Best Lower Body Workouts for Lean Muscles

Now that we looked at the upper body exercises in the previous chapter, we will shift our focus to lower body exercises. The lower body, specifically the legs, is sometimes an afterthought for someone who’s trying to look his or her best. It absolutely shouldn’t be. Your core and your legs are the foundation of your body. If your legs and core are both weak, you’ll have a lot more trouble doing things than others might. These exercises will help you build up the muscles you need and start on the right path.

Abs Exercises

Abs refer to the abdominal muscles, which can be toned to look like small square blocks. Most people looking to build a lean body are also looking to build strong abs. In general, this is the part of the body you hear most people talk about when getting into shape. 

Everyone marvels at the abs. There is a stereotype that people are truly fit when they have a six-pack, which is the name that’s usually given to abs. You can be fit without having noticeable abs, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the abs.

Having abs is incredibly important to the overall structure of your body. Given that it is in the core of your body, having abs makes it much easier to do certain things and also makes your body much more balanced and structured, as long as the rest of you is as well. Although it is slightly tough to chisel out washboard abs, it is easy to firm them up and get rid of belly fat by performing these ab exercises.

Crunches

There are several crunches that are building blocks for firm abs. Performing crunches daily can help in building lean and strong abs. Crunches are great because they can literally be done anywhere that you can lay down. If you travel a lot, you can still do crunches every day. They don’t require a gym. There are many types of crunches, but we will look at the three main ones that aid in fixing your belly fat problem.

Basic Crunch

This is the most basic crunch that you can perform to firm up your abs. You need to perform this daily if you wish to strip your belly off of fat and firm up both your upper and lower abs. This crunch is super easy to do, and anyone can do this crunch. 

All you need to be ready is some space on the ground. This crunch is great for people who don’t really have any abs. It’s a great place to start building your ab muscles. However, if you already have some established abs, it might be best if you skip doing this crunch. It will likely do little to nothing for you.

How to perform

Start by lying on the floor. Next, bend your legs and put your hands behind your head. Now slowly put enough pressure on your upper torso to lift it up. You must remain there for 1 second and then go back to the neutral position. 

Do 50 to 60 (or lesser) reps, depending on your level of comfort. If you are finding it tough to do this, then you can hold out your hands instead of placing them behind your head.

Twist Crunch

The twist crunch is great for your lower abs, which are generally hard to reach. You can perform this to chisel out your lower abs, as well as your laterals. This one might be a little harder for some people, as there is a twisting element to it.

Anyone who has any hip issues may want to avoid this one and focus on something else instead.

How to perform

Start by lying on the floor and placing your legs over a high platform like the bench or stool. Place your hands behind your head and raise yourself up to twist to one side. Go back to neutral, and repeat on the other side.

Then go back to the right side. If you wish to add an extra level of difficulty, then place a weight on your chest. You can perform this on alternate days. Do 50 to 60 reps (or lesser), depending on your level of comfort.

Bicycle Crunch

The bicycle crunch is a variation of the twist crunch. It is meant to help you strengthen your abs. This ab workout definitely works more for your body than just your abs. You’ll get a leg workout, along with an ab workout, which can be very satisfying. Let us look at how it is performed.

How to perform

You need to lie down on your back and bend your legs. Bring your knees towards your chest while lifting your upper torso. Now place your hands behind your head, and while turning to the right, straighten your left leg.

While turning to your left, straighten your right leg, and so on. You should really feel the burn in your ab area. You can do 10 repetitions and 5 sets.

Leg Raises

Leg raises are great for your lower body. They will tone and give your lower body a good structure. This workout is one of the best non-machine ab workouts there are. It really forces you to tighten your abs to be able to not let your legs hit the ground or stop moving. You should do this workout slowly, as going quickly won’t help you in any way. This is a great one to do on a yoga mat if you own one. The extra bit of support might be very helpful.  Here is how you can perform this exercise.

How to perform

Start by lying down and lifting your legs 90 degrees in the air. You can place your palms under your butt and slowly lower your legs, but don’t let your legs hit the ground. Raise them again and then lower again. Continue until you feel a good burn in your abs.

Circle Raises

This is a more complex ab workout than some of the others on this list. Your legs will be in the air for a while, so you need to have a strong core to keep it up.

This would be best done after you begin to form abs. This way, you’ll be able to up the difficulty of your ab workout, giving you the ability to grow your ab muscles even more.

How to perform

Start in the same position as before. Now lift both legs, and lower them slightly. Keeping the right leg stable, turn the left leg clockwise and then anti-clockwise. Repeat it with your other leg. You can then join both legs and do the same. You can do 5 reps for each leg.

