The Top 7 Workouts for Stronger Legs (Bodyweight)

Wouldn’t it be nice to have toned, sleek, strong legs 100% of the time without having to put in the work? While I agree that would be great, there is also something powerful that comes from putting in the work and achieving the legs you wish to maintain!

You might be surprised that stronger, more toned legs are just on the other side of 2-4 weeks of focus! All you need to do is the right exercises–those that hit multiple muscles at once, and help you build greater core strength, balance, and flexibility. Talk about win-win-win!

Join my sisters and myself as we demonstrate the Top 7 exercises for toned, strong legs! In this blog post, I’ll explain the name of the exercise, tell you how many reps and sets to do (2 sets for beginners, 3 sets for intermediate, and 4 for advanced aesthetics seekers!), and include some of the training tips I would like you to know that come from over 15 years’ combined experience of personal training, dance teaching, and corrective body mechanics training.

OH! And just in case you would rather get a workout that’s done for you, my sisters and I actually filmed our workout which includes these 7 exercises. It’s only 25 minutes and you need ZERO weights–just your body! Click here to do the workout with us now…100% FREE.

Want a CUSTOM PLAN written for your body and your goals? I can help any individual reach any aesthetic goal using strategic nutrition, fitness, and mindset. Click here to learn about my custom coaching now.

Isolated Lunges 

Targets: Hamstrings, Quads, Glutes

Target Rep Range: Perform 10-12 reps per side for a total of 3-4 sets.

Expert Advice from #CoachKristyJo: The key to performing the Isolated Lunge with precision is to ensure you are standing shoulder width apart. Too many people stand in one straight line which makes it very difficult to balance. Once you are shoulder width apart, make sure your legs are wide enough. Your pelvis should drop down evenly in between the farthest point of your front and back feet. Drop down evenly, meaning both knees are bending the same amount. If you’re doing it right with your rib cage directly above your pelvis (NOT LEANING FORWARD), you will feel your hip flexors stretching. Note: if you’re trying to target the glutes and hamstrings more, then and only then should you arch the low back, shift the rib cage in front of the pelvis, and lift the hips. This will put more focus in the posterior chain (muscles on the backside of your body like hamstrings and glutes).

Front Squats (Bodyweight) 

Targets: Quads, Glutes

Target Rep Range: Perform 10-12 reps for a total of 3-4 sets at a 3:1 tempo (down three counts, up in 1 with a hearty contraction in the glutes).

Expert Advice from #CoachKristyJo: Make sure you’re standing a little wider than shoulder-width apart to begin this exercise. Toes should be slightly rotated out and 60% of the weight in the heel with 40% in the ball of the foot. Keep shoulder blades retracted (pulled together) in order to keep the chest open and lifted. Knees should bend in the direction of the third toe, and hips should push backward. In the event you do not have enough achilles tendon flexibility to keep your heels on the ground in this position, do not go lower and compromise the foot placement.stretching programs Only drop low enough that your tendon will allow. You can build flexibility in the achilles, soleus, and hamstrings by doing my after exercise when your body is warm 4-5x/week.

Fire Hydrants

Targets: Glutes

Target Rep Range: Perform 10-12 reps per side for a total of 3-4 sets. 

Dancer Lunges 

Targets: Hamstrings, Quads, Glutes

Target Rep Range: Perform 10-12 reps per side for a total of 3-4 sets.

Expert Advice from #CoachKristyJo: Ensure you are standing shoulder width apart or you will topple over! Pretend like there is a string of energy pulling up through your spine and out your head toward the ceiling to lift your core rather than be flimsy and wilted in your core.  Lunge deep enough that the front knee is at a 90-degree angle (it can be at a larger, more obtuse angle than this if you have the hamstring strength and practice to support that). Reach the back heel away from your body in order to stretch the achilles, calf, and hamstring. This will pull the knee straighter and even out your weight distribution.

Bridges (Bodyweight)

Targets: Hamstrings, Glutes, Erector Spinae

Target Rep Range: Perform 10-12 reps for a total of 3-4 sets.

Expert Advice from #CoachKristyJo: Keep the feet shoulder width apart with 60% of the weight in the heels and 40% of your weight in the balls of the feet. Fix your eyes toward the ceiling/sky and elongate your spine. As you push into your heels and engage your glutes to lift your hips upward, keep your knees the same distance apart as the hips. Sometimes I will put a 10″ fusion ball between my clients’ knees to help them realign the directional rotation of the femur that is causing knee pain. Additionally, think of your pelvis like a bucket of water. Most people will either be tipping water out the back, so picture a zipper pulling from the top of your pelvis up toward your ribs. This helps tighten the abdomen, take pressure out of the lumbar spine, and keep the glutes stronger and tighter. This method also helps relieve low back pain and is something I use for many clients just on a rehab level (note: rehab clients should simply hold this and NOT complete the repetitions). Once you’ve done a few sets, you can start to pulse the knees inward toward each other to activate the deep rotators, piriformis, and hip flexors while holding stable through the core (glutes/abdomen/lumbar spine).

One-Leg Dead Lifts 

Targets: Hamstrings, Glutes

Target Rep Range: Perform 10-12 reps per side for a total of 3-4 sets.

Expert Advice from #CoachKristyJo: Keep your feet hip width apart as you reach one leg forward and one back to this staggered position. Ensure both feet are pointing directly forward (the back foot likes to rotate outward to help with supporting the weight, but this changes the muscles used  from hamstrings and glutes to adductors (inner thighs) and deep rotators, so I encourage you NOT to do this). As you reach forward, reach your ribs toward the ground which should help you lift your hips toward the sky. Elongate the hamstrings and glutes rather than the opposite–keeping them in the same place and only elongating your back–this is NOT the right way to deadlift and will not only target the wrong muscles, but will cause you pain! Make sure you’re feeling the stretch through the back of your body. Equally important is the contraction that comes at the top of the movement. Squeeze your glutes together and feel your ribs pulling back toward your spine with your belly button pulled backward as well. Do not go quickly in this movement until your movement mechanics feel good and make sense to your body (not just your brain).

Isometric High Knees 

Targets: Hip Flexors, Glutes, Abs

Target Rep Range: Perform 5-8 reps per side for a total of 3-4 sets (squeeze for 8-10 counts per contraction).

Expert Advice from #CoachKristyJo: Spread your toes wide and push through each of them to support your entire foot. Keep 40% of your weight in the heel with 60% of your weight in the ball of your foot. Lift the knee upward while reaching the spine upward in opposition to the ground as well. You can do this more efficiently as you push your foot deeper into the ground and FEEL the connection there. Straighten the supporting knee in order to deepen the contraction of the supporting glute (opposite the knee that is lifted). The higher you lift the knee, the more the abs should contract, the glute should tighten, and the bottom leg should straighten. There are many shifting mechanics in this exercise, so I encourage you to practice this holding onto something stable until you feel connected and balanced through the moving parts.