They say you should never skip leg day, and with this four-week challenge, you'll never want to. The LIVESTRONG.com team developed a challenge packed with lower-body workouts to strengthen your quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves.
And that's important, as having more muscle mass as you age is associated with lower rates of death from any cause, according to a June 2014 American Journal of Medicine study.
Plus, your lower body powers nearly every movement you make. "In order to achieve strong, daily activities, you need strong glutes and hamstrings," says D'Annette Stephens, International Sports Sciences Association-certified personal trainer, founder of Fit Pros Black Alliance and the expert host of our 4-Week Legs Challenge.
Ready to build stronger legs? Below is everything you need to know to join us.
How the 4-Week Legs Challenge Works
You can start this challenge on your own at any time. (Our latest official run began Monday, July 5, 2021.)
Each week, you'll do the same type of workout on the same day, but each week, we'll up the ante by increasing the number of reps you're doing (more on that below). Here's what your weekly schedule looks like:
- Monday: The 4 Best Leg Exercises
- Tuesday: Rest
- Wednesday: The 4 Best Leg Exercises
- Thursday: Rest
- Friday: Leg Workout Video
- Saturday: The 4 Best Leg Exercises
- Sunday: Active Recovery
Get a printer-friendly version of the challenge calendar here.
How to Join the Legs Challenge
Step 1: Print and/or Save Your Calendar
Keep your calendar somewhere you can see it, and use it each day to help you stay on track. Do the activity listed, then check off each day as you complete it.
Step 2: Join Our Challenge Facebook Group
Our community of more than 49,000 members is here to support and motivate you through the month. We'll share tips, photos, encouragement and more!
Step 3: Get Warmed Up
Before every leg workout (or before any workout, really), it's important to give your body time to prepare for the physical activity ahead. A good warm-up only takes a few minutes, but it will raise your heart rate, wake up your brain and body and prime your muscles for action.
Perform each of the moves below for 20 reps each:
- Jumping jack
- Good morning
- Glute bridge
- Hip circle (5 clockwise and 5 counterclockwise on each leg)
Step 4: Start With the 4 Best Leg Exercises
Your four main leg exercises for this challenge are:
- Goblet squat
- Romanian deadlift
- Split squat
- Lateral lunge
On Day 1 and then every following Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, you'll perform a circuit of the four moves. Each week, you'll increase the number of reps you're doing:
- Week 1: 2 sets of 15
- Week 2: 3 sets of 12
- Week 3: 4 sets of 10
- Week 4: 3 sets of 15
For Weeks 2 through 4, aim to increase your resistance, either with bands or free weights.
Move 1: Goblet Squat
- Hold a heavy dumbbell by one end at chest-height.
- Begin with your feet just wider than hip-distance apart. (Your toes can point forward or turn out slightly.)
- Keeping your chest tall and core tight, hinge your hips back and down to sink into a squat so your upper legs are parallel with the floor (or as low as you can comfortably go with good form).
- Press through all four corners of your feet to return to standing.
Move 2: Romanian Deadlift
- Stand tall and hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs.
- Hinge from the hips and soften your knees as you sink your hips low enough so that the weights are right below your knees.
- Engage all the muscles of your core to maintain this position as you push your feet into the floor, as if you were trying to push the floor away from you, and lift the weights back to the starting position.
- Lift your chest and engage your lats to stabilize the weights in front of your thighs.
Move 3: Split Squat
- Start standing, holding a dumbbell in each hand. The weights can hang at your sides or you can hold them at your shoulders.
- Step a few feet forward with your left foot.
- Bend your knees and lower until both knees are bent to 90 degrees. Your back knee should hover just above the ground, and your front knee should be stacked over your ankle.
- Hold for a beat before pushing through your feet back to standing with a split stance. Your feet won't move during this exercise.
- Do all your reps on one side before switching to the other.
Move 4: Lateral Lunge
- Stand with your feet together, holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides.
- Root your right foot into the ground and step your left foot out to the side.
- Sit your butt back and down as you bend your left knee, keeping it in line with your left foot. The weights should frame either side of your left shin and your back should be flat.
- Press through your left foot to return to standing.
- Do all your reps on the left leg before doing the same number of reps on the right leg.
Step 5: Enjoy Your Rest Days
Every Tuesday and Thursday, you'll have a rest day. Make sure to take advantage of the days off by doing something active but low-intensity like swimming, yoga, tai chi or walking.
"The best way to recover after working out three to five times a week is a healthy diet and sleep," Stephens says. "You will see more results of your hard work after a good day of rest and recovery."
Step 6: Add In These Leg Workout Videos
To mix things up a bit, on Friday of each week, you'll do one of the following 10-minute lower-body workouts:
- Week 1: Lower-Body Mobility
- Week 2: Lower-Body Pilates
- Week 3: Resistance Band Leg Workout
- Week 4: Leg Day Circuit
Step 7: Incorporate Some Active Recovery
Your legs do a lot for you; give something back to them during your active recovery days. On Sundays, take some time to do some mobility drills, stretches and foam rolling, paying special attention to your lower-body muscles and joints.
Step 8: Celebrate Your Success
You made it to the end of the 4-Week Legs Challenge! Take some time to appreciate that accomplishment — and let us know how it went in our Challenge Facebook Group.
When you're ready, keep your momentum going with a new challenge, such as: