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Love Your Legs Workout

Sculpt strong, toned legs and thighs with these exercises that work the muscle fibers you're probably overlooking.

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Strong leg muscles
Alex Palombo
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Get Strong, Sexy Legs

If you think lower-body strength exercises will bulk you up, you don't know squats, says physiologist Brad Schoenfeld, author of Sculpting Her Body Perfect. "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 the Love Your Legs workout 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," Schoenfeld says. Do the routine three times a week on nonconsecutive days, resting for around 30 seconds between sets. (All you'll need is a chair, a 5-pound dumbbell, and a towel.)

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Split Squat

Targets butt and quads

  • Stand with back facing a chair (about 2 feet away), hands on hips, and bend left leg behind you to place top of foot on chair seat.
  • Squat, bending right leg 90 degrees with knee over ankle. Make it harder: After each full squat, do a half squat, bending just 45 degrees.
  • Do 15 to 20 reps. Switch legs and repeat. Do 2 to 3 sets.

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Sissy Squat

Targets quads, hamstrings, and calves

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart with right side next to a chair, right hand holding seat back.
  • Rise up onto toes (heels off floor) and bend knees 90 degrees as you lean torso back 45 degrees (so that body forms a straight line from knees to shoulders, abs tight.)
  • Return to standing on toes. Do 2 to 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps.

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Pistol Squat

Targets butt and quads

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, fists in front of chest with elbows bent; lift right foot forward a few inches off floor, foot flexed.
  • Squat, bending left knee 90 degrees, as you lift right leg to hip level in front of you. Make it easier: Let right heel hover close to floor.
  • Do 15 to 20 reps, then switch sides and repeat. Do 2 to 3 sets.

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Goblet Squat

Targets butt, quads, inner thighs, and hamstrings

  • 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.
  • Squat, bending knees 90 degrees. Make it harder: Holding weight in place, jump up slightly as you rise out of squat, landing with knees soft.
  • Do 2 to 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps.

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Three-Way Lunge

Targets butt, quads, inner thighs, and hamstrings

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, hands clasped in front of chest. Lunge forward with left leg (knees bent 90 degrees); return to start.
  • Lunge left leg out to left, toes facing forward, and bend left knee 90 degrees. Return to start.
  • Lunge backward with left leg to complete 1 rep. Repeat sequence with right leg.
  • Do 2 to 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps, alternating sides.

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Good Morning

Targets abs, butt, and hamstrings

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding ends of a single dumbbell in each hand; bend elbows by sides to bring weight under chin.
  • Keeping legs straight and maintaining arm position, press butt backward as you hinge forward at hips until back is near parallel to floor.
  • Return to standing. Do 2 to 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps.

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Single-Leg Dead Lift

Targets butt and hamstrings

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing front of thighs.
  • Hinge forward at hips 90 degrees as you lift extended left leg behind you so that body is parallel to floor from head to left heel, arms hanging down.
  • Return to start. Do 15 to 20 reps. Switch sides and repeat. Do 2 to 3 sets.

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Hamstring Curl

Targets butt and hamstrings

  • Lie faceup on floor, arms by sides, legs extended with heels pressing into a folded towel on floor.
  • Slowly pull heels toward butt as you lift hips off floor until knees are bent 90 degrees and body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees.
  • Slide legs forward to return to start.
  • Do 2 to 3 sets of 15 to 20 reps.

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Calf Raise Three Ways

Targets calves

  • Stand with balls of feet on bottom step of a staircase, heels hanging over edge, hands on hips.
  • Turn toes inward. Lift heels high, then lower them slightly below level of step. Do 15 to 20 reps.
  • Next, turn toes out 45 degrees; repeat.
  • With toes forward, stand on left leg only, bending right leg behind you; repeat lifts. Do 15 to 20 reps. Switch legs; repeat. Do 2 to 3 sets of series.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, March 2012.

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smithlb10 wrote:

I am adding this to my leg workout. I've lost 22 pounds and gained some nice muscle. I'm trying to make my legs and butt even better! Check out my blog http://successbysweat.blogspot.com

3/30/2014 10:34:25 AM Report Abuse
smithlb10 wrote:

Juliana73, I would pin it to pinterest. Do you have an account?

3/30/2014 10:33:26 AM Report Abuse
farhana27 wrote:

why , cannot i watch any workout video?

3/27/2012 08:57:17 AM Report Abuse
juliana73 wrote:

I WOULD LIKE TO SAVE THIS SLIDESHOW TO MY WORKOUTS; PLEASE TELL ME HOW TO DO IT THANK YOU.

3/5/2012 12:37:02 PM Report Abuse

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