Leg Workouts For Women; Will Make You Fitter, Healthier And Stronger
Leg workouts for women embraces the new intelligent research about strength training for women, because it simply works!
I think you'll agree with me, you yearn for killer legs;
I know the feeling. It's part of the daily struggle!
But just keep reading, and I'll show you some of the best leg workouts that will, with some consistent effort, build the legs you've been dying for.
Why not for men too?
Well, there’s lots of guys who would get great benefits from these workouts, so don’t be put off because I said, “for women”. We love you to have strong legs too, and in fact some of these workouts are extremely hard for men.
No doubt about it!
It’s just that I don’t think enough women really focus on doing great leg workouts. We all desire great legs, but go into any gym, and you’ll find guys hitting the heavy weights for their legs, but not so many girls. Perhaps too many think that their legs will “get big”.
Let’s dich that fallacy now. Working your legs hard will produce lean muscle that makes your legs appear toned, helps reduce any cellulite problems, and gives you killer calves for those occasions when you break out the high heals.
Leg workouts are full of blood sweat and tears.
Hopefully not too much blood, but if you’re deadlifting heavy then shins have been known to bleed. But there’s so many benefits to be gained.
Just a couple of great benefits from leg workouts for women, include;
- Big compound moves like squats and deadlifts will actually impact your whole body, engaging muscle fibres throughout and giving you maximum gains for your time spent.
- The largest muscles in your body are in your legs, so they are actually capable of shifting heavier weights. And that means more calories burned if you’re looking to shed some kilos as well.
- Because you’ve engaged the largest muscles in your body, the calorie burn will continue for longer after you finish training.
- All explosive movements in sports, require strong legs. And they’ll really help you move through your average day with greater ease as well.
- And really importantly, a great set of toned legs are going to look great in so many different outfits.
One of the best things that you can do to keep making progress with any physical training, is to add some variety, that way your body doesn’t;
1. Get too used to the same workout, which can then fail to stimulate improvement
2. Break down from over training with the same routine
"If you think lifting weights is dangerous, try being weak. Being weak is dangerous."
So, with that in mind, I’ve gone looking for some of the best leg workouts for women to be found online. This collection includes workouts from top trainers who know how to get results. I’ve selected my favourites based on the moves included, and providing plenty of different variety to keep you interested and challenged.
Some of these leg workouts are extremely hard routines to complete, and are only for advanced lifters, but others are easier for beginners or intermediate. Start where you feel comfortable, and try the more advanced routines as you advance.
So, lets get started;
Click the title of each workout, which will open the trainers full post with detailed instructions about the leg workout.
Leg Workouts For Women
Women’s health brings us this collection of seven moves, when you’re tired of lunges and squats.
The pistol squat might be a bit challenging for beginners, but persist and you’ll be cranking them out in no time.
The dumbbell split jump, or flying lunges as I like to call them, are one of my favourite exercises. It’s great for building explosive power, speed and athleticism.
The team at bodybuilding dot com are really good at showing you how to smash out some great workouts.
Here they're making some really good points on giving some focus to your hamstrings and glutes to balance the strength with your quads.
It's great to see them expressing the same thoughts about lifting heavy, and the risk of bulky legs. "your muscles won't change unless they have a reason to."
I'd probably do more reps and less sets in these leg workouts, so you get through the workout in less time. And I'm not a big fan of the common 10 rep set.
As a four time fitness model world champion, Andreia Brazier is really worth listening to.
She has some really interesting workouts, and mixes up exercises to keep things interesting, which I love.
There's some good exercises in this workout, which you can do with body weight alone as well. so if you don't have access to a gym or weights, these are some great options.
The Lauren Gleisberg beauty and booty challenge legs and glutes weights workout focuses on engaging the glutes before completing compound movements for maximum booty building effect.
Depending how much weight you use for the dead lifts and sumo squats, this workout can be really challenging.
Lauren clearly loves fitness, and has some great content on her blog, so it's worth a visit.
These exercises from Spotebi are easy to complete at home, so it's a really handy workout if you don't have time to get to the gym or are travelling.
Just slip into your favourite active wear, and give those legs a workout, wherever you are.
This is a great post, which covers some of the reasons that I mentioned above, why women should train legs hard.
They also talk about progressive overload, which is a really important training principle if you want to make decent gains in strength and conditioning. I've written more on that topic in this article.
They've got three workouts, all giving you the chance to smash your leg day out, with some heavy weights. I'd just increase the reps a lot more than they have, for the leg press. I really believe in higher reps for leg press. Try it, and see the results you get.
