A leg workout isn’t just about chiseled quads, sculpted calves, or a toned behind. Building strong muscles in your lower body translates to more power, speed, and overall ease of movement. Plus, because your bottom half hosts the body’s biggest muscles, the more you strengthen them, the more calories you’ll burn with every movement.
Don’t believe us? Take it from Ben Booker, lead trainer for Daily Burn’s Live to Fail program (a strength training program for men and women). “I was once the guy that skipped leg day, or at least didn’t give it the attention it deserved when I first began lifting weights,” Booker says. That quickly changed when Booker learned how good it was for not only muscle growth in the lower body, but all over. “Men and women alike burn more calories for fat loss and increase metabolism when they consistently train legs. Body composition will change and your body will become more efficient.”
How can you turn that town? Time to turn up the burn with this leg workout, featuring four of Booker’s favorite power moves.
RELATED: 9 Reasons Not to Skip Leg Day
4-Exercise Leg Workout to Build Strength and Power
In this leg workout, you’ll superset two exercises — or perform them back-to-back to complete one set. When picking weights, Booker suggests starting lighter than you think you should. “Only do an amount of weight that allows you to keep proper form. As soon as you cannot keep the form, drop the weight and complete the rep ranges,” he says.
To maximize gains, do 10 to 12 reps of each exercise and four sets. Aim to tackle this leg day workout at least once a week — but twice is even better, Booker says. Just be sure to have two to three rest days between each session to allow for muscle repair and recovery.
1. Dumbbell Squat
Targets: Quads, hamstrings, and shoulders (for weight stabilization).
How to: Start standing with feet just inside shoulder-width apart, holding your dumbbells in racked position with elbows bent and weights placed at shoulder height (a). Drop your hips down and back, keeping weight in your heels, for a squat. Don’t shift your bodyweight to the front of your foot. Heels should stay on the ground, and weights stay directly over feet (b). Stand back up and repeat, keeping your back flat and chest tall (c).
Targets: Upper quads, glutes, hamstrings and helps with hip mobility and balance.
How to: Grab a box, bench or chair that’s high enough to challenge you, yet low enough that you don’t have to use your bottom foot to push off the floor. Stand in front of it, right leg on top and arms down by your sides, holding dumbbells (a). Step up on your right foot, pushing off your heel to stand straight up (b). With control, lower back to the ground, keeping your right foot on top. Back should stay flat and shoulders down, with minimal swinging of the weights (c). Repeat, then switch sides. Start each set with the opposite foot.
3. Chair Squats with Calf Raise
Targets: Thighs, quads, calves, and hamstrings.
How to: Start standing with feet shoulder-width apart, toes pointing slightly outward (a). Lower your butt back and down until you come to sit on the chair (it should be low enough to provide a challenge). Move slow and with control to activate your hamstrings and stabilizer muscles (b). Stand back up, coming onto your toes as high as possible at the top for a calf raise (c). Repeat, minimizing the dumbbell swing and keeping your back flat and chest tall.
4. Side Lunge
Targets: Inner thighs, glutes, and hamstrings.
How to: Start with your legs at least six inches wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward. Hold one dumbbell with both hands under your chin (a). Shift your butt back and move your body over your right leg, bending your knee and going as long as you can while keeping the opposite leg straight. Your left foot can roll to the side, but keep your entire right foot planted (b). Stand back up straight (c). Repeat on the other side and continue alternating.
For more strength workouts, go to dailyburn.com to start your free trial today!
Originally posted on January 2018. Updated on April 2022
GIFs by Daily Burn Live to Fail