Use Lunges, Deadlifts, and Calf Raises to Decimate Your Legs

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gym instructer doing lunges with kettlebells

Klaus VedfeltGetty Images

The beauty of moves like lunges and deadlifts: You’re always hitting more than one muscle group at a time. A standard lunge will smoke your hamstrings, quads, and glutes all at once. A deadlift, meanwhile, smashes glutes and hamstrings instantly.

That means you can get a near-full leg workout with just a few moves, which is exactly what you’ll do in this circuit from trainer Paul Sklar, C.S.C.S.

Sklar’s recent Instagram workout starts with 8 alternating reverse lunges, which hit the whole leg and push you to finish in hip extension, with a strong glute squeeze. Up next, you do 10 kettlebell deadlifts, attacking your glutes and hamstrings and more of your core than you think, all while taking a break from the barbell. You finish with 20 bodyweight calf raises, wiping out your lower legs.

Hit four to five rounds of this circuit, resting 2 minutes in between each, and your legs will be smoked by what Sklar calls “a great leg day.”

The key throughout is tempo. Starting with the reverse lunges, Sklar keeps everything slow and controlled. Work to keep your shoulders square, keeping your core tight and squeezing your glutes as you both lower and stand. Sklar does this with a barbell, but if you don’t have access to one, you can easily do these lunges with kettlebells; try using a front rack grip if you do use them. Or just hold dumbbells at your sides.

Next up, Sklar does kettlebell deadlifts. Keep your core braced, shoulders pinned back, and focus on pushing your butt back on every rep; don’t let this become a squat. You should feel the tension in your hamstrings.

With your thighs wiped out, you then finish with 20 bodyweight calf raises, again taking your time. Don’t rush the tempo here, but push through a full range of motion, getting a good stretch at the bottom and driving up onto the balls of your feet on every rep.





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