The most effective exercises you can do for strong, defined and toned legs and firm glutes are squats, lunges and movements involving steps or stairs. You can easily begin a leg and glute program using only your bodyweight, but adding weights will increase intensity, improve your balance and provide upper body training into your lower body workout.
Squats train your quads (thighs), hamstrings and glutes
. To start, stand with both feet about shoulder width apart and toes pointed slightly outward. Hold your arms in front of you at shoulder level or cross your arms across your chest.
Now sit as though into a chair by bend both knees and pushing your butt back and down until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Ensure that your knees don't pass the line of your toes and don’t squat lower than a 90 degree angle.
SINGLE LEG SQUATS
Once you master the squat, turn up the intensity by adding single leg squats. This variation requires greater strength and balance but isolates and trains your glutes and hamstrings. Once you master this challenging movement, add a dumbbell or hold a weight plate across your chest to increase the intensity (and effectiveness).
Start with your hands on your hips and take a big step forward
with your left leg and lower your body in a straight line until your left knee is above your foot. Your right leg should be behind you with your knee just above the floor. Pause briefly then push back with the forward leg until you are upright and back in the start position and repeat with the opposite leg.
Start on the floor on all fours. Bend one leg and lift it until your knee is at the level of your back. From this position, raise your leg higher, you will feel this in your glutes. Return to the starting position and repeat with the opposite leg.
Lie on the floor on your back with both knees bent. Stabilize your body with your arms flat on the floor by your side. Lift your butt and lower back off the floor and squeeze your glutes as you ascend. Squeeze and pause at the highest point for a second and lower your butt down until it touches the floor before raising it again.
Similar to Hip Extensions, the glute kickback exercise
is an isolation exercise that should be performed toward the end of your leg and glute workout. Start on all fours with your head forward. Pull one knee to your chest and then push that leg back and up behind you. Contract your glutes throughout the movement and hold the contraction at the highest point momentarily. Repeat with the opposite leg.
For body weight calf raises
, stand behind a chair or beside a wall with your legs slightly apart and toes slightly outward. Raise yourself upward until you are standing on your tiptoes and squeeze your calf muscles at the highest point. You can also perform your calf raises while standing on a stair step, board or aerobic step to increase the stretch and range of motion.