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Strengthen Your Lower Body With These 20-Minute Leg Workouts

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You don’t need to spend hours a day in the gym to strengthen your leg muscles. Engaging in a 20-minute resistance training session 2-3 times a week is a short leg workout that can deliver big results for your gams.

These types of strength training workouts also support your health in other ways. Not only will resistance training tone your muscles, it has also been shown to increase resting metabolism, strengthen bones, and improve cardiovascular health. It can also improve your mental health by alleviating symptoms of fatigue, anxiety and depression. The CDC recommends that the average adult engages in two strength training sessions per week.

Resistance workouts are often separated into groups of major muscles, such as arms, legs and abs. Here is a perfect 20-minute resistance workout for your next “leg day.”

Short Leg Workouts to Strengthen Legs, Improve Well-Being in 20 Minutes

To create your 20-minute leg workout, select one exercise from each category and perform 20 repetitions of each. Repeat the sequence four times. For single leg exercises, you can either perform 10 on each leg or 20 on each leg and anticipate an extension of the total time.

Warm-up

Move your legs for 5 minutes prior to the workout to increase blood flow to the area. Here are a few ideas for adding leg movements to your warm up:

  • Walking lunges
  • Side lunges
  • Marches in place

Glutes and Quads

Setu Bandhasana. Young attractive woman in sportswear doing glute bridge pose, exercising on gray yoga mat

Glute Bridge

How to perform glute bridges:

1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor.

2. Keep your arms lengthened along your side.

3. Lift your glutes into the air until your chest and hips make a diagonal line.

4. Lower your hips down to the starting position and repeat the movement.

Step-Ups

How to perform step-ups:

1. Stand facing a low bench or staircase with your hands on your hips.

2. Step up placing your entire right foot onto the step.

3. Press through your right heel, bringing your left foot up to meet your right one so you are standing on the step.

4. Slowly lower down to starting position by stepping down with the right foot and then the left, so both feet are back on the ground.

5. Perform the same movement leading with the left foot.

Squats

How to perform squats:

1. Stand with your feet set apart, a bit wider than shoulder width. Point your feet straight forward, or slightly turned out.

2. Engage your glutes (squeeze!) and drive your heels into the ground. Be sure to track your knees over your feet, preventing them from going too far in or out.

3. Keep your chest tall and core engaged while clasping your hands and reaching forward to help you sit back into your hips.

4. Slowly lower down, bending your knees as if you are sitting down in a chair behind you, keeping your weight in the center of your foot.

5. Repeat the movement never quite straightening your legs.

Inner Thighs:

Happy fit redhaired woman sits in plie in second position with small fitball in one hand and does barre exercises or short leg workouts in fitness center ambience against grey concrete wall structure, dressed in sportswear

Second Position Plié

How to perform second plié:

1. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart.

2. Point your toes outwards.

3. Keeping your spine straight, slowly bend your knees, attempting to make a 90-degree angle with your legs.

4. Make sure that your knees are tracking over your toes the entire time. If they are not, turn your toes in a bit.

5. As you return to your standing position, feel as though your inner thighs are lifting in and up.

Inner Thigh Glide

Note: You need socks on a wood or tile surface, or gliders for this exercise.

How to perform inner thigh glides:

1. Stand with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart.

2. Slide your feet together, feel your inner thighs lift in and up

3. Once your feet touch, return them into a wide position and repeat the movement.

Ball Squeeze

Note: You need a ball for this exercise (ideally a soccer ball or volleyball, but any ball will work).

How to perform a ball squeeze:

1. Stand up straight with your toes pointing forward, keep a small bend in your knees.

2. Place the ball in between your upper thighs above your knees.

3. Squeeze the ball with your adductor (inner thigh) muscles as hard as you can.

4. Release and repeat.

Calves

Muscular female calves exercising at the gym.

Calf Raises

Note: You may want to hold onto a wall or ledge to keep your balance during this exercise.

How to perform calf raises:

1. Stand up straight with your toes pointing forward.
2. Activate your core muscles and straighten your spine, maintaining this sensation throughout the exercise.

3. Slowly rise up onto the balls of your feet.

4. Slowly lower down.

5. Repeat

Hamstrings

Fit caucasian woman in sportswear does donkey kicks drill with mini ball under a knee or short leg workouts. Female fitness indoor in white loft studio with props.

Glute Bridge

How to perform glute bridges:

1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor.
2. Keep your arms lengthened along your side.
3. Lift your glutes into the air until your chest and hips make a diagonal line.
4. Lower your hips down to the starting position and repeat the movement.

Single Leg Glute Bridge

1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor.

2. Lift one leg into the sky.

3. Keep your arms lengthened along your side.

4. Lift your glutes into the air until your body makes a diagonal, pointing your lifted leg up into the sky.

5. Lower down.

6. Repeat on the other leg.

Donkey Kicks with Ball

How to perform donkey kicks with ball:

1. Start on all fours.

2. Bend one leg and place a small ball in the crease of your knee.

3. Flex your lifted foot.

4. Bring your knee towards the starting position.

5. Lift your foot back towards the sky.

6. Repeat this motion slowly, but consistently.

Remember, your legs help carry your entire body through the day. Ensuring that you work out all of your leg muscles in a balanced way can help you walk confidently and avoid pain and injury. Keep in mind that muscle tightness is quite common in the leg muscles, so make sure to stretch and foam roll when you begin to feel tightness. This TLC will keep your muscles happy and your body aligned.

(Images: Shutterstock)

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