9 Best Leg Day Exercises
Let’s start off with a disclaimer that your peach is already fantastic. However, we totally get having booty goals (literally) in the gym. Whether you want to work on shaping your backside for more aesthetic reasons, having strong glutes is extremely beneficial to the body.
Is it possible to get a bigger butt through exercise? If so, how?
Good glute genetics are a thing, but that doesn’t mean you put in hard work to improve strength and looks. Also, something else that is important to note is that glute building doesn’t just mean glute gains. Glute movements are multi-joint, multi muscle movements that strengthen the whole body.
Yes, it is certainly possible to grow your lower body and posterior chain. The way to grow this area is to activate and engage particular muscles. The three main muscles that should be targeted are: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, glutetus minimus. The gluteus maximus is the biggest muscle within your peach and is the one responsible for the “pop”.
Exercises to grow your glutes
You’ll definitely want to make sure that you focus on working all three muscles. When designing a “grow the booty” routine, it is critical to remember three rules. Bodyweight exercises can also be EXTREMELY effective and you don’t need to do anything crazy with heavy weights unless that is part of your goal.
Upper body position
Single leg exercises
Aaaahh, one of the fundamentals. It’s a classic. It’s important to note the squat for so many reasons, but especially for understanding and getting form down. The squat is super versatile. You can play around with your foot placement and stance to work different muscles and feel the burn in different places.
Benefit: Works all glute muscles, quads, hamstrings, adductor, hip flexors, core and calves
Equipment: None needed! Just you :)
Steps: Stand hip width apart with and hinge at the knee to come into a squat position - making sure your knees don’t track over toes and extend. Focus on keeping weight in your heels and squeezing glutes at the top.
Reps: Work your way up in 4 sets. 10 - 15 - 20 - 25
This exercise has been coined as one of the most important exercises tha you’re not doing.
Hip thrusts are able to focus on strength and size simultaneously. The hip thrust motion is all-inclusive working all muscles related to the posterior chain aka building those glutes in the way that you want.
It’s also important to note that building glute strength is incredibly important for stabilization. Benefit: Works ALL the muscles (you’ll feel it).
Equipment: You can use a barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, or simply bodyweight
Steps: Set up with a support system behind your back such as a bench or box with feet flat on the ground and knees bent. Be mindful that the bench should hit just below the shoulder blades and feet should be about shoulder width apart. Keep that chin tucked, power through with the heels until your thighs are parallel to the floor. You’ll be looking for that 90-degree angle. Squeeze glutes at the top and return.
Reps: 3 sets of 12.
Single Glute Bridge
Isolated techniques are great for the mind-body connection. It is your opportunity to really learn about how to exactly fire off your glutes in the right way.
Benefit: Isolate & strengthen in one! You’ll be working core, glute, and hamstrings.
Equipment: All you need is you (always, duh!) OR you can make it more difficult by adding a dumbbell across your hips.
Steps: Lay flat on your back with hands by your side, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Think of pulling your belly button towards your spine as you push up. Push up and keep one left straight in the air while keeping pelvis raised and leveled. Hold and return back to the starting position.
Reps: 4 sets of 12 each leg.
Want to amp up your squat game? The answer is YEEEEEES! Okay, okay. We see you. A traditional squat puts a good amount of pressure onto the lower back but a bulgarian squat removes some of that pressure and puts emphasis on the legs. This helps with flexibility in your hips and getting that depth.
Benefit: Strengthens all muscles in the leg and can give the chance to focus different muscles.
Steps: Begin by standing about 2 feet in front of bench or step. Bring one foot behind you and place the top of your foot on the bench - your feet should still be about shoulder-width apart. Engage your core, roll shoulders back and begin bending the knee. Push through the foot and come back up.
Reps: 3 sets of 10 each leg.
The step up is one of the best butt exercises because it gets you to focus on strength, power, and balance in a unilateral fashion. It targets all the main large muscles in the legs. It also incorporates balance and corework so you get to multitask.
Benefit: This versatile exercise is great because you get to put in work with taking some of the impact off. It can help you increase your strength in other areas, such as the deadlift.
Steps: Start off with right foot onto the bench and press through your right foot as you step onto the bench. Bring your left foot to meet the right so you’re standing on standing on the bench. Return to starting position. Make sure to focus on that power going through the weight of your feet.
Reps: 4 sets of 15 each leg.
Keep that heart rate up and feet moving all the same time. Some may think of lunges as the worst, but no pain, no gain. Right? Right.
Benefit: Lunges increase muscle mass to build strength by targeting your ab muscles, back muscles, gluteal muscles, and them quads! They’re accessible and especially over time, can be a massive part of gaining strength. Plus, there are multiple variations so you can target muscles the way you want. AND you’re focusing major on balance and functional movements.
Steps: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hands on hipes. Squeeze glutes and keep hips facing forward (not moving side to side). Take a step forward with either leg and keep feed hip-width apart. With spine straight, focus on a 90 degree ankle with front knee and press back with front foot to return back to starting position. SWITCH!
Reps: 4 sets of 15 each leg.
GOOOOOD MORNING! This exercise doesn’t have to be done in the morning, but it will definitely wake your legs and glute muscles up. The Good Morning exercise is a hip hinge exercise with a focus on the glute muscles and hamstrings driving the movement. When squatting or deadlfting, legs should be feeling it first but that doesn’t always happen. Good mornings help to address that.
Benefit: Good mornings create a very strong engagement of the entire posterior chain while incorporating that ab work.
Steps: Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place barbell (at the right weight) on shoulders. Brace those abs and take a deep breath in. Exhale as as you hinge forward at the hips and inhaling with a straight back. Make sure chest and head are up / forward. We don’t want any curling here. Inhale smoothly and return to starting position.
Reps: 2 sets of 15, 1 set of 12, 1 set of 10.
The exercise that you will love to hate, seriously. That’s all there is to it.
Benefit: This exercise is all inclusive. It targets your glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves, core, forearms, biceps and shoulders. Does it get any better? While you’re building muscle all over, you’re also focusing on cardiovascular fitness as well. It’s designed to help you move through a full range of motion while preventing common mistakes such as leaning too far forward or caving inward. #NOPE
Steps: Grab a kettlebell or dumbbell of your choice. Stand with feet SLIGHTLY wider than hip-distance apart with toes angled just a little forward. Hold a kettlebell in both hands at the chest while gripping the handles though you were cupping something. Bend elbows so the goblet is positioned just in the center of your chest. Engage core and look straight ahead, keeping everything netural. Press hips back and begin bending knees forward. Inhale as you go down and keep the kettlebell close to your body. Always focus on keeping weight distributed evenly and driving back up through the heels.
Reps: 4 sets of 10
Staggered Stance Deadlift
If you are ready to get stronger, the staggered stance deadlift is one of the ways to get there. It can help you progress in the conventional deadlift and overall strength.
Benefits: Target muscular imbalances, increase strength, and engage multiple small muscles throughout the posterior chain and body. You’ll also find that staggered stance deadlift helps with mobility and flexibility.
Steps: Begin one leg in front and the other leg almost behind the heel. With the foot that is behind, place weight onto toes. Hold dumbbell in front of your thighs with double overhand grip. Push hips back as you hinge forward. Keep dumbbell close to your legs and keep your chest puffed out. When you’ve reached 90 degrees, return back to staggered stance.
Reps: 4 sets of 10
Booty, booty, booty rockin’ everywhere. Look, we get that having a larger backside is what's in and we are here for it. But remember that it is all about learning how to become stronger and addressing your goals in your own way. A stronger back side is a foundation for a strong everything else.
April 08, 2021