These five killer exercises will have you feeling the burn while toning your legs all over. They can be adjusted for all types of levels. If you're a beginner, do them without weights until you get the hang of the movement. The key here, as always, is form. The quality of each repetition is more important than flopping through quantity. Keeping your core engaged throughout each maneuver will help your balance and give you a bonus burn in your midsection.
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1. Weighted Sumo Squats
Grab a 15- to 40-pound dumbbell and hold it with both hands while taking your legs wide with your toes pointing out at a 45-degree angle. Drop down into the sumo squat until your legs are parallel to the ground, then push through your heels up to the starting position. Repeat for 10-20 reps for a full set, and make sure to get at least three sets in!
2. Weighted Forward + Backward Lunge
Holding two dumbbells at your side, ranging from 5 to 15 pounds each, plant your right foot as you take a big step forward with your left. Drop straight down, letting your right knee bend behind you. Drive upward through your left heel (if you feel yourself pushing through your toes, you should take a slightly bigger step forward), swinging that leg straight behind you into a reverse lunge. Make sure to let your left knee bend and push up through your right heel to repeat the whole maneuver. Get in 10-15 reps before switching to your other leg for 10-15 more. Get in at least three sets with each leg!
3. Bridges With Weighted Hip Thrust
You only need one dumbbell for this great core, glute, and hamstring exercise so grab one that's about 20 to 50 pounds. Your legs can handle a lot, so don’t be shy! Roll out onto the stability ball until your head neck and shoulders are supported, and dig your heels into the ground, lifting your toes. With the weight low on your hips, drop your bottom down then push back up, keeping your core engaged and squeezing your butt and legs at the same time. Repeat for 20-30 reps and get at least three sets in!
4. Weighted Squat Into Curtsy Lunge
Grab a dumbbell between 8 and 25 pounds and hold it with both hands. First execute a squat, keeping your weight on your heels and chest up. After standing, enter into a curtsy lunge by taking a large step backward, moving your left leg behind your right, performing a “curtsy." Drive through your front heel to return to the starting position and repeat on that same leg for 12-15 reps before switching which leg goes backward into the curtsy lunge. Do three sets on each leg.
5. One Leg Deadlift On Stabilizer Ball
This great offset move will really work your core along with your legs. Your starting position has the top of your left foot squarely on the stability ball, with your right foot a couple of feet in front, right knee barely unlocked. Have anywhere between a 10-pound weight and a 25-pound weight in your left hand. Fall at your waist as you roll the ball backward with your left leg until your back is parallel to the ground, letting the weight hang straight down. Make sure not to reach with the weight so that your back does not round at any time during the maneuver. Squeeze your bottom as you roll the ball back to the starting position and raise your body upright. Repeat this move 10-15 times before switching legs to get the other side. Get three sets in with each leg and enjoy the burn!
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