Build Stronger Legs and Burn Fat With This 4-Week Lower Body Program

This month, in the fourth installment of our yearlong series that’ll get you the specific workout results you want, we crush your lower body. Next month, we’ll give you more.

Skipping leg day is real. And if you never do leg exercises, you risk building a physique that resembles an upside-down pyramid. Even worse: You miss a chance to send your body into fat-blasting overdrive. Leg workouts incinerate calories and push your central nervous system to release Hulk-level muscle-building hormones.

So, yeah: Focus on your legs. But that doesn’t mean you have to do a bodybuilder slog of squats, deadlifts, and sheer pain. Heck, you don’t even have to pick up a barbell. Equinox trainer David Otey, C.S.C.S., who’s worked with NFL and college football players, has a one-hour lower-body blitz that’ll turn your legs into the fitness engine they’re supposed to be.

Directions: Do this workout twice a week, resting 2 days between each session. On 1 off day, do 4 sets of 10 pushups and 15 close-grip pushups. On the other, do 4 sets of 10 barbell rows and 10 hammer curls. Rest all other days.

The Warmup

Start by foam-rolling your feet, calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes, then do this circuit. Do 3 rounds, resting as needed between moves.

1. Mountain Climber

Get in pushup position. Keeping your back flat, drive your left knee to your chest. Quickly return to the starting position, then drive your right knee to your chest. That’s 1 rep; do 25.

2. Plank

Set up in pushup position with your forearms on the floor, elbows directly below shoulders, core tight. Hold for 30 seconds.

3. Arms-Overhead Squat

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and raise your arms straight overhead. Bend at the knees and hips, lowering your torso until your thighs are just past parallel to the floor. Stand back up. That’s 1 rep; do 15.

The Workout

Do the exercises in order.

1. Dumbbell Depth Sumo Squat

Stand on 1-foot-high boxes set up more than shoulder-width apart, holding a medium-weight dumbbell or kettlebell, arms hanging naturally (a). Keep your glutes and abs tight. Bend at the knees and hips (b), lowering until your thighs are parallel to the floor (or as far as you feel comfortable). Stand back up. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 12.


Do these exercises back-to-back. Complete 3 supersets, resting 90 seconds between each.

2A. Bulgarian Split Squat

Stand with your right foot behind you on a bench or box. Your left leg should be almost straight. Hold dumbbells at your sides (a). Bend your left knee; your right knee will bend as you do. Hold when your left thigh is parallel to the floor (b). Stand. That’s 1 rep; do 10 per leg.

EB SAYS: “This isn’t just strength. You’ll feel a good stretch in your back leg.”

2B. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

Stand holding medium-­weight dumbbells at your hips, feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent (a). Brace your core. Now hinge at your hips and push your butt backward, lowering your torso. Lower until you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings (b). Pause. Stand back up, squeezing your glutes. That’s 1 rep; do 12.

3. Dumbbell Hip Thrust

With knees bent and feet flat, place your upper back and shoulder blades against a bench. Hold a medium-weight dumbbell on your hips (a). Push through your heels and raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees (b). Pause, then lower. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 12.

4. Lateral Lunge

Start standing, feet shoulder-­width apart, knees and hips bent slightly (a). Keeping both feet pointed forward, step your left leg to the left, bending your left knee. Shift your weight to that leg and push your butt back until your thigh is nearly parallel to the floor (b). Press back to the start. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 10 per leg.

EB SAYS: “Don’t expect both sides to feel the same. It’s normal for one leg to have more mobility than the other.”

5. Bench Adduction

Lie on your left side, with your forearm on the floor. Place your right calf on a bench. Your left leg should be straight and directly under the bench. Tighten your core (a). This is the start. Now raise your torso so you form a straight line from legs to shoulders (b). Pause for 2 seconds, then return to the floor. That’s 1 rep; do 3 sets of 10 per leg.

EB SAYS: “This is a glute exercise, first and foremost. So don’t let your back arch. At the top, focus only on squeezing your glutes.”

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