3⁄4 Sit-Ups

This is another more difficult ab workout. This one can be hard to understand at first, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll likely be able to do this one without any issues.

How to perform

Lie on the floor, and with your legs bent at the knees, secure your feet. Put your hands on the side of or behind your head. Starting with your back flat on the ground, flex your spine and hips, and raise your torso to your knees. At the height of the contraction, your upper body should be perpendicular to the ground. Start moving back toward the ground, but only go 3⁄4 of the way down.

Air Bike

This exercise sounds fun, but it is a lot of work and will do wonders for your abs. You need to keep in mind that if you pedal too quickly, you will lose any of the work that you tried to do. It will feel like you did barely anything. 

Keep a constant pace that isn’t too crazy fast or too slow. You need your abs to get somewhat of a workout, and they won’t get them if you’re too fast or too slow. Make sure to tighten your ab muscles while you do this as well; otherwise, you won’t be doing much of anything.

How to perform

Lying flat on the floor with your lower back against the ground, put your hands beside your head. Lift your shoulders so that you are in the crunch position. Bring your knees up so that your lower legs are parallel to the floor, and your knees are perpendicular to the floor. 

Now imitate a cycling motion: kick forward with your right leg and bring your left knee toward you, while bringing your right elbow forward to your left knee. Go back to the starting position, and then repeat on the opposite side. Continue alternating until you have performed the recommended number of repetitions for each side (not total!).

Barbell Side Bend

This can be a very satisfying exercise. It will require your body to move back and forth, giving your abs a side workout, which is something they don’t get very often. People with hip or lower back problems should probably stay away from this exercise. There’s a good chance it will only cause further injury, which is not something you want.

How to perform

Standing up straight, hold a barbell on the back of your shoulder, just below your neck. Make sure that your feet are shoulder-width apart. Keeping your head up and your back straight, bend right at the waist as far as you can while inhaling. 

Hold that position for a second, and then return to the starting position while exhaling. Repeat the movement to the left side. You should not try this exercise if you have lower back problems, as it can cause further damage.

Barbell Ab Rollout

This exercise is quite challenging and should only be tried by people who have strong and healthy backs. If you have lower back problems, avoid this exercise. For less advanced athletes, you can try this exercise on your knees rather than standing on your feet. 

If you are having any trouble understanding how to do this one, find someone who knows how to do it or find any video of how to do it. This way, you’ll know for sure whether you’re doing it right or not.

How to perform

Starting in a push-up position, grab on to a barbell that is lying on the floor in front of you. Keeping an arch in your back, lift up your hips, and roll the barbell toward your feet while exhaling. Keep your abs tight, your back slightly arched at all times, and your arms perpendicular to the floor. 

Pause at the peak of the contraction, with the barbell as close to your feet as you can get it. Then, roll the barbell back to the starting position while you inhale.

Thigh Exercises

Thighs are a problem for several people. A lot of fat can get stored there, and normal exercises don’t help in eliminating this fat. The idea is to perform exercises that will target this area of the body. The thighs are particularly a hotspot of fat in women. 

Once a woman goes through puberty, it’s pretty easy for her to get a buildup of fat in that area depending on the foods she eats. For men, the stomach area is a higher concern with fat than the thighs, although men can still have their thighs as the main problem area. Here are exercises that help in targeting thigh fat.

Jump Squats

Jump squats are meant to help people tighten their thigh muscles. These can be very intense, but you need to make sure to fully come down before jumping again. You can easily lose your balance with this exercise, which is why it’s crucial to centre yourself before you jump again. You can easily lose a lot of thigh fat by doing this exercise in conjunction with other exercises.

How to perform 

Splay your legs a bit, and crouch down. Next, jump up with your arms in the air, and jump back down. You need to land with a crouch. Repeat it until you feel your thighs strengthen and burn. 

Continue until your thighs are fully firm. You can jump up and down 15 times and gradually increase it to 20 and so on. This exercise might look simple, but it is not. You need to put in the effort to jump up and land on your feet fully. 

You must stand on your toes and jump to make it easy for yourself. If it is too strenuous on your feet, then you can choose to stand and simply squat in the same place. Then get up and go down again.

Walk Squats with Weight

This is a great thigh workout that gives your body a nice amount of stretch. It’s always good when a workout can actually stretch you out along with helping you build muscle or lose some weight. This doesn’t require you to hold weight, but it does give it a bit more of a challenge, so you might want to do that.

How to perform 

Start by placing one foot in front while pushing the other backwards to squat. You can hold a weight in your hand if you like. Repeat with the other foot, and keep walking forward. You need to keep the motion going until you feel stiffness in your thighs.

