Last Updated on July 11, 2021
10 Best Leg Exercises for Women
If you want to tone your legs, slim down your thighs, and burn leg fat these leg exercises are for you!
I’m sharing a workout with 10 of the best leg exercises for women. When you do these leg exercises together, in the same workout, they’ll target every single muscle in your legs. I specifically chose these leg exercises because they’ll maximize your calorie burn and help you avoid building bigger legs.
Below you’ll see the 10 best compound and isolation leg exercises for women. When done together in a leg workout, you’ll target every single muscle in the leg muscle groups and can tighten and tone your legs fast!
First, I’ll explain why these leg exercises are the best moves for women. Then I’ll share a complete fat-burning leg workout made with the exercises.
WHAT ARE THE BEST LEG EXERCISES FOR WOMEN?
The short answer is compound and isolation exercises that use multidirectional movements to target all of the muscle groups in the legs!
Let me explain, so that makes sense to you…
THE BEST WAY TO EXERCISE LEGS
If you look at the picture of the muscles in the legs you’ll see the major (primary) muscle groups listed. There are also tons of supportive (secondary) muscles. Secondary leg muscles branch off of the major muscles and connect to other muscle groups, bones, tendons, and ligaments, etc..
Major leg muscle groups are bigger. Secondary leg muscles are smaller.
The major muscle groups in the legs work together so you can move but the secondary leg muscles help pull everything together like a corset.
If you want toned, lean legs, and burn fat, you need to exercise the major muscles and their supportive, secondary muscles, too!
Don’t worry… I took care of choosing all of the best leg exercises that do all of the above for you. 🙂 Here’s how I did so you’ll understand why the leg exercises are the best choices for women.
HOW COMPOUND LEG EXERCISES BURN FAT AND BOOST THE METABOLISM
To start, please know there are lots of different muscles in the legs. But just because there are lot of muscles, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to do a lot of exercises.
The good news about the leg muscle groups is that there are lots of exercises that work *most* of them, together, at the same time. Exercises that work multiple muscles at the same time are called compound exercises.
Compound leg exercises simultaneously target most of the major muscles in the lower body. When you work more than one muscle at one time, you will burn more calories, in less time.
By training multiple muscles at one, you increase the number of calories burned and metabolism. That’s because compound exercises increase post-exercise oxygen consumption (aka EPOC).
You know how people say weight training is good for you because it boosts metabolism? That’s because weight training or resistance training exercises burn calories during and after the workout because of EPOC!
EPOC is what causes the body to burn calories during and after a workout. Weight or resistance training exercises are the only way to increase EPOC.
Compound Leg Exercises increase EPOC the most! Most of the leg exercises below are compound exercises, so you can boost your metabolism and burn fat during and after the exercises are over.
ISOLATION LEG EXERCISES TARGET TROUBLE AREAS WOMEN STRUGGLE WITH THE MOST
It’s also important to include exercises that target specific leg muscles, like the thighs, calves, and hips.
Isolation exercises will help you target the secondary muscles and ‘spot train’ your trouble areas. Isolation exercises target one muscle group at a time.
Isolation exercises don’t burn as many calories as a compound exercise but they allow you to target and ‘spot’ train an area of concern.
For example, if your thighs are too big for your liking, adding isolation thigh exercises will help you target and tone them.
THE BEST LEG EXERCISES FOR WOMEN
Pin these Leg Exercises to Pinterest so you’ll have them forever
INNER THIGH PULSES EXERCISE
Lying on your side, straighten your bottom leg with your toe pointed. Cross your upper leg over the bottom and plant your foot flat on the floor. Lift your bottom leg up as far as you can off the floor. This is your starting position. Quickly lower it back down to the floor. This counts as one rep. Pulse your toe up and down, quickly racking up reps until you feel the burn. Once you feel the burn do 5 more to complete one set. Your torso should stay still while you do this exercise. Use your arms to keep your torso steady.
FIRE HYDRANT LEG EXERCISE
Start in an all-fours position with your wrists and knee stacked under your shoulders and hips. Your back should be parallel to the ground, not arched or bowed downward. Keeping your hips square to the floor, raise one knee up and out to the side, until your inner thigh is parallel to the ground. Hold for a count and return to the start position to complete one rep. Do as many as you can until you feel the burn. Once you feel the burn do 5 more, then stop. Complete the same number of reps with both legs to complete one set.
DEADLIFT LEG EXERCISE
Stand holding dumbbells or a barbell using an overhand grip. Your feet should be slightly narrower than shoulder width apart. This is your start position. Bend at the waist lowering your chest towards the floor, while keeping your back neutral. Keep your legs straight but not locked. Your butt will naturally go backward. Don’t arch or round your back. Exhale and lift your chest as you return back to the start position. That completes one rep. Do the prescribed number of reps to complete one set.
