Leg Day Workout For Beginners
“Leg Day” tends to have a negative stigma attached to it, as people often poke fun at the stiffness and pain that ensues a day or two after an intense leg workout. But fear not – leg day doesn’t have to be all bad.
The right leg workout might leave you feeling a little tender and stiff, but that just means it’s working. By practicing some basic beginner moves you can lay the foundation for building the strength and muscle in your legs that will help you power through your days.
The Basics Of Leg Day
The goal of leg day is to target all of the major muscle groups in your lower body in order to strengthen the areas that are critical for day-to-day movements. Without strong legs, simple daily movements such as taking the stairs or lifting heavy loads of laundry can become all too difficult.
The muscles you should target during leg day workouts include your hamstrings, quads, glutes, outer thigh and hip abductors and calves. You can target these muscles using compound exercises that will hit multiple muscle groups at the same time, such as a squat, and isolation exercises, such as calf raises.
In general, it is best to begin a leg day workout with compound exercises that will hit several muscle groups. In addition to challenging multiple muscles at the same time, these movements will also require coordination, balance and core engagement in order to perform them correctly. This can make your workout a lot more functional with movements that overlap with everyday life, such as walking or getting out of bed.
Simple Leg Day Workouts
A bodyweight squat will target your quads, hamstrings and glutes as well as engaging the core. Ensure to focus on proper form as you perform each squat so as not to cause injury.
- Begin with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-distance apart and your toes angled slightly outward.
- Hold your hands together in front of your chest, engage your core and check your posture. Your ears should be situated above your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.
- While keeping your core engaged, lift your chest and keep your shoulders back, press your hips backwards as if you are about to sit in a chair. You should keep your heels planted firmly and lower your glutes straight down.
- Squat as deep as you comfortably can and aim for at least a 90-degree bend at the knees. It is important to remember that your torso is upright and your knees are aligned with your toes.
- When you have gone as deep as you comfortably can, reverse the movement, push through your heels and return to the starting position. Be sure to squeeze your glutes and press your hips forward as you rise.
Standing Calf Raise
A standing calf raise is an excellent isolation stretch for your calf muscles. This can also improve strength and balance through your feet and ankles.
- Begin by standing next to a wall with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Place a hand on the wall for support if needed. Engage your core and check your posture to make sure your ears are situated above your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.
- Press through the balls of your feet and squeeze your calves to lift your heels away from the floor.
- Raise yourself as high as you comfortably can on the balls of your feet.
- Squeeze at the top for a second, then slowly lower your heels back towards the floor, stopping before your heels tough down and continue with the exercise.
- If you need more of a challenge, perform the same exercise but isolate one calf at a time, balancing on one leg as you perform the movement.
If you are anything like me, reverse lunges might take you some practice to get used to, but once you do, these are an excellent way to tone your thighs and build strength, and balance in your lower body.
- Stand upright, with your hands on your hips.
- Take a large step backward with your left foot.
- Lower your hips so that your right thigh (front leg) becomes parallel to the floor with your right knee positioned directly over your ankle. Your left knee should be bent at a 90-degree angle and pointing toward the floor with your left heel lifted.
- Return to standing by pressing your right heel into the floor and bringing your left leg forward to complete one rep.
- Alternate legs, and step back with your right leg.
A Lateral Lunge Into A Curtsy Lunge
This easy exercise targets your legs and butt while giving you a really deep stretch in all of the right places.
- Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart.
- Step your left foot to the left and squat down, keeping your left leg straight.
- Hold for a moment and push through your left foot, lunging back diagonally and crossing it behind your right leg. This is one rep.
- Complete 10 reps on each side.
The Glute Bridge workout will target one of the biggest muscles on your lower half – your glutes! Glute bridges will also contribute to the development of your leg muscles and help with core stabilisation.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and with your feet flat on the ground, hip-width apart.
- Push up through your heels while squeezing your glutes and abs. Lift your hips a few inches off the ground until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
- Hold this pose for a second and then slowly lower yourself back down to your starting position.
Jumping-jack squats are simple yet effective. This squat not only works your butt and leg muscles, but you’ll also get some cardio in with all of the jumping around.
- Keep your torso upright, and jump with feet out wide into a sumo squat position.
- Bend your knees 90 degrees, ensuring your knees don’t go past your toes.
- Land softly on your feet while keeping your weight in your heels and butt down.
To Sum It Up
These leg day exercises target all the major muscle groups in your lower body, which makes them a really great way to start working out your legs. With that being said – if you haven’t worked out in a number of years, or if you are under the care of a doctor for health issues, then you should make sure to talk to your doctor or physical therapist about whether or not these workouts will be right for you.