I’ve been structuring proper fitness classes for myself instead of doing random bits and pieces every week. I focus on different areas each day, always adding abs in at the end too. Once a week I do a thorough leg workout using weights and bands. I mix it up every week but make sure I dedicate about an hour to get a full workout. I’m short and curvy, so I will never ever have long, lean model legs, and that’s okay… I need to work with what I’ve got. All I really want is to be toned and strong, and this leg workout is definitely getting me there! Loving the results so far.
I have said that as I’ve ventured into my 40s, I need to work harder to get results, but I can still work out at home in my own space and in my own time. I usually have kids around me (my son even makes an appearance in this video) and sometimes get distracted by someone or something, but I get it all done in the end.
Exercises In My Go-To Leg Workout
I do a different workout every week, but this week’s routine consisted of:
- 100 squats
- As part of the 100 squats a day challenge. Are you doing this challenge with us? You should be! Start today and commit to 100 squats every day for 30 days
- Back lunges
- These are the best full leg workout
- I do 3 sets of 20 (10 on each side) with a 15kg weight
- Dead lifts
- These are great for the back of your thighs and glutes
- I do 2 sets of 20 with a 20kg weight and 1 set of 20 with a 25kg weight
- Single-leg dead lifts
- After lunges, these are my favourite, especially for the hamstrings and glutes
- I do 3 sets of 20 (10 on each side) with 2 x 4kg free weights
- Kneeling leg lifts
- Great for the glutes
- I do 3 sets of 20 on each side with a medium theraband
Cues For Perfect Execution Of These Leg Exercises
Feet are shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forwards (if you turn your toes out slightly the exercise will work more inner thigh and outer thigh too). Shoulders are pulled back, core is engaged and your feet are firmly rooted to the floor.
- Sit back into your heels as if you’re sitting down onto an imaginary chair. This is the motion you must feel throughout
- Sit back until your thighs are parallel to the floor or hips in line with knees
- Very important – do not let the knees creep further forward than the toes
- Very important – do not bend in the back, but keep your chest up and shoulder blades pulled back
- Use the glutes clenched together to help lift up again
Standing tall, shoulders pulled back and core engaged. The important thing with these is to keep the front foot firmly rooted into the floor and to try and maintain balance using the core. Take it slow and keep it controlled.
- Step back with the back foot about a metre or less, back toes on the floor, back heel lifted
- Keep your weight back in between your feet. If it’s too far forward you will hurt your front knee, if it’s too far back, you will hurt your back knee
- Lunge downwards, not forwards and not into the back foot
- Try and make 90 degree angles at both knees, but pay closer attention to the front knee
- Don’t let the front knee creep beyond the toes, keep it above the ankle
- Try and get front thigh parallel to the floor
- Use legs and glutes to lift
I always thought dead lifts could only be done by those lifting ultra-heavy weights, but that’s not true. You can still benefit with smaller weights and if you want to work with weights, you have to start somewhere. I just love these because they work the backs of the thighs, which is difficult to isolate.
Start with feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, shoulders pulled back and core engaged super tight.
- The weight is on the floor to begin, so get your form right before you lift up
- Keep the back straight, keep the abdominals engaged, chest out, knees bent, weight back
- Pinch shoulder blades together
- Focus on the glutes and hamstrings doing the lifting
- As you get to the top, squeeze the glutes together to finish the lift
- When lowering down, focus on the hamstrings extending to lower your upper body down
- Absolutely no bending in the back and absolutely so using the back to lift, you will injure yourself that way
Single-Leg Dead Lifts
I love these so much! Start standing tall and decide which leg to work first. That supporting foot must be rooted into the ground and you will use the stability of the leg to keep balance, as well as the core, which must stay engaged. You will work your core in this exercise too, so keep it tight.
- Keep supporting foot rooted
- Shoulders back, core engaged, chest lifted
- Hinge forward at the hips as the back leg lifts up behind you as far as it can comfortably go without over-extending
- As the weights reach the floor, the back leg is lifted to hip height or close to that
- Abs still engaged
- Supporting knee stays bent throughout, use the strength of that leg to lift back up
- To lift, keep abs engaged and slowly lower back leg as the upper body lifts without changing shape
Kneeling Leg Lifts
These are so great for the glutes. On a mat as your knees will get sore, come onto all fours – knees and elbows. Core engaged, shoulders and hips level.
- With or without the band, but with the band, keep it mid-thigh for best results
- Knees are bent at 90 degrees
- Keep weight central and bring leg up to hip height, keeping angle at 90 degrees
- Foot is flexed, clench the glute at the top of the movement as you push the foot up to the sky
- Lower knee down towards the floor
I absolutely love all these exercises, and done together, they offer a really well-rounded leg workout that you can do at home. Please don’t be shy to ask questions so as to avoid doing it wrong.