Looking for strong and sculpted pins? Work your inner thighs, glutes and hamstrings with our pick of the best leg exercises for women…
Taking the time to work on your legs has benefits beyond strong & sculpted pins. Strengthening your thighs, glutes and hamstrings with the best leg exercises for women can improve your stability and balance, supporting you in a wide range of sports and activities – not to mention day-to-day life.
When it comes to leg workouts, many people can feel a little intimidated by the leg day hype. With so many complex workouts out there, it can be difficult to know where to start. If you’re looking for some easy and simple exercises to target your legs, you’re in the right place…
Best leg exercises for women
1. Lying lateral leg raise
Benefits: Great for the sides of your stomach as well as your bum and thighs.
- Lie on your right side, with your hips stacked and your head propped up by your right hand (A).
- Keeping your body in a straight line and your toes pointing forward, raise your left leg, making sure you don’t roll your pelvis as you move (B).
- Pause, then lower your leg to complete one rep. Aim to do eight to 15 reps on each side.
Quick tip: Use an ankle weight on the top leg to increase intensity.
2. One-leg squat
Benefits: Great for your balance and co-ordination, as well as strengthening the muscles that stabilise your knees and ankles.
- Supporting your weight on your right foot, raise your left heel behind you (A).
- Extending your arms in front of you for extra stability and focusing straight ahead, bend your right knee to lower yourself smoothly into a squat, making sure to keep your arms level and without curving your back (B). Keep your working knee in line with your foot. Return to an upright position to complete one rep.
- Aim to complete eight to 15 reps on each leg
Quick tip! Don’t let your head dip as you squat – grab some dumbbells if you want to push yourself.
3. Squat and push
Benefits: This squat challenges your quadriceps, gluteals, hamstrings, arms and shoulders.
- Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell close to your chest with both hands (A).
- Squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor and simultaneously push your arms straight out to shoulder height (B). Keep your focus forwards, core braced and your knees in line with your toes.
- Drive up through your heels to a standing position to complete one rep. Aim to do eight to 15 reps.
Quick tip! Don’t round your back as you squat – maintain a straight spine throughout.
4. Dumbbell lunge
Benefits: The lunge will hit all parts of your thighs and challenge your stability.
- Take a dumbbell in each hand and stand straight, core engaged, with your arms by your sides, palms facing in (A).
- Keeping your torso upright, lunge forward with your right leg and lower your body until the knee of your rear leg is close to the floor (B).
- Don’t let your front knee extend beyond your foot.
- Extend the hip and knee of your right leg and return to standing to complete one rep. Aim to do eight to 15 reps.
Quick tip! As you lunge, your lead knee should point in the same direction as your foot.
5. Gym ball leg curl
Benefits: Uses your own body weight to challenge your hamstrings.
- Lie flat on your back with your lower legs on a gym ball, feet together. Your hands should be next to your hips.
- In a smooth movement, push your hips up so your body is in a straight line (A), then pull your heels towards you, rolling the ball towards your bum (B).
- Pause, then roll the ball back until your body is back in a straight line. Aim to do eight to 15 reps.
Quick tip! Make sure your shoulders stay flat on the mat.
6. Box jump
Benefits: A total body workout, great for your coordination and balance, too.
- Stand just less than a foot away from your step or box, feet shoulder-width apart and arms by your sides, knees slightly bent (A).
- Looking straight ahead, jump onto the step, using your arms to power you (B). Hold for a count of one (C), then jump back down to complete one rep.
- Bend your knees slightly as you land. Aim to do eight to 15 reps.
Quick tip: To increase the intensity (and benefits) you can incrementally increase the step height.
7. Side step-up
Benefits: Challenge your gluteals from a new angle by introducing your inner-thigh muscles.
- Stand right side on to a step, about a foot away from it.
- Dynamically step up (A), leading with your right leg, pushing up through your whole foot and keeping your body straight. As you do so, power your left knee up to waist height (B).
- Step down to the same side to complete one rep. Stand on the other side of the step to repeat on the other side. Aim to do eight to 15 reps on each side.
Quick tip! Hold some dumbbells to work your upper body
8. Dumbbell side lunge and touch
Benefits: This exercise will work your inner thighs, hamstrings and quadriceps as well as your core.
- Holding dumbbells, stand straight, focus forwards, with your ams in front of your body, palms facing backwards (A).
- Activating your core, take a big side lunge with your left leg, keeping both feet facing forward.
- Keeping your back flat, lean forward from your hips and lower the weights towards your left foot (B). Then push off your left foot to return to the start position. Repeat on the other side. Aim to do four to eight reps on each side.
Quick tip: Keep your heels flat on the floor throughout the exercise.