Ultimate Lower Body Workout for Women

Ladies, ladies, ladies…

So recently I’ve been getting a lot of emails from women all over the world who have tried my Ultimate Upper Body Workout for Women.

Overall, they seem to love it!

Awesome!

But an upper body workout alone isn’t enough to build a functionally strong body. Nope. You need to tie in the core and the lower body if you want to maximize your functional strength.

Today, I want to give you a rundown of the Ultimate Lower Body Workout for Women. Just like we did with the upper body, we want our workout to be focused on developing muscular balance, functional strength, and ideal definition. My goal here is to challenge you to challenge yourself. Step outside of your comfort zone if you want to get the results you’re looking for.

Let’s get to work.

Similar to the upper body workout, the lower body workout consists of two different sessions. You will alternate between Workout A and Workout B, leaving 2 days of rest between each workout.

Note: Each of the workouts is aimed at combining functional strength work for the quads, hamstrings, and glutes with dynamic, plyometric style work to develop great legs.

Here are the exercises.

Workout A

Exercise 1: Goblet Squats

Muscles Worked: Quads and Glutes (primary), Hamstrings (secondary)

The Goblet Squat is a unique variation of a bodyweight squat as it allows you to add resistance to your squat in the form of a dumbbell that you hold close to your chest. This exercise is rated as one of the most effective exercises for developing strong legs.

You’ll need a dumbbell. I encourage you to get out of your comfort zone here and grab a weight that will truly challenge you. Don’t settle for the light stuff. Just make sure you use a weight that is both challenging and safe. You’ll probably have to try a few weights before you find the one that works best.

Hold the dumbbell as shown in the picture below and bring it close to your chest. Keep it tight to your body. Your feet should be slightly past shoulder width apart and your feet should be pointing out – 11 and 1 o’clock should work (note that everyone’s physiology is different so make changes as you find fit). Squat deep down until the outside of your elbows brush the inside of your knees (your thighs will probably go just past horizontal). Go down slowly (2-3 seconds) and explode up (one second).

Key things to remember:

  • Always start the movement by hinging your hips back and sitting back into the squat, keeping the weight on your heels,
  • Keep your chest up and your head facing forward,
  • Do not let your knees ride past your toes,
  • Keep the dumbbell clinched and tight to your chest.

Perform: 4 sets of 12 repetitions (1 minute of rest between sets)

Exercise 2: Single Leg Deadlifts

Muscles Worked: Hamstrings, Glutes

This is an excellent exercise for developing not only the strength of your hamstrings and glutes, but also your overall balance and coordination.

If you’ve never done this exercise, you can start by doing it without dumbbells. Once you master the technique, you’ll want to add light dumbbells into the mix to really challenge your hamstrings and glutes.

You’re going to be performing this exercise one leg at a time (it is a single leg deadlift). Start by balancing on your left leg. Keeping your back straight, hinge your hips so you’re bending forwards (please don’t round your back). As your upper body is bending forward, you’ll want to raise your other leg straight back behind you. Your body will essentially be making the shape of a letter T (minus the arms). Keep your arms out straight in front of you at all times and as you bend forward aim to get close to your toes. This exercise will require a great deal of balance and coordination at first and you’ll probably be all over the place. But stick with it and you’ll feel your hamstrings and glutes really firing.

Key things to remember:

  • Keep your head straight; do not over-extend your neck as you bend down – keep it within its natural alignment,
  • Keep your body fully aligned at all times (no rounding of the back or bending of the rising leg),
  • Maintain a slow pace (2-3 seconds) going up and down.

Perform: 3 sets of 12 repetitions each leg (1 minute of rest between sets)

Exercise 3: Explosive Squat Jumps

Muscles Worked: Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, Calves, Core

The dynamic exercise for Workout A is the explosive squat jump. This is an incredible exercise for not only dynamically challenging all of the muscles in your legs, but also for strengthening your core and improving your cardiovascular fitness.

You don’t need any equipment for this exercise – just find a spot on the floor. What you need to do is squat down until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Now, instead of simply getting back up, you’ll want to explode up and jump as high as you can. Land back down and immediately go back into a squat position and jump again. Repeat. This is a fast-paced exercise so be sure that your form is still spot on.

Key things to remember:

  • Start each squat by hinging your hips back and sitting into it – don’t just simply bend your legs,
  • Keep your chest up and head facing forwards at all times,
  • Make sure you are jumping straight up (not forward or back or to the sides),
  • Use your arms to help you explode up on each repetition – don’t let them just dangle by your side – use them!

