The Best Leg-Strengthening Exercises for Women
Having a strong, toned physique as you age is important—especially when it comes to your legs. With warmer weather on the horizon, having sleek, fit legs will look great with everything you wear. Plus, you'll be ready for any water sports you might want to jump on! We spoke with Michelle Parolini, NASM-CPT and senior master coach for Row House, who shares some of the best leg-strengthening exercises for women that you can add to your routine today.
"As we age, we begin to lose muscle. Women specifically have perimenopause and menopause to contend with which brings hormonal changes that add to muscle loss earlier than men," Parolini tells Eat This, Not That! "As we lose muscle, especially in our legs, we increase our risk for injury because we lose core strength and balance. Leg strengthening exercises will work some of the major muscles in your body! Keeping your legs strong will improve your overall quality of life."
Paddleboarding and water skiing, here you come! Read on to learn more about Parolini's best leg-strengthening exercises for women, and next, don't miss 6 Exercises for Toned Thighs That Don't Require Equipment.
According to Parolini, squats are hands-down one of the top leg-strengthening moves you can possibly do. She explains, "While squats predominantly work the lower body (quads, glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, inner and outer thighs, and the calves), they are a full-body movement that will impact core strength, mobility, and overall strength. A squat replicates sitting down and standing up!"
To perform bodyweight squats, descend until your thighs reach a parallel position to the ground or further, PureGym explains. Press through both feet to return to standing. Make sure to maintain a soft bend in both knees to ensure you don't lock out both legs.
The deadlift is another compound move that'll work your entire body. It also happens to be the strongest lift you can include in your routine.
"The deadlift will hit the entire posterior chain including the hamstrings, glutes, and back muscles. Deadlifts can be done unilaterally (one leg at a time) to help train and correct muscular imbalances," Parolini points out.
To perform a basic barbell deadlift, a loaded barbell should be in front of you. Bring your body back as if you're about to sit down, WebMD instructs. Take hold of the barbell, and press your hips forward to standing. For balance, push both feet into the ground. Maintain a strong core and straight back as you stand. Then, hinge your hips back as you lower the barbell back to the floor.
Another exercise that's mostly leg-driven is rowing. So much so that 60% of the exercise comes from driving your legs.
Parolini tells us, "Additionally, you're moving through a full range of motion (from flexion in the ankles, knees, and hips in the catch to extension in the ankles, knees, and hips in the finish). This full range of motion keeps the joints fluid which aids in healthy movement off of the ERG."