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I am going to let you in on a little secret. 

Exercises like leg-lifts and donkey-kick exercises have their place but they alone are not going to cut it when it comes to building a strong, lean lower-body.

In fact, those exercises focus more on the internal stabilizers of the hip rather than the big strong movers like the glutes and hamstrings making them nothing more than a good warm-up drill. 

The secret to better legs lies with resistance training. 

Our bodies are unbelievable adapting machines.

We walk, run, climb stairs, get up and down from chairs throughout the day. 

Therefore, our lower-body has adapted to working to move and support our own body-weight.

In other words, our bones, muscles and tendons have built the necessary levels of strength needed to support ourselves. 

The key then to improving the strength, leanness and shape of our lower-body is with progressive overload. 

This is a fancy way of saying we need to progressively challenge our lower-body with both new exercises and added resistance to stimulate the improvements in strength, shape and muscle tone we are looking for. 

It is the combination of the added resistance, muscular tension and the large range of motion that takes place during resistance training that makes it the best way to improve your lower half. 

To get you started, I have made a list of our favorite lower-body exercises for females!

Enjoy :)

#1 Landmine Squats


The landmine squat is a fantastic catchall lower-body exercise that targets the quads, adductors, hamstrings and glutes. Holding the weight in the low position allows you to shift your weight back while keeping your posture tall, taking stress off your low back and placing it on your legs. You will LOVE these!

Key Points:

  • Place one end of bar in landmine holder or corner of wall
  • Add weight to end of bar if possible
  • Grab bar with underhand grip, arms straight
  • Start feet shoulder width, toes pointed slightly out
  • Start motion by bending knees and sitting back
  • Keep posture tall and heels down through
  • Drive through heels to return to starting position
  • Start with 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps

#2 Single-Leg Deadlifts

The single-leg deadlift is great for challenging your balance and strength. It targets the posterior chain (hamstrings and glutes) making this a great exercise for building a better backside. Because of the minimal knee bend during the motion, the stress of the exercise is placed on the working muscles and off the knees. If you experience knee pain and are looking to improve your lower-body -- this is your exercise!

Reaching Single-Leg Deadlift


Key Points:

  • Start with the reaching version if new to the single-leg deadlift
  • Start with weight on one foot
  • Keep small knee bend in knee of working leg throughout 
  • Keeping back leg straight, slowly tip forward as you reach arms forward and back foot back
  • In bottom position, arms and back leg should make a straight line
  • Keep shoulders back and posture tall
  • Start with 3 sets of 8 reps/side

Kettlebell Single-Leg Deadlift


Key Points:

  • Start tall with kettlebell in one hand
  • Start by softening knee of down leg
  • Slowly reach back leg long and allow chest to fall forward (same arm forward, same leg back)
  • Keep chest tall and stomach braced
  • In bottom position, there should be straight line from head to back heel
  • Quickly return to starting position and squeeze glutes
  • Start with 3 sets of 8 reps/side

#3 Leg Curls

The leg curl is a fantastic exercise for all abilities. By having to bring your hips high and curl your leg in, the leg curl is one of the best exercise for targeting the backside - glutes and hamstrings. These will make you sore! Like the single-leg deadlift, the leg curl is a fantastic choice for those with knee pain.

Leg Curl - Version 1


Key Points:

  • Start with version 1 if you're new to the leg curl
  • Start on your back with heels on ball
  • Keeping hips on floor, curl ball in towards hips
  • Lift hips high making a straight line through shoulder, knee and hips
  • Keep stomach braced throughout and toes up
  • Slowly extend legs straight keeping hips high
  • Once you've gone out as far as you can, drop hips and repeat
  • Start with 3 sets of 6-10 reps

Leg Curl - Version 2


Key Points:

  • Start on back, with legs straight, heels on ball
  • Keeping stomach braced, lift hips off floor
  • Simultaneously lift hips and curl in ball
  • In top position there should be a straight line through knee, hip and shoulder
  • Keep hips up and stomach braced as you return to starting position
  • Start with 3 sets of 6-10 reps

#4 Split-Squats 1.5


When it comes to building muscle and burning fat with strength training, tension is the name of the game. Tension is a fancy way of saying how hard and how long your muscles have to work during the exercise. Enter the split-squat 1.5. This exercise challenges the strength of your entire lower body and core. By adding the 1.5 rep, you are able to keep more and longer tension on your legs helping you build some good looking, strong legs! 

Key Points:

  • Start in a long split-stance with front foot flat and back heel in the air
  • Initiate movement by bending front and back knee and dropping straight down
  • Go down as low as possible maintaining 90 degree angles with front and back leg
  • Keep majority of weight in the front leg
  • Slowly come up half way, go back down and then come all the way up to starting position
  • That equals 1 rep
  • Add a kettlebell to make this exercise more challenging
  • Start with 2-3 sets of 6-8 reps/side

#5 Lateral Lunges


We love single-leg exercises like lunges for a variety of reasons. They are great for building the strength and shape you are looking for while keeping your heart-rate up and burning calories. The lateral lunge is one of our favorites as it gets you moving side-to-side which is very important for injury prevention. The lateral lunge exercise allows you to target the glutes and adductors (inner thigh), a trouble spot for many of us. 

Key Points:

  • Start tall with feet together
  • Step about 3 feet to one side
  • As foot lands, sit into hip and slightly lean forward with good posture
  • In bottom position, hip, knee and toe should make a straight line
  • Feel your weight back in hip as opposite leg stays straight
  • Push through heel to return to starting position
  • Start with 3 sets of 8 reps/side

Give these 5 exercise a try! 

If you are ready to #JoinTheMovement, click on the green button below!

- Renee