Ball Leg Lifts

This exercise requires an exercise ball, which is an excellent way to add a bit of a challenge to the standard basic exercises. The extra work that is required to keep the ball in place uses multiple muscle groups, in addition to the focus muscle group of the exercise that you are doing. 

This particular exercise will work your thighs, particularly your inner thighs, as well as your core. Make sure to be relatively cautious with this exercise. You don’t want to overextend something or hurt yourself, so be sure to take it easy and know exactly what you are doing before you attempt it.

How to perform

Lying on your side on the floor with your arms crossed in front of you, place the exercise ball between your feet. Slowly lift the ball toward the ceiling using your butt and hips only. Pause at the top, then lower the ball to the floor. This is one repetition. This exercise works well if you complete 3 sets of 15 reps.

If you are uncomfortable with your arms crossed in front of you while lying on your side, you can try bending your bottom elbow and resting your head on your hand.

Glider Side Lunge

While this exercise officially calls for using an exercise disc designed for this type of activity, in reality, you can use a paper towel on a wood or tile floor or the lid of a plastic container on a carpet. 

This exercise focuses on one side in particular, but it really works that one side. Given that you are sliding with this one, make sure you are careful. You don’t want to over slide or slide too fast, as that could result in you falling or injuring yourself. Keep the object you’re sliding on steady as you go into the squat.

How to perform

Standing with your feet several inches apart, place your right food on the disc (or lid, paper towel, etc.). Make a fist with one of your hands, and then cup the other hand over it. Make sure to keep your hands in front of your chest while doing this exercise, as it will help you to stay balanced. 

Put your weight on your left leg, and then bend your left knee and squat while sliding your right foot out to the side. Then straighten your left leg, and slide the right foot back into the center. Do 3 sets of 10 reps with each leg.

Gate Swing with Cross

This exercise provides a deep inner-thigh stretch and will tone your quads, glutes, and your inner and outer thighs. There is a lot of stuff going on in this exercise, even if it seems rather simple. It’s a pretty intense exercise that requires you to really keep your balance and take care of yourself. 

You could easily mess up and hurt yourself, so start out slow. As you feel more comfortable, go faster. Of course, as your muscles grow, you’ll be able to do this exercise more effectively and make the most of it. Just make sure not to go into it too fast.

How to perform

With your feet in a wide stance and your toes pointed outward, bend your knees and lower into a squat. Use your hands to push your knees further apart, which will deepen the stretch. Pushing off of your knees to get leverage, jump your right leg in front of your left leg so that you end up standing cross-legged. 

Then immediately jump back out into a wide squat, with your hands at your knees. Repeat with your left leg going in front of your right leg. For sets and repetitions, just repeat this exercise with the right and left leg alternating for at least 40 seconds.

Lower Leg Exercises

Lower legs have calf muscles that need to be trained and shaped. You need to exercise and train your calves into attaining a toned look. Your calf muscles are incredibly important to your body. There are many risks associated with weak calf muscles, especially for athletes. 

You are more likely to tear your Achilles tendon, which is crucial for your leg to work properly. For non-athletes, there are still risks associated with weak calf muscles, including poor blood flow and not having a full range of motion in your ankle. Let us look at exercises that help you tone your calf muscles.

Leg Raise with Weights

Leg raises are the best way to tone your calf muscles. They will target the exact muscles that need to be toned. All this exercise requires is a weight and some sort of stool or chair with a proper height. It can be easy to do this incorrectly, so make sure you are careful with keeping everything straight and controlled. 

Let us look at how you can perform these to tone your calf muscles.

How to perform

Choose weights that are appropriate for your body. Now turn away from the stool, and place your leg on it by lifting it backwards. Hold the weight in your hand, squat forward, and then alternate with the other leg. Continue alternating until you feel a burn in your calves. Don’t stop until you are completely tired.

Similarly, you can do dumbbell step ups. For this, hold the dumbbell in your hand, and place one foot on the step. Alternate with your other leg, but don’t step too fast. Continue until you feel a burn in your calves.

Seated Calf Raise

This exercise can be done at home or at the gym using the calf exercise machine. Given that it is a versatile workout, it is much easier to do. This calf exercise not only strengthens the calf muscles but also stretches out the front of your ankles.

You might be a little sore afterwards, but it is definitely worth it. Of course, if you have any ankle problems, make sure you can do this exercise safely before attempting it.

How to perform

If at home, sit on a sturdy chair with your feet flat on the floor and your knees directly over your feet. Lean forward, and place your hands on your thighs near your knees, pushing down to add resistance. Press the balls of your feet down slowly while raising your heels as high as you can. Once you have raised your heels as high as possible, slowly lower them again.

