Ultimate Guide: Best Lower Body Workouts for Women
Looking to get in the best shape of your life this season? Or how about the best shape of 2019? Whatever your fitness goals are, we’re here to help. Whether you’re looking for the 20 Best Abs Workouts, The Best Cardio Workouts for Burning Belly Fat, a few new post-workout stretches on the Pilates reformer machine, or the best lower body workouts for women, we’ve got you covered.
If you’re looking to tone your lower body, you can choose from hundreds (if not thousands) or exercises you can do. Here are a few of the best lower body workouts for women.
Everyone wants a great derriere, right? Whether you’re looking to build muscle and round out your bottom side a la Kim K. or simply firm up and say goodbye to cellulite, you just need a little bit of dedication (and a few hours each week).
Here are some of the best lower body workouts for women that target the glutes.
1.) The Straight Deadlift
If you want to add definition to your tush and round it out, add straight deadlifts into your fitness routine. The exercise can be done with a barbell, dumbbell, or kettlebell. If you’re unfamiliar with kettlebells, check out the best kettlebells for in-home use.
- Grab the weight with an overhand grip hanging the weight at your waist while you are standing straight up, knees slightly bent and legs shoulder-width apart.
- Bend at the waist, not at the knees, and lower the weight towards your feet while keeping your back straight.
- Lower the weight as close to the ground as you can without straining yourself.
- Bring the weight back up until you are back to the starting position.
If you have lower back issues use light weights, Even two-pound weights can make a difference.
How Often Should You Do Straight Deadlifts, and How Many Reps Should You Do?
Abs are the only muscle group you can work daily. All others should have one day of rest in between workouts.
If you have the time, we recommend doing straight deadlifts three to four times a week. Start by doing two sets of eight, and eventually work your way up to three sets of ten.
2.) Pistol Squats
Squats are great for your rear. Whether you’re doing squats up against a wall, getting the help of an exercise ball, using weights, or doing them with your own body weight, squats will firm your backside in no time.
- Squat down on both legs
- Reach the bottom of your squat, then extend one leg straight. Hold the position for 5-10 seconds.
- Place the leg back on the ground and slowly stand up.
Eventually, you can do the exercise with a single leg.
How Often Should You Do Pistol Squats, and How Many Reps Should You Do?
We recommend doing pistol squats three to four times a week. Start by doing two sets of eight, and work your way up to three sets of ten.
3.) Barbell Squats
Barbell squats are traditional Olympic lifts and one of the best all-around leg and butt exercises, making them one of the best lower body workouts for women.
This is a butt exercise to work up to. You should be able to do a squat with no weight at least ten times before you progress to a barbell squat.
- Find your ideal weight and attach it to the barbell.
- Squat beneath the weight. Similar to how you would do a no-weight squat, squat with your feet shoulder width apart, back straight and shoulders up. Bend at the knees and hips while keeping your back straight.
- Go down until your knees are at a 90-degree angle, then go back to starting position.
How Often Should You Do Barbell Squats, and How Many Reps Should You Do?
We recommend doing these squats three to four times a week. Start by doing two sets of eight, and work until you can do three sets of ten.
Want to do them at home? Check out our favorite weight benches.
4.) Leg Kickbacks
Looking for a mat exercise as opposed to squats or weights? Check out these easy butt lifts. You might feel silly doing these, but you’ll look sexy after doing them consistently because they’re one of the best lower body workouts for women who want to work on their glutes.
- Start on all fours on a floor mat with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders.
- Squeezing your glutes, lift your right leg up and back while straightening your right knee.
- Pull your right knee back down and into your chest before setting it back down at the starting position.
Repeat on the other leg, making sure to keep your hips as parallel to the floor as you can.
How Often Should You Do Leg Kickbacks, and How Many Reps Should You Do?
Try doing leg kickbacks three to four times a week. Start by doing two sets of twelve.
