Get more out of your leg workout

Hi! Hope you’ve had an amazing day so far <3

A pic of Bell, because she looked so pretty standing in the hallway:

Photo 181

We’ve had a great morning over here:

a Bodypump class, 

Photo 180

(found these printed Reebok leggings in the depths of my closet! On sale right now, too.)

Liv’s yoga class, and some errands that were left over from yesterday. 

It’s SQUAT DAY today 🙂 How’s the squat challenge going? Keep it up with your awesome check-ins, tweets and Instagram pics. We’re halfway through the challenge already! Since I’ve received some requests for more leg workouts and tips, I thought I’d do a little post with some ways to get more out of your leg strength training session.

Kick up your leg workout

Here are some ideas to take it to the next level:

-Add plyometrics or cardio blasts. In between each set of exercises, add in some plyometric (power!) movements or cardio blasts. Some ideas: jump squats, jumping lunges, step-ups, side-to-side hops, burpees, suicide drills, rowing intervals or sprints. Not only will this help to increase power in your legs, but will also elevate your heart rate to burn more calories while you’re strength training.

-Run for the hills! Hills are an awesome way to add some extra *excitement* to your next leg workout. After you’ve completed your strength training session, hop on the treadmill, spin bike, or Stair Mill and crank the resistance every 30 seconds to 1 minutes. Once you hit your personal max challenge level, hold it there for about 1 minute, decrease the resistance and repeat. 

-Add in some WEIGHT. Legs are large (and stronger) muscle group, so they’re able to carry more weight. If you find that you aren’t fatigued by the end of your first set, experiment with a slightly heavier weight for your next set. 

-Try tempo variations. This is one of the many reasons why I love BODYPUMP so much: tempo variations to challenge the concentric and eccentric portions of the movement. Try lowering the weight for 3 counts and rising it for 1, or performing slow repetitions followed by a set of faster reps. Anything you can do to create change will initiate change within the body, so have some fun playing with the tempo.

-Lunges and squats are your friends. If you want to get in a killer lower body workout, don’t skimp on the kings: squats and lunges. There are also a ton of variations in the sea! Here are some of my favorite ways to lunge and a squat burner with different variations.

-Don’t stop moving. If you want to get more out of ANY workout, keep moving the entire time. Focus on really working while you’re there, and you’ll find that you’ll be at the gym for less time overall. 

-Allow adequate rest. This is a given, but I always like to throw out a reminder that the body recovers and becomes stronger during periods of rest. You have to do the whole “rest” thing to let that happen, mmm k?

-On the same note, follow a schedule or training plan. If you know what you’re going to do, you’ll be more likely to stick with it. Need some ideas? Check out the September workout calendar here! Also, newsletter subscribers (including new subscribers) received a free 30-day meal and fitness cheat sheet last week if you’re looking for some inspiration. Just click the box below when you leave a comment to get yours.

What’s your favorite (or favorite-ish haha) leg exercise?

What’s something you do during your workouts that makes you feel more successful (aka saying, “CRUSHED IT!”) when you leave?

Hope you have a wonderful night <3




Tips for your arm workouts and more lower body training tips!

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  1. Sarah on September 15, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Pistol squats! And tuck jumps.

    (looks down at the ground and mumbles quickly…and also certain coital poses….)

    • Fitnessista on September 15, 2014 at 7:11 pm


  2. Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment on September 15, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Squats for the win!

  3. Ashley @ A Lady Goes West on September 15, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    It’s all about the tempos in BODYPUMP for sure. I love mixing up the holds at the bottom for leg and arm moves when I’m weight-training outside of the group fitness room.

    By the way, the setting you’re able to use when shooting these photos is so amazing. Is that in San Diego? I’m dying to visit. I’m in SF and have never been down that way.

  4. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on September 15, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    Deadlifts & walking lunges. I hate them while I’m doing them & my legs are on fire but never regret it after when my legs feel so strong.

  5. Gina @ Gina Blogs Life on September 15, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Deadlifts (and single leg dl’s) are my fave! Pistol squats are a lot of “fun” too, lol.

