Leg Strength Is an Indicator of Longevity—Here Are 4 Moves To Help Strengthen Yours

Photo: Getty Images/ Prostock-Studio
Leg day can be tough, but putting in the work now can payoff in gains now (more strength) and later. Turns out, overall leg strength is an indicator of longevity, according to research published in the Journal of Aging and Health. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey observed more than 1,200 adults over the age of 55 and found that leg strength was one of two indicators that predicted good physical function in older adults. Which makes now the perfect time to learn some new leg exercises for longevity.

So, what that means is that you don’t want to skip out on your lower-body workouts. To mix things up and keep it interesting, here are four leg exercises for longevity, including some leg exercises with dumbbells, focused on building strength in your calves, hamstrings, quads, glutes, and hips.

Experts In This Article
  • Anissia Hughes, NASM-certified trainer and creator of the Bodyweight Strength with Anissia on the Sweat app
  • Charlee Atkins, fitness trainer and founder of Le Sweat
  • Simone de la Rue, celebrity fitness trainer and founder of Body By Simone

4 leg exercises for longevity to make you stronger today and long-term

1. Front squats with dumbbells

Trainer Anissia Hughe’s 12-minute, lower-body strength workout packs a big punch in less than 15 minutes. Weighted squats and lunges are essential for gaining power and endurance in your lower body. Try this quick and efficient set to boost your strength. The first move, front squats, are sure to get you feeling the burn in the best way. With dumbbells resting on your shoulders, get in a squat stance. Squat with your chest up, sending your butt back, and repeat.

2. Lateral lunge and hop

This powerful move combines the strength-building intensity of a lunge with a bit of endurance work to elevate your heart rate, and it’s targeting your outer thigh, inner thigh, quads, hamstrings, and glutes all at once. But it can be tricky! Watch Body By Simone founder Simone De La Rue’s quick tutorial to make sure you’re doing this essential move the right way before adding it to your workout routine.

3. Single-leg glute bridge

A must-do for full leg strengthening, this glute bridge variation works everything from your hamstrings to your core. Score some tips from trainer Kat Atienza, who says the most-common mistakes people make are having their heels too close to their glutes (which decreases your overall range of motion) and accidentally dipping their hips, rather than keeping their pelvis stable and level. Instead, make sure your heels are finger-tips distance from your glutes. “From there, drive through those heels and send your hips up,” Atienza says. Engage your core by drawing your belly button toward your spine, and float one leg up with a bent knee. Slowly lower your glutes toward the floor then lift back up into your bridge. Make sure to squeeze your glutes at the top before lowering back down with control.

4. Plank climbers

This entire 10-minute core and leg workout is nothing short of amazing. It is chock full of moves that’ll burn out your lower body (a good thing, promise) led by trainer Charlee Atkins, but the plank climbers, in particular, will really light up your legs. From a forearm plank position, drive one knee toward your chest, replace it in your plank, then switch legs. When your knee comes toward your chest, your hips lift slightly to make room for it to move forward. But keep in mind: “You don’t want to keep your hips up toward the ceiling, you want to definitely make sure you are using that hip motion to pull your knee in toward the chest but then to also reset the body down.”

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