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Leg Exercises for Women

The 30-Minute Leg Superset Workout

Too busy to train? Get the results of an hourlong workout in half the time with this ultra-efficient leg routine.

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Squeezing a complete, well-rounded leg workout into just 30 minutes can be a challenge, we admit — even more so if you tend to give added attention to that all-important booty during your typical session.

The trick to optimizing your efficiency without compromising your results? Choosing exercises that do triple duty by engaging the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes all in one, such as squats, Bulgarian split squats and lunges.

The 30-Minute Leg-Blasting Workout

“This is a killer, quickie leg workout that seriously burns during the session and gives some delayed onset muscle soreness in the days afterward,” says Michelle Basta Speers, NSCA-CPT, an endurance athlete and personal trainer based in Wrightwood, California. “It may just hit harder than any hourlong leg workout you’ve ever done.”

It begins innocently enough, with a warm-up pace on the treadmill, stair climber or with a jump rope for five minutes. From there, the intensity cranks up with four supersets, pairing heavy weighted exercises with explosive-style bodyweight movements.

“You’ll alternate between the two exercises, not counting reps but instead counting time, doing each for 45 seconds,” Speers explains. “Rest just 30 seconds between supersets, and do each pairing for two to three rounds total.”

Superset Exercises Sets Time
Barbell Squat
— superset with —
Jump Squat
3 45 seconds per exercise
Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat (right leg)
— superset with —
Split Squat Jump
2 45 seconds per exercise
Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat (left leg)
— superset with —
Split Squat Jump
2 45 seconds per exercise
Kettlebell Alternating Curtsy Lunge
— superset with —
Alternating Reverse-Lunge Tap-Down
3 45 seconds per exercise

Exercise How-Tos

Barbell Squat

Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart holding a bar across your upper back. Your knees should be slightly bent and your toes turned out a few degrees. Keeping your head in a neutral position, abs tight and torso upright, bend at the knees and hips to slowly lower your body as if you were going to sit down in a chair. Go as deep as you can handle, ideally to a point at which your thighs reach a point parallel to the floor while maintaining your natural lower-back arch, then forcefully drive through your heels, extending at your hips and knees until you arrive at the standing position. Repeat for 45 seconds.

Jump Squat

Stand with both hands directly in front of you, knees slightly bent with roughly a shoulder-width stance. Keeping your chest up and back flat, squat down until your thighs approach parallel with the floor and then explode upward as high as possible, allowing your feet to leave the ground. Land on soft feet with your knees bent and repeat immediately. Repeat for 45 seconds.

Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat

Holding a dumbbell in each hand, step forward with one foot and rest your rear foot on a bench, top side down. Bend your front leg to lower your hips toward the floor, making sure that leading knee doesn’t track out ahead of your toes — if it does, you need to take a longer step out from the bench. When your knee joint reaches a 90-degree angle, reverse the motion, driving through the heel of your forward foot to return to the start.

Split Squat Jump

Assume a lunge position, one leg forward and one leg back. Keeping your chest up and back flat, bend both legs, lowering yourself toward the floor, then explode upward as high as possible, switching your front and back legs in the air. Land on soft feet with your knees bent and repeat immediately.

Kettlebell Alternating Curtsy Lunge

Grip a kettlebell by the horns at chest level and stand with your feet together — picture yourself standing facing the 12 o’clock position. Next, step back with your right foot, crossing it over your left to what would be the 8 o’clock position, bending both your hips and knees. Drop your right knee toward the floor, keeping your torso as upright as possible. Return to standing, then repeat with your left leg. Alternate sides for 45 seconds.

Alternating Reverse-Lunge Tap-Down

Stand tall, feet together, arms at your sides. Take a giant step backward with your right foot into a long, deep lunge, reaching to touch your fingertips to the floor. Be sure your front knee stays behind your toes and keep your head up. Extend powerfully through your hips and front leg to return to standing. Continue for 45 seconds, alternating between your right and left leg, stepping back on each rep.