While it’s fun to make jokes about skipping leg day, there’s validity to it. The legs/glutes and back are the largest muscle groups in the body and so you are doing yourself a major disservice if you skip those.
Quick note about injuries. If you can’t physically can’t work your legs or glutes because of some previous injury, totally understandable. I had a spinal fusion in 2012 on my lumbar (lower) spine and so I am very limited in what I can do when it comes to lower body.
I can’t lift heavy, but I can do some workouts with light free weights. I typically work my legs/glutes 1-2 times a week. I can’t over-do it or I’ll feel it in my lower back and that’s not good. Plus, I do a lot of yoga and spinning which also helps keep my lower body fit and toned.
But I do love me some squats, and I actually enjoy feeling the burn because it means I am challenging myself, working hard and improving.
Sometimes I lift slow and with controlled release, and sometimes I like to work a bit faster with an interval or circuit workout. This leg, glute and core workout is circuit based, meaning you take breaks in between sets, but not in between exercises.
You’ll definitely be feeling the burn and be out of breath by the end of it. I typically repeat the circuit three times, but you could do it once, twice, or more. Totally up to you, your body, level of fitness and how you feel in the moment.
Let’s jump right into it! First I’ll outline all of the exercises, complete with gifs! Then, I’ll post the full workout for you to follow.
Weighted step ups on a workout bench, alternating legs. Move with control and hold at the top for an extra burn.
Weighted single leg glute kick backs with a crunch to also work the core. You can wedge a 10-15 lb dumbell in between the back of your knee like I did. If you go too heavy, you won’t be able to hold/balance the weight, and it may hurt a bit, so keep it light and make sure the added weight doesn’t compromise your form, which is more important.
Balance glute kicks with legs extended in a plank position (your arms are extended and balancing on a half dome). Make sure to alternate to work both legs. Squeeze and hold at the top for added burn.
Single leg toe touches with a 10 lb weight. Lay on your back, weight above your head, arms extended out flat. Lift your right leg as you simultaneously raise the plate to try and touch your toes.
Walking lunges holding a 20-30 lb kettle bell above your head. You’ll want to switch arms halfway through.
Balance squats on a half dome balance ball (optional 20-35 lb Kettle bell or free weight)
Declined single leg glute bridges using a bench (10 each side). You could even place a weighted plate on your hips for more of a challenge, as long as it doesn’t compromise form.
Standing single leg balances (optional 20-35 kettle bell/free weight). Try to find a micro bend in your grounded leg to reduce the possibility of injuries or hurting your knee joints.
Kneeling cable crunches (I do 47 lbs, but do what feels heavy but manageable without straining). Squeeze the abdominal muscles at the bottom of the crunch.
Repeat this 2-3 times for about a 45-60 minute workout. Since this is a circuit workout, with moderate weights, try not to take long breaks in between exercises, but take a 2-3 minute break in between sets to catch your breath and reset.
I know. Cooling down sucks, and it’s usually the piece of our workout that we end up skipping. I am totally guilty of this. If I have to choose between a 45 minute workout or a 30 minute workout with a 15 minute cool down, I am going to pick the first option.
I’ve really been making an effort to take at least 5-10 minutes to do some stretching at the end of my sessions and I’ve vowed to start stretching in the evenings after work while we’re watching TV or listening to music.
Why? Because flexibility and stretching our tight muscles out actually aids in the overall recovery process and reduces the risk of injury.
After this workout, I do a lot of hamstring stretches and hip openers because those are my tight spots. If you can, I really do recommend stretching for 10-15 minutes, or even doing a quick yoga flow. The Asana Rebel yoga app has 5-11 minute workouts which are perfect because they are guided cool downs focused on length, stretching and flexibility.
If you’re looking for a full body workout that you can do with only free weights, check out my post on effective workouts for the average apartment gym, or my easy yoga flow and beach body weight workout if you’re headed on a trip and won’t have access to a full service gym!
If you want optimal fat burn and muscle growth while leaning out, it’s so important to work large muscle groups because that’s how you’ll burn the most calories, and more efficiently, too. I throw in at least one or two full body exercises during my workouts, usually at the end. Keep on reading for the full workout and demonstration videos to bust that butt