Whenever we hear the words thighs and exercise in the same sentence, squats are usually the first thing that come to mind. For as long as we can remember, that’s been the go-to move for firming up our legs and lifting our backsides, but time has taught us that there are plenty of other ways to fire up those muscles without getting too bored or too tired. Whether you’re in the gym, on the go, or at home with limited space, we’ve got a compact set of moves that’ll build up your leg strength and get you excited to show off those gams this summer season.
According to Thumbtack personal trainer Kaitlyn Noble—who put together this time-efficient workout—all of the moves can be done without equipment. And if you want to make it a little more challenging, add reps or hold 5–15-pound dumbbells while performing each move. Get ready to feel the burn.
Step into a wide plié squat and sink hips low so they are in line with knees (knees should track directly above ankles). Pulse down and up (one inch, small movements) 25 times.
Stand with feet under hips. Keep both legs straight and slowly lift your right leg up as high as you can (preferably to hip height), then slowly lower down. Repeat full range movement for 15 reps, then hold at top and pulse 15 times. Repeat on another side.
Stand with heels together and a gentle turn-out in your toes. Step your right foot back (keeping both legs turned out) so that your right knee comes in line with your left heel. Step your right foot back to the starting position and then immediately repeat on left side. Repeat 20 times.
Start on your knees with shoulders over hips and hips over knees. Keep your shoulders over hips, and slowly lower hips so that your glutes are 1 to 3 inches above your heels. Lift and lower hips in 1-inch pulses, using the strength of your thighs to keep your hips floating above your heels. Repeat 25 times.
Start in a low lunge (front knee over your ankle, back knee under your hip). Pulse twice, then jump in the air simultaneously switching legs so that you land with the opposite leg forward. Repeat 16 times.