Ready for leg day? Strong legs do more than look good. Even the simplest daily movements, like walking, require leg strength. This means that incorporating leg workouts into your routine is an essential part of healthy movement in your daily life.
Whether you’re working out at home or you’re back at the gym sweating it out, creating an effective leg workout doesn’t have to be complicated. As a personal trainer for almost 15 years, I’ve compiled a list of my top 25 favorite leg exercises that you can do anywhere. Best of all? No equipment is needed.
Remember: Don’t do these exercises every single day. The legs and glutes are the largest muscles in the body, so giving them a 24-hour rest period to recover and restore is essential.
To incorporate these moves into your workout routine, I recommend picking three exercises and then turning them into a circuit. Perform 10 reps of each exercise and then repeat the circuit for three rounds total.
Standing against a wall, keep your back straight and your feet hip-width apart. Keep your arms at your sides or on your hips as you slide down the wall, bending at the knees. Bend until your thighs are parallel to the floor. You may have to walk your feet away from the wall so that you are able to form a 90-degree angle at the knee joint at the bottom of the squat. Squeeze your abs and glutes before pressing down through your heels to slide back up the wall to the starting position.
Stand with your feet as wide as your shoulders, toes pointing forward. Pull your naval in toward your spine, and then sit back by bending at your knees and reaching your glutes back as if you’re sitting into a chair. Press down through your heels to return to standing.
Wide leg open toe squat
Stand with your feet open wider than your hips. Turn your toes out. Place your hands on your hips and pull your naval in toward your spine. Tilt your pelvis forward as you bend your knees out to the sides and lower down into a squat. Keep your back flat and your tailbone pointed down toward the ground. Press down through your heels as you stand back up. Squeeze your glutes at the top.
Stand with your feet wider than the hips with your toes turned slightly outward. Bring your palms together at your chest with your elbows bent or place your hands on your hips. Pull in your abs and look forward as you reach your hips backward and bend your knees. Lower your butt down slowly until your hips are below your knees. Press down through your heels to stand back up to the starting position.
Squat into side leg lift
Perform a squat. Then, as you stand back up lift the right leg out to the right as high as the hip to work the outer right hip and thigh. Place the foot back down and lower into a squat. Repeat 10 times, then switch to the left side.
Stand with your feet as wide as your hips. Step the right foot back into a lunge position. Engage your abs and lower your right leg down until your knee almost touches the floor. Both knees should be at about a 90-degree angle. Step forward and repeat 10 times before switching sides.
Stand with your feet as wide as your hips and your hands on your hips. Step your left foot back a few feet. This is your starting position. Bend the right knee so that it is over the right ankle and bend your left knee so that the knee reaches down toward the ground. Look in the mirror and make sure your spine stays straight and that you’re not leaning forward. Press down through the front heel to come up to the starting position. Repeat this 10 times, then switch sides.
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your hands placed behind your head and elbows out to the sides. Focus on keeping your shoulders back and your core muscles engaged. Take a deep breath in and on the exhale, hinge forward at the hips and lower into an upside-down “L” shape until you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings. If you feel any pain or uncomfortable pulling, you’ve lowered too far! Slowly raise your torso back into the standing position on your exhale.
Start with your feet together. Step forward with your right foot, lunging with your right leg until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Push down through your right heel to come back up to the starting position. This time step forward with the left leg, lowering your left knee toward the floor until your thigh is parallel to the ground. Continue forward with the right leg and continue alternating.
Standing with your feet as wide as your hips, step your right foot out to the right and perform a lunge by sitting back into the right glute. Reach the right glute backward as you keep the left leg straight. Press down through your right heel as you come back to center. Repeat 10 times and then switch sides.
Back lunge & lift
Start standing with your feet as wide as your hips. Then, step your left foot back and lower down into a lunge. Press down through the right heel to straighten the right leg as you lift the left leg straight up behind you to work the hamstring and glute. Then lower back down into a lunge and repeat 10 times before switching sides.
Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and your arms down at your sides. Tilt your pelvis under and forward, engaging the core, and push down through your heels to lift your hips up toward the ceiling, engaging your glutes. Slowly lower down.
Bridge with squeeze
Lying on your back with your knees bent, reach your fingertips toward your heels so that they can almost touch. Make sure your feet are as wide as your hips, and then slowly pull the naval in toward the spine as you lift the butt, then lower back, then middle back up off of the ground. Hold this position and squeeze the inner thighs in toward each other, release, and then lower back down.
Stand with your feet as wide as your hips. Put your weight into your left leg and come up on to your right toe, using it as a kickstand for balance. Begin to hinge at your waist, keeping your left knee soft. Place your hands on your hips for balance. Continue to hinge forward as you slowly lift your right leg up and back until your body forms a straight line from head to toe. Ensure that your hips stay square to the ground. Pause, and then return to the starting position and repeat.
Start by sitting on the ground with your knees bent and your hands two inches behind you. Have your fingers pointing away from your body. Step your right foot forward as you simultaneously move your left hand forward. Then step your left foot forward as you move your right hand forward. Continue walking forward for a total of 10 reps.
Forward leg raises
Standing tall, point the right leg out in front of you and squeeze the quad. If you can feel your thigh tighten, that means you’re doing this correctly. Then lift the leg up as high as your hip and slowly lower it back down.
Standing upright with your feet as wide as your hips, simply come up on to your tip toes and then lower down.
Start standing tall with your feet hips-width apart. Then, as you step or hop to the right, use the left foot to tap behind the right foot. Begin to swoosh your arms like an ice skater to build momentum and help with balance. Then step to the left and bring the right foot behind to tap the floor as you swoosh your arms.
Straight leg kickback
Stand tall and shift your body weight to your right leg. Lift your left leg straight back while you contract the glute, raising it to about a 45-degree angle from the standing leg. Slowly lower the leg back down and perform 10 reps on this side. To switch sides, shift your body weight to your left leg, and raise your right leg back and up.
Calf raises in a “V” position
Stand tall with both feet shoulder-width apart and turn your toes outward so your feet create the letter V. Place your hands on your hips. Press down through your toes and raise your heels as high as you can off of the ground. Slowly lower back down.
Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a step back on your right leg, crossing it behind your left leg, just as if you were about to curtsy. Keep your weight in your left foot and slowly bend your knees, lowering your body straight down. Hold for a moment and then slowly return to the starting position. Perform to the left side. Continue alternating side to side.
Lying side leg raises
Lie down on one side with legs straight out at a slight angle from your torso and your feet stacked on top of each other. Prop your torso up with your forearm. Lift your top leg toward the ceiling in a slow and controlled movement. Point your toes to fully engage the leg. Lower it back down. Repeat 10 times and then repeat on the other side.
Standing hamstring curl
Standing with your feet as wide as your hips, get ready to work the backs of the legs. Bend the right knee and pull your heel toward your glute by engaging the the back of the right leg. Place it down. Repeat 10 times, then switch legs.
Begin in plank position, keeping your back straight, hips low and core engaged. Bring your right knee under your chest toward your right elbow. Bring your leg back to plank position, bringing your left leg under your chest toward your left elbow. Continue alternating your legs, keeping a steady pace.
Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart in a half-squat position. Lift your right foot and push off with your left to move your body to the right. Continue to shuffle in this direction for 10 steps, then switch directions and shuffle back 10 steps to the left.
More exercises to add to your routine:
7 exercises to tone and strengthen your back