Training your legs and booty get you the most bang for your buck as far as workouts go! The muscles here—your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves—are the largest in the body, so collectively, they possess the most potential to change your physique.
First, the step up. This is a great exercise for building strength in your quads, hamstrings, and glutes—but one of the most common mistakes is pushing off with your non-working side (a.k.a., the foot not stepping onto the bench). Many people don’t even realize they’re doing it, but that extra little bounce makes it easier on the leg that is supposed to be working, minimizing the effectiveness. Instead, you want to focus on pushing through the heel of your front foot and only using the muscles in your front leg to help you get to standing. (Too hard? Try using a lower step or bench and build up as your leg strength improves.)
No leg routine would be complete without a squat since it gets more muscles and joints working together than any other stand-in-place exercise. As a result, you release hormones that can speed muscle hypertrophy (a.k.a. growth) and fat loss, studies show. The goblet type is king among this royal crew: Holding a weight by your chest keeps you from slumping forward and forces you to shift weight into your heels (so you don’t tip over). Both tweaks bring your hips closer to the ground for a better burn.
- Stand upright, feet together, and take a controlled step forward with your right leg, lowering your hips toward the floor by bending both knees to 90-degree angles. The back knee should point toward but not touch the ground, and your front knee should be directly over the ankle.
- Press your right heel into the ground, and push off with your left foot to bring your left leg forward, stepping with control into a lunge on the other side. This completes two reps.
- Do three sets of 20 reps each.
Increase the difficulty of the move by holding dumbbells — five to eight pounders — by your sides.
- Holding a pair of dumbbells, stand with your feet and knees together.
- Take a large step with your right foot to the right side and lunge toward the floor.
- Make sure your right knee does not extend past your toes and keep your left leg relatively straight.
- Push off through your right foot to return to the start to complete one.
- Do three sets of 10 on each side.