Updated: May 11, 2020
You already know that lower body exercise is essential to your overall fitness and physique. But just in case you need a quick refresher: training your lower body is a great way to incorporate cardio exercise and burn more calories. It is also an excellent way to improve overall athletic performance including running. Adding strength to your lower body will help you achieve that toned and muscular look. You don’t need a gym membership or a ton of weights in order to get a great lower body workout in! Check out this list of the 5 Best Home Exercises to Strengthen your entire Lower Body including your glutes, quads, and hamstrings!
Here are the best exercises you can do at home for lower body strength and conditioning, in no particular order. The great thing about these exercises is that they can all be made easier or more difficult and can be tailored to your current fitness level by simply switching up some of the training factors, think: weight used, adding resistance bands, doing more reps, doing the etc.
1. Reverse Lunges
Let’s start out this list with an oldie but goodie: Reverse Lunges. Reverse Lunges are a great lunge variation to really target your glutes - the biggest muscle group in your entire body. They are a single leg exercise, so you can also target any muscle imbalances you might have since you’ll be training the body unilaterally. To set up: begin with your legs just about shoulder-width apart, and step one leg back behind you, sinking down towards the ground. Then, push upward through your heel to return to standing. You can make this exercise more difficult by holding onto dumbbells or by using elevation to increase the difficulty. For a deficit reverse lunge, you’ll need to step backwards and down off of an elevated surface like a bench or stair.
2. Step Ups
Step Ups are an excellent and super effective lower body exercise for glutes and quads and, depending on the tempo used, can be a great cardio workout as well! You will need a bench or stair for this simple exercise. Start by placing one foot on the elevated platform, and push through your heel to lift your entire body from the ground up onto the bench or stair. Using a slow and controlled movement, lower your body back down to the ground and to the starting position. You can complete the required number of reps on one side before switching to the other leg, or you can alternate legs as you go. Add in some dumbbells to increase difficulty or try incorporating a Step Up to Knee Up or Step Up to Kickback and increase the tempo to get your cardio exercise in!
3. Bridges / Hip Thrusts
Bridges and Hip Thrusts are amazing for glute activation and strength work, and there are so many variations that you can be sure you will never get bored. Complete a regular glute bridge by setting up on your back, lying flat on the ground with knees bent and both feet on the floor. Push through your heels to lift your hips towards the ceiling and squeeze your glutes. Hold for 1-2 seconds at the top position, keeping a neutral spine, and lower back to the ground. You can intensify this exercise in a variety of ways from adding weight - a barbell or dumbbell across your hips, adding a resistance band at the knees, using a single leg or B. Stance form, adding more seconds to the top hold, or altering your tempo in how fast you raise/lower your bridge. You can also progress into a hip thrust which is a shoulder elevated version of the glute bridge. From there, you can also add feet elevation, a “frog” stance setup, wide stance, narrow stance, and more!
4. Jump Squats
I’d be remiss to not add some version of squats to this list, and jump squats are the ones! A great way to incorporate some cardio into your lower body workout, jump squats will leave your legs burning and your heart beating! Set up in a traditional bodyweight squat, lowering your butt towards the ground and then driving through your heels to explosively drive your body into the air. Try your best to land lightly and jump forcefully, driving your knees outwards instead of letting them cave in. If necessary, you can add a resistance band or dumbbells to intensify this exercise!
5. Bulgarian Split Squats
Finally, I’ve got one more unilateral exercise to round out your at-home lower body strength training list. This one is potentially the most challenging of all since you are upping the ante from a traditional split squat to a rear foot elevated split squat. This small change will increase the balance required for this exercise, thereby engaging your core muscles as well as strengthening the front leg. Once again you’ll need an elevated, sturdy surface like a bench or a chair on which to rest one foot, about knee height is best. Start in a standing position about 2 feet in front of the elevated surface. Lift your leg behind you to rest one foot on top of the chair or bench. Your legs should be about shoulder-width apart with your front foot far enough that you can sink down into a comfortable lunge position - you might need to move around a bit to get comfortable. When ready, pull your core in tight and lean slightly forward sinking down into a split lunge. Push up through the heel of your front foot to return to standing position. Repeated desired number of reps on one side before switching.
Great Lower Body Session at Home!
Lower Body strength training is essential to a well-rounded fitness routine, but you don’t need fancy equipment or even a gym membership to get in a great leg workout! Try these 5 at-home lower body exercises for a great leg day session at home!