These leg exercises focus on shapely legs and a perfectly round booty. Targeting your quads hamstrings and glutes.
These are all great exercises in Jared's program. I would just adjust the 10 reps to suite what you are really looking to achieve. Usually I would be doing higher reps than this.
Eric Broser has come up with a great workout, on the one machine, which really kills your quads.
Leg Press. Eric describes this workout as the "thigh thumper".
You can really shift a lot of weight doing leg press. Keeping your back flat on the seat, pulling down hard and make sure that you are breathing out hard when pushing, and you'll keep your back secure and really work your quads and glutes.
8-10 Reps is what is suggested here. Again, I would go much higher than this, aiming for 30-50 on working sets.
You might find it hard to walk out of the gym, but if you can get through this workout, with these higher reps, and heavy weight, then you will really feel the gains.
This is a great post, which really explains squats, and primes you for completing high reps, which I love.
If you want to get great results from the time you spend in the gym, then you need to be prepared to put yourself through some pain. This workout will surely do that for you, and get you the results that follow.
David Whitely have done a great job detailing this workout, and even given some tips of what you should be eating if you are doing this type of hard training. I love it.
And for once, I don't even need to say, that I would add more reps to each set:)
This leg workout focuses entirely on squats for a thirteen week period.
It's a really challenging program, that should only be attempted by experienced lifters. So if you've been training for a year or more, and feeling like you've hit a plateau, then this program could be perfect to lift your intensity and achieve those gains you're chasing.
The post has been written targeting guys, so some of the body weights and weights lifted won't be relevant to women. They do note how to calculate your starting weight for the program though, so you can follow that as a guide, and if you're going to do this program, then you should have the experience to know your strength and lifting capacity.
If you don't know, or want to re-confirm what your starting weight should be, you can use this handy one rep max calculator.
This is the type of workout which will grow lean muscle whilst also losing body fat, so remember to fuel your body with good nutrition while you're training on this program.
This routine is written up by Mehdi, who has a great web site, if you like lifting heavy, and want increased strength that can be maintained. I love his site, and find lots of practical advice there, so do yourself a favour and check our Mehdi's story and have a look around his site here.
If you'd like a refresher on squat technique, or even the answer to questions about squats that have been on your mind, and no one has been able to answer, I recommend taking an hour and reading Mehdi's definitive guide to squats.
As leg exercises go, squats are king, and the Russian squat routine is famous for helping increase your strength.
This is a six week squat program following nine sessions of progressive lifting.
You can use the simple calculator included in the post by Marc, to produce a program to follow. The just have discipline and don't miss any sessions.
There are debates about which produces better gains, the Russian squat routine or the Smolov routine.
For me, there is no doubt that the smolov routine is harder, and also produces greater gains in strength. But you can't do that type of program all the time, and the Russian squat routine will also keep you advancing.
In fact, if you haven't done this type of program before, I would suggest trying this before the Smolov routine.
Plyometric exercises are a great way to build more athletic speed and power. And we all know that an athletic body looks great too.
You can mix these exercises in with your main leg training routine, to add variety of stimulus and a break from the intensity if you are doing one of the heavy squat programs.
For example, you can train squats early in the week, then with a day in between to recover, do a plyometric leg workout.
Or simply include some plyometric exercises in a more general whole body routine, like the circuit that I'm doing in the video above.
I love doing the box jumps. It's one of my favourite leg exercises.
Women's quads are normally stronger and more developed than the hamstring. So we need to make sure we're putting some focus on developing strong hamstrings as well.
Apart from the athletic benefits, having well developed hamstrings will really give you nice athletic looking shapely legs. So what's not to like.
These routines from Bodybuilding.com focus on the stiff legged dead life, which is a great exercise to develop the hamstring.
Try any of the suggested routines. They are all challenging, and therefore worthwhile.
Dead lifts are an amazingly effective compound exercise, that will engage every muscle fiber in your body.
They are primarily a back and legs exercise, and really could not be overlooked in any decent strength training routine focused on legs.
The Ed Coan routine is for intermediate to advanced lifters.
You will be dead lifting once a week, for a duration of ten weeks completing this program. So you will still be able to mix in other training sessions that you would normally complete.
Dead lifts are really hard work, but every time I complete a training cycle including dead lifts, I can really notice the increase in strength again.
For a good critique of the Ed Coan routine, this is a really good write up which while focused on power lifting, explains this routine really well, and will give you a better understanding of what this routine is about. go here to read.
While I've just thrown the Ed Coan routine at you, I thought it important here to include something on dead lifting, for less experienced lifters.