    I love to do tabatas or a similar high-intensity finisher after a weight training workout for that “crushed it!” feeling. It’s funny how you’ll think you’ve reached your limit but find out you have more left to give when you push yourself!

  6. Karlie on September 15, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Every variation of squats! Especially bottom half pulses 🙂

  7. Kyra on September 15, 2014 at 9:13 pm


  8. Amanda @ Slimplify Life on September 15, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    If I can do some interval training on the treadmill and not trip over myself and fall off, I consider that CRUSHING it.

    But some mornings, if I even just make it to the gym, I’m crushing it, oh yeaaah.

  9. Alex @ Get Big, Go To Work on September 15, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    I have really been enjoying the leg press and hack squat machines lately!

    When I push myself mentally to get those last 2-3 reps when I don’t think I have anything left in me but seemingly finish the set and feel the burn, I feel like I “crushed” my workout and leave the gym smiling for the day!

  10. lindsey on September 15, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    I took a full body class the other day and it WRECKED me… which made me think my lower body hasn’t been getting enough attention!

  11. Meg @ A Dash of Meg on September 15, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    lately i’ve been doing treadmill pushes to make me feel that way after my workout!!!!!!!! 🙂 i love them and they are the next best thing since i no longer have access to a prowler!

  12. Erin on September 15, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    Whenever I use the assisted pull up machine I feel like a warrior (in pink shorts :). I love/hate that machine and therefore I feel empowered when I finish killing my sets. My favorite leg moves are kettlebell moves. They’re schweaty and cardio/strengthy

  13. Sara from Sweden on September 16, 2014 at 1:52 am

    I love mixing up my leg work with hill sprints – oh my the soreness the day after!! (I love it!)

  14. lucie on September 16, 2014 at 2:26 am

    I LOVE stair sprints! Actually, I hate them, but they give me the CRUSHED IT feeling 🙂
    Other than that, I love Front Squats.

  15. Sara on September 16, 2014 at 8:43 am

    I actually really like doing jump squats! I feel so strong after doing them. I HATE doing burpees but feel amazing afterwards 🙂

  16. Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed on September 16, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Heavy squats! I love the burn in my thighs. And I dream that one day, if I do enough squats… my tiny booty will grow 😉

  17. Krista on September 16, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Killing the squat challenge! Got my hubby doing it with me. I can finally say half way through that I’m not walking around with a sore butt anymore! HAHA 🙂

    • Fitnessista on September 16, 2014 at 10:38 am


  18. Erin @ Her Heartland Soul on September 16, 2014 at 9:55 am

    I love squats! All my body strength seems to be in my lower half so they’re something I really enjoy.

  19. Tracy on September 16, 2014 at 1:04 pm

    I love doing a combo of squats and lunges aka “around the world”…. right forward lunge, squat to right, reverse lung on right then left, squat to the left, forward lunge on left. Repeat repeat repeat!!

    • Fitnessista on September 16, 2014 at 7:14 pm

      ohhh i love those but had forgotten about them 🙂

  20. Catherine on September 16, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Hi! I love your blog! I just wanted to ask your opinion on something-I see you are getting certified to teach Bodypump. I don’t have any live classes nearby and was thinking of trying the Beachbody DVD set. Have you done it and/or would you recommend it? Thank you in advance!!

  21. Amanda on September 16, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    I love the squat track in bodypump! And I could do deadlifts everyday (if it wouldn’t make my hamstrings cry).

    • Fitnessista on September 16, 2014 at 7:01 pm

      love the squat track too!

  22. Cassie Vaughn on September 17, 2014 at 9:51 am

    3-legged dog.

  23. Nenelle Demos on September 17, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    I used to hate leg day and my least favorite exercises were squats and lunges. But since deciding to do legs twice a week (one light with more reps and one heavy) I am starting to see results and now I love leg day! Although I still dislike hack squats the most!

  24. ellie | fit for the soul on September 22, 2014 at 1:09 am

    Oh, I definitely feel like I crushed it when I perform even 2 minutes of plank+jumping knee tucks. Is that squat thrusts? Not sure, hah! But it seriously works the abs, legs, shoulders (ouch), and gets my heart rate up like crazy. 😀

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