Beginner Leg Workout For Weight Loss

Are you looking for a leg workout that will help you lose weight?

Good news!

The best leg workout for weight loss is one that uses all your muscles, including your glutes. The biggest mistake people make when trying to lose weight is doing workouts that target only one area of their body at a time. This is not effective because the most effective way to lose weight is by burning calories through cardio and strength training, which works your entire body.

In order for a leg workout to be effective for weight loss, it must engage all major muscle groups in your legs: quadriceps (front of thigh), hamstrings (back of thigh), calves and glutes (butt). These areas need to be worked out separately because they have very different functions and require separate exercises in order to fully stimulate growth in each area.

This beginner-level leg workout will target all these major muscle groups using compound exercises that engage multiple muscles at once.

Right here on Buy and Slay, you are privy to a litany of relevant information on leg day workouts at home, leg day workout plan, leg workouts with weights, and so much more. Take out time to visit our catalog for more information on similar topics.

Beginner Leg Workout For Weight Loss

When it comes to leg day, the goal is to target all of the major muscle groups in your lower body to strengthen the areas that are critical for daily movement. Without strong legs, climbing up stairs, running after your toddler, and lifting or carrying heavy boxes all become a little more difficult.

The muscles you’ll target during your leg day workout include your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps, abductors (outer thighs/hips), adductors (inner thighs), and calves. You’ll target these using compound exercises (that hit multiple muscle groups at the same time, like a squat), and isolation moves (that focus on a single muscle group, like calf raises).

Generally speaking, it’s best to start a leg day workout with compound exercises that hit multiple muscle groups. In addition to challenging several muscles at the same time, offering a greater “bang for your buck” when it comes to strength training, these movements also require balance, coordination, and core engagement to be able to perform them correctly. This makes your workout more “functional,” with movements that crossover to everyday life (like walking or standing up from a chair).

These compound exercises also warm up your body to be ready for the isolation exercises that target more specific muscle groups.

Beginner Leg Day Workout

For this beginner leg day workout, you can focus on bodyweight exercises that don’t require additional resistance. That said, if you want a greater challenge, you can use dumbbells or a medicine ball to make the exercises harder.

Unless otherwise stated, perform 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps of each exercise. The goal is for the last few repetitions of each exercise to feel hard to complete, but still possible. If you find it’s easy to complete 15 repetitions of an exercise, that’s your cue to add dumbbells or a medicine ball to the move to make it harder.

Make sure you warm-up for five to 10 minutes before starting the workout. A simple walk, jog, or series of dynamic warmup exercises will do the trick.

Aim to perform this workout 2-3 days per week, allowing at least one day of rest between leg workouts.

Bodyweight Squats

Bodyweight squats target your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps, while also engaging the core. Pay close attention to proper form as you perform each squat.

Woman doing a squat

Here’s how to do a bodyweight squat:

  • Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-distance apart, your toes angled slightly outward.
  • Clasp your hands together in front of your chest. Engage your core and check your posture — your ears should be “stacked” over your shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles.
  • Keeping your core engaged, chest lifted, and shoulders back, press your hips backward as though starting to sit down in a chair. Your heels should remain planted, your weight evenly distributed across your feet.
  • Allow your knees to bend to continue the downward movement, lowering your glutes straight down.
  • Go as deep as you comfortably can, aiming for at least a 90-degree bend at the knees. The main thing to remember is that your torso should remain upright and your knees should remain aligned with your toes (not buckling inward).
  • When you’ve gone as deep as you comfortably can, reverse the movement, press through your heels, and return to standing. Squeeze your glutes and press your hips forward as you rise.

Standing Calf Raises

Standing calf raises are an excellent isolation exercise for your calves. They can also help improve balance and strength through your feet and ankles.

Here’s how to do standing calf raises:

  • Stand next to a wall with your feet hip-distance apart.
  • Place one or both hands on the wall for support. Engage your core and check your posture to make sure your ears are “stacked” above your shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles.
  • From here, press through the balls of your feet and squeeze your calves to lift your heels away from the floor.
  • Rise as high as you comfortably can on the balls of your feet.
  • Squeeze at the top for a beat, then slowly lower your heels back toward the floor.
  • Stop just before your heels touch down and continue the exercise.

For more of a challenge, perform the same exercise, but isolate one calf at a time, standing on one leg as you perform the movement.

Alternating Reverse Lunges

Reverse lunges are another great compound exercise that targets the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. Remember to engage your core muscles to perform the exercise correctly. This exercise can be done without weights, but if you’d like extra resistance, try holding a dumbbell in each hand.

Woman doing a lunge

Here’s how to do alternating reverse lunges:

  • Stand tall, your feet hip distance apart. Check your posture and engage your core.
  • Step your right foot backward about two to three feet and plant the ball of your right foot on the ground. Shift your weight slightly backward so your torso is evenly aligned between your left and right foot.
  • Your feet should still be hip-distance apart (your right foot shouldn’t be directly behind your left—you want to maintain a solid base of support).
  • Keeping your torso upright and your core engaged, bend both knees, lowering your right knee toward the ground.
  • Just before your knee touches down, reverse the movement and press through your left heel and the ball of your right foot, stepping your right foot forward to return to the starting position.
  • Repeat the exercise to the opposite side to complete a full repetition.

Alternating Side Lunges

Alternating side lunges are another good compound exercise for the major muscles of the lower body, including the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps. But because of the side-to-side motion, they also target the abductors and adductors of the inner and outer thighs. Including lateral exercises like side lunges help to maintain a well-balanced musculature that can help prevent injuries.

