Simple 10-Minute Leg Workout

woman lunging with kettlebells at gym

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You don't need to carve an hour out from your busy day to fit in a full and effective leg workout. In fact, you don't even need much in the way of equipment to target all the major muscle groups of your lower body to help build strength and stamina. By performing these four compound exercises in a circuit-like format you can get your leg workout done in just 10 minutes flat.

What You’ll Need 

All you need for this workout are dumbbells (or kettlebells). The key is making sure you're working with the right level of resistance. You want to be able to perform each repetition of each move with good form, but the last one or two reps of each set should be challenging (but not impossible) to perform.

Having a few different sets of dumbbells or kettlebells on hand so you can make adjustments to your resistance throughout your workout is a good idea. If you'd like to use a yoga mat, you can, but it's not required for this routine as all the exercises are performed while standing.

10-Minute Leg Workout

This 10-minute leg workout is performed in a circuit-style format. You'll perform each of the first three exercises for 45 seconds, allowing 15 seconds to switch between exercises. Perform the full series three times without rest between rounds. That adds up to nine minutes.

You'll finish the workout with a 60-second finisher exercise. This exercise is performed as fast as possible (with good form) as a way to really torch your system and fit in a little cardio.

Goblet Squat

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The goblet squat helps encourage proper squat form because of how and where you hold the dumbbell. This exercise targets all the major muscle groups of your lower body, including your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and even your calves, and core.

  1. Stand tall with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart, your toes angled slightly outward.
  2. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell vertically in your hands at your chest with your hands cupping the upper bell as though holding a goblet.
  3. Engage your core and check your posture. You want to keep your chest lifted and your shoulders back to help prevent your upper body from slouching as you perform the squat.
  4. Press your hips back and begin lowering your glutes toward the floor, your knees bending as you squat down.
  5. Lower your hips as far as you can and keep your knees aligned with your toes as you squat down.
  6. Stop when you can't comfortably lower farther (with the goal of at least a 90-degree angle at your knees).
  7. Press through your heels and return to standing.
  8. Continue for the duration of the exercise.

Walking Lunges

woman doing a walking lunge

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Walking lunges likewise work all the major muscle groups of your lower body (glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves), but also offer a slight balance challenge as you have to maintain your balance as you walk forward with your center of gravity constantly changing. You can do this exercise without weights, or you can hold a dumbbell in each hand.

  1. Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart.
  2. Check your posture—your core should be engaged, and your ears should be "stacked" over your shoulders, hips, and ankles.
  3. Step forward with your right foot about 18-24 inches, planting your foot and allowing your left heel to lift away from the floor. Your center of gravity should shift forward so your torso is equidistant between your right foot and left foot.
  4. Bend both knees and begin lowering your left knee toward the ground. Your upper body should remain upright and steady (not tipping forward or leaning forward at the hips).
  5. Stop when your left knee is about an inch or two from the ground.
  6. Check to make sure your right knees is aligned with your toes without extending in front of your toes (your right heel should remain in contact with the ground).
  7. Press through your right heel and the ball of your left foot to begin rising to stand. As you do so, lift your left foot from the ground and step forward, about 18-24 inches in front of your right foot.
  8. Continue the walking lunge, alternating the lead foot, for the duration of the exercise.

Romanian Deadlifts

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Romanian deadlifts are a good exercise to develop power and strength in your glutes and hamstrings, while also strengthening your core. Form is really important, so if you're unfamiliar with the exercise, consider enlisting a trainer to make sure you're getting it right.

  1. Stand tall, your feet roughly hip-distance apart.
  2. Engage your core and check your posture—your ears should be "stacked" above your shoulders, hips, and ankles.
  3. Hold a dumbbell in each hand with your palms in front of your thighs, pointing toward your legs. Remember throughout this exercise, your torso should remain "fixed." Even though your torso will hinge forward, your body should remain steady, aligned, and with perfect posture—the movement comes from your hips and lower body, not your waist, shoulders, or upper back.
  4. Press your hips back as far as you comfortably can. As you do so, your torso will hinge forward from the hips, lowering toward the floor as your hands and dumbbells "trace" the front of your legs. This slow and steady movement is controlled by your glutes and hamstrings.
  5. Allow your knees to bend slightly as your hips press back and your torso hinges forward.
  6. Stop when you feel your hamstrings tighten and you can't comfortably lower farther without rounding your back (the dumbbells should be at or slightly lower than your knees).
  7. Tighten your glutes and hamstrings and squeeze to press your hips forward and return to standing.
  8. Continue for the duration of the exercise.

