7 Easy Lower-Body Exercises That Melt Fat
Are you looking for a simple, efficient way to tone your legs, butt, and thighs? If so, look no further than these stellar lower-body exercises that sculpt and strengthen your lower half while burning fat. Whether your fitness goal is to slim down or tone up, there's no shortage of lower-body exercises to lose fat you can do at the gym or comfort of your home.
Fortunately, we spoke with Kemma Cunningham, CPT, an ACE-certified personal trainer with Life Time, who shares seven of the best lower-body exercises that are both effective and easy to do. And the best part? They'll torch calories while working your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves for a strong, lean lower body.
However, we here at Eat This, Not That! understand that finding the time to work out can be tricky—especially if you have a busy schedule. That's why we've chosen exercises that are easy to perform and require minimal equipment, making it possible for you to do them anytime, anywhere. Plus, we've provided step-by-step instructions and tips to help you get the most out of each exercise.
Keep reading for Cunningham's seven lower-body exercises to lose fat, tone your leg muscles, and achieve your fitness goals. Then, check out The Best Daily Workout To Maintain Lower-Body Strength As You Age.
1. Jump Squats
Jump squats are a plyometric exercise that involves jumping explosively from a squatting position. According to WebMD, this exercise targets your quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and even your abs, providing an excellent full-body workout. Plus, its high-intensity nature helps increase the calorie burn.
To perform the exercise, Cunningham says, "Lower into a seated squat position, and jump back up as high as you can. Lower your arms as you jump up, and bring them back toward your chest as you lower. Keep your back straight, and don't let your knees go past your toes as you squat."
2. Jumping Lunges
The jumping lunge is a challenging exercise that combines lunges and plyometric movements (jumping) to engage your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves, making it a fantastic lower-body workout. In addition, the explosive jumping motion helps boost your heart rate and increases your metabolic rate to promote fat loss.
"Step forward with your right foot, and lower your body so that your left knee is bent at a 90-degree angle and your right knee is just above the ground. Push off your right foot and jump up, switching legs in mid-air. Land with your left foot forward and sink into the lunge position," instructs Cunningham.
3. Butterfly Squats
Butterfly squats are a unique variation of the traditional squat that targets the inner thighs, quads, glutes, and hamstrings, says the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). This is a top-notch fat-burning exercise that can help you sculpt toned legs.
Cunningham says, "Bring your feet shoulder-width apart, squat down, and while down, open up the knees and feet to a 45-degree angle. Bring it back straight, and then come down with knees pointing forward. Alternate knee position in between squats."
4. Good Mornings
The "good morning" is a lower back and hamstring exercise that works your glutes to develop lower-body strength and enhance posture, according to MasterClass. Plus, this low-impact exercise will help you burn calories and fat.
"Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Place a barbell onto your upper back so the bar rests on the trap muscles. Brace your upper back and core, hinge sending your hips backward and maintaining upper back extension as your chest comes forward. Come back up by extending your hips forward and engaging your hamstrings. Drive your upper body up and back," says Cunningham.
5. Curtsy Lunge Pulses
The curtsy lunge pulse is a lunge variation that targets the quads, hamstrings, and glutes, Sworkit explains. This movement can help tone and shape your legs, boost your balance and coordination, burn fat, and build lean muscle mass.
"Start standing tall with feet at shoulder width. Take a large step back and to the left with your right foot. Your right foot should land behind and outside your left foot. Bend your knees, and lunge," states Cunningham. "Your right knee should move close, but not touch, the floor. Keep your hands together close to your chest. Pulse your right knee up and down a few inches. Step your right foot back to the starting position."
6. High Knees
High knees are a cardio exercise that helps burn fat while giving your leg muscle strength a solid boost.
To perform, Cunningham instructs, "Start with your feet slightly apart, with your weight centered over the balls of your feet. Next, lift your left knee as high as possible, and bring your heel toward your glutes. Next, drive your left knee and foot back toward the ground as you lift your right knee as high as possible and bring the right heel toward your glutes."
7. Bulgarian Split Squats
The Bulgarian split squat is a challenging exercise involving standing with one foot forward and the other behind you on a bench or raised surface. According to the NASM, these will target your quads and glutes, making them a perfect addition to any lower-body workout. Plus, the high intensity will help boost your metabolism and fat-burning.
"Find a platform where you can rest your back leg. Stand approximately two feet away from the platform. Lift your back leg, and place the back foot on the bench. Begin the descent by going straight down. While your knee can travel forward, it should always track with your toes. Drive your front foot into the ground to propel your body up," says Cunningham.