Leg Day Workouts For Weight Loss (10 Must-Do Exercises)


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Never skip leg day. It’s a statement that you most likely have heard before and with good reason. Leg day workouts can help you build muscle in your lower body, resulting in more speed, strength and power. It’ll assist in keeping your body in proportion and balanced, not to mention, contribute to more calories being burned for weight loss.

Your leg day workouts should focus on building lower body muscle. The more muscle and definition you have, the more calories you can burn which can help with overall weight loss. We’re going to take you through our top 10 must-do exercises, including barbell squats, hip thrusts and walking lunges.


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10 Must-Do Leg Day Exercises For Weight Loss


10 Must-Do Leg Day Exercises For Weight Loss.jpg

Here are our favorite leg day exercises that can help propel your weight loss while building great definition in your lower body. You can put these exercises together to create your own workout program or head to the FitBod app to get a personalized leg day workout for you.

The 10 leg exercises for weight loss are:

  • Barbell Squats (High Bar)

  • Front Squats

  • Walking Lunge

  • Bulgarian Split Squats

  • Deadlift (Barbell)

  • Romanian Deadlift (Barbell)

  • Seated Leg Press

  • Hip Thrust

  • Goblet Squat

  • Glute Hamstring Curl

BARBELL SQUATS (HIGH BAR)

Muscles worked: hamstrings, glutes, adductor (groin muscles), lower back, core

  1. Rest the bar on your rear shoulder muscles and carefully unrack the barbell, stepping back from the rack.

  2. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart, with your toes point outwards on a slight angle.

  3. Take a deep breath in and brace.

  4. Slowly, lower yourself into a squat. Keep your hips back and don’t let your knees slide forward or buckled inwards. Pretend that you have a chair behind you that you need to sit down on. Aim to go down to at least parallel to the ground. However, if you’re new to barbell squats, then just go as deep as you can go. Depth is always something you can work on.

  5. Drive your heels into the ground and shoot back up into standing position. Try to make this as explosive and fast as possible.

  6. Take another deep breath and brace, before lowering yourself into your next rep.

  7. Only rerack the bar once you’ve completed your set.

Notes: If you’re not comfortable squatting using the barbell, then a dumbbell squat or kettlebell squat is a good option to add weight to your bodyweight without being too intimidating.

Related Article: 19 Swiss Ball Exercises For Weight Loss (That Actually Work)

FRONT SQUATS

Muscles worked: quads, glutes, hamstrings, upper back, core

  1. With the barbell still racked, get under the bar and position it across the front side of your shoulders. With your palms facing up and elbows forward, get your fingertips under the bar, around shoulder-width apart. However, some people may need their grip to be wider, depending on mobility. Unrack the bar and step out.

  2. Take a deep breath in, bracing your core.

  3. In a controlled motion, slowly lower yourself into a squat.

  4. Make sure your core is engaged and your chest up. Try to go as low as you can.

  5. Dig through your heels and drive yourself back up to standing position

  6. Repeat.

Notes: If you want to make sure the barbell is resting on your shoulders properly, try this test. Rest the barbell in position, with the bar unracked, and straight both your arms out in front of you. Hold them out so that they are parallel to the ground. If the bar doesn’t move and remains put, then you have the correct position.

Another thing to add, sometimes people don’t have the mobility in their upper body to hold the barbell using the fingertips. If that’s the care, then cross your hands over the bar and keep your elbows up and parallel to the ground, so that your arms are making X’s. Hold the barbell in this position for the front squat.

Related Article: Outer Quad Exercises: 7 Must-Do Exercises

WALKING LUNGE

Muscles worked: quads, glutes, hamstrings, hips, core

  1. Find yourself space so that you have room to walk. With your feet hip-width apart engage your core and look in front of you.

  2. Take a step forward with one foot and lunge. Try to get your thigh on the lunging leg to be parallel to the ground so your knee is at a 90-degree angle.

