I swapped my normal leg workout for these four moves, and they made a huge difference

I loved this leg workout, which helped me strengthen my lower body and build more robust knees

dumbbells and kettlebell on the ground
(Image credit: Future)

As a runner, I know the importance of a strong lower body. Without my weekly leg workout I find I'm more susceptible to knee pain, muscle injuries and other horrible aches that hold me back.

This doesn't just apply to running either. Developing your leg muscles can boost your balance, mobility and posture, not to mention the benefits it gives you for day to day activities such as walking, climbing stairs and lifting heavy objects. The bottom line: a strong lower body is a good thing.

My usual lower body routines center around squats, lunges and other leg-day staples, but to keep things interesting I like to switch things up from time to time. That's how I came across this four-move beginner workout from fitness coach Jordan Morgan.

I tried it at the gym, but you only need a couple of pieces of equipment to give it a go at home. Take a look at our guides to the best adjustable dumbbells (this will allow you to easily change weight for different movements) and the best kettlebells to find everything you need.

As Morgan only lists some of her favorite movements, rather than structuring them into a routine, I put them together to make my own lower body workout. 

I completed each exercise for 40 seconds, rested for 20 seconds, then started the next one. After I had finished all four, I took a 30-second break then started the sequence again, repeating this until I had finished four rounds.

Watch Jordan Morgan's lower body workout


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I loved the goblet squat

Could this be controversial? Is this akin to admitting a deep love for burpees? (For the record, I hate burpees.) Regardless, I truly do love the efficiency of a goblet squat; in one movement you target your glutes, hamstrings, quadriceps and calves, as well as your core. 

I also love its knee-strengthening capabilities. As a runner, knee pain is something I try to avoid at all costs, so the fact that goblet squats help me strengthen the muscles that support the knee joint to make it more robust gets them extra points in my book.

For this movement, I chose a heavier weight than I did for the reverse lunges so that my 40 seconds challenged by muscles (without forcing me to compromise on my form). 

I add squats and goblet squats to my routine on a semi-regular basis and feel fairly comfortable lifting more weight, but if you're new to this movement it's better to start lighter and perfect your technique before you reach for heavier dumbbells. 

Each exercise works your whole body

One of the reasons you get such a thorough workout from just a few moves is that they're all examples of compound exercises. These work multiple muscles simultaneously, compared to isolation exercises like biceps curls which work a single muscle. 

As you're recruiting several muscles at once, it boosts the efficiency of your training, so you can still fit in an effective session when you're tight on time. And although this routine is mostly focused on your lower body, that's not all it strengthens. 

Your core muscle connects your upper and lower body and is responsible for helping maintain balance and stability during your leg workouts. These moves engage your core, building functional strength that's useful in every day life. 

It's great for all experience levels

These moves are presented as ones that are great for beginners, and they are! They're easy to follow and Morgan's form descriptions throughout are really help. 

But, for someone who trains their lower body at least once a week, this was still a great workout. By lifting weights that were challenging for me, I got a thorough workout and my legs were definitely a bit wobbly on my walk home from the gym.

To get the best results, it's worth considering which dumbbell weight you should lift. The aim is to find a load that'll challenge your muscles to get through a set, but won't affect your form or cause injury.

Would I do it again?

Yes! I liked the variety of the moves included in this routine as well as the amount of muscles that it worked. These lower body exercises will definitely be a regular fixture in my workout routine. 

Although I use leg workouts to support my runs, you don't have to do the same. This routine is ideal whether you want to build lean muscle, take a mindful run without a specific goal, or just want to make walking easier and improve your posture. 

Lois Mackenzie
Fitness Writer

Lois Mackenzie is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering strength training workouts with weights, accessible ways to stay active at home, and training routines for runners. She joined the team from Newsquest Media Group, where she was a senior sports, trends, and lifestyle reporter. She is a dedicated runner, having just completed her first marathon, and an advocate for spending time outdoors, whether on a walk, taking a long run, or swimming in the sea. 

Lois holds a Master's degree in Digital Journalism, and has written for Good Health, Wellbeing & The Great Outdoors, Metro.co.uk, and Newsquest Media Group, where her reporting was published in over 200 local newspapers.