Craving strong, sculpted legs? This leg workout is the perfect 20-minute routine to tone your thighs, lift your butt, and blast away excess fat.
Why do we tend to gain weight in our legs and butt?
The butt and thighs are the primary fat-storage sites—especially for women. Estrogen directs fat to deposit around the pelvis, buttocks, and outer and inner thighs of women, while testosterone means men store fat in the belly area.
(Men, if you’re looking for a six-pack workout, check out our 21 Day Ab Challenge.)
In order to get the lower body that you want, you’ll have to make sure you are getting BOTH cardio and strength training focused on your hamstrings, quads, and glutes. Cardio workouts will help burn the fat deposits in those areas, while strengthening your muscles will help them look toned, perk up your backside, and help build calorie-scorching lean muscle.
The best exercises you can do for your legs are also exercises that do not use any machine equipment. While exercises like squats, deadlifts, and lunges can be performed using barbells, you are not using machines for the exercises. (I’m referring to machines like leg extensions and leg press machines—most of which are much less effective and sometimes even dangerous for your joints.)
Free weight (like dumbbells or barbells) exercises and bodyweight exercise are fantastic for trimming your thighs and toning your booty because you are not only working to strengthen and stabilize your muscles, but also because they get your heart rate up—which burns the most calories.
This leg workout is a perfect 15-minute routine that combines both cardio and toning exercises to shrink your thighs, tone your butt, and blast that unwanted fat.
The best thing about this leg workout is that many of the exercises could also be made a little more challenging using some dumbbells or even a barbell! We’ve included some variation ideas for the ones you can boost up!
This workout is meant to be performed fast and as a circuit. Complete each exercise one after the other with no rest. Perform the circuit 3 times through for a leg-sculpting workout.
Bring feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with knees and toes slightly turned out. Place your hands by your sides. Squat down, sitting your hips back as if sitting into a chair, and keep your weight in your heels and your chest lifted as your bring your hands in front of you. Power through the heels to come back up to standing, squeezing the glutes at the top. Complete 20 squats quickly, focusing on those glutes and hamstrings. (Feel free to add dumbbells to this exercise, keeping them down by your side, or add a barbell for more of a challenge.)
Making sure you have enough space (about a 15-foot hallway is enough), start with your feet together and hands on your hips or by your sides. Step your RIGHT foot forward far enough so that when you lunge down, your RIGHT thigh is parallel to the floor. You should feel a stretch through the front of your LEFT hip, in the hip flexor. Press though your RIGHT heel and power up to bring your feet together and stand up. Repeat, stepping the LEFT foot forward. Complete 10-15 reps, then turn around and lunge back to your starting point. (You can also hold a dumbbell in each hand, or place a barbell over your shoulder blades for more of a challenge.)
Find an open, flat wall and stand next to it with your back flat against it. Walk your feet forward about 2 feet or so (about your own thigh-length away from the wall) and lower down into a squat position with a 90-degree bend in your knees. Make sure to keep your knees in line with your toes, press your tailbone into the wall, and keep your shoulders back. To make this more advanced, you can hold a dumbbell in each hand or on your thighs. Hold for 30-60 seconds. (For an added challenge, hold a dumbbell in each hand.)
Start by standing with most of your weight on your RIGHT leg as you bring your left foot behind you. Slightly lower down to help you propel yourself up, hopping your LEFT leg out to the side and landing on the left foot, bringing the right foot behind you. Continue hopping side to side, landing on one foot on each side. Complete 20 repetitions side to side.
Start with your feet together, and then step your RIGHT foot back into a rear lunge, keeping your weight in your front LEFT heel. Drive through your left heel and use your booty to power yourself up into a single leg hop, driving your RIGHT knee up in front of you. As you land, step that RIGHT foot all the way back into the lunge and repeat 15 times. Switch sides. (To make this more challenging, hold onto some dumbbells—but remember to land softly to protect your joints!)
Single Leg Bridge
Lie on your back on a mat and bend your knees so your feet are flat on the ground. Bring your feet parallel and hip-distance apart, with your heels close in towards your glutes. Extend your LEFT leg up to the ceiling. Using the RIGHT leg, press into the heel to lift the hips up, creating a straight line from your knee to your shoulders. Be sure to keep the hips parallel to the floor and squeeze the glutes. Lower the hips back down and repeat. Switch to complete all repetitions on the other side.
(Your Next Workout: 41 Butt Exercises to Tone, Lift and Strengthen)