While many people have the top goal of achieving a set of six pack abs, your primary goal might be toning the legs and glutes, giving your lower body a curvier, yet still muscular appearance.
When the legs show good tone and definition, it really enhances the overall image of the body, making it well worth your time and effort. In order to maximize both the strength potential and appearance of your leg and glute muscles, there are some key exercises you will want to focus on.
By doing so, you'll be sure you're getting the most for your time spent as well as see the quickest results possible - because no one wants to spend more time doing leg workouts than they have to.
5 Intense Leg Exercises
Exercise 1. Barbell Squat
One of the biggest mistakes that women make when doing the squat exercise is shorting themselves of the full movement. Most will only go down to the point where the knees are parallel with the body, if that. While this is a smart move if you have pre-existing knee pain, if you don't, you should really try and squat a bit lower.
The primary reason being it's those last few inches at the very bottom of the squat where you're really going to call the hamstrings and glutes into play, contracting the muscles to maximum tension.
To add a little extra intensity to this movement once you've got the basic squat down, try pausing for a second at the bottom before lifting upwards. Once you're comfortable with this, then take a second pause half way through the upwards portion, and then rise back up to the full standing position.
Note that if you do it in this manner, they will be incredibly intense, therefore you should consider decreases; both the total reps performed and the weight that's used.
Exercise 2. One-leg barbell squat
Another exercise that's fantastic for hitting those leg and glute muscles is one leg barbell squats. To perform this one you simply place one leg up on a bench or box behind you, while standing on the other leg straight underneath you.
Hold either a pair of dumbbells at your side or else have a barbell resting across your back and then slowly bend the leg you're standing on to move into the squat position.
Try and go as low as you can comfortably, and then straighten the leg again until you're at the top of the position. After you've finished all your reps on that side, you then repeat the exercise standing on the other foot.
Note also with this exercise that the further your standing foot is from the leg behind you, the more you will work the hamstring muscles while if it's directly underneath the center of balance, you'll target your quads more.
Exercise 3. Uphill Walking
Since you're now requiring the body to move uphill on the gradient, you're really going to work these muscles in particular, which will pull the body in the uphill direction.
Be sure after performing such cardio that you do take the time to really strength hamstring muscles out, as thirty minutes or longer in continuous motion in this manner can cause a high amount of stiffness, particularly if you've never done this type of work before.
Exercise 4. Deadlifts
Next up on the list are deadlifts where your feet are slightly raised upon a block or board. Having this extra flexion with the foot will put slightly more tension on the hamstring muscles, upping the intensity of the exercise.
Note that if your aim is primary strength development, you may want to go without the block as you will likely lift more weight, but if you aren't as concerned with max strength and more focused on just defining the muscles, this is a good variation to incorporate into your program once in a while.
Exercise 5. Dumbbell step-ups
Finally, the last exercise you can do to target the legs and glutes are dumbbell step ups. These will promote the development of the quads nicely, so they will be a good addition to the deadlifts just mentioned above.
To perform this exercise you basically just stand right behind a box or bench, while either holding a set of dumbbells or while resting a barbell across your back.
From there, place one leg directly up on top of the box and use that leg to pull the other one up to meet it. Once you're at the top, you have the option of stepping down with the other leg leading now, or stepping down in the same manner you stepped up.
Whichever method you choose to use, be sure you then switch feet after the set is completed, so you balance the tension placed over both the legs.
So, if you're looking to create a good lower body workout that will develop a great amount of strength, pay particular attention to the above mentioned movements.
You likely don't want to do them all in a single session as that could leave you overtrained, but switching between them every so often will allow you to see maximum results.