Kayla Itsines's 3 Favourite Gym-Based Leg Exercises

Simple yet so effective.

leg exercises, fitness, workouts, Kayla Itsines
Image: Instagram user @kayla_itsines
We’ve all been there: You hit the gym for a quick sweat session, but as soon as you walk inside, you feel a little overwhelmed with the rows of complicated-looking machines and end up walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes.
Luckily, Kayla Itsines has shared three of her favourite gym-based leg exercises as well as a brief explanation of how to do them, so you can get the most out of your workouts.

Leg Press

This exercise is similar to a squat, except it’s in a seated position. Like a squat, it is a compound exercise, which means it works a number of large muscles/muscle groups at the same time.
A conventional leg press (feet shoulder-width apart) works all of the major muscles in your legs—including your quads, hamstrings, calves and glutes.
How to do it?

  1. Take a seat in the leg press and place your feet on the foot plate about shoulder-width apart. Use the handle to remove the leg press from its locked position.
  2. Slowly bend your knees and allow the foot plate to lower in towards you. Press through your heels and extend your legs to push the plate away.
  3. Repeat this process for 12-15 repetitions before returning the leg press to its locked position.

One thing I love about the leg press is that you can mix up this exercise by changing your foot position. For example:

  • Position your feet a little wider with toes pointing outwards (sumo) to help target your glutes more.
  • Position your feet closer together to target your quads.
  • And if you’re up for a challenge, remove one foot and work one leg at a time. Just be mindful that you won’t be able to use the same amount of weight for this one!

Smith Static Lunge

For those of you that have followed my original BBG program, this exercise is very similar to a Barbell Lunge. However, using a Smith machine takes the stress out of getting a barbell on and off your back.
How do you do it?

  1. Set the Smith bar to about chin height. Position yourself under the bar, allowing it to rest on your shoulders.
  2. Press up into the bar to release it from its locked position and step one foot forward and the other backwards into a split stance. Make sure your feet are about shoulder-width apart.
  3. Bend both knees to about 90 degrees and into a lunge. Extend your legs to return to a standing position.
  4. Repeat this process for 10-12 repetitions before swapping sides, then  return the Smith machine to its locked position.

With this exercises, you can add weight plates on either end of the bar to make it a little more challenging!

Standing Glute Kickback

Kickbacks are an easy exercise to get used to, because they pretty much mirror a movement that your legs do every day! To add some resistance and really work your glutes, I absolutely love using the cables. Standing glute kickbacks are also a great way to target your butt.
How do you do it?

  1. Attach an ankle wrap to the end of the cable cord and then one of your ankles before setting the resistance on the weight stack. Place your hands on the pole in front of your chest and take a small step backwards, standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  2. While keeping your leg straight and foot flexed, extend the leg with the ankle wrap back behind you. Lower your leg to return to standing.
  3. Repeat this process for 10-12 repetitions before swapping sides.

If you can’t get to a gym but still want some great exercises to target your butt and thighs, check out this blog!
Love, Kayla xx

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