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9 Best Compound Leg Exercises (25-Minute Workout)

Build strong legs at home with this efficient compound leg workout. The best compound leg exercises target multiple lower body muscles at once, including the quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves and thighs. Compound leg exercises allow you to lift heavier weights and recruit more muscle fibers, leading to greater muscle growth.



 

Compound lifts are one of the best ways to build lower body strength, control and power in a limited amount of time.

Compound leg exercises are movements that engage multiple lower body muscle groups at once. These exercises not only save you time in the gym, but also allow you to pick up heavier weights.

You loved the efficiency of our Full Body Workout: 9 Best Compound Exercises. Today’s workout shifts the focus to the lower body and includes variations of popular compound leg exercises, such as squats, deadlifts and lunges.

Adding compound exercises to your leg day workout is an efficient way to lift heavier weights, burn more calories, and build defined muscles.

two women performing good morning exercise as example of compound leg exercises

Compound Leg Exercises FAQs

What Is The Best Compound Leg Exercise?

The squat (and squat variations, such as the barbell squat, goblet squat or dumbbell squat) is one of the best compound leg exercises. Squats engage almost every muscle in the lower body, including the quads, glutes, hamstrings, thighs, calves and lower back.

What Is A Compound Leg Workout?

A compound leg workout involves a series of exercises that target multiple muscle groups in the lower body at once. These workouts are highly effective for building overall leg strength, muscle mass, and functional fitness.

Should I Just Do Compound Exercises?

Compound movements (such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, pull-ups and bench presses) should be the foundation of your workout routine. Then, supplement with isolation exercises (or exercises that focus on a specific muscle group, such as glute exercises, quad exercises, hamstring exercises, or thigh exercises) to address muscle imbalances or weaknesses.

How Often Should I Train Legs?

In general, beginners should train legs one to two times a week. As you progress, you can advance to training legs up to three times a week. A well-rounded workout plan will also include upper body workouts and full body workouts.

two women performing back squats as example of compound leg exercises

9 Compound Leg Exercises

Build lower body strength and power with this 25-minute compound lower body workout.

A complete leg day workout targeting every muscle group in the lower body: the quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and thighs.

Add this lower body workout to your home workout plan 1-2 times per week to build and maintain strength in the lower body.

Workout Equipment:

Medium to Heavy Set of Dumbbells. I recommend between 5-30 lbs depending on your fitness level. We used 15 and 20 lb dumbbells in today’s workout. Option to drop weights at any time and do this workout with just your body weight.

Option to add a mini loop resistance band (discount code: NML).

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woman performing front rack squat as part of compound training leg day

Workout Instructions:

Follow along with the guided Compound Leg Workout on YouTubeled by certified personal trainer, Lindsey Bomgren. 

Your Workout Looks Like This:

  • 9 Leg Exercises
  • Timed Intervals (45 seconds of work per exercise, followed by 15 seconds of rest)
  • Repeat all 9 Exercises x2 Sets

Workout Outline

  1. Good Morning and Back Squat
  2. Side-to-Side Squat and Clean
  3. Romanian Deadlift and Calf Raise
  4. Staggered Deadlift, Clean and Front Squat
  5. Walking Lunges
  6. Dumbbell Snatch, Rack and Two Split Lunges
  7. Lateral Lunge to Staggered Squat
  8. Fire Hydrant
  9. Glute Bridge March
two women performing reverse lunges

Prefer to Watch On YouTube?

youtube icon Leg Workout

7 Best Compound Leg Exercises

Good Morning and Back Squat

Targets: Glutes, hamstrings, quads, erector spinae, lower back and core muscles.

This compound leg exercise is a great multi-joint movement, involving both the hip and knee joints.

two women performing a good morning and back squat as part of compound leg exercises

How To Do Good Mornings and Back Squats

  1. Start in a standing position, feet hip-width apart or slightly wider, core engaged. Place one dumbbell horizontally behind your head, resting on your upper back and shoulders. Hold each head of the dumbbell with one hand.
  2. With a slight bend in your knees, hinge forward at the hips until your torso is parallel to the ground, or you feel a stretch in the hamstrings. This is a “good morning” exercise. Core is engaged and the spine is neutral, keeping the back flat.
  3. Press through your heels to stand tall, returning to a standing position.
  4. Then, lower down into a squat, pushing your hips back and down until your hips align with your knees (making a 90-degree angle with your hips and knees). Knees push out towards your outer three toes.
  5. Then press through your heels to stand tall, returning to the starting position.

Side-to-Side Squat and Clean

Targets: Gluteus medius (outer glute that controls hip movement and side-to-side movements), hamstrings, hips, quads, calves and core.

two women performing a side to side squat and clean as example of compound leg exercise

How To Do Side-to-Side Squats and Cleans

  1. Start standing, feet hip-distance apart and knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs.
  2. Step out to the right as you bend your knees, lowering the dumbbells towards the floor between your thighs as you lower into a squat. Push your knees out towards your outer three toes.
  3. Then, drive through your heels to push your hips forward, squeezing your glutes as you step your right foot in and return to a narrow standing position.
  4. As you press your hips forward to stand up, “clean” the dumbbells up towards your shoulders. Catch the dumbbells at your chest in a front rack position.
  5. Then, step out to the left as you bend your knees, lowering into a squat with dumbbells between your legs.
  6. Press through your heels to stand tall, pulling your left foot in to return to a narrow standing position. As you stand, clean the dumbbells up, catching at shoulder height.
  7. Continue this pattern, alternating a dumbbell clean with a squat out to the left or right.

Modification: Omit the clean, performing just side-to-side squats.

