Leg day is one of the most dreaded phrases in fitness. Maybe because nothing makes you feel the burn quite like Bulgarian split squats or jump lunges. Or maybe because the oh-so-slightly important act of walking can become impossible afterwards. But personally, I never feel more powerful than during a lower-body workout, and especially when I’m squatting heavy. My legs are powerful, hear them roar!
Leg strength is an indicator of longevity; it’s also important to counter our often sedentary lifestyles, since being inactive causes muscles to weaken and become inflamed. So doing leg workouts regularly can help keep you healthy now and in the future. A good leg workout doesn’t have to mean loading up on a ton of weight, nor does it require misery in the moment or after the fact. If you struggle with leg day, you may want to consider lower body exercise that combines mobility work with strength training. Then, you’ll be lengthening and strengthening for the long haul.
What’s more, if you are pushing your leg muscles, your “time under tension” (or the time you’re using those muscles) doesn’t have to last an eternity. What’s important is that you push yourself to the point where you feel like you can’t do any more. Quality over quantity, essentially.
To see what we mean, here are seven leg workout videos under 20 minutes—from Pilates to plyometrics—that will make leg day something you finally look forward to.
1. A 9-minute kettlebell leg workout video
Already a pro at bodyweight moves? Loading leg exercises will challenge your muscles even more. This kettlebell workout will have you swinging and squatting to build up your glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
2. A 10-minute leg and core workout
We’re not gonna lie, there are more than a few moves in this workout that stem from the plank position. But that’s because there’s nothing more efficient at activating your core and your legs than this killer starting pose. Fortunately, since plank variations burn out both your core and lower body, you can target both areas in only 10 minutes.
3. A 12-minute leg workout with dumbbells
Split squats and lunges and butt kicks, oh my! This leg workout uses both bodyweight and dumbbells to hit all the classic moves to kick your butt (and hamstrings, quads, and calves).
4. A 12-minute resistance band leg workout
The floor will be your anchor in this leg workout that uses a resistance band to build strength. From an all fours position you’ll do donkey on each side before moving to your side for leg raises and clamshells. As trainer Simone De La Rue says, “leg day: hooray!”
5. A 15-minute standing Pilates workout
Your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves will get a stretch and a balance challenge (in addition to strengthening) during this quick workout.
6. A 15-minute slider workout
Whether you have sliders or just some small towels handy (you can also do it in your socks, FYI), this slider workout will require you to activate your leg muscles to keep your lower body stable. You’ll be amazed at what a big challenge something as simple like a slider can add to your workout.
7. A 17-minute, lower-body HIIT workout
If you want to work up a sweat while building muscle, this HIIT workout will spike your heart rate and make your leg muscles burn at the same time.