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Best Leg Exercises

Work all your Leg Muscles with the Best Hamstring Exercises, Glute Exercises, Quadriceps Exercises, and Calf Exercises

Welcome to our Best Leg Exercises list!

There are so many leg exercises that we had to break them down into individual pages for the calves, glutes, hamstrings, and quads, so sifting through them all and choosing the best can get pretty overwhelming.  Fortunately for you we've squatted, lunged, stepped, and jumped our way through all our leg exercises to bring you the five best leg exercises to add to your Muscle Building Workouts and Fat Loss Workouts.


As noted on our Leg Exercises main page, your legs form the foundation to your HOUSE OF MUSCLE and absolutely can't be ignored.  In general, they also force your body to extract more energy (burn more calories) than upper body exercises, so what's not to love? We'll start the countdown at five and end on the abosolute best leg exercise. 

The Best Leg Exercises Countdown

5. Barbell Step Ups

The Step Up Exercise allows you to work all the muscles of your leg one leg at a time.  Because you step with one leg, complete the movement, then step with the other, you're only able to use an amount of weight that your weakest leg can push through.   Using the maximum resistance for your weakest leg helps to improve symmetry and reduce strength imbalances so your weakest leg will stop lacking. 

step up exercise

Make sense? If not, this benefit is hashed out more completely on our Step Ups exercise page.

Reducing strength imbalances will help increase your maxes on squats, deadlifts, and all other leg exercises. This can also be accomplished with the lunges exercise, a variation of which is featured below.

Variations: Dumbbell Step Ups, Barbell Step Ups, Bicep Curl with Step Up

Need more info? For a more complete description with pictures, exercise instructions, and tips please view our Barbell Step Ups Exercise Instruction Guide.

4. Front Squat

Spoiler alert, the Front Squat won't be the only "best leg exercise" on the list that features the squat movement.  Because squats engage nearly every muscle in the body (not just your legs!), they're great for almost all weight training routines, regardless of your goals.  This particular version of the squat puts more of an emphasis on your quadriceps than on your glutes, which are targeted more directly in "back squats," the standard barbell squat exercise.  

The position of the bar during the front squat also helps to ensure your lower back remains upright and your torso doesn't fall forward.  

front squat

Tips: Include both front and back squat variations in your weight training routines or substitute the front squat for barbell squats as a "change of pace." If done in the same routine, don't perform both on the same day.

Variations: Front Squat to Bench

Need more info? For a more complete description with pictures, exercise instructions, and more tips check out our Front Squat Exercise Instruction Guide.

3. Barbell Lunges

The lunges exercise is a standard leg exercise movement that allows you to work all your leg muscles.  Barbell Lunges are among our favorites because they, like Barbell Step Ups, work one leg at a time and improve muscular imbalances, improve coordination, and build functional strength.  Beyond that, they allow you to pile on weight and work your quads and glutes like nearly no other lift.    

Tips: 

  • Don't step with one foot directly in front of the other, instead step slightly outside your shoulder.
  • The larger the step, the more the focus on the entire leg.  Small steps place more of an emphasis on the quads. 
  • Push off the heel, like squats.

Variations: View our Lunges Exercise Main page for all the variations of this popular exercise.   Side Lunges and Reverse Lunges are among our most popular.

Need more info? For a more complete description with pictures, exercise instructions, and tips check out our Barbell Lunge Exercise Instruction Guide.

2. Barbell Deadlifts

Barbell Deadlifts should be included in nearly all weight training routines.  In addition to being ranked second on our Best Leg Exercises list, deadlifts placed even higher on our Best Back Exercises list (that's right, there's only one place to go higher than 2). Commonly toted as the king of all exercises, Barbell Deadlifts:

  • Strengthen your lower back and core leading to better posture
  • Give you functional strength applicable to everyday use
  • Increase your maxes on squats and bench press as well as improve your grip strength
  • Are a full body compound exercise and one of the best exercises for weight loss or building muscle mass
barbell deadlifts

Tips: Make sure you do this exercise correctly. Most importantly, keep a flat back and don't allow it to round throughout the lift.

Variations: View our Deadlifts page for all of the variations to this important weight training exercise. The most popular variatons are Dumbbell Deadlift, the Romanian Deadlift, Stiff Leg Deadlift

Need more info? For a more complete description with pictures, exercise instructions, and tips check out our Barbell Deadlifts Exercise Instruction Guide or our Deadlifts Main Page.

1. Barbell Squats

Hopefully, it comes as no suprise that king of all leg exercises, Barbell Squats, hold the spot at the top of our best leg exercises list.  As explained above, the basic squat movement engages nearly every muscle in the body, not just your legs. Barbell Squats should be a staple in your weight training routines, regardless of your goals, because they force you to extract more energy (burn more calories) and build more functional strength than nearly any other lift.

Tips: Keep an arch in your low back throughout the lift and push off your heels

Variations: Dumbbell Squats, Barbell Hack Squats, Smith Machine Squats

Need more info? For a more complete description with pictures, exercise instructions, and tips check out our Barbell Squats Exercise Instruction Guide.


Well there you have it! Each of the absolute best leg exercises to add to your weight training routines.

Now that you've learned the best leg exercises, check out our other "Best Exercises" pages, our most popular leg exercises, and other related pages below.

Other "Best Exercises" pages:

Most Popular Leg Exercises:

Check out some of our other popular Lower Body Exercises. These pages link to all of our variations of standard movements:

Final Related Pages


You've seen the Best Leg Exercises. Learn the Workout Routines!
Start at our Home Page.

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