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Crush Leg Day with These Ultimate Leg Workouts

Leg workout routine


Getting to the gym is difficult enough. Having to think about creating a balanced workout plan? Forget about it. 

Don’t worry. We’re here to help. Whether you’re new to regular gym visits, working to get off the couch for a few walks a week, trying to integrate fitness into your life for the first time, or starting a serious training journey, there are easy ways to get started so your fitness journey is sustainable, holistic, and physically healthy. 

In this ultimate guide, we unpack the often-forgotten part of the body in targeted workouts—the legs! New to the infamous “leg day”? We got you covered. 

Don’t start your fitness journey alone. Find a club near you for support and expert guidance when you need it. 

What are Leg Workouts? 

Like it sounds, leg workouts are concentrated time working on leg muscles. While many types of workouts can engage leg muscles, “leg day” is about taking time to give some love to your legs and letting your other muscles rest and recover. This type of workout concentrates heavily on specific muscle groups, so it shouldn’t be a daily routine. Experts recommend concentrating on leg workouts no more than 2-3 times per week. 

The Benefits of Leg Workouts

As with any type of physical activity, the benefits you’ll gain from leg workouts are numerous, to say the least. 

Here are a few of our favorite benefits of lower-body workouts in particular: 

Coupled with general fitness benefits of improved mood, increased dopamine levels, and much more, leg days might just become your favorite weekly routine. 

Different Types of Leg Workouts

As mentioned, there are many different ways to engage the leg muscles. You don’t necessarily need to spend 45 minutes trying new machines at the gym to gain the benefits leg workouts have to offer. 

We tend to group types of leg workouts in the following three categories:

  • Cardio. Most types of cardio include movement that definitely qualifies as a leg workout. Next time you’re running, walking, hiking, or on the stair climber, focus on how those legs are gaining strength. 
  • Gym Machines. Intimidating to new gym-goers, leg machines are the most efficient way to train specific muscle groups (outlined in further detail below) if you want to build strength in a particular area of the lower body. Luckily, Planet Fitness has a solution to overwhelming new equipment. Most machines in-club have a QR code for members to scan to view a video tutorial. Or you can view tutorials anytime in the PF App! Simply navigate to the Workouts tab, then click on the Tutorials tab to scroll or search by equipment name!
  • Bodyweight Exercises. These types of exercises don’t require any additional equipment. Next time you’re binging some TV, try to fit a rep of 10-15 squats, calf raises, or lunges during those 60-second commercial breaks. 

And whether you’re ready to commit to bi-weekly leg days or not, it’s interesting to learn how your leg muscles interact with and support the rest of the body and its function. Leading us to…

Major Muscle Groups

Which muscles activate during a leg workout? A lot of different ones, actually! In fact, the legs contain so many muscles that—unless you’re a medical professional—are not really necessary to learn individually. It’s enough to understand that four major muscle groups are housed below the waist. 


You’ve got: 

  • Glutes: The glutes are located in the buttocks. Strengthening these muscles is crucial for hip extension, rotation, and pelvis stabilization.
  • Quads: The quadriceps, or quads for short, are a group of four muscles at the front of the thigh that work together to extend the knee and flex the hip.
  • Hamstrings: Behind the quads, you've got the hamstrings, a group of muscles at the back of the thigh that flex the knee and extend the hip.
  • Calves: And we can't forget the calves. These muscles are on the back side of the lower leg and are responsible for pointing the foot downward and assisting in walking and running.

Ready to activate this leg knowledge? Let’s move to the gym machines to see how it’s done.

5 Favorite Leg Machines (and how to use them)

Approaching gym equipment, especially for the first time, can intimidate many, even regular gym-goers. So, we’ve broken down our five favorite leg machines at Planet Fitness with a few simple instructions on integrating them into your weekly workout routine. 

1. Cable Machine

This machine is a versatile piece of equipment that uses adjustable pulleys to provide resistance. It is wonderful for leg workouts since it allows you to perform a number of exercises to target different leg muscles by adjusting the machine slightly. From cable squats to cable hip extensions, shown below, you could spend all of leg day on this machine alone!

2. Leg Extension Machine

The leg extension machine isolates and targets the quads. Sitting on the machine, place your lower legs under the padded bar and extend your legs against the resistance. You'll feel those thighs start to burn in no time!

3. Linear Leg Press Machine

This machine provides support while replicating a squatting motion to simultaneously target the quads, hamstrings, and glutes. Sitting on the seat, you'll engage all those muscle groups to push a weighted platform away from your body.

4. Glute Machine

The glute machine, also known as the hip thrust machine, focuses on working the glutes. You sit on the seat and push through your heels to lift a weighted platform using your hips, engaging and strengthening your glute muscles.

5. Calf Extension Machine

This machine, as its name suggests, targets the calf muscles. Sitting on the machine, use your calves to lift a weighted lever by extending your ankles. It's an effective way to work on the calf muscles for strength and definition.

Crush Your Next Leg Day Workout

Leg workouts offer a ton of benefits, from reducing lower back pain to enhancing core strength and supporting overall functional fitness. By engaging the leg muscles in all types of exercise, understanding major muscle groups, and embracing the use of a few leg machines at the gym, you'll be empowered to make leg day your new favorite day of the week, whether at the gym or through the PF App.