Looking to add some variety to your workout? Doing the same old moves every time you hit the gym can get boring. Plus, it's important to keep things fresh in the fitness scene to keep pushing your body's limits and to avoid plateauing. Check out the video above OR the 25 lower body exercises below to keep your workouts versatile!
1. Prisoner Jacks:
Ready to bust a sweat? Set the feet underneath the hips, place the hands behind your head and squat down (knees behind toes, of course). Jump the feet in and out. You'll work the glutes, quads and inner thighs here as you power through the jumps. Stay low!
- Step 1: Stand with your feet close together, hands behind your head, and lower down into a narrow squat so that your weight shifts back to your heels.
- Step 2: Staying low, but with your chest up, push off your heels and jump your feet wide, landing in a wide squat position.
- Step 3: Jump back to the start position. That is one rep. Continue jumping your feet out and in with a squat as fast as you can.
2. Gliding Hamstring Curl:
Do you need to pay more attention to your hamstrings? Then introduce them to this move.
- Step 1: Lie on your back with your arms at your sides. Have each heel in the center of a glider. Squeeze the glutes together to lift the pelvis off of the floor. Do not put tension or pressure in the lower back – if you do feel discomfort in the low back, stop and switch to a bridge lift to help you strengthen the posterior muscles first.
- Step 2: Exhale and use your hamstrings and glutes to pull the heels closer to the body. Your range of motion is limited to the strength of your hamstrings. Inhale and slowly slide the heels back to the starting position without lowering the hips to the floor. Again, you should not feel this in your lower back.
3. Side Plank Clamshells:
To get your legs and booty in tip-top shape, try the Side Plank Clamshell!
- Step 1: Lie on your side and prop yourself up on your elbow with the elbow directly beneath your shoulder. Bend both of your knees at a 45-degree angle, stacking your knees on top of one another. Rest the other hand on your hip. Squeeze the lower oblique so your torso and hips stay lifted.
- Step 2: Keeping your feet together, and hips lifted, raise your right knee as high as you can without your heels coming apart. Pause, then return to the starting position. That is one rep.
4. Mountain Climbers
You know love 'em! Alignment is everything in this move. As those knees drive under your chest, stay firm through the shoulders — no rocking! The hips tend to creep up with this exercise, so lock them down and you'll feel the core turn on. Try to imitate fitness instructor Amanda Strong's example in the video above.
- Step 1: Begin in high plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders. Your body should be in a straight, diagonal line from your head to your heels.
- Step 2: With your core engaged, bring your right knee forward under your chest with the toes just off the ground. Return to your basic plank.
- Step 3: Switch legs, bringing the left knee forward. Keep alternating legs and pick up the pace until it feels like running in place in a plank position.
4. Side Plank Rainbow Taps:
Target those inner and outer thighs and core all in one fluid movement!
- Step 1: Lie on your left side with your right leg stacked on top of your left leg. Prop your upper body up on your left arm, keeping your elbow directly below your shoulder. Keep your core tight and contracted.
- Step 2: Bring your top leg infant of you and lower your leg to tap the floor. Squeeze your glutes as you lift your leg back in an arc to tap the floor behind you. That is one rep.
5. Weighted Donkey Kicks:
Channel your inner donkey with our Weighted Donkey Kicks. It works your glutes and thighs!
- Step 1: Come to all fours and slide a dumbbell into the crease behind your knee. Bend the leg to squeeze it into place. Flex the foot.
- Step 2: Exhale and press the bent leg up like your stamping your foot on the ceiling. Try to get the thigh parallel with the floor. Do this lift without shifting your weight into one side. Keep the hips square to the floor and let the back arch a little. Bring the knee back down, but don't rest! Send back up for another rep!
6. Curtsy Lunge and Squat:
Get back in that plié position! It's time to work your quads, hamstrings and glutes.
- Step 1: Begin with a curtsy lunge by standing tall, crossing one foot in front of your body and bending the knees. When you do this, your feet should be far enough away from each other so you can bend the back knee at about 90 degrees. The crossover should bring your front knee in front of the opposite hip. The hands are in front of the chest to keep it lifted.
- Step 2: Step out to the side so your feet are much wider than your shoulders. Dip into your plié squat and raise your arms overhead. Go as low as you can, trying to get your hips in line with your knees. For a bigger challenge, skip standing up as you transition — keep the knees bent and stay low to hold onto the burn!
- Step 3: Cross the other leg in front of your body to perform a curtsy lunge on the other side. Again, give yourself enough room between the feet to perform a deep lunge. This is one rep.
7. Attitude to Side Sweep:
Use your own body's resistance to challenge your thighs! Use high reps for this exercise!
- Step 1: Stand with abs engaged, feet hip-width apart, hands on hips.
- Step 2: Shift weight onto right foot, keeping knee slightly bent. Raise left leg out to side, (You'll feel your outer thigh muscle engage).
