Best At-Home Leg Exercises for Women

Best At-Home Leg Exercises for Women

Ladies, if you’re ready to build lower body strength and tone your legs, this one's for you!

I’m glad you’re looking into ways to train your legs at home. Whether that's because you prefer working out at home, or need a quick way to build strength ... I'm all for it!

Having leg strength is important, and it's definitely worth the effort. Not only can it help you feel stronger, but also look stronger and healthier too.

As a mom of two who works full time, I have to be effective with my workouts. At-home workouts have become a staple in my routine. These exercise hit your legs in full and will be great to add to your weekly routine or even as a standalone workout!

So whether you are just getting started or have been working out for some time, you will love these at-home leg exercises!

Let's get into them! First, let's cover some important info you'll want to know before you get started.

The Benefits of Leg Exercises

Giving your lower body some love is a great way to boost your overall health and fitness. Your legs are big muscles, and when you train them right, it can really help get a good sweat going.

Not to mention, leg exercises can help burn a ton of calories. Muscles in your legs such as your glutes, quads, and hamstrings are important. They're responsible for helping us walk, run, jump, squat, and perform a lot of other everyday movements.

A lot of leg exercises can be helpful for improving posture too!

The muscles along your spine get trained when lifting heavy loads with your legs. This strengthens your posture muscles, and can help to reduce your risk of developing low back pain (1).

As you can see, leg workouts can be beneficial in far more than just one way.

When you start putting effort into leg day consistently, you’re going to love the results! The million dollar question now is, “how can you do all this at home?” Will you need any special equipment?

How To Do At-Home Leg Exercises

Okay, so we know leg workouts have some serious perks, but how do you get these benefits at home? Well, equipment you find at the gym is handy, but not essential for a good workout.

It really depends on what your goals are too. If you want to maximize strength and muscle building, then you may want to have some equipment at home. If you're wanting to lose weight, stay in good shape, or look good and be healthy ... you can get the job done without it.

The truth is, yes, your options are more limited without weights. That doesn't mean you can't get the job done. At the end of the day, most workouts you can do with weights, you can also do without them.

Bodyweight training can be very effective for basic leg workouts. It may even surprise you just how hard a good at-home leg workout can be. But as you continue to get stronger, I would highly encourage adding some more resistance.

If anything, investing in some bands or a pair of dumbbells can be very helpful and affordable. They'll also add an extra element of challenge to these at-home leg exercises.

For these exercises, I'll explain how to do them with and without weights. That way, you'll know exactly how to progress when the time comes.

At-Home Leg Exercises for Women

Ready to get into the exercises? If you want to make them more intense, try cutting down on your rest periods or doing 2 exercises back to back!

This is one way I'm able to take these exercise and create quite the effective workout.

Bodyweight Squat

This is an excellent at-home leg exercise for nearly every muscle in your legs. On top of that, It can also help challenge your core!

Place your feet slightly wider than your hips with your toes turned outward just a bit. Keeping your back straight and shift your weight to your heels. Now push your hips back and bend your knees to squat down. Keep going until your thighs are parallel with the ground or lower.

Drive through your heels and squeeze your glutes to stand upright once again. The more you can do, the better. Try 3 sets of 12-15 reps to start. If that’s too easy, you can try slowing down the reps, pausing at the bottom, and adding more reps until it’s a challenge.

When you're ready to add weight, you can hold a dumbbell or kettlebell at your chest. You can also anchor a band underneath your feet while holding the other end at your chest.

Good Mornings

Good mornings are great for targeting your hamstrings, glutes, and core. I have a feeling they'll become one of your personal favorites!

Stand with your feet at hip-width and cross your arms at your chest. If you'd like to use weight, you can hold a dumbbell or kettlebell at your chest. Even without one, you could hold some books or another heavy object instead.

Unlock your knees and keep a slight bend in them. Next, breathe into your belly and brace your core as you push your hips back. Be sure to keep your back flat throughout the exercise.

When you can't push your hips back any further, you should feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Keep your back straight and squeeze your glutes to bring your body back upright.

Do this for 15-20 reps to complete a set. If that’s too easy, try increasing the weight or slowing down your reps.

Standing Calf Raises

This is an at-home leg exercise that will target your calves.

Start with the balls of your feet shoulder-width apart on the edge of a step. If you want to boost the intensity, hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand.

Without moving the rest of the body, keep a slight bend in your knees as you lift onto the tips of your toes. Squeeze your calves at the top, holding for a few seconds. From here, brings your heels below the height of the step until you feel a stretch in your calves.

If you can do this easily for 20 reps, try adding some weights and slowing down the reps. Holding in place for longer at the top of the movement can add another element of challenge as well!

Lunges

Lunges are an excellent leg workout all around. They can also help support equal strength between both of your legs!

