5 Intense Leg Exercises that Torch Fat

Leg exercises are absolutely critical if you are trying to lose body fat and lose weight.

Guys- You are kidding yourselves if you think that running and cycling is enough to strengthen your legs.

Here’s what you need to know.

  • The muscle groups that are south of your waistline are some of the biggest, and most utilized muscles in your body.
  • Due to their size, they are much more calorically and metabolically demanding than the relatively smaller muscle groups in your upper body.
  • When you workout your leg muscles consistently, they need to suck up a ton of calories in order to repair, recover, and grow.
  • Leg exercises get your heart rate up, which is great for burning a ton of fat and calories AND avoiding steady state cardio. In case you hate that sort of a thing.
  • Because of their size, muscular legs burn more calories at rest than any other muscle groups in your body.

Why Lower Body Exercises are So Important for Fat Loss

Losing body fat is largely a matter of what you are eating, but there are so many techniques and movements that you can use in your workout program to make sure that you can get even leaner.

Why you should NEVER skip leg day…

If walking and standing are really important to you, working out your legs should be a priority already. In case your goals are to lose weight and lose body fat, it’s time to start training your legs like you mean it.

Since your leg muscles (glutes, quads, and hamstrings) are some of the biggest muscle groups in your body, they are also the most metabolically demanding. That simply means that they require a lot of energy (from fat and the calories you are eating) to move, exercise, or perform any kind of work.

That alone should be enough evidence as to why you need to be working out your legs more often.

When you are doing leg exercises you get all of the benefits of strength training and cardiovascular exercise, including improved strength, muscle development, and more calories burned during and after your workout.

What are the Most Valuable Leg exercises for Fat Loss?

There are tons of great leg exercises floating around on the internet, but I want to give you the bread and butter leg exercises that are going to help you the most when it comes to losing weight and body fat.

Unless your doctor or physician says otherwise, I recommend that you use free weights like barbells, dumbbells, or kettlebells to perform the majority of your leg exercise. By avoiding machines which will bear any of the weight, you are going to be able to accomplish more work, increase your burn, and improve your muscular strength more effectively, in less time.

Plus, you are going to look like a BOSS by knowing how to do these correctly, and you’ll get mad respect for mastering them.

Without further adieu, here are some of the best leg exercises in the business to help you lose body fat.

5 intense leg exercises that torch fat

1) Back Squat

BACK SQUAT

The barbell back squat is a staple move in leg exercises. You’ve probably seen guys and girls doing these in the squat rack where they load a barbell across their shoulders and get the bar as low as you can comfortably, and then push themselves back up to the starting position.

Video: How to do a Back Squat

Muscle Groups Used: Quads, glutes, low back, and abs.

Technique:

  • Set your barbell up on a squat rack just below shoulder level so that you can safely dismount the bar from the rack without straining your back.
  • Get underneath the bar so that the middle of the bar rests evenly across the top of your shoulders.
  • Grip the bar with tightly both hands at an even grip.
  • Step back from the rack.
  • Squat down by hinging your hips backward and bending at the knees.
  • Keep your weight focused between your heel and your mid-foot so that you keep your knees behind your toes.
  • Squat as low as you can comfortably while keeping your low back straight.
  • Press through your heels while keeping your feet on the ground, to bring the bar back to the raised position.
  • Make sure you press your hips slightly forward at the top to engage your glutes.

2) Goblet Squats

GOBLET SQUAT THUMBNAIL

Video: How to do Goblet Squats

Another one of my go-to favorite leg exercises for leg day. Whether you throw them into a circuit or just do them set-by-set on their own, goblet squats are another great way to work on glute and quadricep development and burn a ton of calories.

If you are uncomfortable using a barbell to do barbell back squats, goblet squats are an awesome substitute. Just keep in mind that you are going to be using more arm strength to keep a weight in front of your body, than you would be with back-loading your squat.

Muscle Groups Used: Quads, glutes, low back, abs

Technique and form:

  • Grip the kettlebell with a goblet grip, one hand on either side of the kettlebell grip.
  • Hold the kettlebell close to your chest
  • Push your hips back and bend your knees to squat as low as you comfortably can.
  • Keep your weight back in your heels so that your knees do not pass in front of your toes.
  • Make sure your elbows stay between your knees.

3) Barbell Deadlift  

DEAD LIFT THUMBNAIL

Video: How to do Barbell Deadlifts

Think of this as the king of lower body exercises. “How much do you bench?” was once the bar by which incompetent, muscle-headed bros used to size up their competition. Some antique broskis still do that, but most people recognize that deadlifting is the standard in exhibiting strength.

Deadlifting is by far one of the most metabolically demanding leg exercises you can do, which makes the deadlift ideal for losing weight and stubborn fat. Think about it as using every muscle available from your fingers to your feet!

Of all of these exercises, this is the most technical, which is why I want to give you a detailed breakdown of exactly how to deadlift so that you can maximize the benefits of this exercise without getting hurt.

