Have you tried a pistol squat?
In case you missed it: Strong legs are super-important—beyond just looking awesome in a booty pic. They’re literally what keep you moving all day, so building strength in your lower half (yes, butt included) is crucial.
Unfortunately, too many people neglect leg day a) because they think they’re already working their legs all day and b) because the leg muscles are so large to begin with, it takes longer to see results, says Emily Samuel, a NASM-certified trainer at the Dogpound in New York City. Don’t do that! “You should be training your legs at least once a week,” she says. #NeverSkipLegDay.
Start working three or four of these moves into your workout routine, and switching things up every couple of weeks. You may not see the difference right away, but you’ll definitely feel it.
1. Goblet Squat
How to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a kettlebell in front of your chest, elbows pointing toward the floor. Push your hips back and bend your knees to lower into a squat. Push yourself back to start. That’s one rep.
What it works: “This squat variation helps tone the legs and thighs while strengthening the quads, hip flexors, calves, gluteal muscles, and the hamstrings—plus the lats,” says Samuel.
2. Banded Lateral Walk
How to do it: Place a mini resistance band underneath your feet, and stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Maintaining a tight core, step your left foot out to the side, followed by your right. Then step back to the left; that’s one rep.
Recommended sets/reps: 3 sets of 10 steps in each direction.
What it works: “This is a great move to activate the glutes and build up the sides of the booty,” says Samuel.
3. Single-Leg Deadlift
How to do it: Holding a kettlebell in your right hand, stand on your left leg with palms towards your thighs. Keep your left leg slightly bent. Lean forward, extending right leg straight behind you, until torso is parallel to the floor, and kettlebell lowers straight down until almost touching the floor. Drive into your left heel to return to the standing position. (For an extra challenge, at the end of this move, lift your right leg until it forms a 90 degree angle, then return to start) That’s one rep.
Recommended sets/reps: 3 sets of 12 reps on each side.
What it works: “While working the hamstrings and the glutes, you’ll also challenge your core stability and strength,” says Samuel.
4. Romanian Deadlift
How to do it: Holding a kettlebell or (two dumbbells) in your hands, stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Position the kettlebell in front of your thighs, palms facing your body. Keeping your knees slightly bent, press your hips back as you bend at the waist and lower the weights toward the floor. Squeeze your glutes to return to standing. That’s one rep.
Recommended sets/reps: Do 3 sets of 12 reps.
What it works: “A great strength and muscle-building move, the Romanian deadlift works your hip joints and hits the low back, glutes, and hamstrings,” says Samuel.
5. Staggered-Stance Deadlift
How to do it: Hold a kettlebell in front of your thighs with both palms facing toward your body. Stagger your legs, stepping your right foot back and your left foot forward. Your right heel should be off the ground. Push your hips back as you hinge forward, lowering the kettlebell while keeping it close to your legs. Once your hips reach 90 degrees, return to start. That’s one rep.
Recommended sets/reps: Do 3 sets of 12 reps on each side.
What it works: Another deadlift variation, you’ll target your low back, glutes, and hamstrings while adding weight with the kettlebell, says Samuel.
6. Lateral Lunge
How to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, hands clasped in front of your chest. Take a big step to the side with your right leg, then push your hips back, bend your right knee, and lower your body until your right knee is bent 90 degrees. This should take about two seconds. Push back to start. That’s one rep.