You should really feel your entire body engaged in this exercise, especially your core. For best results, really focus on each and every repetition.

Perform: 3 sets of 10 repetitions (45 seconds of rest between sets)

Workout B

Exercise 1: One-Legged Squats

Muscles Worked: Quads and Glutes, Hamstrings (secondary)

This is one of my all-time favorite exercises for building strong legs and buttocks. This is a very functional exercise as it requires us to not only utilize the strength of one leg, but it demands a great deal of balance and coordination.

You’ll need some sort of step or bench for this exercise – anything that is sturdy enough for you to stand on and has a height of 1 or 2 feet (the higher the platform, the more challenging the exercise becomes). Start by balancing yourself on one leg near the edge of the bench, with the other leg held a little bit in front of you hanging over the edge of the bench. Now, hinge your hips back and squat down on the leg you’re balancing on. Go low enough so the heal of your other foot touches the ground. If your legs are not strong enough for you to touch the ground, simply go as low as you can. Without resting, immediately bring yourself back up to starting position. You’ll do the same thing for the other leg on the other side of the bench.

Key things to remember:

  • Keep your chest up and head facing forwards,
  • Keep your hands held straight in front of you for balance,
  • Keep a slow cadence throughout the lowering and rising movement.

Perform: 3 sets of 10 repetitions each leg (1 minute of rest between sets)

Exercise 2: Stability ball Bridges

Muscles Worked: Hamstrings, Glutes

This is an absolutely amazing exercise for developing strong, functional hamstrings. You’ll need to get yourself a stability ball and a mat that you can lay down on.

Place the mat down and lay on your back with the stability ball by your legs. Place both of your feet on the ball – you’ll have to raise your butt off the ground. Your hands should be by your side. Now press your feet down into the ball and squeeze your glutes and your hamstrings to raise your hips up high (your body will look kind of like a bridge). Lower yourself back down and repeat. (If you want to really challenge yourself, don’t come all the way down; instead, go down until your butt is 1 inch off the ground and go right back up).

[Note: If you want to see what the movement looks like in action, check out this video demonstration]

Key things to remember:

  • Plant your heels onto the stability ball for maximum support,
  • Really squeeze your butt as you push yourself up,
  • Keep your shoulders and head on the mat through the duration of the exercise and keep your hands flat down beside you.

There are a few variations of this exercise that you can go through depending on your fitness level. If you are a complete beginner, do the exercise without a stability ball – have your feet planted flat on the ground with your knees bent and perform the same movement of bringing your hips up. If you are at an advanced fitness level, try the stability ball exercise but only stabilize yourself with one leg. Have the other leg pointed in the air. This will really challenge your hamstrings.

Perform: 4 sets of 12 repetitions (1 minute of rest between sets)

Exercise 3: Step Up Jumps

Muscles Worked: Quads, Hamstrings, Glutes, Core

The dynamic exercise for Workout B is the Step up Jump. This exercise will help build strong legs and develop power and overall cardiovascular fitness.

You’ll need a bench for this exercise (or something sturdy that is at least 1-2 feet high off the ground – the higher the platform, the more challenging the exercise will be). You don’t need any dumbbells. Start by placing one foot up on the platform you have chosen. Now press down with your foot and explode up into the air. While in the air, switch your feet so your other foot now lands on the platform. Perform the same explosive movement with your other leg. Continue alternating.

[Note: this picture only shows the first half of the movement. You should be propelling yourself high enough so you are jumping in the air and landing with your non-propelling foot on the platform. Then perform the same thing with the other leg doing the work. Also, don’t keep your hands on your hips; instead, use them to propel yourself up. If you’re confused, here’s a great video showing the movement –> watch here.]

Key things to remember:

  • Make sure you are propelling yourself straight up into the air – not forward, backward or side to side – try to land on the same spot every time,
  • Keep your head facing forward,
  • Use your arms to really help you explode up.

SAFETY ALERT: There is some level of risk involved with this exercise. Make sure you are using a platform that is sturdy and won’t move or break on you. You need a good level of balance for this exercise so you don’t land awkwardly. If you are a beginner or don’t feel comfortable enough to do this exercise, do the same exercise except avoid the jump. Step up onto the platform and step back down – continue alternating. You can make this variation more challenging by using dumbbells.