5.) Reverse Lunge
We love the reverse lunge because it tones your butt and opens up your hip flexors. This exercise can be done on the Pilates reformer machine or with a weight bench. These are the same as standard lunges, but you step back instead of forward.
- Start with your feet shoulder-distance apart, then step backward on your right leg, bending both knees.
- Make sure your front knee is just above your ankle. Your back knee should barely touch the ground behind you. Both knees should be at 90-degree angles.
- Engage your glutes to pull your right leg back to the starting standing position and repeat on the left leg, keeping your back straight through the entire range of motion.
How Often Should You Do Reverse Lunges, and How Many Reps Should You Do?
Try doing reverse lunges three to four times a week. Start by doing two sets of twelve.
Calves are a tricky muscle group to target because a lot of the best lower body workouts designed for other major muscle groups also strengthen the calves. Use the exercises below to get seriously sculpted calves.
1.) Jump Rope
As kids, we loved jumping rope because it was fun. As adults, we realize what a great workout it is!
Go back to your elementary school days and have some fun with this exercise. You can experiment with different paces (slow, fast, super-fast) and styles (single unders, double unders, single-legged, criss-cross). It’s great for your calves, and it’s great cardio as well!
- Find a jump rope that fits you. The best length for a jump rope is one that reaches your waist when you step on the middle and hold a handle in each hand.
- Jump with proper form. Stay on the balls of your feet and bend your knees slightly.
- Jump quickly and stay light on your feet.
It’s that easy! Experiment with different paces, one-legged jumps, two-legged jumps, and get a friend to double-dutch with you if you dare.
How Often Should You Jump Rope, and for How Long?
If you want to jump rope every day, go for it. It is a great cardio exercise. Even just 15 minutes a day will have you seeing results in your calves and overall body.
2.) Walk (or Run) Uphill
Walking or running uphill is a great way to tone your calves while getting a cardio workout, too. And it’s easy! Get out there and go conquer those hills.
This one is basically self-explanatory, but remember to keep proper form.
- Keep your abs and glutes tight and engaged.
- If you’re walking, roll your feet heel to toe. If you’re running, land on the balls of your feet.
How Often Should You Run or Walk Hills?
You can walk hills every day. It’s good for you. If you want to tone your calves, we recommend a 30-minute walk at least three times a week.
If you’re running, start with just ten minutes a day, three times a week and work your way up from there. Running up hills is a challenge!
3.) Box Jumps
Box jumps are great at working your calves, booty, and thighs. This is also one of the best lower body workouts for women if you’re looking for something easy.
- Face the box. Using your arms as momentum, jump atop the box
- Stand up straight with your knees locked when you are on top of the box.
- Bend your knees and jump down, backward to the ground
How Often Should You Do Box Jumps?
Start by doing two sets of ten box jumps three to four times a week. They’re one of the best lower body workouts for women, and you’ll see the results quickly.
4.) Calf Raises
Got a few minutes while you’re talking on the phone, standing in line, or doing some other mindless task? This is one of the best lower body workouts for women that you can do anytime. All you need is a step and something to hold on to.
Run through a few sets of calf raises to get the best looking calves in town.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Transfer your weight to the balls of your feet as you lift your heels off the ground as far as you can without locking your knees or ankles.
- Slowly lower back down until your heels are barely hovering above the ground.
For an advanced variation, find a step or ledge and place the balls of your feet on the edge of it. Run through the same range of motion, but lower a little further, than level and go back up.
How Often Should You Do Calf Raises?
Start by doing two sets of ten calf raises three to four times a week. Calf raises are also a great post-run stretch.
5.) Single-Leg Calf Raises
Take the standard calf raises up a few notches in intensity by focusing on one leg at a time. They do take more balance, so you might want to find a railing or table or other steady support for balance.
- Stand on one leg with the other bent at the knee.
- Shift your weight to the balls of your feet and lift up and lower down, using the railing for occasional support but not relying on it.
- Do the same number of reps on both legs.
As with standard calf raises, you can find a set of stairs to do your lifts on for a more challenging move.
