The leg muscles are some of the largest in the body, so it’s important to target them with a range of different exercises. Squats, deadlifts, lunges, and glute bridges or hip thrusts are all great options to add to a leg day workout routine.

Is A 30-Minute Lower Body Workout Enough To Build Strength?

This workout is great for hitting all the leg muscles in just 30 minutes. This includes the glutes, quads, hamstrings, hips, abductors, adductors, and calves.

Lower Body Workout Focus

Today’s workout focuses on “unilateral exercises” – exercises that target one side of the body. This is important because everyone has a side that is stronger than the other, and these exercises help to even out strength and improve balance. These exercises also help prepare the body for “bilateral exercises” – movements that use both legs.

Best Lower Body Exercises To Level-Up Your Leg Day

30-Minute Lower Body Workout

This lower body workout includes 22 different leg exercises that target the glutes, quads, hips, hamstrings, and calves.

This low-impact, low-jumping workout is perfect for strength training your lower body. It is adaptable for all fitness levels!

Workout Equipment

You will need a medium-to-heavy pair of dumbbells (8-30 lbs), or one heavy dumbbell. You may also need a mini loop resistance band and bench/chair.

Workout Outline

  • Double Leg Deadlift and Calf Raise
  • Staggered Deadlift, Right Leg
  • Single Leg Deadlift and Dumbbell Pass, Right Leg
  • Dumbbell Swing
  • Staggered Deadlift, Left Leg
  • Single Leg Deadlift and Dumbbell Pass, Left Leg
  • Uneven Squat Thruster, Right Leg
  • Wall Sit and Calf Raise
  • Uneven Squat Thruster, Left Leg
  • Reverse Lunge and Calf Raise, Right Leg
  • Uneven Dumbbell Pick-Up Sumo Squats
  • Reverse Lunge and Calf Raise, Left Leg
  • Lateral Squats
  • Rear Foot Elevated Lunge, Right Leg
  • Single Leg Chair Squat (Pistol Squat), Right Leg
  • Rear Foot Elevated Lunge, Left Leg
  • Single Leg Chair Squat (Pistol Squat), Left Leg
  • Banded 80/20 Change Stance Squat, Right Leg
  • Banded Lateral Squat Walk
  • Banded 80/20 Change Stance Squat, Left Leg
  • Wall Sit and Band Open for Abductors
  • Superman Extension and Lower Body Band Opens

Double Leg Deadlift or Romanian Deadlift 

The backside of the body, including the hamstrings and glutes, erector spinae, trapezius, and posterior deltoid.

A Romanian Deadlift differs from a traditional deadlift in that it starts from a standing position, rather than with the weight on the ground. The motion is also eccentric, meaning it is a downward motion, as opposed to the concentric motion of a traditional deadlift, which is an upward motion.

Benefits Of The Romanian Deadlift

Regular deadlifts don’t provide constant tension on the muscles, which means you don’t see as much muscle hypertrophy in the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.

This exercise is similar to rack pulls, but instead of starting with the weight already lifted, you start from the ground. This is a great exercise to improve your upper back and lockout strength for conventional deadlifts.

How To Do A Romanian Deadlift With Dumbbells

  • Start in a standing position with feet spaced hip-width apart, holding one dumbbell in each hand with your grip just outside your legs (overhand grip). Or holding one heavy dumbbell horizontally with the heads of the dumbbell in each hand.
  • Stand tall with a flat back and neutral spine. Your shoulders should be back and down.
  • With knees bent, hinge at your hips (hip flexors). Think of pressing your hips back towards the wall behind you, as you lower the dumbbells down the front of your legs. The dumbbells should remain in contact with your legs for the entire range of motion.
  • Once you’ve reached the bottom (range of motion looks different for everyone), drive through your heels, squeezing your glutes and hamstrings to push your hips forward and return to the starting position.

Single Leg Deadlift

The posterior chain or backside of the body is targeted in the double leg deadlift. However, the single-leg deadlift focuses on one leg at a time to even out any muscular imbalances.

This exercise is more advanced than most lower body exercises because it requires a lot of core strength, balance, and stability.

How To Do A Single Leg Deadlift With Dumbbells

  • Stand tall with a flat back and neutral spine. Your shoulders should be back and down.
  • With your right knee bent, hinge at your hips (hip flexors), extending the left leg long behind you as you balance on your right leg. Option to keep your left toe as a kickstand on the ground for balance support. Keep your hips even, square to the mat, as you press them back towards the wall behind you.
  • Once you’ve reached the bottom (range of motion looks different for everyone). Drive through your right heel, squeezing your glutes and hamstrings to push your hips forward and return to the starting position.

Uneven Squat Thruster

This workout targets your hips and glutes while also getting your heart rate up in a low-impact way.

The thruster is a squat with a shoulder press at the top of the move. The weight is loaded on one side of the body to create greater core engagement.

How To Do An Uneven Squat Thruster With Dumbbells

  • Stand with feet hip-width apart, toes pointing straight ahead or slightly angled out away from the body.
  • Holding one dumbbell in your right hand, front rack the dumbbell in line with your right shoulder. Exhale to engage your core.
  • With your weight in your heels, sit your hips back. Lowering your hips down until they are parallel with your knees.
  • Then drive through your heels, standing tall and pressing the dumbbell overhead.

