Unlocking Lower Body Strength: The Top 3 Lower Body Exercises for Women

A strong lower body is essential for women, not just for aesthetic purposes but also for overall health and functional movement.

It can boost confidence, improve athletic performance, and enhance everyday activities.

To unlock the full potential of your lower body, incorporating effective exercises into your fitness routine is crucial.

In this blog post, we will delve into the top three lower body exercises for women.

However, instead of just picking 3, which is hard to do.

I’ll pick 3 from each main lower body movement pattern that target key muscle groups, promote strength and stability, and yield remarkable well rounded results.

The 3 main lower body movements are:

1. Squat / Split Squat / Lunge Pattern – also known as knee dominant movements that usually targets the quads, glutes and adductors.

2. Thrust / Bridge Pattern – targeting the glutes with a little bit of quads and hamstrings (depending on the variation).

3. Hip Hinge Pattern – targeting the glutes, hamstrings and lower back.

Let’s get into our first movement pattern…

Squats / Split Squat / Lunge Pattern: Empowering Your Lower Body

Squats and split squats are often considered the holy grail of lower body exercises for women.

They engage multiple muscle groups simultaneously, including the quadriceps, glutes, adductors and core, making them a highly efficient exercise for overall lower body strength.

1.1 Back Squat: The back squat, performed with a barbell, is a classic compound movement that emphasizes the glutes, quadriceps, and adductors – no the back squat doesn’t target the hamstrings.

There’s many variations of the squat such as – high back, low bar, front squat, zercher squat, goblet squat, hack squat, pendulum squat, v-squat machine and smith machine squat.

They are all great variations with slight different benefits, your choice will come down to equipment availability, body structure and goals.

Here’s some technique tips:

1.2 Bulgarian Split Squat: The Bulgarian split squat (BSS) is an excellent alternative for those who can’t or don’t want to back squat.

I’ve personally had 4 knee reconstructions and don’t squat too often these days, so I do these instead, they are my ‘squat’.

They are slightly more advanced and difficult to perform but they are worth it. You’ll feel both the front and back leg working.

Here’s how to find your BSS range of motion:

1.3 Deficit Reverse Lunges: Deficit reverse lunges are a fantastic dynamic movement that targets the glutes with some quads.

Be sure to be explosive out of the bottom and I really like the idea of performing them from a deficit to provide extra range of motion.

Here’s how to do them:

2. Hip Thrusts / Bridge Pattern: Igniting Glute Power

The hip thrust and bridge pattern purpose is to train the glutes in the short position, something we don’t get from our squat / split squat pattern and most hip hinge exercises.

Hip thrusts have gained significant popularity in recent years due to their unmatched ability to activate and strengthen the glute muscles.

These exercises offer remarkable benefits for women, particularly in shaping and lifting the glute while enhancing overall lower body strength.

2.1 Barbell Hip Thrust: The barbell hip thrust is the gold standard for targeting the glutes as well as including a bit of quads and hamstrings.

Here’s a 3 Month Hip Thrust Program:

2.2 KAS Glute Bridge: The glute bridge is a fundamental movement that lays the foundation for hip thrusts.

It’s a smaller range of motion compared to the thrust and purely isolates the glutes with very little quads, hamstring and adductor activation.

Here’s 2 KAS Glute Bridge Tips:

2.3 Single-Leg Hip Thrust: The single-leg hip thrust takes the glute activation to the next level.

By isolating each side of the body, this exercise helps address imbalances and requires more stability, which means the glute medius really has to work!

Here’s the best way I’ve found to load the single leg hip thrust:

3. Hip Hinge Pattern: Strengthening the Posterior Chain

3.1 Romanian Deadlift (RDL): RDL are a highly effective exercise for targeting the glutes in the lengthened position, they also hit the hamstrings, and lower back.

Fun fact, I’ve done over 200 feedback videos on how to do an RDL for people around the world! Here’s one of my favourite ones:

3.2 Good Mornings: Barbell Good Mornings are an effective exercise for targeting the glutes, lower back, abs and hamstrings.

The movement is like an RDL but with a longer moment arm as the weight is on your upper back like a back squat, so it is a much weaker movement compared to your RDL.

If you’ve got a strong Good Morning, you’ll have a strong RDL.

3.3 45 Degree Back Extensions / Glute Extensions: this movement is also very similar to the RDL and Good Morning, but there is more stability provided by the bench.

Be sure to squeeze those glutes on the way up and drive the front of your hips into the pad.

Here’s a feedback video talking about the range of motion and also an at home set up in case you don’t have access to a 45 degree bench:

Incorporating the top three lower body exercises for women – Squat / Split Squat / Lunge Pattern, Thrust / Bridge Pattern and a Hip Hinge Pattern…. you can build a well rounded lower body.

Remember to start with proper form and gradually progress as your strength increases.

These exercises, when performed consistently and with dedication, will empower women to build a strong foundation, improve athleticism, and enhance overall quality of life.

Embrace the journey of unlocking your lower body strength, and reap the benefits of a powerful and resilient physique.

P.S. Whenever you’re ready… here are 3 more ways I can help you:

1. Grab a free copy of my new workout program, Athletic Curves

If you’ve been exercising more and eating less and still stuck in a plateau then you need the simple 4 week workout that builds a strong, fit and athletic hourglass figure. Download your copy here.

2. Join GWL with Grant connect with girls who lift from around the world

It’s our new free Facebook group where girls who lift from all around the world can chat, learn and inspire each other. Click here to join.

3. Get technique feedback from me
If you would like me to take a look at your lift and offer some tips, just send your video to one of my social media accounts linked down below:


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About The Author

Grant Lofthouse

Grant Lofthouse is personal trainer with over 10 years experience who helps his clients break fat loss, muscle building and strength plateaus by using simple strength and nutrition systems.