This post from Nerdfitness explains the basics of dead lifting well, and will get you started.
And the following great video by the Buff Dudes nails it for explaining good technique.
The only tips I would add to that are, that you should wear a weight lifting belt always while deadlifting. It's not being weak. It supports your lower back, and gives your abs something to push against, so you can exert more power, and lift heavier.
While not as critical as a weight belt, I'd also suggest using lifting straps. They really help you to grip the bar, so that it's not your grip which is the weakest link making you fail on high rep sets or with really heavy weight. You are focusing on working your major muscles, not building a stronger hand.
The following video by Darin Starr provides a really good explanation on how to use lifting straps.
If you are just beginning I would suggest incorporating dead lifts on one day a week, as part of your broader overall program.
Start out conservatively, make sure you get the technique correct, before you start pulling too much weight, or progressing to the harder dead lift programs.
We all know that great calves look super sexy, but do we even spend much time working on them in the gym?
Well, Bodybuilding.com have done a great job with this post on the best calf building workout.
If you don't want to spend so much time focusing on building great calves, I find that simply doing as many standing calf raises as I can without rest in one set, after my normal leg day workout, will really hit my calves.
I've already given you some killer workouts doing back squats, but writing about leg workouts wouldn't be complete without including front squats.
Front squats really work your quads, and we all know that having impressive quads will give you a great athletic look.
This post from Robertson Training Systems provides a really good explanation of front squatting. They pretty much address every question that you could think of, so it's a great resource. Read it twice, before you try front squats.
They provide some examples of simply front squat routines to get started with as well.
You can integrate front squats into your overall program. For example, complete back squats on the first training day, then front squats on the third training day.
Or, use front squats as a variant, when you've finished a heavy cycle of back squats.
Again, I like to keep reps high, with decent weight, starting with a warm up set at 50% of 1RM, and then ranging between 70% to 90% of my 1 RM for working sets.
Calisthenics can be really challenging for the legs, building resilient muscles. They can also build beautiful athletic legs.
Think boxers, who do lots of calisthenic exercises like skipping, jumps, sprints and generally as they're moving around in the ring. They need really resilient strong legs. If their legs are gone, then it's usually goodnight, lights out.
Tod Kuslikis of Shot of Adrenaline wrote this great post, which explains 55 different body weight exercises for legs.
It's a great resource if you're interested in building great legs, without weights. He's included progress charts, workouts, how to train instructions and recovery tips.
So, if you're short on time, or just don't like going to a gym, you'll find plenty of great leg exercises here to develop athletic pins.
I personally like doing pistol squats and Bulgarian spit-squats.
Tod has even written another great post on how to develop muscular legs with body weight training, including an example routine. You can read it here.
If you thought that the best leg workouts for women would only include weight room training, then I hope you're happily proven wrong.
Body weight workouts are really convenient, as you can crank them out pretty much anywhere, and just try some of these moves, and if you didn't before, you'll realise how effective they are as well.
Jeff Cowan of Body Weight Training Arena brings us this post with more calisthenic workouts to make your legs burn.
There's great explanations of the different leg exercises and example routines that you can follow, or put something together that suites your time and goals.
Pilates Butt And Thigh Workout
If heaving heavy iron or holding pistol squats isn't your thing, then it doesn't mean you can't still work those legs.
Pilates exercises can be great, even mixed in with a regular strength training program which is more focused on weights.
The following routine from Fitness Blender includes some great moves for the legs and glutes.
Whichever leg workouts for women you choose to follow, your legs will be sore. It's important to also spend some time and proper planning on post workout recovery.
Without proper recovery, your body won't be restored enough to achieve maximum effort and results from the following workouts.
It's good practice anyway, but particularly with some of the harder workouts like Smolov or the Russian squat routine, it is a must. Or you just won't get through the program.
This post from Onnit Acadamy includes 10 great tips for post workout recovery.
The best tip here for me is, sleep!
Sleep is so important. It's when the body does most of it's recovery, and yet is often overlooked in our busy lives
Make sure you get a good eight hours sleep, and feel the difference it makes.
What's the one real secret to getting the best results from these leg workouts for women?
As with all proper training;
progressive overload will ensure that you achieve meaningful results. You can apply this principle to these workouts, by progressing from easier workouts to the more challenging ones, or working on increasing the intensity of a particular leg workout.
I hope that you enjoy trying some of these workouts, or at least enjoy the results that will come from doing them consistently.
And for some great recipes to fuel your body the right way, try some of these 31 healthy clean eating recipes.
Let me know in the comments below, about any other good leg workouts that you like?
Here's to, HAPPY LEG DAY!