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Perform Leg Exercises to Build Muscle and Burn Fat

April 4, 2013 | Jim Carpentier

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There's no question about it: working the lower body is hard, which is why many people ignore this crucial area of the body. If you fall into this category, you may be seriously hurting your ability to improve as an athlete and gain overall fitness.

The lower-body comprises several large muscle groups, including the glutes, quads and hamstrings. Working these muscles releases natural anabolic hormones, which help you build muscle everywhere in your body. Also, large muscles require more fuel to function, increasing your fat burning metabolism.

If you don't like working your lower body, try the two workouts below. They combine upper- and lower-body moves to deliver more benefits from the lifts and maximize your time in the gym. The exercises are not easy. You will feel the burn. However, they will build full-body strength and endurance, while helping you put on muscle and burn fat.


  • Do a dynamic warm-up beforehand
  • Rest 30-45 second between sets
  • Hydrate before, during and after workouts
  • Finish with a cooldown

Workout 1

Sets/Reps: 3x10

Single-Leg Squats With Arm Raises

  • Stand on your right leg with your arms extended in front of your chest
  • Perform a Squat and simultaneously raise your arms overhead
  • Hold the squat position for 10 seconds on the last rep
  • Repeat on your left leg without rest (watch a demonstration of the Single-Leg Squat0

Squat Thrusts and Explosive Push-Ups

  • Stand in an athletic position
  • Drop to push-up position and perform an explosive Push-Up by driving your body into the air
  • Land with soft elbows
  • Bring your feet your hands and stand up while driving your arms into the air

Step-Ups to Press-Ups

  • Place your right foot on a bench or box
  • Extend your right knee and hip to drive your body up
  • Drive your left knee up until your thigh is parallel to the ground and press your arms overhead
  • Lower to the ground in control
  • Repeat with your left leg on the box without rest

Workout 2

Sets/Reps: 2x10

Forward, Lateral and Reverse Lunges with Arm Circles

  • With your arms extended laterally at shoulder level, lunge forward, laterally and backward with your right foot while doing Arm Circles
  • Repeat with your left foot without rest

Burpees With Push-Ups

  • Stand in an athletic position
  • Drop to push-up position and perform a Push-Up
  • Stand up and perform a jump
  • Continue this pattern for specified reps

Bulgarian Split-Squats With Arms Overhead

  • Stand in a lunge or with your back foot on a bench or box
  • Hold your arms overhead
  • Bend your front knee to lower into a lunge until your thigh is parallel to the ground
  • Extend your knee to drive up out of the lunge

Wall Squats With Arms Overhead

  • Assume squat position with your back flat against a wall and your arms overhead
  • Hold this position for 60 seconds


Jim Carpentier
- Jim Carpentier is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, New Jersey-licensed massage therapist and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as associate health and wellness...
Jim Carpentier
- Jim Carpentier is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, New Jersey-licensed massage therapist and a health/fitness writer. He currently serves as associate health and wellness...
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