Shana Verstegen by Shana Verstegen

Leggings are a great way to show off so many different types of strong and beautiful legs. Not only are they comfortable and warm, leggings are also perfect for all different types of movement. If you plan to sport some leggings over these cold months don’t neglect your legs in the gym so you can be proud of what these comfy pants show off!

Before we dive into these excellent lower-body exercises, please remember that spot reduction is a myth. You will not “blast inner-thigh fat” by using the adductor machine, or “tone your tush” with kickbacks. But you can add muscle (and shape!) with strength training and decrease your body fat through a healthy diet and cardiovascular/interval training.

These moves are tried and true, and will not only give you stronger, more shapely legs, but will also help you move better and protect your joints from injury.


1. Jog or walk for 5 minutes
2. 1 to 2 minutes jumping rope (or mimic jumping rope)
3. 15 deep (based on your own safe range of motion) body-weight squats for hip mobility

The Workout

1. Box Jumps

Box Jumps

3 x 10 with 30 to 60 seconds of rest between sets.
Box jumps are excellent for developing power and recruiting fast-twitch muscle fibers.
Select a box height that is both challenging yet safe for your skill level. Jump onto it, and step back down. (Option: Alternating leg step-ups)

2. Squats

3 x 10 with 30 to 60 seconds of rest between sets.
Squats are considered the “gold standard” lower-body exercise, primarily because they target just about every muscle in the lower body. With your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, lower hips down and back, keeping the back ankle and shin angle parallel. Choose a depth that is safe for your knees and hips, yet still challenging (this will vary from person to person). Engage your glutes and drive up from the floor. (Option: Body-weight squats or unloaded squats with a suspension trainer)

3. Walking Lunges

Walking Lunges

3 x 20 steps with 30 to 60 seconds of rest between sets. Lunges target the hip and knee extensors and are a functional movement that shouldn’t be skipped! Step forward into your lunge stance, ensuring the front knee tracks just above the middle toes and both knees bend to 90 degrees. Keep the hips tight and shoulders down and back as you step together with the other leg. (Option: Standing body-weight lunges, or unloaded lunges with a suspension trainer)

4. Kettlebell Hard Swing

Kettlebell Hard Swings

3 x 20 swings with 30 to 60 seconds of rest between sets.  
The kettlebell hard swing not only improves speed, power and anerobic capacity, it is a great glute and hamstring exercise. Select a challenging weight that does not compromise your form. Initiate your swing with the hips. Brace the core and squeeze the glutes on the top of the swing. On the bottom of the swing maintain a good hip hinge as you find a slight stretch in your hamstrings. Keep your eyes looking forward. The entire swing should look like a vertical jump without your feet leaving the ground. (Option: Dumbbell straight-leg deadlifts)

5. Side Band Walks

Side Band Walks

3 x 10 steps in each direction with a 30-second rest between sets.
This lateral exercise is a must for the smaller muscles, which help contribute to hip and knee stability. If you enjoy “feeling the burn,” this is your exercise! Begin in a shoulder-width stance and a half squat, and with a loop resistance band over your ankles. Maintain the half-squat position as you step into a wider stance with your left foot. Next, bring the right foot back to the shoulder-width distance without dragging. Ensure your toes stay pointed forward at all times and your posture remains upright. (Option: Place band above knees)

These exercises can be done together for one great lower-body workout, or added separately to your other strength-training days. Before adding load to any of the movements, check with a trainer to ensure your form is correct.

Now the real question is… what color leggings will you rock?

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