Romanian Deadlift and Calf Raise

Targets: The posterior chain or backside of the body. Specifically targeting the hamstrings, glutes, hips and calves.

Calf exercises, like the calf raise, are an excellent way to protect the knee joint from pain and injury.

two women performing a romanian deadlift and calf raise as part of compound leg workout

How To Do Romanian Deadlifts with Calf Raises

  1. Start standing feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent. Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your body (overhand grip, palms face your body).
  2. Hinge forward at the hips, pushing your hips back as you lower the dumbbells down along the front of your body. You should feel a stretch in the back of your legs (hamstrings). Focus on keeping your back in neutral alignment with your neck and shoulders throughout the entire movement. Keep a slight bend in your knees to avoid ‘locking out’ the joint.
  3. Drive through your heels to push your hips forward; squeezing your glutes as you return to a standing position.
  4. Once standing, lift your heels off the mat, transferring your weight to the balls of your feet (toes), performing a calf raise.
  5. Lower your heels back to the mat with control, returning to the starting position.
  6. Continue this pattern, alternating one deadlift with one calf raise.

Staggered Deadlift, Clean and Front Squat

Targets: Glutes, hamstrings, hips, quads, calves, trapezius, deltoids, lower back, abs and core.

A great low impact exercise to add explosive power to strength training.

two women performing a staggered deadlift and clean squat as example of compound leg exercise

How To Do Staggered Deadlifts, Cleans and Front Squats

  1. Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold one dumbbell in your left hand in front of your body, palm facing in.
  2. Stagger your feet, so your right leg is slightly in front of your left foot. Kickstand your back left foot, left heel floating off the ground. Keep 80% of your weight in your front foot, 20% in your back left toe.
  3. Maintain a staggered stance as you hinge at the hips. Pushing your hips back towards the wall behind you as you glide the dumbbells down the front of your legs; core tight.
  4. Then, drive through your heels to stand tall, bringing your left foot parallel to your right foot.
  5. As you stand, bring the dumbbell up towards your chest (this is the “clean” portion of the clean squat). Catch the dumbbell at your left shoulder.
  6. Lower down into a squat position, lowering your hips down parallel to your knees. Both knees bent at 90 degree angles. Drive your knees out toward your outer three toes.
  7. Drive through your heels to stand tall again, finding a staggered stance again by stepping your left foot back.
  8. Continue this pattern, alternating one staggered deadlift with a dumbbell clean and front squat.

Modification: Omit the clean, performing alternating staggered deadlifts and uneven squats.

Walking Lunges

Targets: Legs, quads, glutes, hamstrings, inner thighs and core.

Walking lunges are a dynamic movement that improve balance and coordination in addition to building lower body strength.

two women performing walking lunges as part of compound leg workout

How To Do Walking Lunges

  1. Start by standing at the back of your space, feet hip-distance apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing in towards each other (hammer curl grip).
  2. Step your right leg forward into a front lunge, dropping your back left knee down towards the ground as you lower your hips until both knees reach a 90-degree angle, front thigh is parallel to the floor.
  3. Drive through the front right heel to stand tall and rather than stopping at the top, immediately step your left leg into a front lunge. Drop your back right knee down towards the ground as you lower your hips until both knees reach a 90-degree angle, front thigh parallel to the floor.
  4. Repeat alternating front lunges as you move forward in a walking motion.

Modification: Stay in place, performing alternating reverse lunges instead of walking lunges.

Dumbbell Snatch, Rack and Reverse Lunge

Targets: Legs, hamstrings, hips, glutes, back, shoulders and deep transverse abdomen (core muscles).

The single arm dumbbell snatch is a compound exercise that works the full body and improves coordination, explosiveness and strength. 

snatch and reverse lunge compound movement for lower body

How To Do Dumbbell Snatches, Front Racks and Reverse Lunges

  1. Start standing, feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Place a dumbbell on the floor between your feet.
  2. Hinge forward at the hips, pushing your hips back towards the wall behind you as you lower down, reaching for the dumbbell with your right hand.
  3. Then, drive your hips forward as you ‘snatch’ the weight overhead with your right arm. Use the power and momentum created by your legs and hips to drive the weight overhead. You should finish standing tall with your right arm straight overhead, right bicep near your right ear.
  4. Slowly lower the dumbbell to your right shoulder, finding a front rack position.
  5. Then, step your right leg back, bending both knees at 90 degree angles to lower into a reverse lunge.
  6. Press through your front left heel to step your right leg forward to meet your left foot, standing tall and returning to starting position.

Modification: Omit the snatch, performing dumbbell cleans instead.

Lateral Lunge to Staggered Squat

Targets: Legs, glutes, quads, hips, hamstrings, outer glutes (gluteus medius), inner thighs and core.

Transferring the weight from one leg to the other also engages your deep core stabilizing muscles.

lateral lunge and staggered squat compound leg workout

How To Do Lateral Lunges to Staggered Squats

  1. Start standing, feet hip-width apart, slightly bent knees. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, palms facing in.
  2. Stagger your feet, so your left leg is slightly in front of your right foot. Kickstand your back right foot, right heel floating off the ground. Keep 80% of your weight in your front foot, 20% in your back left toe.
  3. Step your right leg out to the side as you push your hips back, bending your right knee while leaving your left leg straight. Think of performing a single leg squat with your right leg while your left leg remains straight. Knees and toes are pointing forward. Frame your right leg with your dumbbells.
  4. Then, drive off your right foot to reverse the movement, pushing back to center and returning to a staggered stance.
  5. Sit your hips back, bending both knees until your thighs are parallel to the ground, performing a staggered squat.
  6. Press through your heels to stand tall, returning to starting position.

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