Nothing is more frustrating than a nagging injury that is keeping you out of the gym and delaying you from getting to your goals.

If you want to take a look at the most comprehensive article I have ever seen on deadlifting, check out How to Deadlift with Proper Form: The Definitive Guide by Strong Lifts.

Muscle Groups Used: Low back, abs, hamstrings, glutes, forearms.

Technique and form:

  • Start with the bar on the ground.
  • Place your feet at about shoulder width apart with your feet pointing between directly ahead of you and 15 degrees out in either direction. Make sure your shins are along the smooth parts of the bar, on either side.
  • Make sure your back is completely flat, and that your hips are back, with the barbell about 1/2-1 inch away from your shins, while you are standing up.
  • When you bend over to grip the bar, push your hips back before you start bending at your knees. Grip the bar at about shoulder width apart and make sure that your armpits are directly above your hands. Your shins should be lightly touching the bar at this point.
  • Pull the bar off of the ground, or think of the initial pull as pushing the floor away from you.
  • Make sure the bar glides along the front of your shins and over your knees as you pull the bar to the top position. Keep your back flat and your spine neutral throughout the entire movement.
  • Press your hips forward at the top of the deadlift to engage your glutes.
  • Lower the bar slowly to glide along the front of your body, press your hips back, bend your knees slightly and keep your back flat to lower the barbell back to the starting position.

4) Weighted Lunges

STEP BACK LUNGES

Another standard issue leg exercise for building strength and obliterating stubborn fat. If I load enough weight on your lunges or do enough reps, at the end of each set it feels like I had just sprints. It’s not uncommon for my heartrate to get up to 150 BPM while doing weighted lunges, which makes them excellent for burning a ton of calories. They are also great for building muscle because you are virtually using one of your legs at a time to move your body, and the weight you are holding.

Video: How to Do Weighted Lunges

Muscle Groups Used: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves

Technique and form:

  • Start from the standing position with one, same-size dumbbell or kettlebell gripped in either hand.
  • Step one foot backward so that your legs form a wide v-shape.
  • Keep your upper body perpendicular to the ground as you drop your hips and your back knee downward.
  • Go as low to the ground as you can comfortably.
  • Use your quads, glutes, and hamstrings to push yourself back to the top of the lunge position.
  • Do NOT jerk your upper body forward. That’s a way to cheat your legs by giving yourself additional momentum.
  • Alternate legs and repeat.

5) Bulgarian Split Squats

Easily one of my favorite leg exercises for developing single leg strength, stability, and definition. I actually got two compliments in the gym just last week for doing Bulgarian split squats with a heavy kettlebell. Remember, start with lighter weight and work your way up, just to stay on the safe side.

Video: How to Do Bulgarian Split Squats

Muscle Groups Used: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, calves

Technique and form:

  • Grip same-sized dumbbells or kettlebells, one in your right and one in your left hand.
  • Raise your back leg so that the lower part of your back leg (knee down) is about parallel to the ground.
  • Keep your upper body perpendicular to the ground and your weight centered over your front, planted leg.
  • Keep your weight focused back between the heel and midfoot of your planted leg.
  • While keeping your back straight and your torso perpendicular to the ground, drop your hips and knee toward the ground.
  • Go as low as you can comfortably.
  • Press through your heel using your front leg’s quadricep muscles, glute, and hamstring to bring yourself back to the top of the Bulgarian split squat.

Putting Your Leg Exercises Together

Any combination of these leg exercises are going to be great for losing fat and losing weight, especially if they are programmed in regularly, in the right frequency, and the right combination.

Here’s a sample leg workout program that you can use to help you lose weight, lose fat, and build functional strength and muscle mass in your legs.

Remember- muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does. Therefore, the more muscle tissue you have on the biggest muscle groups of your body, the faster your metabolism is going to be.

Here’s how I may use these exercises in a sample workout program.

A Day (High rep, lighter weight)

B Day (Low rep, heavier weight)

You can do 2-3 leg workouts per week. On your open days, feel free to do an upper body workout, do some interval training, or get in an intense metabolic conditioning workout.

Sample Leg Program 1: 2 day program

Week 1

Monday: A Day

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday: B Day

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

 

Week 2

Monday: B Day

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday: A Day

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

 

Sample Leg Program 2:

 

Week 1

Monday: A Day

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday: B Day

Friday

Saturday: A Day

Sunday

 

Week 2

Monday: B Day

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday: A Day

Friday

Saturday: B Day

Sunday

Moving Forward and Getting More out Of Your Workouts

If you want some more guidance on the best ways to lose weight and lose body fat, check out my new, FREE e-book The Ultimate Fat Loss Checklist.

And you can join over 14,000 people on my Weight Loss Mastery Course on Udemy.com.

 

Jack Wilson

Was formerly almost 50 pounds overweight, and now I'm a trainer! I love working out with good people, running, dark coffee and dark beer, surfing, handstands, karaoke, country music, and picking some guitar when I can. Choosing a healthy lifestyle literally turned my life around for the better. I hope it can do the same for you.

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