10 Exercises to Spice Up Your Leg Routine for The New Year

By Meggan Marks, Personal Trainer

Whether you are new to lifting or not, it’s always good to add variety to your routine. Below are 10 leg exercises that will help spice up your routine:

 

Forward Lunge with Kettlebell Pass

Muscles Involved: Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes, and Calves

Equipment: Kettlebell

Frequency: 3 sets and 8-10 reps each leg for beginners. For more advanced lifters: 4 sets, 10-12 reps each leg.

Execution: Begin standing with feet shoulder-width apart. Step forward, bend knees to 90 degrees, then pass the kettlebell under the front leg and return to start. Be sure to keep the front knee behind the toe to help keep the knee safe. Repeat on other leg.

 

 

Step-Ups

Muscles Involved: Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Hip Flexors, and Calves

Equipment: Box or bench, dumbbells, weighted bar or kettlebell

Frequency: 3 sets and 8-10 reps each side for beginners. For more advanced lifters: 4 sets, 10-12 reps each leg.

Execution: Stand facing box/bench, with feet shoulder-width apart. Place foot on box/bench then push up to place other foot on box/bench while holding weight. Step down with one foot, repeat on other leg.

 

Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

Muscles Involved: Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Glutes, Lats, Trapezius, and Abs

Equipment: Dumbbell, kettlebell, or weighted bar

Frequency: 3 sets, 8-10 reps, and light weight for beginners. For more advanced lifters: 4 sets, 10-12 reps each leg.

Execution: Stand with feet close together and back straight as you bend over and lift one leg behind you until your body is parallel to the floor, then return to start. Complete all reps on one side first then switch legs. Make sure to keep your back straight and don’t round the shoulders. Keep the weight close to the stationary leg.

 

Sumo Squats

Muscles Involved: Glutes, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Hip Adductors, and Calves

Equipment: Dumbbells, kettlebell, weighted bar, or weighted plate

Frequency: 3 sets and 8-10 reps for beginners. For more advanced lifters: 4 sets, 10-12 reps

Execution: Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width, toes pointed out. While holding weight, lower your body until your knees are bent about 90 degrees, then return to start position. Make sure your toes are sticking out enough to allow your knees to track out with your toes. If your knees go over your toes, push your hips back or move your feet out wider.

 

Landmine Reverse Lunge

Muscles Involved: Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes, Calves, and Abs

Equipment: Landmine with bar and weight plates

Frequency: 3 sets and 8-10 reps each leg for beginners. For more advanced lifters: 4 sets, 10-12 reps each leg.

Execution: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. While holding the end of the bar, step back with one leg, bend both knees until they are bent 90 degrees and then return to start. Repeat on other side. Make sure you have a secure hold of the bar and make sure to keep your knees behind your toes.

 

 

Bulgarian Split Squats

Muscles Involved: Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes, Hip Adductors and Abs

Equipment: Box or bench, dumbbells, kettlebells or use body weight

Frequency: 3 sets, 8-10 reps each leg, and light or no weight for beginners. For more advanced lifters: 4 sets, 10-12 reps each leg

Execution: Stand facing away from a box or bench with one foot on the box or bench. While holding weight, bend both knees to 90 degrees. Return to start and repeat on the other leg. Make sure your front knee does not go over your front toe.

 

Goblet Squats

Muscles Involved: Quadriceps, Hamstrings, Glutes, Abs, Back and Shoulder Stabilizers

Equipment: Dumbbell or kettlebell

Frequency: 3 sets and 8-10 reps for beginners. For more advanced lifters: 4 sets and 10-12 reps

Execution: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart; toes can be pointed out slightly. While holding weight, bend your knees until they are bent 90 degrees and then return to start. Make sure you keep your hips back, chest up and elbows tucked in close to your body.

 

Side Lunge with Sliders

Muscles Involved: Glutes, Hip Adductors, Hip Abductors, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, and Calves

Equipment: 1 slider, dumbbells, kettlebell, or use bodyweight

Frequency: 3 sets and 8-10 reps on each leg for beginners. For more advanced lifters: 4 sets and 10-12 reps each leg

Execution: Stand with feet-shoulder width apart. With one foot on the slider while other is on the carpet, bend one knee until it is bent 90 degrees while pushing the slider out to the side until the knee is straight. Return to start and repeat with the other leg. Make sure to keep your knees behind your toes and hips back.

 

Swiss Ball Hamstring Curls

Muscles Involved: Hamstrings, Glutes, Sartorius, Calves, and Obliques

Equipment: Swiss ball and a mat

Frequency: 3 sets and 8-10 reps for beginners. For more advanced lifters: 4 sets and 10-12 reps

Execution: Lay on your back with arms straight on floor and heels and lower calves on top of the ball. Push hips up off the floor until parallel with the floor and bend your knees as you pull the ball towards your hips. Extend legs and lower hips to the floor as you return to start. To lessen the strain on your neck and challenge the abs more, bend your elbows so that only your elbows and upper arms are on the floor.

 

TRX Pistol Squats

Muscles Involved: Glutes, Quadriceps, Hamstrings and Calves

Equipment: TRX Suspension Trainer

Frequency: 3 sets and 8-10 reps each leg. For more advanced lifters: 4 sets and 10-12 reps each leg

Execution: Hold both handles on the TRX while facing the anchor point (carabiner clip). Keep arms straight and while holding one leg straight out in front of your body, bend the other knee to 90 degrees. Return to starting position and repeat on other leg. Make sure your chest is pointed up, don’t round your shoulders and keep the knee behind your toe.

 

 

About the Author: Meggan Marks is a Personal Trainer at The Village Health Clubs and Spas at DC Ranch. She has a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology and over 10 years of experience as a Personal Trainer. She can be contacted at mmarks@dmbclubs.com.

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