You only need 10 minutes to build lower body strength—Here's how

Work your legs and train your core with this short, high-intensity session

Woman holding a squat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Most muscle-building workouts focus on your core and upper body but have few dedicated leg exercises. This isn't a surprise—people don't enjoy leg day—but you don't need only to work your leg muscles to build lower body strength.

One of the best leg workouts is squats, a seemingly simple move with huge benefits. Lowering down into an almost seated position works multiple muscles at once, including your legs, glutes, abs and lower back.

Although the standard squat is an effective way to get stronger, you can vary your training with this 10-minute leg workout. The short session includes several squat variations to exercise your lower body and work your core.

But you won't spend the whole 10 minutes squatting. Instead, Maddie Lymburner—the trainer behind popular YouTube fitness channel MadFit—keeps things interesting with a few other bodyweight moves like lunges and calf raises. 

It's a high-intensity routine, so you'll train hard for 30 or 45 seconds per move. After some exercises, there's a short rest, but there are also times you'll go straight into the next activity.

Watch MadFit's 10-minute leg workout

You don't need any equipment for MadFit's short session, which makes it an ideal choice when you're short on time, traveling, or just want to fit a quick leg workout into your day.

But if you do have a kettlebell at home (or you have access to a gym with one), then you can shake things up by doing a few rounds of kettlebell swings, a strength-building multi-muscle exercise.

The move helps train your lower body, as you need a stable base to swing the weight, but it also develops core strength as the weighted swinging motion requires balance, stability, and mid-body strength.

It's essential to activate your core to stop your back arching, so it's worth taking a refresher on how to do a kettlebell swing before you get started to focus on your form and avoid injury.

It might be that strength training and bodyweight exercises aren't really your thing; that's okay, as there are other ways to develop leg strength. If you're a fan of cardio exercise, you might have wondered does running build leg muscle?

There's growing evidence that running can build lower body muscle; the key is to vary your running style and intensity. If you're a keen runner, consider adding a bit of lower-body strength training to your routine every now and then, such as this quick workout.

James Frew
Fitness Editor

James is a London-based journalist and Fitness Editor at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.

In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.