It’s well known that all the best leg exercises for women will contain some element of the squat which is the best exercise for strengthening the lower body. Just by slight change of position of feet and knees you dictate the degree of stress on certain muscle groups in your legs thus getting the wanted result.

Knowing this, you can easily focus on targeted part of your legs and work on strengthening that part. Each of following 7 exercises has a different focus on certain body part.

Find those that fulfill your needs and goals and workout for next 4-8 weeks until you switch to a different workout program.

woman doing leg exercises

Goal 1

Overall Increase Of Legg Muscle Mass

In order to increase the muscle mass you need to start your workout with the hardest exercises and heaviest weights targeting the thighs from all sides by maintaining the intensity of the workout at the highest level.

Changing the position of your feet during leg press will allow you to activate muscle fibre in different parts of your legs in different ways. Placing the feet a bit higher on the footplate will transfer the weight from quads to the back of your legs and glutes because of the bigger angle and bigger flection/extension on the hips.

In order to avoid limited activation of glutes and back of the leg make sure that you do not shorten the depth of the angle you put your knee in while doing the exercise.

As you increase the number of reps, you should decrease the weight proportionally. This workout targets four muscle groups and those are quads, glutes, hamstrings and calfs.

Exercises:

1. Squat With Barbell

4 sets: 6-8; 6-8; 8-10; 8-10 reps

After first two sets lower the weight you are lifting.

2. Legg Press

4 sets: 8-10; 8-10; 10-12; 10-12 reps

Switch between two positions of your feet.

3. Walking Lunges With Dumbbells

3sets: 10, 12, 14 reps per legg.

4. Legg Extenssion

3 sets: 10 reps.

5. Romanian Deadlift

3 sets: 8, 10, 12 reps.

6. Laying Leg Curl

3 sets: 8, 10, 12 reps.

7. Standing Toe Lift

4 sets: 12, 12, 20 , 20 reps.

woman performing dumbbell squats in work gym

Goal 2

Better Legg Muscle Deffinition

Increasing the number of reps with lower weights simply does not help when it comes to definition of leg muscles. In order to keep high metabolism you still need stimulation for increase and preservation of muscle mass.

That will increase already high need for oxygen that occurs after the workout which will in the end increase the number of calories you burn. That’s the reason why you do the first exercise of this workout normally while others are done as super sets with more reps, shorter rest period and higher weights.

Exercises:

1. Squats On Smith Machine

4 sets: 8-10 reps. Two sets with feet in and two sets with feet out.

2. Superset

Legg press 3 sets: 10-12 reps with no rest

Goblet squat 3 sets: 10-12 reps, rest only if necessary.

3. Superset

Backward lunges on Smith machine 3 sets: 10-12 reps per leg with no rest.

Legg extension 3 sets: 12-15 reps rest only if necessary.

4. Superset

Lying leg extension 4 sets: 10-12 reps no rest

Donkey calf rise 4 sets: 12-15 reps rest only if necessary.

fit man doing leg exercises on a machine

Goal 3

Strength Increase

Doing the squats correctly can be quite a challenge so the goblet squat is a perfect version of it for the start. Idea of this variation is to completely accept the patterns of the squat before you start using weights while doing it.

This workout is mostly based on the use of the machines. As your coordination betters and your muscles strengthen, you will progress to more challenging moves with weights.

Exercises:

Goblet Squat

4 sets: 10-12 reps, rest period of 90 seconds.

Legg Press

3 sets: 10-12 reps, rest period of 90 seconds.

Leg Extenssion

3 sets: 10-12 reps, rest period of 60 seconds.

Sitting Legg Curl

3 sets: 10-12 reps, rest period of 60 seconds.

Standing Tiptoe

3 sets: 15 reps, rest period of 60 seconds.

fit man doing squats with heavy weight

Goal 4

Defined Quads

It is very hard isolating just one area of the leg while you are exercising, however you can emphasize one area more than the other. In that case we try to maximize the range of movement of the knee and limit the movement of hips.

