. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: The heel raise added here targets your calves.


8. Suitcase Deadlift

How to: Hold a weight with left hand, feet shoulder-width apart and right hand clenched in fist. Keeping abs engaged and knees soft, sit hips back to slowly lower weight until it reaches middle of left shin. Back should be parallel to the floor. Pressing through heels and engaging abs, quickly return to start. Squeeze glutes once completely upright. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: In addition to firing up your hamstring, glutes, and back, the suitcase deadlift also activates your obliques.


9. Bulgarian Split Squat

How to: Start standing about two feet in front of a step, holding a weight in each hand. Extend left leg back and place left foot on step. Bend knees to lower body as far as you can (or until knee hovers right above the ground), keeping shoulders back and chest up. Pause, then press through right heel to return to start. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps on each side, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: This leveled-up split squat variation really tests the strength of your front leg, upping the intensity of your workout and warding off muscle imbalances.


10. Sumo Squat

How to: Stand with heels shoulder-distance apart, then turn toes open slightly. Hold a kettlebell or dumbbell in front of hips. Bend knees, reaching hips back, and lower down into a squat. Allow arms to hang so that the weight remains under shoulders. Lower until hips are slightly below the level of knees. Pause at the bottom for two seconds, then drive into heels to return to standing. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: This squat variation targets your inner thighs more than the traditional version.


11. Stability Ball Hip Thrust

How to: Start with arms behind head and elbows wide, upper back pressed into stability ball, legs bent and feet flat on floor, hips hovering above mat. Lean back into stability ball and lift hips toward ceiling until thighs are parallel to mat. Return to start. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: In addition to turning up the burn for your glutes, using a stability ball here requires you to fire up your core, too.


12. Isometric Calf Raise

How to: Hold a pair of dumbbells and stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping the rest of body still, lift up onto the tips of toes. Hold for up to 30 seconds. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: This move really hits your calves, no machines necessary!


13. Reverse Lunge

How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart, and hold dumbbells in either hand at sides. Step back with right leg and bend both knees as you lower until knees are both bent at 90-degree angles. Push through left foot to stand. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps on each side, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: This staple unilateral exercise works your quads, hamstrings, and glutes.


14. Supported Single-Leg Deadlift

How to: Stand on left leg with a dumbbell in right hand, palm facing toward thighs, left arm by side. Step right leg a few feet behind body, lift heel, and press right toes into the floor for balance. Keep left leg slightly bent. Lean forward, hinging at the hips with a flat back while lowering the weight toward the floor. Drive into left heel to return to the standing position. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps on each side, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: If single-leg deadlifts feel frustrating and unstable, this is a great modification that still targets your hamstring and glutes without as much of a balance challenge.


15. Duck Walks

How to: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, and cross hands in front of chest. Slowly sit hips back and down into a half squat position. Keeping hips stable, lower right knee down to the ground, followed by left. Bring right foot forward, followed by left, and return to half-squat position. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps on each side, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: This fun exercise is guaranteed to burn out your quads and glutes.


16. Curtsy Lunge

How to: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Take a big step back with right leg, crossing it behind left side at the same time. Bend knees and lower hips until left thigh is nearly parallel to the floor. Keep torso upright and hips and shoulders as square as possible. Return to start. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps on each side, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: Compared to regular lunges, curtsies put greater emphasis on your outer thighs and glutes.


17. Step Up

How to: Start standing facing a box or step, holding dumbbells in front of chest. Place left foot on the bench and right foot on the floor. Pushing through left foot, lift body up until standing on top of the bench. Drive right knee up until it forms a 90-degree angle. Pause, then return to start. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps on each side, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: This single-leg move (which works your quads, hamstrings, and glutes while testing your balance) is helpful for all sorts of everyday activities.


18. Pistol Squat

How to do it: Start standing with feet hip-distance apart. Lift right leg while sitting hips back and bending left knee, bringing body as low as possible while keeping torso upright. Arms can be held out in front of chest or out to sides for balance. Driving through left heel, stand up to return to start. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps on each side, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: If you have the ankle mobility and balance to attempt this advanced unilateral exercise, it’ll test your quads like no other.


19. Lateral Step-Out Squat

How to: Stand up straight with a resistance band wrapped just below knees. Clasp hands in front of your chest. Take a big step to the right, then bend knees, sit back, and lower hips until thighs are parallel with the floor. Engage glutes and press back up through heels to return to standing. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: This squat variation turns up the heat on your outer glutes and thighs.


20. Mini Band Clamshells

How to do it: Lie on right side with knees bent. Place mini resistance band around thighs, just above knees. Place left hand on left hip and form a 90-degree angle with right arm to prop yourself up and remain stable. Working against the band, squeeze glutes and thigh muscles to press left thigh up as far as possible. Then slowly bring left thigh back to starting position. This is one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps on each side, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: Want to really focus in on your outer glutes? These do the trick (and happen to be a great activation exercise for larger compound exercises).


21. Mini Band Kickback

How to: Get on hands and knees. Put one end of mini band around right foot and position the other end on left thigh, just above knee. While keeping abs tight, contract glutes to slowly kick right leg back until it’s straight. At full extension, squeeze glutes for a second. Slowly bring it back down. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps on each side, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: Another isolation glute move, banded kick backs also require you to engage your core.


22. Lying Lateral Leg Raise

How to: Lie on right side, resting right elbow on ground just below right shoulder, and placing left hand on the floor in front of chest for stability. Right leg should be straight on the ground, and left leg should be bent over right leg. Without moving any other part of body, slowly raise right leg as high as you can. Pause, then return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps on each side, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: This underrated bodyweight exercise hones in on those inner thighs.


23. Isometric Squat

How to: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, hands clasped in front of chest. Push hips back and bend knees to sink hips until thighs are nearly parallel to the ground. Hold for up to 30 seconds. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: Adding isometric squat holds to your workouts helps you overcome muscle imbalances while also improving body control, awareness, and core activation.


24. Banded Glute Bridge

How to: Wrap a resistance band around thighs and lie on back with knees bent, feet on the floor 12 to 16 inches from butt. Brace core, then press into heels and squeeze glutes to raise hips toward the ceiling while pushing upper back into the ground. Pause in this position and expand the band by pressing knees apart. Return to start. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

Why it rocks: Added resistance from the mini band helps you up your focus on your glutes.


25. Stability Ball Hamstring Curl

How to: Start lying on back with arms at sides and legs extended at 45-degree angle, feet resting on stability ball. Press into upper back and arms to lift hips off ground. Then, bend knees and engage hamstrings to pull heels toward butt. Re-extend legs. That’s one rep. Do three or four sets of 10 to 12 reps, then rest for 30 to 60 seconds and continue onto your next move. (Remember: You’re doing seven or eight total.)

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