Lateral Squat

The main target of this workout are the gluteus medius, or the outer glute that controls hip movement and side-to-side movements. The quadriceps and inner thighs (or adductors) are also involved.

It’s like performing a goblet squat, laterally.

How To Do A Lateral Squat With Dumbbells

  • Start with your feet wider than your hips, think a wide squat stance. With your knees and toes pointing forward (or toes just slightly turned out away from your body). Add weight by holding one dumbbell to your chest like you would during a goblet squat.
  • Shift your weight into your right heel as you push your hips back, bending your right knee while leaving your left leg straight. Think of performing a single leg squat with your right leg while your left leg remains straight.
  • Then, drive through your right foot to reverse the movement, pushing you back up to the center.
  • Repeat this movement on the left leg.

Back Squat

The back squat is known as the “king of all exercises” because it allows you to overload your leg muscles with more weight than any other tool. Your core has to work harder than usual to keep your torso stable and safe during the movement.

While both heavy and light back squats are great for different reasons, higher rep squats produce more growth hormone, making them ideal for increasing size and strength.

Benefits of the Back Squat

The back squat also builds back strength as the back stabilizes the barbell and supports the load.

The study found that people who can squat more are also able to jump higher.

This text is saying that the thing being discussed can help with overall size and strength gains by stimulating the release of more growth hormone.

How to Do the Back Squat

Lift the barbell off the squat rack by Step under a barbell and set a good foundation by flexing your core and grip the barbell wherever allows you optimal shoulder mobility to get your elbows under the bar. Set it either high or low on your upper back (which is personal preference), unrack it, and take a few steps back. Pull the bar down to your shoulders to create tension. Keep your chest up, take a deep breath in and squat down to a comfortable depth and pause for a beat. Drive your feet through the floor until lockout.

Hip Thrust

The hip thrust is an effective exercise for building strength and mass in your glutes and, to a lesser extent, your hamstrings. The glutes are worked during the back squat and deadlift, but the hip thrust is a more isolated movement that targets the glutes specifically.

Working on your glutes will help you with other exercises by making you stronger and allowing you to look better in your clothes.

Benefits of Hip Thrust

No other hip extension exercise can compare to this one when it comes to building glute mass, strength, and power.

The kettlebell swing is a less technical and easier movement to perform than other heavily loaded movements like back squats and deadlift variations.

Stronger glute muscles lead to better stabilization of the core, pelvis, and lower back.

How to Do the Hip Thrust 

Place a bench behind you and sit with your back against it. Position a loaded barbell over your hips and roll it into the crease of your hips. With your feet flat on the floor and your shoulder blades on the bench, extend your hips until your upper body and hips are in a straight line. Lower your hips toward the floor, then extend them into a lockout. Keep your upper body still throughout the movement.

Front Rack Bulgarian Split Squat

This makes the Bulgarian split squat the perfect accessory exercise for building the quads, and subsequently, a better squat and deadlift. The best exercise to improve your squat and deadlift is the Bulgarian split squat. The quad is taxed through a longer range of motion than other leg exercises, making the Bulgarian split squat the perfect accessory exercise for building the quads. This will subsequently lead to a better squat and deadlift.

This longer stretch of time stimulates more growth. The weight being front-loaded makes the core and upper back have to work harder to support the load and keep the body stable.

Benefits of the Front Rack Bulgarian Split Squat

The Bulgarian split squat is beneficial because it helps to reduce muscular imbalances between the legs. This exercise also helps to improve leg drive for squats and deadlifts.

The Bulgarian split squat makes you work harder to recruit more muscle fibers to perform the same squat movement.

Improves core and upper back strength and stability.

How to Do the Front Rack Bulgarian Split Squat

Pick up a pair of kettlebells and hold them in the front rack position. Keep your chest up and shoulders down. Place your back foot on an elevated surface, and put a weight plate in front of your big toe. This will let you change sides quickly without having to find the right foot position each time. Bend your back knee toward the floor while keeping your torso slightly leaning forward. Push your front foot down into the floor to return to the starting position.

Trap Bar Deadlift

There is no denying that barbell deadlifts are a strength and muscle-building movement. That said, the trap bar deadlift may be a more comfortable (and possibly safer) option for those who are not competitive powerlifters. This is because there is less shear force on the spine as the axis of rotation (lower back/hips) is more in-line with the load.

The raised, neutral handles on a trap bar make it easier on the lower back and reduce the range of motion (ROM) for the lifter, making it a great alternative for athletes or lifters who want to focus on strength with a reduced chance of getting a lifting injury.

Benefits of the Trap Bar Deadlift

  • The neutral grip puts less stress on the wrist, elbows, and shoulders
  • The high handles allow for a shorter ROM. As a result, lifters can load the bar with more weight. 
  • Both of the factors mentioned above make the trap bar deadlift an overall more accessible lift. 

How to Do the Trap Bar Deadlift

Attach a trap bar to a low pulley and grasp the handles.Keeping your shoulders down and your chest up, hinge forward at the hips until the weights touch the floor. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, drive your hips forward until you reach full extension. Slowly lower the weights back to the floor and repeat.

 

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Rhoda is an award-winning dietitian, mature age model, and CEO of Sayvana Women.  

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