Lower-Body Workout Ideas to Keep Your Squat Challenge Gains Going Strong

Build a stronger lower body with these strengthening and cardio exercises other than squats.
Image Credit: Fhitting Room

As you approach the finish line of the 30-Day Squat Challenge with LIVESTRONG.com and Fhitting Room, you might be wondering what's next.

During the month-long challenge, you've done countless squat reps and probably tried a few variations that target different parts of your legs and butt. It's only natural to want to harness that momentum to keep your progress going. To build on what you started, here are other few lower-body workout ideas.

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Try These Moves for Your Legs, Butt and Abs

Sure, squats are one of the best, most versatile and most accessible lower-body exercises that nearly anyone can do. But for a well-rounded butt (pun definitely intended), you'll want to do some of these other great glute exercises as well.

"Glute bridges, lunges and some core movements like planks, dead bugs and bird dogs are great additions to a lower-body program," says Ben Lauder-Dykes, personal trainer, FHIT Pro with Fhitting Room and 30-Day Squat Challenge host. "These exercises challenge similar muscle groups in slightly different ways."

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Move 1: Glute Bridge

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted close to your butt. Keep your arms along your sides.
  2. Press into your heals and lift your butt and lower back off the floor. You'll be supporting yourself with your shoulder blades, arms and feet.
  3. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and slowly lower back down.

Move 2: Lunge

  1. Stand up straight and take a step two to three feet forward.
  2. Bend both knees to 90 degrees.
  3. Press through your front foot to return to the start.

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Tip

Once you’ve mastered the basic version, move on to other lunge variations.

Move 3: Glute Kickback

  1. Start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
  2. Using just your glutes, lift one knee off the floor and raise your foot toward the ceiling, keeping your knee bent.
  3. Return to the start and repeat on the other side.

Move 4: Hip Thrust

  1. Hold a barbell or dumbbell over your hips and lean your upper back against a weight bench or chair. Bend your knees and plant your feet close to your butt.
  2. Press through your heels and lift the weight off the floor with your hips until your back is parallel to the floor.
  3. Lower back down with control.

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Move 5: Deadlift

  1. Using either a barbell or pair of dumbbells, stand in front of the weight with your feet facing forward about hip-width apart.
  2. Hinge at your hips and pick up the weight with a slight bend in the knees. Try not to arch your back.
  3. Use the strength from your glutes, hamstrings and core to push your feet into the floor, as if you were trying to push the floor away from you, and stand up with the weight.
  4. Lower back down with control.

Move 6: Plank

  1. Get down on all fours with your elbows and forearms on a comfortable surface like a mat, towel or carpeted floor.
  2. Extend your legs back behind you and push up into a plank, creating a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles. Keep your neck in line with your spine.
  3. Hold this position without moving. Keep your hips level and squared to the ground and don't let your lower back arch.

Move 7: Dead Bug

  1. Lie flat on your back with both arms reaching straight toward the ceiling.
  2. Lift your feet off the ground so your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle. This is the starting position.
  3. Reach your right arm overhead as you extend your left leg straight out.
  4. Bring your arm and leg back to the starting position.
  5. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg.

Move 8: Bird Dog

  1. Start on all fours with your hands directly underneath your shoulders and your knees no wider than your hips.
  2. On an exhale, reach your right arm straight out in front of you. At the same time, extend your left leg straight back.
  3. Return your arm and leg to the starting position.
  4. Switch sides, reaching your left arm out in front and kicking your right leg back.

Pick the Best Cardio for Your Legs

Even when building a bigger butt is your primary goal, you should aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio for the sake of your overall health, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

But you don't have to slog for hours on the treadmill or track. Instead, give one of these options a try — they're all fantastic for your legs and butt!

1. Climb Stairs

You can either find a set of stairs at a track or in your home or hop on the stepmill. To keep from getting bored on the gym machine, switch up your pace or walk up sideways (hold onto the railing). If you're outside, sprint up the stairs, then recover on the way down.

2. Run Hills

Find your favorite hill (or set the treadmill to a steep incline) and get ready to race up it. Sprinting up a hill requires a lot more glute activation than walking on flat ground.

3. Walk on an Incline

If you need something a little lower-impact, walking uphill burns calories while targeting your glutes. Bonus points if you can find an uphill hiking trail to enjoy the great outdoors and fresh air.

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