At the gym, sit on the calf press machine, and place the balls of your feet on the platform. Use the machine to release the weight onto your calves, lower your heels as far as you to get the weight at its lower starting point, then press the balls of your feet down, and raise your heels as high as possible.

Barbell Squats

Barbells are used to help the body feel greater weight while you squat to tone your muscles. This can be considered an advanced exercise, and you must take it up only if you have been exercising for a long time and have already dealt with all the fat in these areas. 

This is almost solely a muscle-building exercise because of what you’re doing. The weight from the barbell is pushing down on your entire body, so when you go back up, you need to push against not only the weight, but gravity as well. 

This is what makes this exercise so successful. This can also be done on a machine where the barbell is attached. That will make this and any other barbell exercises much safer, as there are clips on the barbell to stop it if necessary.

How to perform

Choose an appropriate barbell. Now hold it behind your shoulder. You can ask someone to hand it to you. Balance yourself, and squat down. You need to feel the burn in your calves and other muscles in your body.

Hip Exercises

Hip exercises are meant to strengthen your hips and the muscles around them. These exercises are especially important for women to take up, as they need to maintain strong hips. 

Some of these exercises will also be very helpful for people who have had a hip injury or surgery, as these will help strengthen the hips and prevent the issue from happening again. Even if you are someone who hasn’t had any hip injuries, it is always good to keep your hip muscles well-formed and strong to prevent any potential future injuries.

Hip Lifts

Hip lifts are a great choice if you have a lot of fat accumulated there and need to get rid of the majority of it. It is best that you perform these if you have a strong back, and steer clear if you have back problems. This will also help strengthen the abs, given that you need to have something that will keep your torso and leg in the air.

How to perform

Start by lying on your back. Now bend your legs. Lift your right leg in the air, and balance your left leg with the heel. You must raise your lower torso as well. Do this 10 times, and keep alternating your legs.

If you would like something a little easier to start with, you can ignore lifting your leg. Lay on your back with your legs bent 90 degrees. Lay your hands on either side of your hips and slowly lift your hips up, making them in line with your knees. 

Hold this for a few seconds, and lower your body back down, but don’t touch the ground. Repeat this a total of 10 times and 3 sets. Just like with the other exercises here, this will utilize your hips and your abs, making it a great workout.

Lateral Squats

Lateral squats are slightly easier, and you can perform these even if you have a back problem. These will also effectively deal with your hip muscles. This is one of those exercises that are deceptively easy. You might not think you are doing a whole lot, but it’s really working your hips and strengthening them, which is exactly what you want. Just make sure to not push too far to either side. You don’t want to tear anything in your hips.

How to perform

Start by standing straight. Now put your hands out in front, and hold them parallel to the floor. Squat a little, and shift all your weight to one side. This can be your left. Maintain your balance while doing so. Now shift to the other side, and keep alternating. You will feel both your hips and your hands tighten. Continue until you feel comfortable.

Standing Side Kick

This exercise targets your glutes, quads, and inner thighs, as well as your outer hips. This is a great exercise that can also stretch you out. If you can’t quite make it to be parallel with your hip, that’s okay. As you progress, you might be able to make it there, as this exercise both stretches and strengthens the hips. This will initially be a lot easier for people who already have a lot of flexibility.

How to perform

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and place your hands on your hips. Slowly extend your right leg out to the side, eventually getting to hip height (or as close as you can get). Make sure that your inner thigh is kept parallel to the floor. 

Hold the leg at the peak for 1 count, then lower back to the floor. The raising and lowering should each take 3 counts. Do 15 repetitions, then switch to the left side and do 15 repetitions on that side.

Side Jump

This is a fun little exercise. If you wanted and had kids, you could do this with them and make it a sort of game. Maybe you could try to psych them out and jump when they least expect it. This is one of those exercises that is easy to do, even when you have kids running around. 

It might be a little hard at first, but once you get the hang of it, it will be a great exercise to strengthen your hips.

How to perform

Stand with your hands on your hips and feet slightly less than shoulder-width apart. Hop 3 feet to the left and land on your left foot with your left knee slightly bent. Then bring your right foot down onto the floor. Repeat the exercise to the right. Continue the repetitions until you have done 15 on each side.

Butt Exercises

Butt muscles are easy to train if you get into the right positions. Your butt is a pretty important part of your body. If you’ve ever noticed that it gets uncomfortable when you’re sitting, it likely means that your glutes aren’t very strong. 

