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A Beginner Leg Workout Routine

author image Sarka-Jonae Miller
Sarka-Jonae Miller has been a freelance writer and editor since 2003. She was a personal trainer for four years with certifications from AFAA and NASM. Miller also worked at 24 Hour Fitness, LA Fitness and as a mobile trainer. Her career in the fitness industry begin in 2000 as a martial arts, yoga and group exercise instructor. She graduated cum laude from Syracuse University.
A Beginner Leg Workout Routine
A woman is doing a body weight lunge or squat. Photo Credit pojoslaw/iStock/Getty Images

Beginners perform fewer exercises and sets per workout so as not to overtrain. A beginner leg workout includes exercises for the thighs and lower legs, but not multiple exercises for each individual muscle group. Only do this leg workout once per week as a beginner, and work your way up to two leg workouts.

Bodyweight Squat

The bodyweight squat is an allover lower body toning exercise. It works the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves and the glutes. Even though this exercise targets multiple muscle groups, it is still a beginner level exercise because you only have to lift your body weight. Start with your feet between hip- and shoulder-width apart, your toes pointing straight ahead and your arms at your sides. Then, bend your knees, and tilt your upper body forward, which moves your hips backwards. To keep your balance, bring your arms forward slightly as you squat down. Stand back up to complete one repetition. Perform three sets of this exercise, starting with one set of 15 reps, then one set of 12 reps and ending with one set of 10 reps.

Leg Extension

The leg extension is a beginner weight machine exercise that targets the quadriceps, which are the front muscles of the thighs. Using a machine lets you use a small amount of weight suitable for a beginner. To use a leg extension machine, sit with your back against the pad, and hold onto the sides of the seat. Tuck your ankles behind the leg rollers, then raise the leg attachment until your knees are straight. Perform two sets of 10 repetitions. Set the machine at the exact weight that fatigues your quads on your tenth rep.

Leg Curl

The leg curl machine targets the hamstrings on the back of your thighs. This also lets you use a small amount of weight so you do not strain your hamstrings. To use a leg curl machine, lie face down with your upper body on the pad, and hold the handles next to your head. Straighten your legs and tuck the back of your ankles against the leg roller. Then, bend your knees and bring the leg rollers toward your buttocks. Perform two sets of 10 repetitions. Set the machine at the exact weight that fatigues your hamstrings on your tenth rep.

Single Leg Wall Calf Raise

This is your beginner lower leg exercise. This isolates the gastrocnemius, the main calf muscle. It also works the soleus, which is another muscle in the calf below the gastrocnemius. To perform this exercise, place your hands at shoulder level on a wall with your elbows bent slightly, and stand on your left leg. Then, rise onto to the ball of your left foot. Do two sets of 10 reps per leg.

Using the wall makes this exercise beginner appropriate because it is easier to balance with a wall. Also, you do not use additional weight or a large range of motion as you would if standing with your heel off the edge of a stair.

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