Exercises For Sculpted Legs

Exercises for Sculpted Legs — No Lunges Required

Lunges are like the Brussels sprouts of the exercise world — you know they’re good for you, but you can’t seem to develop a taste for them. Luckily, lunges aren’t your only option. There are plenty of other leg exercises that build lower-body strength while challenging your balance and flexibility.

Step-ups target your lower body while also working on single-leg strength and balance.
Credit: Vladimir Sukhachev/iStock/GettyImages

So, if you loathe lunges but want the lower-body perks, Nedra Lopez Matosov, trainer and owner of the New York City-based fitness studio The P.E. Club, suggests incorporating these five killer leg exercises into your weekly workouts.

1. Sumo Deadlifts

Deadlifts are amazing for sculpting the hamstrings and glutes, says Lopez Matosov, adding that the sumo deadlift’s wider stance targets the hard-to-reach inner thighstoo.

  1. Stand with your feet wider than your hips. Point your toes out, between 30 and 45 degrees.
  2. The weight (barbell, kettlebell or dumbbells) should be right in the middle of your legs.
  3. Stick your hips back and hinge forward to grab the weight with both hands, using an overhand grip.
  4. Bend your knees slightly as you lift the weight, pushing through your heels to stand. Make sure to squeeze your glutes.
  5. Slowly return the weight back down as you hinge forward again. 

Read more: 6 Deadlift Variations to Add to Leg Day

2. Step-Ups

“This move is great because you are working the entire leg — plus glutes — and you get your heart rate up too,” Lopez Matosov says.

  1. Stand in front of the step.
  2. Lift your foot leg onto the step — planting your whole foot — and step up, placing all your body weight into it. Make sure to squeeze your glutes at the top.
  3. Slowly lower down to the starting position with control. 
  4. Repeat for desired repetitions, then switch to your right leg.

Tip

For an added challenge, hold a dumbbell in each hand.

3. Glute Bridge

This strengthening move not only sculpts your legs, but it also opens your hips too, Lopez Matosov says.

  1. Lie on your back with your feet hip-width apart and flat on the floor, knees bent so that your feet are near your butt and plant your arms at your sides.
  2. Engaging your abs, squeeze your glutes and lift your hips as high as you can, pressing into your heels.
  3. Pause at the top of the movement for an extra squeeze, then slowly lower back to the starting position.

Read more: Want More Burn From Your Hip Thrusts? Try These Variations

4. Single-Leg Deadlifts

Kick your deadlift game up a notch with this single-leg version, which is great for increasing strength and stability, Lopez Matosov says. “You will notice your legs feeling leaner and your booty higher after including these consistently into your routine.”

  1. Stand tall and soften your right knee with your right foot planted firmly on the ground. 
  2. Lift your left leg straight behind your body as you hinge at the hips to bring your torso parallel to the floor. Think of moving your body in a seesaw motion: you hinge at the same rate that you lift the leg behind you.
  3. Your hips should stay square throughout the entire movement, avoiding the tendency to turn them out.
  4. Once you’re parallel to the ground, squeeze your right glute, push through your right heel and pull your core in as you return back to standing tall.
  5. Repeat for desired number of reps, then switch sides.

Tip

To help with balance, you can place an object in front of you to touch as you lean forward, or if you want to up the ante and increase the move’s difficulty level, hold a dumbbell, says Lopez Matosov.

5. Kettlebell Swings

The kettlebell swing is a powerful and effective exercise that works your inner thighs, hamstrings, abs and glutes,” says Lopez Matosov, who adds that this heart-pumping move can also double as cardio.

  1. Begin with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart. Place the kettlebell down about a foot in front of you.
  2. Bend forward and grab the kettlebell by the handle. Begin to bend the knees slightly to allow your back to flatten and look forward.
  3. Pull your belly in tight as you begin to lift the kettlebell back between your thighs. Allow your forearms to graze your inner thighs as you hinge forward.
  4. Exhale as you push your hips forward and squeeze your glutes, which will propel the kettlebell forward.
  5. Then hinge back allowing the kettlebell to swing between your thighs.

Tip

Don’t lift the kettlebell with your arms, Lopez Matosov say. The explosive power of the movement should come from your hips, glutes and core. And if you feel discomfort in your back, make sure to bend your knees and engage your abs, especially as the kettlebell swings forward.

Source: Article by Jaime Osnato (https://www.livestrong.com/article/13724466-leg-exercises-no-lunges/)

Video

A Workout You Can Do With Just One Weight Plate – No Barbell Necessary

While you’ve likely seen people bench pressing or deadlifting with a weighted barbell at the gym, you don’t necessarily need to wait until a bench or squat rack frees up to get a good workout. In fact, depending on your goals, you may only need one thing: a weight plate.

Midsection of young mixed race man doing exercise in gym.

(Image: Halfpoint Images/Moment/GettyImages)

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This relatively inexpensive piece of equipment is not only easy to store and use, but it’s more versatile than you might think. A weight plate can be used for strength training, endurance work, flexibility, balance and injury prevention.