  3. Drive through your back foot, exiting the lunge to then smoothly bring the back foot up and in front of you, stepping into another lunge.

  4. Repeat.

Notes: To make this more difficult, you have the option of doing weighted walking lunges either by holding a dumbbell in each hand or with a barbell. Though, we suggest only doing barbell walking lunges if you’re used to having a barbell on your back.

Related Article: 17 Dumbbell Exercises For Weight Loss (That Actually Work)

BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUATS

Muscles worked: quads, calves, hamstring, core

  1. Find a bench or box that is around your knee height.

  2. Stand in front of the bench, balancing on one leg with your other one elevated on the bench behind you. Engage your core and keep your torso upright, facing forward.

  3. Bend at the front knee, lowering into a split squat. You want to get your front thigh parallel to the ground or as close to it as possible, bringing your knee to a 90-degree angle. Ensure that your knee is in line with your foot from start to finish.

  4. Push through your front foot and return to a standing position.

  5. Complete your reps on the front foot before switching.

Notes: The closer your front foot is to the bench, the more quad-dominant the Bulgarian split squat will be however, it may cause slight hip flexor pain in some. Experiment with your foot distance to identify what works best for you.

Related Article: Got A Big Upper Body And Small Legs? Here’s What To Do


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DEADLIFT (BARBELL)

Muscles worked: quads, hamstrings, glutes, lower and upper back

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Your feet should be positioned under the bar, around where your shoelaces are.

  2. Hold the bar with both hands. They should be on the outside of both your legs, slightly wider. Make sure that your shins are touching the bar and keep your arms straight.

  3. Sit back so that your hips move back, keeping your chest up. Engage your lats, keep your back straight, chest up and brace.

  4. Push your hips forward as you bring the bar up until you are standing straight. As you lift the bar, ensure that it remains in contact with your body. Don’t let it fall forward as this will cause your body to fall forward too.

  5. At the top of the position, lockout your legs, squeeze your glutes and quads. Be careful not to over hyper-extend your back (arching your back unnecessarily at the lockout),

  6. In a controlled motion, bring the bar back to the ground.

  7. Repeat.

Notes: As you prepare to deadlift and sit your hips back, be careful not to end up in a squat position. Your hips should be back but still higher than your knees.

ROMANIAN DEADLIFT (BARBELL)

Muscles worked: hamstrings, glutes, lower back

  1. Hold the barbell in both hands in front of you, with your arms straight down.

  2. Engage your core and lats and slowly lower the bar down, hinging at the hips. Your knees should have a slight bend in it. Ensure that the bar remains in contact with your body as you go down.

  3. Keep lowering the bar until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings.

  4. Once you feel the stretch in your hamstrings, thrust your hips forward and bring the bar back up, ending in a lockout.

  5. Begin your next rep by lowering the bar again, from the standing position.

Notes: Contrary to belief, you don’t have to lower the bar all the way to the ground in the Romanian deadlift. In this movement, you don’t put the bar back on the floor until you’ve finished your set.

SEATED LEG PRESS

Muscles worked: quads, hamstrings, glutes

  1. Adjust the platform to your height. From the seated position, you should be able to place both feet on the platform with a slight bend in your knees.

  2. To begin, ensure your feet are shoulder-width apart. Brace your core and bend your knees, bringing the platform closer to your body and your knees close to your chest.

  3. Once you’ve brought the plate in, drive through both feet and push it away from you. Be careful to maintain a slight bend in the knees (you shouldn’t completely lock them out straight). Pause at the top of the movement.

  4. In a controlled motion, bring it back in, bending your knees.

  5. Repeat.

Notes: Where you place your feet depends on which muscles you want to focus on:

  • Basic stance – hamstrings and quads

  • Wide stance – hip adductors (inner thighs)

  • Narrow stance – quads

  • High stance – hamstrings and glutes

  • Low stance – quads

HIP THRUST

Muscles worked: glutes, hamstrings, hip adductors, core

  1. Find a box or bench that you can comfortably sit against. Rest the barbell just below your hips (in the hip crease) with a pad around it for comfort. Ensure both feet are planted on the ground. Grip the bar with both hands.