Finisher: Skaters

woman doing skaters

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The skater exercise offers a way to perform a lateral movement which also targets your abductors and adductors (your inner and outer thighs) along with your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. It can also be performed more quickly to offer a slight cardio "burst" to finish up your workout.

If you're new to the movement, make sure the exercise is performed as a side-to-side "step" to keep the exercise lower-impact and lower-intensity. If you're familiar with the exercise, you can "hop" from side to side to make the exercise more intense and plyometric.

  1. Stand tall with your feet hip-distance apart.
  2. Engage your core and make sure you have good posture.
  3. Take a wide step to the right with your right leg and plant your foot.
  4. Step your left leg diagonally behind your right leg, placing the ball of your left foot on the ground. As you do so, bend both knees and sweep your left hand across your body and down to touch your right toes.
  5. Press through both feet and return to standing. As you do so, take a wide step to the left with your left foot.
  6. Follow it with your right foot, stepping your right foot diagonally behind your left leg, placing the ball of your right foot on the ground. As you do so, bend both knees and sweep your right hand across your body and down to touch your left toes.
  7. Continue this side-to-side "skater" movement as fast as you comfortably can for the full 60 seconds.

A Word From Verywell

A regular leg routine is a great way to build strength in your lower body, but it's a good idea to work with a trainer when you first start to make sure you're performing the moves with good form. And if you haven't exercised in years, you may want to consult with a healthcare provider to make sure you don't have any illnesses or injuries that could interfere with starting an exercise program safely.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it OK to train legs every day?

    Generally speaking, it's not ideal to train your legs every day, but there are a few caveats. When it comes to strength training, with the goal of building muscle in the lower body, the professional fitness community tends to suggest allowing at least 48 to 72 hours rest between strength training sessions. This provides the worked muscles time to rest, recover, and repair before being worked again.

    The theory is that allowing sufficient rest between sessions supports overall strength and muscle gains as the recovery period allows muscles time to build back stronger, ready for the next session. That said, there's some recent evidence that back-to-back workouts may not be as detrimental to overall strength gains as previously thought, as long as they're not performed every single day.

    In other words, if you perform three leg workouts on consecutive days, but then give yourself three or four days to rest, you may still end up achieving the same strength gains as if you performed three non-consecutive workouts with a day of rest between sessions.

  • Is squatting enough for leg day?

    Squatting is an excellent lower body exercise because it targets all the major muscle groups of the legs, including the quads, hamstrings, glutes, and to some extent, the calves. Squats also require core engagement to maintain proper form. That said, if you're only performing standard squats on leg day, without adding any other movements, you may be missing out on the opportunity to target some of your lower body's supporting muscles, like the abductors and adductors (the muscles of the outer and inner thighs, respectively). Also, a well-rounded leg day should include compound exercises (like squats, lunges, and deadlifts) as well as exercises that do a better job of targeting smaller muscle groups (like calf raises, glute bridges, or side steps). Even adding squat variations to your leg day, like trying wide-legged squats, narrow-legged squats, or pistol squats, can help round out your leg day routine.

  • Is it better to squat with or without shoes?

    If you're new to squatting and you're trying to develop proper form and comfort with the movement, shoes can help provide a better base of stability to help you gain confidence and control of the exercise. That said, if you're interested in trying a barefoot squat, you may find it feels more comfortable and also can help develop strength in your smaller, stabilizing muscles, particularly of your feet and ankles. You may also experience a greater range of motion at your ankles while performing a squat barefoot. That said, studies indicate while there are some benefits to performing the squat barefoot in terms of kinematics and range of motion, there doesn't seem to be an advantage in the amount of weight you can lift. Therefore, it really comes down to personal preference whether you choose to squat with or without shoes.

3 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Yang Y, Bay PB, Wang YR, Huang J, Teo HWJ, Goh J. Effects of consecutive versus non-consecutive days of resistance training on strength, body composition, and red blood cells. Front Physiol. 2018;9:725. doi:10.3389%2Ffphys.2018.00725

  2. Sato K, Fortenbaugh D, Hydock DS, Heise GD. Comparison of back squat kinematics between barefoot and shoe conditionsInternational Journal of Sports Science & Coaching. 2013;8(3):571-578. doi.org/10.1260/1747-9541.8.3.571

  3. Sinclair J, McCarthy D, Bentley I, Hurst HT, Atkins S. The influence of different footwear on 3-D kinematics and muscle activation during the barbell back squat in males. Eur J Sport Sci. 2015;15(7):583-590. doi:10.1080/17461391.2014.965752

By Laura Williams
Laura Williams is a fitness expert and advocate with certifications from the American Council on Exercise and the American College of Sports Medicine.