Whether you’re dragging and pushing plates for cardio, throwing plates outside to build explosive power or simply working on grip strength, introducing plates into your workout can add some variety to your routine. Check out this weight-plate workout and see for yourself. Just be sure to start with a lighter weight before you increase the resistance.

Read more: A 25-Minute Dumbbell HIIT Workout Perfect for Beginners

Weight-Plate Workout Warm-Up

For the following warm-up, all you need is one weight plate. At first, use the same weight plate for all five exercises, but as you get stronger, add heavier weights for some of the exercises. Perform this warm-up and workout for two to three rounds.

Read more: 10 Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises to Prime You for Your Workout

Move 1: Front Plate Raise

Man performing front plate raise.

(Image: Martin Rooney)

  1. Hold the plate from the sides and lowered in front of the body.
  2. Raise the plate overhead with the arms extended at the elbow. 
  3. Lower under control. 
  4. Repeat for two sets of 10 reps.

Move 2: Plate Truck Driver

Man performing plate truck driver.

(Image: Martin Rooney)

  1. Hold the plate from the sides in front of the body with the elbows extended. 
  2. Twist the plate to one side so that one hand is on top and the other on the bottom of the plate. 
  3. Return to the start position and then twist in the opposite direction. 
  4. Repeat for two sets of 20 turns.

Read more: 24 Push-Up Variations for Total-Body Strength

Move 3: Plate Triceps Press

Man performing plate tricep press.

(Image: Martin Rooney)

  1. Hold the plate overhead from the sides. 
  2. Lower the plate behind the head, keeping the elbows high. 
  3. Raise the plate back to the start position by extending the elbows. 
  4. Repeat for two sets of 12 reps.

Move 4: Plate High Pull

Man performing plate high pull.

(Image: Martin Rooney)

  1. Hold the plate from the top and lowered in front of the body. 
  2. Pull the plate up to chin height by raising the elbows higher than the hands. Pause and squeeze the shoulders
  3. Lower the plate back down under control. 
  4. Repeat for two sets of 15 reps.

Read more: The 5 Best High-Intensity Exercises for Weight Loss

Move 5: Plate Hip Twister

Man performing plate hip twister.

(Image: Martin Rooney)

  1. Hold the plate from the sides and twist the chest and shoulders to one side while bringing the knee on that side forward. 
  2. Quickly reverse the direction and switch the position of the feet. 
  3. Repeat for two sets of 40 twists.

Full-Body Weight-Plate Workout

The four exercises of this main portion of the workout will hit almost every muscle in your body and improve flexibility in your shoulders, core and hips. These exercises are also designed to improve balance and coordination.

Since this workout demands weighted movements of both the arms and legs, start with a lighter plate and go heavier if you’re comfortable after the first set — but maintain good form!

Move 1: Press and Step

Man performing press and step exercise.

(Image: Martin Rooney)

  1. Stand with feet together and the plate at chest level with the elbows at your sides. 
  2. Then, while keeping the head at the same height, simultaneously step the foot out in the direction you are moving while pressing the plate forward. 
  3. Hold for one second and then move the other foot sideways to return to the original position. 
  4. Repeat for three sets of 20 steps and presses.

Tip

You can use an open space and move in one direction for the whole set, or if space is limited, just move back and forth each step.

Move 2: Raise and Step

Man performing raise and step.

(Image: Martin Rooney)

  1. Stand with feet together and the plate held at your shins with the elbows at your knees. 
  2. Then, while keeping the head at the same height, simultaneously step the foot out in the direction you are moving while raising the plate overhead. 
  3. Hold for one second, then move the other foot sideways to return to the original position. 
  4. Repeat for three sets of 20 steps and raises.

Read more: 10 Popular Exercises That Can Hurt Your Back

Move 3: Front Lunge Walk

Man performing front lunge walk.

(Image: Martin Rooney)

  1. Stand with the plate held at the chest with a forearm grip. 
  2. Step forward with one foot and lower the back knee until it almost touches the ground. 
  3. Hold the bottom position for one second, then step forward back to the original position. 
  4. Then, lunge forward with the other leg. 
  5. Repeat for three sets of 10 steps on each leg.

Read more: A Killer Full-Body Workout for the Gym Floor

Move 4: Front Lunge and Twist

Man performing front lunge and twist.

(Image: Martin Rooney)

  1. Stand with the plate held at chest height with your elbows close to your sides. 
  2. Step forward with one foot and lower the back knee until it almost touches the ground. 
  3. Twist the shoulders and plate in the direction of the front leg, contracting your core.
  4. Hold the bottom position for one second, then step forward back to the original position. 
  5. Then lunge forward with the other leg and twist in that direction. 
  6. Repeat for three sets of 10 steps and twists on each leg.

Source: Article by Martin Rooney (https://www.livestrong.com/slideshow/559421-how-to-get-amazing-results-with-just-a-weight-plate/)