Start by taking one large step forward with your right leg. Be sure that your feet are still hip-width apart from left to right. Also, Keep your torso upright throughout the movement.

With your body weight in your front heel, bend your knees as you lower toward the ground. Stop right before your back knee hits the ground.

Drive through your front heel to push yourself back to the starting position. Now, repeat with your opposite leg. Shoot for 10-12 reps on each leg.

If this is too easy, you can also hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand to make it more challenging.

Reverse Lunges

Similar to a normal lunge, you'll be working one leg at a time, alternating between the two. Where this exercise is different is that you'll be stepping backward into the lunge.

Start by taking one large step backward with your right leg. Be sure that your feet are still hip-width apart from left to right, and not standing on the same line. Also, Keep your torso upright throughout the movement.

With your body weight in your front heel, bend your knees as you lower toward the ground. Stop right before your back knee hits the ground.

Drive through your front heel to push yourself back to the starting position. Now, repeat with your opposite leg. Shoot for 10-12 reps on each leg.

If this is too easy, you can also hold a dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand to make it more challenging.

Skaters

Skaters can be a challenging exercise that can really get you huffing and puffing! I personally like adding them to my at-home leg workouts for an extra cardiovascular challenge.

Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Put all your weight into your left leg as you jump laterally in the opposite direction to land on your right foot. From here, do the opposite with your right foot to jump back to your left foot.

Do this in a consistent, repetitive motion and allow your "free" leg to swing behind your planted foot. It will look like you're skating in place! Another thing to keep in mind with this exercise is making sure to keep a slight bend in your knees at all times.

Try starting with 3 sets of 10-20 reps on each leg. You can make this more challenging by picking up the pace, adding reps, or throwing on a weighted vest or backpack.

Side Lying Plank

While planking can help with leg strength, they will also pose a great challenge for your core. No matter how good you get at them, you also may never need to use weight! They are definitely a challenge.

Begin by lying on one side of your body with one leg stacked on top of the other. Find your balance by placing your forearm on the floor so your elbow is underneath your shoulder.

Once you're in position, push off of your elbow and engage your core and glutes to suspend your body weight off the ground. Hold this position for at 30-60 seconds. Repeat this on the other side of your body and do 2-3 total sets on each side.

To increase the difficulty, try raising your top arm and leg in the air while doing the side plank. You’ll feel it quite a bit more!

Donkey Kicks

Donkey kicks are a great way to build up your glute muscles. This is part of what makes them one of my favorite at-home leg exercises.

Get on your hands and knees, ensuring that your hands are under your shoulders and knees under your hips. To begin, keep your body stable as you kick back your right leg. Keep a 90 degree bend in your knee and kick your leg back until it is parallel with your torso. The bottom of your foot should point toward the ceiling.

Squeeze your glute for a second before bringing your leg back to the starting position. Repeat this with the other leg, alternating between each leg for reps.

Try starting with 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg, keeping your reps slow and controlled. To increase the difficulty you could always do more reps, add ankle weights, or by using a band. For the banded variation, you will place the band around each leg in your knee crease.

Jump Squat

Consider jump squats to be a lot like your standard squat with some extra spice. This is another leg exercise you can do at home that will have you out of breath after just a few reps.

Get in a squat position with your feet just wider than your hips and toes pointed slightly outward. Keep your weight in your midfoot as you bend your knees and hips to squat down. When your thighs are parallel with the ground, shift your weight to the balls of your feet.

Swing your arms up, and explosively straighten your knees, hips, and ankles to jump off the ground. As you land, decend right back into another jump squat.

Try this for 3 sets of 10-20 reps. To make it more difficult, you could add more reps.

Side Lunge

Get into a wide stance at least twice the width of your hips. Your toes should either point forward or slightly outward. Shift your weight into your right heel. From here, bend your right knee and push your hips back to squat over your right foot. Your left leg should remain straight.

When your right thigh is parallel with the floor, you’ve reached the bottom. Hold for a second before driving through your heel to exit the squat. Now, repeat this on your left leg.

Start with 3 sets of 10 reps on each leg, alternating legs each rep. To increase the difficulty, try holding a dumbbell or kettlebell at your chest as you do your set!

Single-Leg Deadlift

Single-leg deadlifts are great for building your glutes, hamstrings, and stabilization strength.

For this exercise, you'll want to stand next to a wall to stabilize yourself in case you lose balance. Stand in a staggered stance with your left foot slightly in front of your right. Put all of your weight into your left foot and keep a slight bend in your left knee.

From here, hinge forward at your hips as you extend your right leg straight behind you. Keep bending forward as far as you can comfortably go. Ideally, your torso and right leg will end parallel with the ground. You should feel a good stretch in your left hamstring when you near your end range of motion.

