Boost Your Bottom Half With This Lower Body & Legs HIIT Workout
Are you ready to transform your lower body and power up your legs with high intensity interval training (HIIT)? Here, Personal Trainer and Assistant Gym Manager at PureGym Cambridge Grafton Centre, Zach Kingsbury, explains what makes HIIT so great for leg day, and gives an example workout for you to try.
Why Is HIIT Good For The Lower Body And Legs?
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training and is, rightly so, an incredibly popular workout format in both fitness classes and individual exercise sessions. It involves intense bursts of activity followed by rest periods and is a great way to get maximum value from a shorter workout. HIIT often involves bodyweight exercises, but many people opt to use weights in their HIIT workouts.
HIIT can give a fantastic workout for the whole body, helping to boost fitness and torch calories (you can learn more about the benefits of HIIT in more detail here). However, it can be adjusted to focus more closely on specific areas of the body, like the lower body and legs.
Here are just a few of the benefits that lower body HIIT could have on your fitness journey:
Builds muscle and strength: many common HIIT exercises, such as squats, lunges, burpees and jump squats, heavily involve leg muscles like the quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves. These compound movements engage and build several muscle groups at the same time, helping to increase strength, tone and bulk your legs.
Improves endurance: targeting the lower body in your HIIT workout will make you less likely to suffer from the ‘jelly legs’ sensation that can be common after leg days. Challenging the muscles to perform at high intensity for a short duration can lead to improved muscular stamina over time.
Boosts cardio fitness: HIIT is not just about strength, but also cardiovascular fitness. The cardio benefits of HIIT improve blood flow to the lower body, which can enhance overall leg health.
Allows for variety: The HIIT format can be applied to various exercises, which helps to keep workouts interesting and prevents plateaus. You can incorporate exercises that specifically target the lower body and legs or create a full-body HIIT workout that includes lower-body movements.
Is HIIT A Good Approach For A Lower Body Workout?
There are many things to consider when planning leg day or lower body focused workouts, including:
What goal you want to achieve. Are you trying to build strength, increase endurance, improve body composition, or something else? Different goals will have different ideal workouts.
How much time you have to work out. If you only have a short amount of time to work out, you’ll need to prioritise compound exercises and shorter rest times.
A HIIT leg workout can be a great approach for lower body workouts for multiple reasons:
It allows you to get an effective workout in a short amount of time, thanks to the interval training format and focus on compound exercises.
It helps to build muscle and strength while burning fat, ideal for improving body composition.
It can use minimal (and even no) equipment, so can be done at home as well as the gym.
It works the cardiovascular system and helps to improve overall fitness.
HIIT workouts work well in a weekly schedule alongside resistance training, so depending on your goals, you may want to combine lower body HIIT workouts with other leg workouts throughout the week. For example, you could do one longer leg workout with a mix of compound exercises like barbell squats and isolation exercises like leg extensions, and one lower body HIIT workout.
The Best HIIT Workout For Lower Body And Legs
Ready to incorporate some HIIT into your routine? Here’s a lower body HIIT circuit of eight gym exercises you can try out.
Including time for a warm up and cool down, this should take you just over half an hour in total and will give you an effective, well-rounded lower body and leg HIIT workout.
For this plan, you’ll work through the eight exercises all the way through, three times. In the first round, you’ll complete each exercise for 45 seconds, for round two it’ll be 60 seconds and the final round will be 75 seconds for each movement.
There will be no rest intervals between exercises, but you can take 60 seconds to recover between each round.
Aim to complete as many reps of the following exercises as you possibly can within the time limit for a powerful HIIT leg workout.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Keep your chest up and your back straight.
- Lower your body by bending your knees and hips, as if you are sitting back into an imaginary chair.
- Go as low as you can while keeping your heels on the ground and your knees in line with your toes.
- Push through your heels to return to the starting position.
- Repeat the movement for the desired number of repetitions.
- Start in a lunge position with one foot forward and the other foot back.
- Lower your body by bending both knees to about a 90-degree angle.
- Explosively jump into the air and switch the position of your feet, bringing the rear foot forward and the front foot back.
- Land softly in a lunge position and immediately repeat the jump, alternating your legs in a continuous motion.
- Maintain proper form and engage your core throughout the exercise.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a light kettlebell with both hands in front of you.
- Hinge at your hips, keeping your back straight, and swing the kettlebell backwards between your legs.
- Quickly reverse the direction by forcefully thrusting your hips forward, swinging the kettlebell up to chest level.
- Let the kettlebell swing back down between your legs and repeat the motion in a fluid, controlled manner.
- Maintain a strong core and use the power generated from your hips to perform the exercise.
Kettlebell Romanian Deadlifts (RDLs):
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, holding a kettlebell in both hands in front of your thighs.
- Keeping your back straight, bend at your hips, pushing your hips backwards while lowering the kettlebell towards the ground.
- Lower the kettlebell until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings while maintaining a straight back.
- Return to the upright position by thrusting your hips forward and extending your hips.
- Keep your core engaged throughout the movement and maintain a slight bend in your knees.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Begin by rapidly moving your feet up and down, as if you're running in place.
- Keep your movements quick and light, staying on the balls of your feet.
- You can perform this exercise at different tempos and for various durations to work on agility and foot speed.
- Start with your feet hip-width apart.
- Perform a regular bodyweight squat, then explosively jump into the air as high as you can.
- Land softly and immediately go into the next squat jump.
- Maintain good form and use your leg muscles to generate power for the jumps.
- Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Perform a regular squat by lowering your body and stopping at the midpoint of the squat, around a 45-degree angle.
- Hold this position for a brief moment, then return to the starting position.
- Repeat the squat, pulsing at the midpoint, to work your leg muscles more intensively.
- Stand with your back against a wall and your feet hip-width apart.
- Slide your back down the wall while bending your knees until they are at a 90-degree angle.
- Hold this position as long as you can, maintaining a straight back and keeping your thighs parallel to the ground.
- It's an isometric exercise that helps build strength and endurance in your leg muscles.
Rest for 60s between rounds.
To build toned legs, you’ll ideally work your lower body twice a week. You can either repeat this workout twice a week, or you can pair it with another leg workout each week – we have plenty of lower body workouts here to choose from.
Become a PureGym member today and you can make the most of our top-of-the-range workout equipment. Or if you want more tailored help to achieve your goals, book in with a Personal Trainer who will be able to support you on your fitness journey.