The best beginner legs workout will improve your strength in the gym and in everyday life. And we have an awesome example of a four-move routine that checks both boxes—just take a look below!

Part of the reason this lower-body routine is so effective? It’s centered on basic movement patterns, like squatting, lunging and bridging. By incorporating foundational movement patterns into a workout, you can improve your ability to move safely and effectively in tons of day-to-day scenarios, whether you’re climbing the stairs, picking up a heavy load of laundry, or standing up and down from the couch. Basically, the movements of life should start to feel easier.

“When you’re following the movement patterns, you’re replicating more of what’s going to be happening in your day-to-day life and that gives us the ability to do our daily activities a little more easily with less tax,” certified personal trainer Alicia Jamison, a coach at Bodyspace Fitness in New York City, tells SELF. Basic movement patterns also deliver good bang-for-your-exercise buck, since they involve multiple joints working at once, which is a great way to smoke several muscle groups simultaneously.

Jamison designed the beginner legs workout below for SELF that features foundational movement patterns and will help beginners build well-balanced strength in their hamstrings, glutes, and quads. It also provides sneaky cardio thanks to the higher rep count that will probably leave you feeling a little breathless.

Moreover, this workout is straightforward (there are just four moves) and you don’t need any equipment to get it done. “Building strength should be simple,” says Jamison. Instead of loading your workouts with dozens of different exercises, “you’re going to see more adaptations, more gains when you stick to the same movement.” That’s because, as Jamison explains it, “the more often that you repeat that movement, the stronger you get in that movement.” And once you master the bodyweight version of these four moves, you can start to gradually add external resistance with tools like dumbbells to make the moves more challenging and continue building your strength.

Beginners can do this lower-body workout one day a week, suggests Jamison. Just be sure to warm up first to increase your chances of an effective, injury-free workout. The warm-up doesn’t need to be complicated; try these five pre-workout stretches that will ready your body for any routine.

Ready to target your lower half with an awesome bodyweight routine? Keep scrolling for what may just become your new go-to lower-body workout!

The Workout

What you need: Just your bodyweight. You may also want an exercise mat for comfort.


  • Glute bridge
  • Split squat
  • Squat
  • Lateral lunge


  • Do each exercise for 10-15 reps. For the split squat and lateral lunge, this means 10-15 reps on each side. Rest 30-60 seconds before moving onto the next exercise. After all four exercises are finished, rest for 60-90 seconds. (Of course, take more rest if you can’t catch your breath or your form begins to slip.)
  • Complete two to three total rounds.

Demoing the moves below are Gail Barranda Rivas (GIF 1), a certified group fitness instructor, functional strength coach, Pilates and yoga instructor, and domestic and international fitness presenter; Shauna Harrison (GIF 2), a Bay-area based trainer, yogi, public health academic, advocate, and columnist for SELF; Nikki Pebbles (GIF 3), a special populations personal trainer in New York City; and Francine Delgado-Lugo (GIF 4), cofounder of FORM Fitness Brooklyn.