Next, use your left hamstring and your glutes to straighten your left knee and hips to stand. Squeeze your glutes at the top for a second and repeat this for reps. Once you finish working one leg, switch to your other leg and repeat the process for 8-12 reps each.

To make this exercise more difficult, you can hold a dumbbell or kettlebell on the same side of your body. Make sure to run the weight along your fixed leg as you bring your body forward. You can also use a band by looping one end under your fixed foot and holding the other end on the same side of your body.

Slick Floor Hamstring Curls

For this exercise, you'll need a surface you can slide a towel over like hardwood or vinyl. You'll also need a towel or wash cloth.

Start by lying on your back with your arms at your sides, legs straight, and your heels on top of a towel. Keep your weight in your heels as you lift your hips off the ground and squeeze your hamstrings to pull the towel toward you. Keep your core tight and squeeze your glutes as you form a bridge with your lower body. At the top of the movement, your feet will naturally plan themselves on top of the towel.

From here, reverse the movement by slowly lowering your hips as you push your heels forward. Keep going until your legs and hips are flat on the ground once again. This is one rep! You can repeat this for 3 sets of 10-20 reps. To make this more difficult, all you have to do is add more reps or focus on slowing down the movement.

Glute Bridge

A great at-home leg exercise for your glutes, core, and hamstrings ... The glute bridge is a must.

Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart on the ground. Your arms can rest flat on either side of your body. Start the movement by driving through your heels and squeezing your glutes to raise your hips off the floor. Make sure to keep your core tight and keep going until your hips are straight.

Squeeze your glutes at the top for a second, then lower your hips back to the floor. Repeat this for 3 sets of 15-20 reps.

To make this more challenging, hold a dumbbell or weight at your hips for each rep.

Side-Lying Inner Thigh Raise

Start by lying on one side of your body so that your legs are straight and stacked on top of each other. The side of your torso should be flat on the ground, and you can prop your upper body up on your elbow and forearm.

Next, cross your top leg over your bottom leg, bending your knee and placing your foot flat on the floor in front of your bottom knee.

Once you're in position, lift your bottom leg upwards slowly so you have total control. Make sure to brace your core throughout the movement. 

Slowly return back to the starting position by lowering your bottom leg back to the ground. Do 3 sets of 10-15 reps on each leg. You can make this exercise more difficult by holding you bottom leg up for longer or by adding more reps!

Building Your At-Home Leg Workout

If you're looking for a full workout, all you have to do is take 6-8 of the exercise from above! You can also switch it up anytime by subbing exercises, adding sets, adding weight, or turning them into supersets.

I know this can be difficult, so as an example, here's an at-home leg workout you can do today!

 Exercise Reps Sets
Bodyweight Squat 10-20 4
Reverse Lunges 10 Each Leg 3
Glute Bridge 10-20 3
Good Mornings 10-20 3
Donkey Kicks 10 Each Leg 3
Slick Floor Hamstring Curls 10-20 3
Skaters 20 3
Side Lying Plank 30-60 Seconds Each Side 2

Want More At-Home Leg Exercises?

I understand that not all of us like going to the gym, and that's okay. I also know how hard it can be to start a new routine and know exactly what to do.

My hope is that these at-home leg exercises will be super helpful for you. As you become more advanced, you can also revisit them anytime for the instructions on how to make them more challenging.

You may be wondering, "Are there any other good at-home leg exercises for women?" My answer is absolutely. But I would love to know: what are you looking to accomplish? What are your fitness goals?

Because even if you have a full arsenal of at-home exercises ... your workouts aren't even half the battle when it comes to seeing results. Yes, you have to train hard and train consistently. However, you also have to eat right if you really want to look and feel your best.

Obviously, neither of these components are easy. Plus, getting the guidance and tools you need to be successful can be inconvenient and expensive. That's where we can help!

In fact, we developed the 1st Phorm App to simplify the process of reaching your health and fitness goals. Not only do you get full at-home workout programs for your goals, but you'll also get connected to your own personal advisor.

Your advisor is a real person you can message any time to help. They'll even program your nutrition and teach you how to track your food! You can log your food directly in the app and work with your advisor to make sure you're seeing progress.

Inside the 1st Phorm App, you'll also get access to educational videos, livestreams, and an incredible community!

Looking to get started? All you have to do is download the 1st Phorm App here, and start earning results!

If you have any questions in the meantime, just reach out! We have a full team of NASM Certified Personal Trainers and Nutrition Coaches available every day from 6 AM to 10 PM Central. Just send us an email at CustomerService@1stPhorm.com or call us at 1-800-409-9732.

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References:

(1) Du SH, Zhang YH, Yang QH, Wang YC, Fang Y, Wang XQ. Spinal posture assessment and low back pain. EFORT Open Rev. 2023 Sep 1;8(9):708-718. doi: 10.1530/EOR-23-0025. PMID: 37655847; PMCID: PMC10548303.

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