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Use This Leg Day Workout To Strengthen Your Lower Body

Stephanie Moir demonstrates the cable-kick back, part of her leg day workout
Stefanie Moir demonstrates the cable kick-back, part of her leg day workout (Image credit: Courtesy Black & White Publishing)

Leg day has a bad rep. Sure, after your first big leg workout you might worry that you’ll never walk again when you wake up with the very worst kind of DOMS. But once you’re over that hump you’ll start to look forward to leg day as a chance to test yourself and burn huge amounts of calories, thanks to the fact you’re using the biggest muscle groups in the body.

This leg day workout is taken from Naturally Stefanie (opens in new tab) by Stefanie Moir, a compelling combo of vegan recipes and workout plans for the gym and home. It works your lower body from all angles, hitting the quads, hamstrings and glutes in particular. Make sure to follow the warm-up closely to prepare you for the main workout, where you’ll be working with weights and resistance machines, to maximise the benefits. Can’t make it to the gym? Try this home legs workout instead.

Leg Day Workout Warm-Up

Unweighted squat

Sets 3 Reps 10-15

From standing, lower by sitting back until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then drive back up to standing through your heels.

Walking lunge

Sets 3 Reps 10-15

From standing, take a big step forwards and lower until both knees are bent at a 90° angle. Then, keeping your torso low, bring your back leg through into another big forward lunge. Keep walking forwards until you complete your reps.

Donkey kick

Sets 3 Reps 10-15 each side

Get on all fours and brace your core so it doesn’t sag during the exercise. Raise one leg behind you with the knee bent at 90° until the sole of your foot faces the ceiling. Bring your leg down slowly. Do all the reps on one side, then switch.

4 Dumbbell squat

Sets 3 Reps 10-15

Introduce some light weights to finish off the warm-up. Using a light set of dumbbells or an unloaded barbell, do another three sets of squats to ensure your body is ready to move on to using heavier weights in the leg day workout proper.

The Leg Day Workout

1 Pulse squat

Stefanie Moir demonstrates pulse squats

(Image credit: Courtesy Black & White Publishing)

Sets 3 Reps 8-12

From standing, lower by sitting back until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then drive back up halfway to standing. That’s one rep. Continue, only standing up once all the reps are completed.

Hip thrust

Stefanie Moir demonstrates the hip thrust

(Image credit: Courtesy Black & White Publishing)

Sets 3 Reps 10-15

Sit on the ground with a bench behind you and a barbell resting just below your hips. Lean back and bring your hips up a little so your shoulders are resting on the bench. Drive your hips up to raise the bar. In the top position your knees should be bent at 90° and your body should form a straight line from shoulders to knees. Lower slowly.

Bulgarian split squat

Stephanie Moir demonstrates the Bulgarian split squat

(Image credit: Courtesy Black & White Publishing)

Sets 3 Reps 10-12 each leg

You can use a barbell or hold a dumbbell in each hand for this leg day workout exercise, or use no weight at all if you’re finding it hard to maintain your balance. With the top of one foot resting on a bench, step forwards into a lunge with the other. Lower until your front thigh is parallel to the ground, then drive back up. Do all your reps on one leg, then swap sides.

4 Cable kick-back

Cable kick-back

(Image credit: Unknown)

Sets 3 Reps 15-20 each leg

Attach an ankle cuff to the low pulley on a cable machine, or just slip your foot into a looped handle. Stand facing the machine and hold it with both hands. Slowly kick the attached leg back in an arc, taking it as high as it will comfortably go. Then bring it back down slowly. Do all your reps on one leg, then swap sides.

Seated hamstring curl

Stephanie Moir demonstrates the machine hamstring curl

(Image credit: Courtesy Black & White Publishing)

Sets 3 Reps 12-15

Sit on the hamstring machine and position the padded lever so that it sits just below your calf muscles. Lift your legs so they’re straight out in front of you, then pull the lever down with your legs. Hold that position for a second at the bottom, then raise your legs again.

Plank

Stephanie Moir demonstrates the plank

(Image credit: Courtesy Black & White Publishing)

Sets 3 Time 30-60sec

Get into a plank position, face down with your weight resting on your forearms and the balls of your feet. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your heels. Brace your abs and glutes, and don’t let your hips rise or sag.

Nick Harris-Fry
Nick Harris-Fry

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.