Woman doing a side lunge

Here’s how to do alternating side lunges:

  • Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart with good posture. Clasp your hands together in front of your chest.
  • Engage your core and take a step to the right with your right leg, planting your foot with your toes angled slightly outward.
  • Keeping your left leg straight, and your torso lifted and tall, press your hips backward as you bend your right knee, lowering your hips closer to the floor.
  • Go as deep as you comfortably can, keeping your right knee aligned with, but behind your toes.
  • Press through your right heel and as you rise to stand, step your right foot back to the starting position.
  • Repeat immediately to the opposite side to complete a full repetition.

Banded Lateral Side Steps

Banded lateral side steps are a compound exercise that, in addition to the glutes, quads, calves, and hamstrings, also do a great job of targeting the abductor muscles of your outer hips and thighs.

Here’s how to do banded lateral side steps:

  • Place a small, looped resistance band around both legs, just above your ankles. When you stand with your feet slightly wider than hip distance apart, the band should feel taut, not tight.
  • Stand tall, clasping your hands together in front of your chest.
  • Engage your core and press your hips back, bending your knees so you’re in a half-squat position.
  • From here, take a wide step to the right with your right foot, pressing against the resistance of the band.
  • Staying in the partial squat, follow your right foot with your left,
  • Continue stepping to the right for 10 to 12 steps, then reverse the pattern and step to the left to work the opposite side.

If you don’t have enough space to take 10 to 12 steps in one direction, you can perform fewer steps, just make sure you perform the same number of steps to each side. Aim to step 10 to 12 times to each side per set.

Glute Bridges

Glute bridges primarily target your glutes as an isolation exercise, but you may also feel the exercise in your hamstrings, quads, and core.

Woman doing a bridge exercise

Here’s how to do a glute bridge:

  • Lie on your back on a mat with your knees bent, feet planted hip-distance apart on the floor.
  • Extend your arms downward at your sides, your palms pressing into the mat.
  • Engage your core and squeeze your glutes, lifting your hips away from the mat.
  • Continue lifting your hips until your body forms a straight, diagonal line from your knees to your shoulders.
  • Hold for a beat, then slowly lower your hips back to the mat.
  • Stop just before your hips touch down and continue the exercise.

Bird Dogs

Bird dogs are a great way to target the glutes while also engaging the core and lower back. You may also feel some engagement in your hamstrings and quads.

Here’s how to do bird dogs:

  • Start on all fours on a mat in a tabletop position. Your knees should be aligned under your hips and your palms under your shoulders.
  • Engage your core and make sure there’s a “straight line” from your tailbone to the top of your head (you shouldn’t drop or crane your neck, but keep it aligned with your spine).
  • From here, simultaneously lift your right arm and left leg, extending them toward the front and back of the room, respectively.
  • Squeeze your glutes for a beat when your arm and leg are aligned with your torso before slowly lowering your arm and leg back to the mat, stopping just before they touch down.
  • Continue performing a full set of repetitions to one side before switching sides.

Inner-Thigh Ball Squeeze

The inner-thigh ball squeeze is a good way to isolate the adductor muscles of your inner thigh, although you may also feel the exercise in your core and glutes. If you don’t have an exercise ball, you can use another ball (like a soccer ball) or even a pillow or cushion in its place.

Woman doing an inner thigh ball squeeze

Here’s how to do inner-thigh ball squeezes:

  • Lie on your back on a mat and place an exercise ball between your feet.
  • Lift your legs so they’re extended directly over your hips, your legs straight.
  • Place your arms along your sides, your palms pressing into the mat.
  • Squeeze your feet toward each other, squeezing the ball with your legs.
  • Hold for a beat, then relax slightly, while keeping some tension to prevent the ball from falling.
  • Continue squeezing and releasing tension for 15 to 30 repetitions, depending on how challenging it feels.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Is 1 leg day a week enough?

While one leg day a week is better than nothing and can help improve strength to some degree, generally speaking, in order to see strength and muscle gains, it’s best to target all your major muscle groups at least twice a week. For instance, a 2015 study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that a group of participants who trained three times per week with the same total load as a group who trained only one time a week saw greater gains in muscle mass than the once-per-week group.

Does running count as leg day?

Running is a great way to improve the muscular endurance of your legs. And certainly, if you haven’t been exercising, running will lead to muscular adaptations in strength to support your new running routine. Also, running hills or sprints will lead to further adaptations in muscular strength due to the challenges presented in these types of running workouts.

That said, running is primarily an endurance activity. When your body has made the initial strength adaptations to support your running routine, it won’t continue to grow stronger or develop more muscle mass. If you’re looking to improve muscle strength and mass in your lower body, you need to include resistance training moves in your exercise routine on a regular basis.

How long does it take to build muscle in your legs?

The short answer is, it depends. Everybody is different and responds differently to resistance training stimulus. While strength training plays a significant role in building muscle mass, nutrition is an important factor, as well. Someone could strength train three times per week, but if they aren’t eating to support muscle hypertrophy, they may not see the results they were hoping to see.

That said, based on neural and muscular adaptations, you’re likely to see and experience changes in muscle strength and volume within roughly 2-3 months when you’re strength training on a regular basis. You may be able to experience 1-2 pounds of lean muscle gain per month.

How do you do leg day without equipment?

Many leg exercises, particularly compound leg exercises like squats and lunges, can be performed without equipment. When performing exercises without equipment for added resistance, it’s important to make sure you’re performing enough repetitions to take your muscles almost to failure. This means you may end up performing more repetitions per set than you would perform if you had dumbbells or other pieces of equipment. While you may think you can’t see strength gains when performing exercises with light resistance and high reps, that’s actually not true. As long as you’re performing enough reps to take your muscles almost to failure, you’ll enjoy strength gains from your workout.

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