The best legs exercises you’re not doing

Leg Exercises
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1 Clock lunge matrix

Imagine you’re standing on a clock face with your left foot on the floor. Facing forwards, pivot your right foot around it to step to 12 and 6 o’clock, then repeat for 3 and 9 o’clock. Start with a step in each direction and with every rep increase the range until you reach a lunge. Then switch legs. Beginners do this with your bodyweight. As you get stronger hold dumbbells by your side and for the advanced, holding kettlebells overhead. Aim for ten reps on each leg.

2 Internal-external hip hold

Start in a straight-arm plank position. Bring one foot underneath your body and place it on your opposite side. Gently lower your hips towards the floor. The target is to achieve a 90° angle with your legs so your hips are close to the floor. Brace your core and relax your shoulders. Hold for 15 seconds, then bring the same leg back across and out to your other side at the same angle. Again, gently lower your hips towards the floor, brace your core, relax your shoulders and hold for 15 seconds. Repeat this three times on each side. 

Want a challenge? Develop leg strength, endurance and power with this hill run and kettlebell swing workout - part of our Workout of the Week series

3 Romanian deadlift to goblet squat

Hold a kettlebell with both hands between your legs. With feet shoulder-width apart and back straight, hinge forwards at your hips, keeping your legs straight so you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings. Lower with your arms straight until the weight is just off the floor, then bend your knees and lower your glutes towards the floor while also bending your arms to bring the kettlebell towards your chest. You’re now in the bottom position of a goblet squat. From here drive down through your heels to stand. Return the kettlebell to between your legs and continue into the next rep. Go for two sets of 20 reps. 

4 Single-leg gym ball glute bridge

Single-leg gym ball glute bridge

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Why? Get powerful and injury-proof hamstrings

Lie on your back with your heels on a gym ball and arms out to your sides for balance. Raise your hips and squeeze your glutes to keep your body in a straight line. Bring one heel off the ball, then, making sure your hips don't drop and knees stay level throughout, flex your hamstrings to bend the leg that's in contact with the ball until it’s at 90°. Reverse the move so both legs are straight and repeat. Do all your reps on one leg, then swap sides. Go for three sets of eight reps on each leg. 

Test your leg strength with this bodyweight squat challenge - part of our Workout of the Week series

5 Single-leg box squat

Standing close to the edge of a box or bench, lower on one leg, keeping your heel down rather than going up on your toes, and extend the other leg out straight. Slowly lower until your glute touches your calf on the bent leg, ensuring your other leg doesn’t touch the floor, then drive back up. This is similar to the pistol squat but easier to do without breaking form. Four sets of five reps on each side is a good target.

6 Hindu squat

Hindu squat

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Why? Builds healthy knee joints

With feet shoulder-width apart, inhale deeply and draw your hands towards your chest. Then point them down and slightly behind you as you slowly squat down, keeping your back upright. Exhale as you lower as far as you can, aiming to be up on your toes at the bottom of the squat. Stand, pressing your heels to the floor and bringing your arms back in front of you so they’re parallel to the floor. Continue into the next rep without pausing. Three sets of 20 slow reps is an effective workout finisher.

Sam Rider

Sam Rider is an experienced freelance journalist, specialising in health, fitness and wellness. For over a decade he's reported on Olympic Games, CrossFit Games and World Cups, and quizzed luminaries of elite sport, nutrition and strength and conditioning. Sam is also a REPS level 3 qualified personal trainer, online coach and founder of Your Daily Fix. Sam is also Coach’s designated reviewer of massage guns and fitness mirrors.