You can get your thighs stronger and healthier with this dumbbell leg HIIT workout – and you’ll be burning the highest number of calories possible to help reduce your body’s fat stores. See the video lower within this article to understand how each exercise should appear in action.
Your Leg Muscles Are Calorie-Burners
Your leg muscles are the largest group of muscle fibers in your body.
Think of your leg muscles like a furnace. They burn calories.
In fact, the stronger your legs, the higher your basal metabolic rate (that’s the number of calories your body burns while at rest).
It’s important to train your thighs and booty often. The advantage to this particular high-intensity interval workout (HIIT) is that it also burns up fat cells for energy because it combines strength training and cardiovascular cross-training into one highly effective exercise session.
How to Make This Leg HIIT Workout Harder or Easier
This high-intensity interval workout is for both women and men and can be modified to match your unique fitness level.
To make the HIIT exercises more challenging:
- hold a pair of dumbbells;
- do more repetitions of each exercise (up to 16 reps);
- take a shorter break between circuits (1 or 2 minutes – and use a timer on your phone to make sure you’re not resting too much.)
To make the HIIT exercises easier:
- just use your body weight (no handheld weights);
- do fewer repetitions of each exercise (6 to 10 reps);
- take a longer break between circuits (3 minutes).
While exercising your leg muscles, avoid sharp pains – particularly in your knee joints and lower back.
You can always modify an exercise to accommodate a previous injury, or simply skip an exercise altogether. Safety first.
Squats, lunges, and deadlifts target your leg muscles; however, all the muscles in your body can respond positively to these exercises.
Why a Leg HIIT Workout Creates Exponential Results Throughout Your Entire Body
You can walk, run, jump, and balance all day on your legs – but you couldn’t do that on your arms.
Your body responds to intense thighs-and-booty training by stimulating the endocrine system and raising metabolism to provide the required energy.
Squatting, lunging, and deadlifting end up building the chest and back as well as the leg muscles. They are compound movements. They use everything, including your core muscles – upper abdominals, lower abdominals, obliques, intercostals, serratus, erector spine, and the lower back.
The Leg HIIT Workout for Calorie-Burning and Firming the Thighs & Booty
Each circuit has several exercises or “intervals.”
- These exercises are done consecutively, without rest, until you get to the end of a circuit.
- Once you’ve completed a circuit, you rest, then repeat the entire circuit again.
- After completing a circuit 3 times, you then move on to a new circuit containing entirely new exercises.
Form is important. Poor form produces injury, but excellent form ensures leg muscles are getting the most benefit from each movement.
To help prime your body for strenuous exercise, you might want to try a warm-up routine first.
Leg HIIT Workout: First Circuit
- squat with a pulse finish
- jump squat for thighs and booty
- sumo with a pulse finish
Leg HIIT Workout: Second Circuit
- alternating plyometric lunge
- front squat with pulse finish
- good mornings
Leg HIIT Workout: Final Circuit
- reverse lunge
- back squat
- alternating heel raise and toe raise
Individual Exercise Descriptions for Leg HIIT Workout
Exercising your lower body’s muscle groups – quadriceps, hamstring, the booty (gluteus maximus), inner thigh (adductor), outer thigh (abductor), and calf – is an extremely important part of your entire strength-training regimen. Here is a description – including tips – and a photo for each interval within this leg HIIT workout.
Squat with a Pulse Finish
Since this is the first exercise in the workout, it’s a good idea to warm up gradually. Use light dumbbells, or even just keep your hands on your hips without any dumbbells at all. The idea is to gradually lubricate your knees and raise the temperature in your hips.
The genius of ending an exercise with a pulse finish (see video below), is that you create time-under-tension in the leg muscles. Your body interprets this as an indication that leg muscles must be made stronger to accommodate this new way of moving.
Jump Squat for Thighs and Booty
The higher you jump, the harder it is.
Imagine being light on your feet. It’s better for your feet and knees if you direct your energy upward toward the sky instead of dumping all of your body weight into your ankles as you land. You do this, in part, by pulling your navel in tightly and keeping your pelvis centered.
Sumo with Pulse Finish
A key point to doing the sumo exercise effectively is to turn your legs open from the hips (instead of just turning the feet out).
Torso alignment is important. Set your scapula (by bringing your shoulder blades together a bit, and down) and create lots of space between the top of your shoulders and your ear lobes. Keep your gaze directly forward.
Alternating Plyometric Lunge
Front Squat with Pulse Finish
Front squats are among the most beneficial exercises for your leg muscles. Make the most of this one.
The Good-Mornings Exercise
If you’re new to the good morning exercise, use lighter dumbbells (or even, no dumbbells at all – simply place your hands behind your head).
Please remember – while doing good mornings – to keep your lower abdominal muscles and booty muscles activated throughout the entire exercise.
Don’t let your abs go soft or relax your glutes even for a second. If you do, the lower vertebrae of your spine will have to absorb the weight your core muscles surrendered – and that can lead to injury.
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Reverse Lunges for the Booty
Reverse lunges are a fantastic exercise, in part because they keep body weight distributed toward the back – away from your front knee cap. This means you can really hit the booty and thighs without compromising your knee joint.
Deadlift with Dumbbells
With deadlifts, you want your weight to move back so that your knees are directly over your toes. (Unlike squats, in which your knees can move in front of your toes a bit.)
It’s important how you position your feet during a deadlift. If you roll too much of your body weight along one side of the foot or the other, you are no longer grounded and so your lower back has to try to pick up the slack and stabilize you. Instead, try to feel the entire sole of your foot making contact with the ground. This is your base of support.
Back Squat for Thighs
It’s helpful to keep your top rib compressed while back squatting. This prevents an over-arch in the lower back.
Alternating Heel Raise and Toe Raise with Dumbbells
This calf exercise looks easy in the video, but you’ll feel it – especially if you concentrate on exaggerating the range of motion.
This particular leg-muscles workout is a companion to the dumbbell torso workout, which you might like to try later this week to round out your muscle groups.
For Exponential Results, Combine This Leg HIIT Workout with an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
If you really want to get profound results quickly – to improve not only your appearance but your overall health – then combine this booty and thighs workout with an anti-inflammatory diet.
In my coursebook, I guide you through this diet in a series of sequenced action steps.
You’re not trying to go full-on keto (which would be 25 grams of carbs a day, which is intensely low), but you are trying to dance on the edge of keto (at approximately 100 grams of carbs a day, mostly from vegetables).
The idea is to see if this reduces inflammation (it probably will).
Once you reach your target weight, you can always add back in a once-a-week cheat day when you enjoy your favorite grains and foods (in moderation) to see how that makes your body feel.
I encourage you to do the action steps in the exact sequence they are prescribed in the coursebook. You’ll have the best chance of success that way.
Remember, you might drop a lot of water weight in the beginning, so stay hydrated with electrolytes (so you don’t get “keto flu” symptoms).
When, one day, you begin to experiment with grains again, you might consider using an InstantPot to make them, as pressure-cooking is effective at removing some of the lectins (irritants) from grains.
The above dumbbell leg HIIT workout helps develop powerful thighs while burning a higher number of calories from fat cells. I encourage you to let me know how this workout felt on your leg muscles (the best way to reach me is simply to reply to my weekly email update).