  2. Lean back against the bench so that your shoulder blades are pushing against the bench and thrust your hips up. Your knees should be in a 90-degree angle, torso parallel to the ground with your chin to chest, looking forward.

  3. Squeeze your glutes in the top position, pausing for a moment.

  4. Lower the bar back down and repeat.

Notes: Ensure that your shins are in a vertical line when you thrust the bar up, as well as perpendicular to the ground. Having your feet too close to the bench and your body focuses the hip thrust on your hamstrings more as opposed to glutes. However, if your feet are too far away from the bench, it’ll make it a quad dominant exercise. Aiming for vertical shins can help you keep it a glute-based exercise.

GOBLET SQUAT

Muscles worked: quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves, core

  1. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell to your chest. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, toes facing slightly outwards. Keep your torso up straight.

  2. Brace, engage your core, and lower into a squat. Keep your shoulders and hips back and chest up.

  3. Try and get your hips parallel or below, to your knees.

  4. Drive through your feet and push yourself back up to standing.

Notes: The goblet squat is a great precursor to the front squat. By holding the weight in front of you as well, it teaches you to prevent your chest from collapsing down as you move through the movement which then can be translated to other lifts like your barbell squat.

GLUTE HAMSTRING CURL

Muscles worked: glutes, hamstrings

  1. You’ll need a bench or machine that you can tuck your feet in securely. Most gyms will have a GHR machine or you can also use the pads on a lat pulldown machine or get your gym buddy to hold your feet for you.

  2. Kneel with your feet tucked behind you. Make sure it’s secure. Cross your arms over your chest.

  3. Engage your core, squeeze your glutes and slowly lower your body to the ground. Keep your body in a straight line as you do it—don’t let your bum sit back.

  4. Go as low as you can go. Pause for a moment.

  5. Engage your lower body and core as you come back up—again, with your lower body in a straight line.

  6. Repeat.

Notes: An option to make this easier is to have a bench or box in front of you. Go as low as you can and then use your hands to push off the bench or box, springing you back up to the starting position, then repeat.

Sample Leg Day Workouts For Weight Loss


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To help get you started, here are some sample leg day workouts for weight loss, for each fitness level.

BEGINNER LEG DAY WORKOUT

  1. Seated leg press – 3×8

  2. Romanian deadlift – 3×10

  3. Hip thrust – 3×10

  4. Goblet squats – 3×10

  5. Bodyweight walking lunge – 3×20

INTERMEDIATE LEG DAY WORKOUT

  1. Goblet squats or front squats – 3×8

  2. Deadlift – 3×10

  3. Bulgarian split squat – 3×8

  4. Hip thrust – 3×8

  5. Bodyweight or weighted walking lunge – 3×20

ADVANCED LEG DAY WORKOUT

  1. Barbell high bar squats – 5×6

  2. Romanian deadlift – 3×8

  3. Superset:

    1. Glute hamstring curl – 3×8

    2. Bulgarian split squats – 3×8

  4. Weighted Walking lunge (dumbbell or barbell) – 3×20

Final Notes

Targeting all the major muscles in the lower body with our 10 must-do exercises for leg day, you can ensure that you’ll gain more strength, speed and power while keeping your body balanced. Not to mention, with more muscle being built, you can burn more calories leading to more weight loss! Get started with our sample workouts today or visit the FitBod app for a customized leg day training workout for you.


About The Author


Emily Trinh

Emily Trinh

As a health and fitness writer, Emily combines her two passions—powerlifting and writing. With a creative writing degree under her belt, she spends her mornings lifting weights, her nights putting pen to paper, and eating too many snacks in between.