If that’s the case, getting your glutes into a muscular state will definitely help. Moreover, it will make your body look much more balanced. If you have a strong upper body, you should definitely have a strong butt as well if you want your body to look proportional. Let us look at some of the exercises that you can take up to train your butt.

Kick Back Squats

This exercise helps your butt stretch out and contract. You will feel really good once you are done with this exercise. This will not only help you get your butt into the state you want it to be in, but it will also give you a nice cardio workout along with your toning workouts.

How to perform

Start by standing straight. Now bend forward by putting both your hands in front and lifting back your right leg. Hold this pose for a couple of seconds. Return to a neutral position, and jump up and down into a squat. Now bend forward and lift your leg. Continue doing this until your butt feels firm.

Backward Leg Raises

This exercise is meant to help you tone your butt. This is a great exercise that will definitely tone your butt to the look and feel you want. It relies on you using your core and making sure that you have good balance, as you don’t want to fall over. Let us look at how you can perform this exercise.

How to perform

Start by sitting on the floor on all fours. Have your palms in front of you and your legs next to each other. Now look straight and upwards, and lift your right leg high in the air. Point at the sky with your foot, and raise it as much as possible. Hold the pose and feel your butt muscle stretching. 

Now bring your leg back down. Repeat with your other leg. Do 10 repetitions and 2 sets on each leg. If you want a bit more balance in this exercise, experiment with holding out the arm opposite of the leg you have raised up in front of you. 

Try to keep your leg and arm steady, and use your core muscles to help keep yourself straight. Hold this pose for a few seconds before bringing both backs down and switching to your other side. This will also help strengthen your hip muscles.

Pigeon Pose

This is a simple exercise that will help in toning your muscles. You need to perform this after performing the other two in order to add leverage to your workout. This is a great exercise to help stretch and tone your body. 

The more exercises you do for both stretching and toning, the better. It will help keep you loose in the middle of your workout and prevent you from getting too tight, which will only inhibit your movements.

How to perform

Start by sitting on the floor. Now fold your right leg, and place it in front of you. Push your left leg backward. You can stop here or continue to bend forward, and stretch your hands out in front of you fully. Now get up and alternate your legs. You should feel your butt completely stretching out. This should firm up your butt, and you must feel a good burn.

CrossFit Training

Just like CrossFit for the upper body, you can take up CrossFit for the lower body. CrossFit exercises are some of the most intense workouts you’ll likely ever do, but they are incredibly rewarding. Let us look at some workouts for you.

Jack Squat – jumping up in the air and landing with a squat

Lunge – bending forward with one foot in front and the other sliding backwards

Clock Lunge – performing regular back and forth lunges and alternating with side lunges

Single Leg Deadlift – bending forward to touch toes while raising alternate legs backwards

Twisting Squat Jump – jumping up and turning mid-air to land on the floor facing the opposite direction

Scissor Squat – jumping up and landing in a lunge with alternate legs

Do this within 5 minutes, if possible, with 5 repetitions of each. If you feel like your body is getting used to it, then you can choose to continue with it for a longer period of time. There are many other workouts for this, which you can easily find online or by going to a class.

The classes for CrossFit training are incredibly intense, but they can be incredibly beneficial. This will allow you to try new things that are varied with every workout that you do. Your body will easily transform in front of your eyes as long as you go to these classes consistently. 

Once or twice a week is a great way to start, and you should definitely also workout outside of class times. This way, you’ll be able to stay in shape and be ready for the next class. They really are intense, but these classes are held in many places all around the world, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find one near you.

These make up the various lower body exercises that you can perform in order to tone and strengthen the muscles present in your lower body. Doing these exercises in conjunction with other exercises will make your body look the way you have always wanted it to look. You will have toned muscles and a figure that makes you happy, which is all that truly matters. As long as you feel healthy and happy with your body, then you are all set.


Note: Besides doing the lower-body workouts to build lean muscles, perhaps you might consider taking supplements that can support your weight loss.

Resurge is one of the most popular weight loss supplements that promise to help you shed pounds and sleep better. Because studies have shown that sleep deprivation is associated with deficiencies of growth hormone and elevated levels of cortisol, both of which contribute to obesity.

While other supplements promote nutritional factors, meal replacement forms, appetite suppression, or similar effects, Resurge boosts your body’s metabolism by increasing your core temperature. However, before making any purchases, you might want to read some Resurge reviews.

Besides, it should be noted that pills or supplements only work when combined with a healthy weight-loss diet and regular exercise. Supplements are ineffective on their own and are hardly a solution to obesity. 

In any case, it’s always best to talk with your doctor before you start taking a supplement, especially if you are taking medications, pregnant or have any health concerns.

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