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6 Best Warm-Up Exercises for Leg Day

Karla Tafra / LifeSavvy

A warm-up routine is an important part of every exercise session. It helps prepare your body for your workout, pumps blood into your muscles, lubricates your joints, and prevents injuries and pinched nerves.

Specifically with leg day, warm-up exercises are crucial for activating the mind-to-muscle connection and getting your body ready to perform at its optimal level. Here are some of the best exercises to do before each leg day.

Air Squats

The most basic of all leg day exercises, squats are a staple in everyone’s book. They target every muscle in your legs and get the blood pumping like no other. 

Start in a standing position, feet separated a bit wider than hip-width. Open your feet slightly to the sides and activate your core muscles. Inhale and bend your knees, sitting down with your hips like you’re trying to sit in an imaginary chair behind you. Exhale and extend your legs, squeezing at the top to fully engage your glutes and hamstrings.

Pick up your pace and do 20 air squats paying attention to your form and making sure your breathing is on point.

Te-Rich Resistance Bands for Legs and Butt, Set of Three

Build your glutes faster and stronger.

Donkey Kicks

Come to an all-fours position, knees right under hips and palms right under your shoulders. Activate your abs and lift your belly button up, elongating your spine and releasing any tension from your lower back. Push the floor away from you, creating space in between your shoulder blades. 

Inhale and on your exhale kick your right leg up, your knee bent, and your foot flexed. Inhale and bring your knee one inch off the floor, exhale and kick it up. Go for 20 on each leg. Feel the isolation of your hamstring and glute, focusing on getting the mind-to-muscle connection and preventing your lower back muscles from taking over.

Resistance Band for Kickbacks

Strengthen your glutes and hamstrings with perfect isolation.

Fire Hydrants

Start in an all-fours position, knees right under hips and palms right under your shoulders. Activate your abs and lift your belly button up, elongating your spine and releasing any tension from your lower back. Push the floor away from you, creating space in between your shoulder blades. 

Inhale and on your exhale, open your right hip and lift your right leg to the side, keeping the knee bent. Try to keep your hips as square as possible to really isolate your right hip, glute, and outer thigh. Inhale and bring your knee back down, exhale and kick it up. Do 20 on each side.

Elite Sportz Core Sliders

Engage your core and leg muscles with a low-impact workout.

Leg Sweeps

Stand straight, legs together and hands on your hips. Lift your right leg up and start sweeping it back and forth, relaxing your hip and letting it open naturally. The goal is to get the blood rushing into your hip and leg muscles, supplying them with oxygen and lubricating your joints. If you’re having trouble keeping your balance, hold on to a wall or other sturdy surface. 

Go for 20 leg sweeps on each leg and feel the difference once you put your leg back on the floor. Additionally, you can sweep your leg left and right if it feels good and there is no tension in your lower back.

Glute workout machine

Challenge your at-home glute workouts!

Glute Bridges

Lie on your back and place your feet close to your sitting bones and flat on the floor. Place your arms on the floor beside you, palms pressing into the floor. Inhale and on your exhale, lift your hips high up, squeezing at the very top. Inhale and bring your hips back down, exhale and lift up. 

With every exhale, try to squeeze a little more, fully activating your glutes and hamstrings, preparing them for any leg exercise you might have in your workout program. Do 20 repetitions and then hug your knees into your chest, gently rocking side to side to massage your lower back muscles.

Foam roller

Self-massage for your leg muscles.

Clams

Lie on your back and place your feet close to your sitting bones and flat on the floor. Place your arms on the floor beside you, palms pressing into the floor. Open your knees to the side and feel your hips getting stretched. Press your feet together and push the edges of your feet into the floor. 

Inhale and on your exhale dig your feet into the floor and lift your hips up, squeezing your glutes and hamstrings. Inhale and bring your hips back down, exhale and lift them up, squeezing hard. Do 20-30 repetitions and after your last exhale, bring your knees into your chest and hug them in, massaging your lower back muscles.

Massage ball

Helps release muscle fascia before stretching.


These six exercises will get you ready for leg day whether you’re only doing bodyweight exercises or placing a bar on your back. For whole-body workout sessions, check out this warm-up guide!

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »
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