Leg day is pretty much synonymous with post-workout sore muscles, including the inability to move or use stairs without looking a bit stiff like Frankenstein. So it goes without saying that strength-based lower body exercises work your lower limbs–not to mention your core and stabilizer muscles–with great effect.
Despite the pain, we love leg day as building leg and lower body muscle has plenty of benefits for your overall body goals. That said, the one way lower body exercises are lacking is in blasting fat to show off all the shapely sculpting you’ve been slaying. That’s not to say you’re not burning away unwanted weight on leg day, it’s more that many lower body exercise routines are packed with with stationary movements, which means missing out on cardio-pumping potential.
Fat-Burning Lower Body Exercises
Lower body exercises, with their stay-in-place strengthening style, is a great anaerobic approach (i.e., short duration, high intensity exercise lasting from second to two minutes). Your heart rate will increase with this method, but to really up the pitter patter, an aerobic state requires you to maintain the increased heart rate for longer than two minutes.
Both exercise approaches have fantastic benefits, but why not get the best of both worlds by adding more movement to otherwise stationary exercises. Here are five heart-pumping lower body exercises to add to your next leg-focused sweat session. Complete 20 reps of each lower body exercise, finishing as many rounds as you can fit into 25 minutes. Don’t rest in between exercises or rounds to really keep the heart rate up.
- Jump Squat: Begin by standing with your feet hip-width distance apart. Sit back and down into a squat, with your upper legs going parallel to the floor. Power through your feet as you stand up straight and into a jump. If you’re just starting out, make the movement more of a hop. If you’re more advanced, bring up your knees high in the jump. For real intensity, add some weight.
- Froggers: Start in a plank or high push-up position with your hands below your shoulders. Jump your feet up to land just behind your hands with your knees coming to the outside of your elbow. Return to the starting position to complete one rep.
- Kicking Lunges: From a standing position, step back with your left leg into a lunge, so that your right leg is at a 90-degree angle with your knee behind your toe. Push off through your back leg and kick it forward to about waist height. Step back into the starting lunge position to complete one rep. Complete all 20 reps on one leg before switching to the other side.
- Burpee Up and Overs: Place a bar or dumbbell on the floor and stand to one side of it. Complete a burpee, which means starting in a standing position with your feet below your hips. Sit back into a squat and lower down until you can place your hands on the floor in front of you. Kick back your feet so that your body is in a plank, or a top-of-push-up position. Jump your feet up to your hands and return to a low squat position. As you return to the standing position, power up so that you can hop over the side-placed object. When you land, complete another burpee. Each burpee is one rep. To make this exercise even more intense, change the height of the object to require jumping higher.
- Side Skater: Moving similar to how a speed skater moves on the ice, start with your feet beneath your hips and a slight bend in your knees. Jump sideways to the left, landing on your left leg with your right leg slightly bent off the ground behind you. With your chest up, swing your arms as you jump to the right, landing on your right leg with your right leg slightly bent off the ground behind you. This completes one full rep.
Often times, many of your favorite lower body exercises can transform into fat blasters by decreasing the weight, increasing the reps, and adding more movement to what is usually a fixed position. What is your favorite lower body exercise? Share with others in the comments!