Lower-body training is essential for female athletes. Leg exercises will boost your athleticism, help you stay injury-free and improve your overall appearance. Although you can do a variety of exercises in the weight room, not all movements are created equal.
I've put together a list of the seven best lower-body exercises for women, the ones most effective for achieving your goals. Implement them in your workout to become a better and stronger athlete.
The Goblet Squat is one of the most popular lower-body movements for women, targeting the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings. The exercise's front-loaded position—holding a dumbbell or kettlebell in front—engages your abdominals, upper back and glutes through the entire movement. A little-known bonus: the move also increases overall mobility in the hips.
This exercise can be performed with a barbell or dumbbells. It targets the quadriceps, glutes, inner thighs and hamstrings. The Reverse Lunge is a much safer option than its counterpart, the Forward Lunge, as it allows for better alignment of the ankle and knee.
Don't be scared by the name. By simply elevating a foot on a bench or box, you isolate the quadricep and gluteus maximus muscles of the front leg. This exercise is a highly effective single-leg movement that creates balanced strength on both sides of the body.
Romanian Deadlift (RDL)
This is another lower-body movement that you can perform with dumbbells or a barbell. The RDL is a hip-dominant movement that targets the muscles of the posterior chain (back of the body). The RDL belongs in your lower-body workout simply because of the work it forces your glutes and hamstrings to perform. Due to the position of your chest and torso, the Romanian Deadlift also forces your abdominals to contract and engages the obliques, giving you a core workout along with a lower-body exercise.
Physioball Hamstring Curl
This hamstring and glute exercise makes the Leg Curl Machine obsolete. By forcing your glutes and hamstrings to work simultaneously in a Bridge position, the Physioball Hamstring Curl is a highly effective core exercise. The body position alone requires the muscles of your hips, glutes, low back, abdominals and obliques to work as a single unit.
Jump Squats are a great plyo exercise to increase lower-body power, particularly in the quads, glutes and calves. This is also a great conditioning exercise, elevating your heart rate and forcing you to produce power for extended periods of time.
Whether they are performed with dumbbells, kettlebells, a barbell or a weight vest, Walking Lunges stimulate the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves. Perform this exercise at the end of your workout for distance or repetitions. It's guaranteed to elevate your heart rate.