How Often Should You Do Single-Leg Calf Raises?
Start by doing two sets of ten calf raises three to four times a week.
If you’re a runner, you may want to do them after every run.
One of the best things about working out your lower body is that most exercises don’t just work one muscle. Most of the above exercises will target one key muscle but have an effect on other muscles.
If you want to tighten and tone your quads specifically, use the following exercises on our list of best lower body workouts for women.
1.) Leg Extensions (also called Quad Extensions)
Unless you have a decent in-home gym, you’ll need to visit a fitness center to do these leg extensions. They are best performed on a leg-extension machine.
Leg extensions isolate the quadriceps and are one of the best lower body workouts for women when it comes to quads.
- Sit on the leg extension machine and secure your legs behind the bar once you have determined your ideal weight.
- Grab the handles at your sides
- Squeeze your quads and lift the bar in front of you. Do not lift so far you lock your knees.
- Lower the bar back to the starting point slowly.
How Often Should You Do Leg Extensions?
Do two sets of ten quad extensions two to three times a week.
2.) Frog Hops
Frog hops take the standard squat up a notch. Frog hops are more challenging than squats and require more balance. This exercise is great for your quads and for strengthening your calves, glutes, and hamstrings. This is one of the best lower body exercises for women if you don’t want to go to the gym for equipment.
- Start in the standard squat position with your legs hip-width apart, your toes pointed slightly outward, and your back straight. Place your hand up and behind your head.
- Bend your knees and get low into the squat position, as though you are sitting in a chair.
- Engage your quads and jump once you are as low as you can go. Jump up as high as you can, pressing through your heels as you jump.
- Land in the starting position with your knees bent.
How Often Should You Do Frog Hops?
Unlike most exercises with a set number of repetitions, try doing as many as you can for 20 seconds. Jump for 20, take a five-second break, and repeat. Do this as many times as you can, with your goal being one minute.
Aim to do these two to three times a week.
3.) Step Ups
Steps ups are great because you can do them in a gym or at home, so this is one of the best lower body workouts for women as far as convenience goes. All you need is a sturdy weight bench or chair about knee high. You can also do them up a staircase!
This exercise great for toning your quads and getting in some cardio.
- Step up onto your box with your first leg. Don’t lock your knee.
- Allow your second leg to hang down, and then step back onto it, transferring your weight as you do so.
- Switch legs and repeat on the other side.
Want to up your game? Try holding a hand weight in each hand.
How Often Should You Do Step Ups?
Start by doing step ups 2-3 times a week with 12-15 repetitions. If that’s too easy, add weights.
We’ve talked about “fancy squats.” Now let’s focus on plain, original, boring (yet effective) squats. Squats are one of the best workouts you can do for your quads. They help shed fat, eliminate cellulite, increase circulation, and build your core.
- Stand with feet slightly wider than hip distance and toes pointed slightly outward.
- Bend your knees and lower your butt. Imagine you’re sitting in a chair.
- Keep your back straight, and don’t let your knees extend over your toes or bend inward.
- Raise your arms out in front of you, palms down, to help maintain balance.
- Lower down as far as you can, then drop your arms as you straighten your legs back to the starting position.
How Often Should You Do Squats?
We recommend doing squats three to four times a week. Start by doing two sets of eight, and work your way up to three sets of ten.
Want more of a challenge? Hold a dumbbell in each hand.
Lunges are great. They’re easy, don’t require any equipment, and effective for toning your quads. Overall, they’re one of the best lower body workouts for women.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and step forward with your right leg, bending both knees. Your right leg should be directly above your right foot. Your left legs should hover above the ground at a 90-degree angle. Hold for three seconds.
- Push off your right quad and return to starting position, keeping your back straight.
- Repeat with the left leg.
How Often Should You Do Lunges?
We recommend doing lunges three to four times a week. Start by doing two sets of twelve. You’ll feel them the next day!
Once you’re doing adding these best lower body workouts for women to your exercise routine, read our next article for more of the best workouts you can do.