One of the ways to achieve this is to change the position of the feet while doing the exercises on the machines. Front squat (with the barbell on your chest) defines quads more that the back squat (with barbell behind your head).

This workout routine is targeting quads and glutes so if you want you can add exercises for calves and hamstrings. As you increase the number of reps, you should decrease the weights you are lifting.

Exercises:

1. Front Squat

4 sets: 6-8; 6-8; 8-10; 12 reps (after first two sets lower the weight)

2. Hack Squat

3 sets: 8, 10, 12 reps (keep feet on the footplate waist wide)

3. Hack Squat

3 sets: 6 heavy partial reps

4. Legg Press

3 sets: 8, 10, 12 reps (keep your feet on the footplate)

5. Legg Extension

3sets: 10, 10, 12 reps

fit man doing hack squat

Goal 5

Defined Glutes

Opposed to quad workouts where the goal was to limit the hip movement here we want to maximize them. We do this by choosing the exercises and the position of the feet which allow you to work the glutes through the entire range of the movement.

Go as deep as you can in the squat. As the number of rep increases decrease the weight. If you wish you can add exercises for calves and hamstrings to make the workout more complete.

Exercises:

1. Sumo Squat

4sets: 6-8; 6-8; 8-10; 12 reps (after first two sets lower the weight)

2. Legg Press

3 sets: 8, 10, 12 reps (keep your feet high on foot plate)

3. Butt Blaster Machine

3 sets: 8, 10, 12 reps

4. Romanian Deadlift

4 sets: 8, 8, 12, 12 reps

Goal 6

Defined Hamstrings

Hamstrings are a very important muscle group that support the knee. There are a lot of exercises for this area that can be done laying down, standing or sitting. Keep in mind that you also activate hamstrings with hip movement and that includes Romanian deadlift.

People very often mistake Romanian deadlift with other forms of deadlift which affect the lower back more. In Romanian deadlift the weights never touch the floor and this exercise is very effective in activating the upper part of hamstrings.

You also activate hamstrings with deep squats in which you control the speed of going down. If you decide to train quads and hamstrings on separate days, make sure you have at least 48 hours in between in order to fully recover.

Exercises:

1. Romanian Deadlift On Smith Machine

4 sets: 6-8; 6-8; 8-10; 12 reps (after first two sets lower the weight)

2. Standing Leg Curl With One Leg

3 sets: 8, 10, 12 reps

three women standing tiptoe in a gym doing exercises for calves

Goal 7

Pre-Exhaust Leg Workout

Pre-Exhaust leg workout starts with targeting quads with just one joint movement. By the time you get to more complex exercises quads will already be close to failure but the glutes and hamstrings will still be rested.

This is an advanced form of training, and it is good when you need to go above routine and stagnation. Even tho you will be much stronger in leg extension, which usually happens at the end of the workout, keep teh reps relatively high in order to avoid overworking the knees.

When quads are tired everything else will seem hard so feel free to lower the weights as needed. Chose weights that allow you to reach failure in the desired number of reps.

Exercises:
1. Legg Extension

5 sets: 8-10 reps

2. Squat On Smith Machine

4 sets: 8-10; 8-10; 10-12; 12 reps (after first two sets lower the weights)

3. Hack Squat

3 sets: 10 reps

4. Lunges With Dumbbells

3 sets: 12 reps per leg

Conclusion

Just the thought of “today is the leg day” makes you feel exhausted. Trust me most of us feel the same, but when it comes to best leg exercises there is a large number of variations.

Almost all of these exercises in their bases contain some form of the squat which is the best exercise for lower part of the body. By changing the position of the feet and knees you dictate the degree of strain on different muscle groups in your legs and that way you get the desired results.

By knowing this you can easily affect the targeted part and focus on strengthening the weaker areas. Each of these exercises have different effects on your muscles. Find the ones that fulfill your needs and just go for it.

As for the pain in your legs it’s up to you to deal with it the best way you can. Just stay focused, don’t give up and you will see the results in no time.