- Step 3: Sweep left leg to the right, crossing in front of body, feeling your inner thigh engage. Finish reps on one leg and repeat on opposite side.
8. Jump Squat:
Get ready to squat like you've never squatted before! Add a jump at the end and land right back into your squat—repeat in succession over and over to really burn up your legs!
- Step 1: To perform this plyometric exercise, first stand with the feet slightly outside the shoulders (wherever your squat stance is) and drop the hips backward and down. Send the arms straight out in front of you to help the chest stay lifted. Double check your knee position – make sure they're staying behind your toes.
- Step 2: Push through your heels to drive out of the squat. Roll through the foot to lift into your jump, bringing the arms overhead to help propel you upward. Land softly and quietly with bent knees. If you can go right back into your squat, do it! Otherwise, take the soft-knee landing and reset for the next squat.
9. Gliding Butterfly Curl:
To challenge your glutes and abs, try this gliding butterfly curl.
- Step 1: Lie on your back with your arms at your sides and the soles of your feet together. Let the knees drop out to the sides for the butterfly position and have a single glider under the feet. Squeeze the glutes (do not use your lower back) and lift the pelvis off the floor.
- Step 2: Slowly slide your feet away from your body as far as you can go. The knees will likely have a slight bend in them even at the max of your extension. Exhale; squeeze the glutes and your inner thighs to pull the feet back to the starting position.
10. Jumping Lunge:
Take your workout to a whole new level with jumping lunges! Lunge, power up into a jump and land softly. Repeat this move without a break for 30 to 60 seconds to get a lower body burnout!
- Step 1: Begin in the lunge position. Place your feet far enough away form each other to create 90-degree bends in both knees. The front knee should not pass over the front toes. The back knee, ideally, should touch or be a few inches from the ground. Chest is lifted.
- Step 2: Power yourself out of the lunge by squeezing your glutes and core. Use your arms to help with propulsion, and make sure both feet leave the ground at the same time.
- Step 3: Land in your lunge with the opposite leg forward with both feet hitting the ground at the same time. The chest stays lifted. That is one rep. Continue alternating legs for allotted time.
11. Alternating Side Lunges:
Adding heavy dumbbells to this side lunge will have you feeling the burn in your entire lower half!
- Step 1: Begin in your neutral standing position; feet should be shoulder-width apart. Roll the shoulders back and down and lift your chest.
- Step 2: Step one foot out to the side and bend the leg into a lunge. The knee must stay behind the toes. The other leg is straight. Your chest is lifted still. It's tempting to drop your chest, so look straight ahead and keep the shoulders back.
- Step 3: Bring the lunge to the other side first by pressing through your heel to your standing position. Send the other leg out to the side. The farther you step out, the deeper you will need to lunge. Complete all reps on this side, then repeat on the opposite side.
12. Weighted Plié Squat:
Sure, you remember enough of dance lessons to do a plié, but adding a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell takes it to another level.
- Step 1: Hold one dumbbell in front of you and step the feet out into a wide stance. Turn your toes at least 45 degrees. Drop the shoulders from your ears and lift the chest.
- Step 2: Drop your hips down to a plié squat, trying to get the thighs parallel with the floor. Exhale and push out of it to straighten the legs and repeat.
Pick one leg and send it back as you reach to the floor with the same-side hand. Touch the floor (that's why it's called a touchdown!) and immediately drive that back leg up into a knee lift. Use your arms to counterbalance. The quicker you move, the more you'll fire the glutes and rely on the core. Add small hand weights if you want!
- Step 1: Begin by standing tall, feet together and chest lifted. This is your starting position.
- Step 2: Kick one leg straight behind you as your front leg lunges. Keep the bend at 90 degrees and the knee behind your toes. Reach down to touch the floor, or as low as you can. The back leg doesn't need to be straight — the focus is working the front leg.
- Step 3: Exhale and push out of the lunge. Swing the back leg through to the front, lifting the knee high. Use your arms like Jean does here to counter balance the move. Immediately send the same leg back into a lunge and repeat the touchdown.
14. Glute Bridge with Dumbbell:
Not only will this move work your glutes, but also your hamstrings!
- Step 1: Lie on your back with the knees bent and feet on the floor. Place a dumbbell between the hip bones and hold it there with your hands during the entire movement. Make sure your shoulder blades are tucked underneath and your neck is comfortable.
- Step 2: Exhale and drive through your heels as you squeeze the glutes to lift. Do not try to lift using your lower back. You should feel tension in the glutes, hamstrings and quads. To help relieve any tension in the lower back, pull the belly button in toward the spine. Stop the lift when your hips are in line with the thighs and torso. Inhale and slowly release the move, rolling the vertebrae down until the pelvis hits the floor, then immediately go for the next rep.