11 Best Leg Workouts to Kick Up Your Lower-Body Routine

The best leg workouts are ones you’ll actually do—and for many people, that means making your lower-body workouts fresh and exciting. Doing the same old exercises for the same number of reps and sets can get boring, fast.

If you find yourself losing interest in your same old leg workout, we have the solution for you: a sampling of the best leg workouts from SELF over the past couple of years, so you can be sure to have a fresh new workout to plug into your lower-body day whenever you find your enthusiasm waning.

These leg workouts use a variety of equipment—from kettlebells to dumbbells to resistance bands to your own body weight—to challenge every muscle in your lower body. You’ll work your quads with exercises like squat and lunge variations, your hamstrings with exercises like deadlifts and good mornings, and your butt with moves like glute bridges and banded walks.

Plus, you can pick and choose based off what kind of workout you’re in the mood for: Interested in really challenging yourself to lift heavier weight? The barbell workout (#2 below) might be a good one to try. On the flip side, if you want to focus more on explosiveness, the cardio-and-agility leg workout (#7 below) might be for you. Have less than five minutes? Then you’ll want to make the most of your time, like with the four-minute Tabata blaster (#6 below).

1. A Quick Kettlebell Circuit for Your Legs and Butt

Kettlebells are great for adding explosiveness and power to your strength routine, and this circuit does just that. Created by personal trainer Samantha Ciaccia, M.S., C.S.C.S., this leg workout consists of only four moves—but after you complete two circuits, you’ll definitely be sweating, and your quads, hamstrings, and butt will be feeling it. Consider adding this to your workout if you’re looking to improve your functional fitness: Working on your power now can help your body protect against injury as you age, says Ciaccia.

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2. A Barbell Routine for Your Complete Lower Body

If you’re looking to get stronger with your leg workouts, barbells are a great tool to help you get there. That’s because they’re super easy to add resistance to—you simply put more plates on the bar. That means you can continue to challenge yourself with more weight, without having to worry about the barbell becoming bulkier or harder to grasp. If you’re new to lifting with barbells, this four-move strength workout by certified personal trainer Morit Summers, owner of Form Fitness Brooklyn, is a great way to get started, because it makes the most of basic exercises: the squat, lunge, deadlift, and hip thrust. Note: A standard barbell weighs 45 pounds, so you may want to start with just that, at least until you get comfortable with it.

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3. An Easy-to-Follow Dumbbell Workout for Beginners

If you’ve been doing body-weight leg exercises for awhile and your goal is to build muscle or get stronger, you may find that you need to add more resistance to your workouts. Dumbbells are a great way for beginners to do that, and an easy-to-follow leg workout that incorporates them can be just what you need to get started. This dumbbell leg workout from Alyssa Expósito, a certified personal trainer in New York City, is a great choice, since it’s super easy to follow and includes basic moves (which will serve in building a solid foundation as you continue to strength train). The four moves—goblet squat, good morning, lateral lunge, and glute bridge—also challenge your abs, so you’ll get a core boost while you work your lower body.

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4. A 4-Move Legs and Butt Circuit

There are just four moves in this leg workout, but it’ll smoke every muscle in your lower body. Designed by Expósito, this workout hits your quads (thanks to the goblet squat and lateral lunge), your hamstrings (with the staggered-stance deadlift), and your glutes (with the marching glute bridge). Feel free to use dumbbells for some of the moves if you need an extra challenge, but you can perform it with just body weight too. You’ll be working for 45 seconds for each move and then resting for 15 before going on to the next.

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5. A 25-Minute Legs and Cardio Abs Routine

If you want to mix your leg workout with some cardio and core work, this routine is a must-try. The circuit, created by ACE-certified personal trainer Amy Eisinger, starts with a leg-blasting curtsy lunge to lateral lunge combo, before going into a skater (agility and balance work!) and then some core moves. As a bonus, you’ll end with a ladder combo of skaters and bicycle crunches, meaning you decrease the number of reps as you go, before climbing back up.

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6. A 4-Minute Tabata Body-Weight Leg Blaster

This workout consists of just two moves, and it lasts only four minutes. That’s right—four minutes. But believe me, it’ll feel much longer. That’s because it follows the Tabata protocol (20 seconds of intense work followed by 10 seconds of rest, completed 8 times). Created by celebrity trainer Erin Oprea, who has worked with Carrie Underwood in the past and now trains Maren Morris and Kacey Musgraves, this workout is based around the squat-to-lunge move. After the first round, you’ll switch legs, and then continue switching throughout the eight rounds.

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7. A Legs, Cardio, and Agility Workout

You need just three moves to thoroughly challenge your gluteus maximus (the biggest muscle in your butt), hamstrings, quads, calves, and inner thighs: the jump squat with toe tap, slo-mo jump squats, and plyometric knee drive. Created by celebrity trainer Simone De La Rue, who has worked with Jennifer Garner and Emmy Rossum, this workout uses explosive moves, eccentric movement (as felt by the slow, lowering portion of the squat), and cardio work to boost your power and hone your agility.

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8. Gigi Hadid’s 25-Minute Legs and Cardio Interval Workout

Created by trainer Rob Piela, owner of Gotham Gym in New York City, this workout—a favorite of one of his clients, Gigi Hadid—combines lower-body strength training with your choice of cardio (Hadid loves boxing). You’ll pick two lower-body moves, like squats, donkey kicks, plié squats, or banded lateral walks, that you’ll do for one minute, and then alternate that with three minutes of cardio. (If you’re not a boxing fan, you can try jumping rope or running.) It’s a super-customizable workout, so you can make it a little different each time to ward off boredom.

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9. A Dumbbell Legs Workout That Also Works Your Butt

This dumbbell workout, created by Lena Marti, an NASM-certified personal trainer in New York City, includes a bunch of exercises that’ll work every muscle in your lower body, from quads to hamstrings to butt to calves. There are 10 exercises in it (think variations of squats, lunges, glute bridges, and deadlifts), which seems like a lot, but you’ll group them by two, leaving you with five different rounds. You’ll alternate between each exercise, doing 12 reps of each and resting for 30 seconds after you complete each group.

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10. A Lower-Body Resistance-Band Workout

When people think “resistance-band workout,” they automatically think of a butt workout. Sure, this circuit—created by Matt Kite, C.S.C.S., a master coach for D1 Training—will certainly smoke your glutes, but thanks to the squats and banded walks, your legs will be feeling it too. You can do this entire circuit once as a warm-up for another leg workout, or you can complete it three to five times for a full lower-body workout of its own.

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11. An Equipment-Free Lower-Body Workout

Yep, you can get in a great legs workout without using added weight: With some moves, just your body weight is enough to seriously work those muscles. One key exercise in here is the runner’s lunge to balance, which, once you get it down, can really boost your agility and speed. You’ll do this workout—created by Eisinger—in circuit form, with a bonus four-minute cardio finisher at the end that’s done with the AMRAP (as many reps as possible) protocol.

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