The Most Important Lower Body Strength Exercises For Women

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The most effective lower body strength exercises for women that you need to include in your fitness routine for strong and toned legs.

How can I strengthen my lower body?

To increase your lower body strength, you need to provide enough stress to the target muscle groups that stimulates a gradual response of increased muscle mass and force capabilities.

This stress would be in the form of resistance training workouts that include lower body strength exercises for women. These exercises should be performed in correct form with a controlled pace to maximize muscular engagement.

These resistance training workouts should take your muscles nearly to fatigue due to volume or intensity. Each workout should consist of 3 or more exercises and should gradually increase training load (volume/intensity) over time.

This gradual process is called progressive overload. Although there are many ways to apply it, this method is required to hit your desired strength training goal.

To see consistent strength gains, women should train legs at least 2 times a week, being sure to work every muscle group in the lower body.

What exercise is most effective in strengthening the lower body?

The Squat, Deadlift, and Lunge are the most effective exercises to develop muscle tone and strength in your lower body.

These three exercises are all you need to hit each muscle group in the lower body. Each movement is a compound and functional exercise that improves lower body balance, stability, and mobility.

Incorporating all three moves into your workout routine allows you to maintain muscular balance to minimize pelvic tilts. These exercises should be the foundation of your lower body workouts and without them, you limit your growth, mobility, and conditioning.

The Squat, Deadlift, and Lunge are best for building lower body strength because they are multi-joint movements that use multiple muscle groups in several planes of motion.

This creates a functional approach to lower body strength training that mimics healthy everyday movement patterns and support our bodies and tasks.

The ability to get so much out of so few exercises comes from their adaptability. The squat, deadlift, and lunge can all be modified or progressed for any fitness level. They can also be varied for different pieces of equipment or to change the target muscle group.

The Squat

The Squat is the most important lower body exercise. This exercise mimics your sit-to-stand movement and strengthens the muscles you use to lift something off of the ground. This exercise incorporates the pelvic floor, making it extremely important for moms.

Everyone can do a squat, and if you feel like you can’t just sit in a chair and…voila, you just squatted! And in that case it is the easiest to master.

How do you perform a squat?

What are you working? The squat works the entire lower body. When performing a standard squat the muscles that are doing most of the work are your quads and glutes. Of course, many more are also contributing but those two are where you are really going to feel it.

What are the variations? There are so many different ways can you perform a squat. If you want more core focus you can use weight and perform an overhead squat or a front rack squat. If you are looking to really challenge your squat strength you can load your traps (usually with a barbell) for a back rack squat. We can also take a wide stance with our toes pointing out to bring more focus on the glutes and external rotators for a sumo or pile squat. You can even elevate one leg for a single leg squat to challenge your balance and stabiltiy.

There are many ways to modify the squat, such as a simple sit down and stand up, or box squat. You can put a stability ball against the wall and lean with your back against it for another supported version. But to keep it simple, just squat to a depth that is safest for you and work your way into it!

Now let’s take a look at the next most important exercise… the deadlift.

The Deadlift

The deadlift is such a great exercise. It helps build power and can be corrective for posture when done properly.

How do you perform the deadlift?

What are the focused muscle groups? The deadlift is a mostly posterior chain exercise. Majority of the work will be done by your glutes, hamstrings, and even erectors in the low back (although in more of an isometric way).

What are some variations? The deadlift can be such a fun exercise because it is so diverse, because at the end of the day it is just a hinge. You can perform it on one leg to test your balance and stabilization. Or try to widen your stance for a sumo version. This stance allows you to test your strength even further, allowing heavier loads. We can also turn the deadlift into a power move with a swing or clean utilizing weights.

If you need to modify, again just work to a depth that is good for you. You can also perform them unweighted. Even further modification would be to lay down for a bridge or hip thrust if needed.

Finally, let’s review the lunge.

The Lunge

The lunge is another exercise that works the entire lower body. This exercise will challenge your lower body stability and balance, especially when loaded with weight.

How to do a lunge.

What are the different ways to lunge? Although a slightly complex movement, the lunge can still be adjusted for all levels. You can stay stationary and hold onto a wall or chair to help control your depth. The lunge can be done forward, backward, or laterally, as well. The direction of movement will dictate what muscles are the primary movers of the exercise.

For a high intensity version, there is a plyometric (jumping) variation if you are looking to train in an advanced and powerful approach.