Perform: 3 sets of 20 repetitions both legs (45 seconds of rest between sets)

There it is – the ultimate lower body workout for women. Alternate between Workout A and Workout B with two days of rest in between each workout and prepare to see some incredible results. If you haven’t yet seen the upper body version, check out the Ultimate Upper Body Workout for Women.

Also, if you’re looking for a full-blown workout for women, I suggest you take a look at Visual Impact for Women. This is the most complete program for women that I’ve seen for developing that slim, feminine physique. It was created by my good friend Rusty Moore and I give it my best recommendation.

What are your thoughts on the ultimate lower body workout for women? Please share any questions or suggestions in the comment section below.

22 thoughts on “Ultimate Lower Body Workout for Women”

  1. Srdjan,

    Great post. I used to ignore lower body strength training because I do so much HIIT, but these days, I like to include the explosive exercises like squat jumps in my routine because they have such a high metabolic carryover.

    Alykhan

    1. Thanks Alykhan. I think a lot of people ignore lower body strength training because it’s a pain to do. If you’re doing a lot of HIIT training then you’ll probably want your legs to be fresh so it’s OK to ease off on the lower body training a bit. A lot of the dynamic exercises have a great metabolic carryover.

  2. These are great exercises. A word of warning about the one-legged squats. I tried this when my leg muscles were already very tired and I wound up on my butt!

    And guys, if you are recommending these exercise to your lady friends, do so at your own peril! 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment Dee. Most definitely any of the exercises recommended on this site should be done at your own risk (as per disclaimer). These exercises work and I’ve seen them work. Just make sure you are being safe at all times! Learn to listen to your body.

      At the same time, however, expect to end up on your ass every now and then. You can’t get results without making a few mistakes along the way 🙂

  3. I’m into boxing and stretching really makes me tired and my muscle sores. But that’s in the beginning only. I’m getting used to it now.

  4. The Step Up Jumps exercise just made me recall an incident when one of my folks went off balanced and landed very badly causing a sprained ankle. Those interested in this exercise should first understand about the safety alerts and then proceed further. Just as the world of medicine always fascinates me, there is so much to explore in the fitness section as well.

    1. You’re absolutely right Dr. Suarez, which is why I recommend to beginners and those who don’t feel comfortable with the exercise to simply do step ups (with dumbbells) instead. This is a safe and effective alternative to the Step Up Jumps. Once you get to a certain fitness and comfort level, you can move to the step up jumps because, when done properly, this exercise can yield incredible results.

  5. I have a question.
    If I do the whole workout (A + B) once a week?
    Because I’m doing like a whole upper body workout, a whole core workout and I want to do this one. And I do cardio 4 times a week, so this is my question.
    May I do all of this but once a week?

  6. This is a great place to start. I am in my early 30s and not overweight, but I have a really hard time with the jumping exercises, because they give me headaches and a lot of pain, which makes it hard to go back to the exercises again. Is there anything I can do instead? I really, really need to get my lower body in shape. I am a definite pear shape, and after doing arm strength training for a few months, I am starting to look cartoonish with my nice toned upper body and my big old bottom half. 😉 Any suggestions welcome! 🙂

    1. Hey Lisa, if the jumping exercises give you headaches and pain, avoid them. Instead of the explosive squat jumps, simply perform bodyweight squats. And instead of the step-up jumps, just perform regular step-ups.

      The one piece of advice I always give is to begin your journey with a proper nutrition plan. It’s important to understand why exactly we are overweight before we can actually tackle the issue. Have you checked out the Get Slim training series? It goes over a lot of the nutrition and exercise concepts.

      Hope that helps!
      Srdjan

      1. Thanks, Srdjan! I’m actually not overweight, but I am switching over to a more conscious eating plan, including a lot less grain/sugar. It’s going well — I have a lot more energy to exercise. Thanks for the tips!! 🙂

        1. Hey Lisa! You’ll find that the more you lower your carbohydrate consumption, the more energy you’ll have to exercise and do the things you love to do. Keep at it!

  7. Awesome workout!! Did workout A yesterday and definetly feeling it today! Today I will be trying the upper body. Thanks!!!

  8. Wow, what a great workout. I really appreciate the detailed explanations and instructions. I’m currently studying to become a NASM certified personal trainer, and it’s super helpful to think in terms of muscle groups while doing the movements. Thanks for sharing!

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