The Best Leg Exercises to Build a Strong Core

Anthony J. Yeung
by Anthony J. Yeung
Share it:
The Best Leg Exercises to Build a Strong Core

One of the best ways to build a lean and powerful core faster is to find ways to incorporate your core in other exercises — that way, even when you’re targeting your glutes, you’ll still feel it in your abs and obliques.

Read on for the best lower-body exercises to blast your midsection so you can kill two birds with one stone and get incredible results. Don’t be surprised if your core is sore the morning after your leg day.  

THE EXERCISES

GOBLET SQUAT

The goblet squat is an excellent leg exercise that targets your quads and glutes, and because you’re holding the weight in front of you, you’ll put more emphasis on your core.

To take it to the next level, hold the weight on just one side of your body — now your core has to work even harder to keep your body stable and aligned.

The move: Hold a kettlebell at your chest with the kettlebell on the outside of your arms and your hand underneath your chin. Keep your chest up, pull your shoulders back and crush your armpits. Stand shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly out. Start the movement by sitting backward and spreading your knees apart. Descend below parallel while keeping your lower back flat. At the bottom, drive through your heels and keep your knees apart.

BARBELL OVERHEAD SQUAT

The overhead squat is the definition of a total-body exercise: It strengthens everything from your arms and shoulders to your glutes and hips. But it’s your core that keeps everything aligned, stable and balanced and transfers force from your legs to your arms — that’s why it’s such a great move for your midsection.

If you have shoulder problems, poor upper-body mobility or struggle with holding weight overhead, try holding a resistance band overhead about shoulder-width apart and do your squats. (This doubles as a warmup drill.)

The move: Hold a barbell wider than shoulder-width apart and directly overhead. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your toes slightly out. Start the movement by sitting backward and spreading your knees apart. Descend below parallel while keeping your lower back flat. At the bottom, drive through your heels and keep your knees apart. Keep your chest high and elbows extended overhead throughout.

SINGLE-LEG ROMANIAN DEADLIFT

Romanian deadlifts are awesome for strengthening your glutes, hamstrings and lower back. But by doing them one-leg-at-a-time, you’ll increase the activation of your glutes and your core.

That’s because, as you bend over on just one leg, your stabilizing muscles have to work overtime to keep your body aligned and prevent your trunk from twisting. (Hold the dumbbell in the arm opposite the leg that’s doing work for extra core emphasis.)

The move: With one dumbbell in your hand, slowly bend forward and pull one leg behind. Once the weights are below your knees, drive back up and squeeze with your glute. Don’t twist your hips to the side — keep them square and facing forward.

SINGLE-LEG BOX SQUATS

These are one of the simplest single-leg exercises to master: Just sit down and stand up. But as you lower yourself and rise up, your core works to prevent you from leaning and falling over.

The move: Start by facing away from a bench or box. Lift one leg, sit back onto the bench and come up without putting your other leg down. To make it harder, lower the bench or hold dumbbells in each hand.

HIP/THIGH EXTENSION

Want strong glutes and strong abs? Look no further. Normal hip bridges — with both feet on the ground — target your glutes, but by extending one leg straight out, you force your abs to work overtime.

The move: Lie on the ground with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Extend one leg straight out and hold it there. Drive through your heel and squeeze your glutes to push your hips up. Keep your hips level. Repeat. Do not use your lower back you pull yourself up.

About the Author

Anthony J. Yeung
Anthony J. Yeung

Anthony, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, is a fitness expert at Esquire, GQ and Men’s Health and gets guys in shape for their wedding at GroomBuilder.

Shop Under Armour

chevron_left chevron_right

Related

Never Miss a Post!

Turn on MyFitnessPal desktop notifications and stay up to date on the latest health and fitness advice.

Great!

Click the 'Allow' Button Above

Awesome!

You're all set.