More lower body strength exercises for women

Although these three moves will be the basis for every workout, there are many more exercises you can include into your strength routine, including:

  • Glute bridges
  • Step Ups
  • Fire Hydrants
  • Clam Shells
  • Calf Raises
  • Wall-Sits
  • Glute Kickbacks
  • Banded Squat Walk

How to structure Leg Day for women?

When strength training, the training focus, load, and exercise selection should all be considered when structuring your workout.

To consistently increase strength over time, these workouts should vary in training focus.

Training Focus : Reps, sets, & weight

Your training focus will be one of muscular endurance (ability to work until fatigue), hypertrophy (mass), or strength (force output). All are necessary in any resistance training program for building strength.

Your training focus will determine the intensity and volume for each exercise within the workout. When planning your workout, remember that volume and intensity are inversely related. The higher the intensity, the lower the volume.

Below is a chart to give a simplified breakdown of determing your load based on each training focus.

RepsSetsIntensity (weight)Rest between sets
Muscular Endurance15+2-4Light30 seconds
Hypertrophy8-123-4Moderate-Heavy60-90 seconds
Muscular Strength1-64-6Heavy2-5 minutes

Keep in mind, when strength training, we should be taking our muscles close to fatigue by the end of the workout. If you are unable to complete the required reps and/or sets, the intensisty or weight is too high.

Exercise Selection

When it comes to exercise order, generally speaking, the more effort and focus required to complete the exercise, the earlier in the workout it should be performed.

The exercises that require the largest muscle groups should occur earliest in the workout. Typically, compound large muscle group (a.k.a. core) exercises go first, followed by single-joint small muscle group (a.k.a. assitance) exercises.

Examples of core exercises would be squats, deadlifts, and lunges and all of their variations. Whereas, examples of assitant exercises would be calf raises, leg- extensions, or a glute bridge.

When determining order, you must also consider intensity (weight used or force output) . Exercises that require a high intensity (or heavy weight) should be done first to maximize performance and minimize injury.

This holds true for straight-set programming. That’s when you complete all reps and sets of a given exercise before moving on to the next.

lower body strength workout for women

However, as long as sufficient rest time is given between sets, you can structure your strength workouts alternatively. This could be with a circuit training approach or a superset approach.

Supersets are when you perform two exercises back-to-back with no rest time in between. These exercises can work opposing muscle groups in a “push-pull” method or can work complimentary muscle groups to increase training load.

Circuit training is when a group of exercises are cycled through for a given amount of rounds or time.

Both alternative approaches are a great way to be time-efficient in your workouts. This is especially helpful as a busy mom that needs to make the most of her limited time available while still working towards progress.

Benefits of lower body strength training exercises for women

Lower body strength training provides support for your posture and alignment, improves body composition, increases metabolism, and may reduce risk of bone fracture later in life.

Aside from improved fitness, why should these exercises be important to you as a mom? Because they are functional and beneficial to your day-to-day tasks as a mom.

Squatting down to pick up a heavy toddler or while holding your baby as you sit. Hinging (deadlifting) forward to pick up toys, a laundry basket, or your little one out of their crib. Standing up from a kneeling postion (lunging) after playing on the floor or changing a diaper on the ground.

All of these daily things you do as a busy mom, will be easier when you incorporate the squat, deadlift, and lunge into your fitness.

How can I make my legs stronger at home?

It’s very possible to get stronger without a gym membership.

By following an effective training routine, you can strength your lower body at home. Use the outline I gave you in this post to structure your workouts and be sure challenge yourself in every one.

If you don’t feel like programming your own workouts, head to my Lower Body Playlist on Youtube for at-home workout videos you can follow along with!

In fact, I have the perfect 4-Week Strength Workout Routine designed for busy moms that are looking for a simple approach to getting stronger and building muscle. All you have to do is download yours and you can get started today!


This workout routine is filled with effective strength workouts that can be done in under 40 minutes. Every workout is different, fully guided from start to finish, and requires minimal equipment or space. Making this the perfect routine for moms that are working out at home. And best yet, it is totally FREE!

Now that you are ready to strengthen your legs, learn how to Tone Your Upper Body With Just 3 Simple Exercises For Strength.

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About the Author

Coach Zoe

Fitness trainer and mom of 3! I love working out, hanging out with my family, and motivating others.

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  1. I love that you included a chart, making it easy to follow! Great post, I need more lower body strength in my life!

  2. Great guide to lower body strength. Another great post, and I look forward tour the next one!

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