LUNGE LEG EXERCISE
Hold a pair of dumbbells at arm’s length next to your sides, palms facing your body. Stand with a split stance with one leg in front and the other behind you. This is your start position. Lower your body down until your front knee is at a 90-degree angle. Do not let your knee extend past your toes. Exhale and push back up into the start position to complete one rep.
SQUAT LEG EXERCISE
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keep your arms down by your sides with palms facing your body. Keep your back neutral. Don’t arch your back and stick your butt out. Inhale and lower your butt back and down as if sitting back into an invisible chair. Lower as far as you can or until thighs are parallel to the floor. Your knees should not extend past your toes and you should keep your upper body upright. Hold for a count and exhale as you push back up to the starting position. That completes one rep. Do the prescribed number of reps to complete one set.
LEG LIFT PULSE EXERCISE
Stand tall. Lift one leg back until it’s about a foot off the floor. This is your start position. Make sure your hips remain square to the front. With your leg raised, lift it upward as far as you can. Quickly lower back down to the start position without touching your foot to the floor, and quickly pulse back up then down. Keep your leg as straight as you can with your hips facing forward. Keep motion small & controlled. Pulse your toe up and down, quickly racking up reps until you feel the burn. Once you feel the burn do 5 more. Do the same number of reps with both legs to complete one set. You can hold on to a chair for balance if you need to.
HAMSTRING BALL TUCK EXERCISE
Lie with your back on the floor with your feet supported on a stability ball. Lift your hips up off the floor. This is your start position. Inhale and use your legs to roll the ball back towards your butt until your feet are flat on the ball. Keep your core tight. Exhale and reverse the movement rolling the ball back to the starting position to complete one rep. Do as many as you can until you feel the burn. Once you feel the burn do 5 more to complete one set.
SIDE LEG LIFT EXERCISE
Stand up straight with your feet together and knees slightly bent. Flex one foot and exhale as you lift that leg as far up to the side as you can, keeping your back as straight and upright as possible. Hold for one count and inhale as you lower your leg back down to the start position. Lift your leg up and down, quickly racking up reps until you feel the burn. Once you feel the burn do 5 more. Do the same number of reps with both legs to complete one set.
PLIE SQUAT EXERCISE
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart with toes turned out, holding a dumbbell down in front of you. This is your start position. Keeping your abs in tight and upper body upright, lower your butt down, pushing your weight into your heels. Hold for a count then squeeze your glutes and slowly press back up to the start position to complete one rep.
DONKEY KICK EXERCISE
Start on all fours, with your hands stacked directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. This is your start position. Keep your right knee bent at a 90-degree angle and slowly raise your leg up behind you until the front of your quadriceps is parallel to the floor. Pulse your flexed foot toward the ceiling by squeezing your glutes. Your back should remain perfectly still in a neutral spine with your hips square to the floor. The motion should be small and controlled with the muscle doing the work and not momentum. Reverse the movement and return just short of the start position to complete one rep. Without letting your leg touch the floor kick your heel back up. Do as many as you can until you feel the burn. Once you feel the burn do 5 more then stop. Complete the same number of reps with both legs to complete one set.
How to Use The Leg Exercises in a Workout
- For the exercises that don’t use dumbbells, do as many reps (repetitions) as you can until you feel the burn. Once you feel the burn do 5 more, to complete one set. TIP: Use ankle weights to increase the calorie burn.
- For exercises with dumbbells, repeat each exercise 20 times to complete one set. Be sure to use a weight so that you can do all 20 reps with proper form. 5 pounds is a good place to start. Increase weight as the exercises get too easy.
- Try to move quickly from one exercise to the next until you complete one full round of all of the leg exercises.
- You’ll need to do 2 full sets of each exercise to complete your workout.
- This leg workout requires only a set of dumbbells and a stability ball so you can easily do it at home or the gym. If you don’t have any equipment, that’s ok! Perform all exercises with body weight instead… and skip the hamstring ball tucks and do a bridge instead.
- Do these leg exercises one time a week with this leg workout for women.
- For the best results possible pair these leg exercises with my fat burning weight loss and wellness programs for women.
These are the Adjustable Ankle/Wrist Weights I recommend.
These are the Dumbbells (a full Set with Stand that I recommend most.
Leave me a comment and let me know if you felt the burn.
Lots of love.
Your Coach and Biggest Cheerleader
Christina is a certified Holistic Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, & Holistic Fitness & Health Coach. After healing multiple personal health issues, getting off 7 meds, & losing 40 pounds, Christina teaches others how to get Happy, Healthy, & Fit quickly with the most delicious food and least intense workouts.