The Perfect Push-Pull Workout, Part 2: Lower Body

Young fit woman performing Romanian Deadlift with a barbell in her hands.

And in our second edition of the ultimate push-pull workout routine, we’re headed south of the border — we’re talking lower body love. This lower body push-pull routine is an excellent and efficient way to get those galloping glutes, crushing calves, and heavenly hamstrings in no time. And one of the best parts of push-pull is that while you’re busy shredding those stems, you’ll also be balancing out your physique and strengthening your joints so you’re less prone to injury. 

That’s because the push-pull format gives us ample time for rest and recovery, which is when that sweet muscle development happens. Once again, take a look at our sample schedule for a week’s worth of push-pull workouts: 

  • Monday — Upper body push
  • Tuesday — Lower body push
  • Wednesday — Cardio & core
  • Thursday — Upper body pull
  • Friday — Lower body pull
  • Saturday — Cardio & core

Ok, ready to get down and dirty with a lower-body push-pull workout routine? Yeah, you are. In the words of the inimitable Vanilla Ice, “Yo, VIPs, let’s kick it!”

Lower Body — Pull Exercises

Leg Curl

Equipment needed: Leg curl machine or dumbbell

Muscular man laying on his chest, performing leg curls.

Leg curls target all three of the major hamstring muscles, the calf muscles, and your butt (on the negative stroke of the exercise). You can do this exercise simply while laying face down on a leg curl machine, or similarly with a single dumbbell if you’re at home. How you do that is a bit more complex, but still doable: laying flat on your stomach, grab one end of a dumbbell with both feet, and lift up slowly until your calves are perpendicular to the ground. Try 4 sets of 8. 

Romanian Deadlift

Equipment needed: Barbell, dumbbells, or kettlebell.

Young fit woman performing Romanian Deadlift with a barbell in her hands.

The Romanian Deadlift is a popular and effective variation of the classic deadlift, but with a greater focus on your hamstrings than the original. Using an overhand grip on a barbell, two dumbbells, or kettlebell, bend at your waist to lower the weight down slowly, keeping your knees slightly bent. Make sure to keep your shoulders back, your spine straight, and push your hips back as you lower. Slowly bring the weight back up, pressing your hips forward as you return to standing position. 

Reverse Lunge

Equipment needed: Bodyweight only (2 dumbbells or kettlebells optional)

Young muscular man in white tank top performing reverse lunges in his bedroom.

Activating your glutes and hamstrings in equal measure, the Reverse Lunge is a great exercise for those with hip and knee issues or difficulty balancing. Standing straight up with your hands in front of you, step back slowly with one foot and come into a deep lunge. Bring your knee as low as you can without touching the ground, come back up, and repeat on the other side. For added resistance, you can hold 2 dumbbells or equal-weight kettlebells at your side. Do 3 sets of 8 per side. 

Single-Leg Deadlift

Equipment needed: Dumbbell, kettlebell, or barbell. 

Lady in pink tanktop performing a single-leg deadlift in her gym.

This awesome hip-hinging movement builds balance, core strength, and leg strength. Plus, it looks pretty cool, too. Stand with feet hip-width apart, with your choice of single weight in your hands, resting on your hips. Lean forward slowly, shifting your weight to one leg, while lifting the other leg behind you. You should end the movement in a T-shape, with your rear leg straight behind you, your weight straight down below you, and balancing on the other leg. Try for 3 sets of 10 on each side. 

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Lower Body — Push Workouts

Goblet Squat

Equipment needed: Kettlebell or dumbbell

Man holding a kettlebell in the Goblet Squat position.

Like a traditional Squat, the Goblet Squat is an all-around exercise that utilizes multiple parts of your lower body, and basically sets them on fire. Standing, holding your kettlebell or dumbbell at your chest, lower your butt down until your thighs are parallel with the ground, or even a bit lower if you can muster. Hold at the bottom for a moment, and then spring back up again. Try 3 sets of 8.

Glute Bridge

Equipment needed: Yoga mat, barbell or weight plate (optional)

Fit woman performing a Glute Bridge on a yoga mat.

The Glute Bridge uses your bodyweight only, and can be done almost anywhere — all you need is a yoga mat underneath you, or other soft surface. Lay down on your back, with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. With your hands at your sides, thrust your pelvis up in the air until your back, butt, and hamstrings make a perfect straight line up to your knees. Hold this position for a couple seconds, and then slowly drop back down again. If you need heavier weight, add a barbell across your waist.

Leg Press

Equipment needed: Seated leg press machine

Short-haired man in sleeveless shirt with orange shoes, performing a Leg Press on a machine.

The mighty Leg Press is one of the best isolating lower-body push exercises you can do. Sure, you can work these muscle groups with other movements, but if you’re looking to put up serious weight, and gain serious strength, this should be a go-to. And it’s remarkable – in that one simple movement with such a short range of motion, it can target your quads, glutes, and hamstrings so well. Just remember to keep your lower back firmly set against the machine’s seat, and keep it there. Try 4 sets of 10.

Bulgarian Split Squat

Equipment needed: Bodyweight only (dumbbells, resistance band, or kettlebells optional)

Fit woman in purple exercise clothing performing Bulgarian Split Squat.

We don’t know if it’s something they put in the Pierogis, but for some reason, those Eastern Europeans really have got the whole lower-body push-pull exercise thing down! For the Bulgarian Split Squat, you only need a raised surface, like a chair or couch. Place one foot out in front of you, and the top of your other foot resting on the higher surface. Bring your rear knee down as far as you can, and then back up again. The knee on your front leg can either stay directly above your foot, or a bit in front of it, depending whether you’d like to work your glutes or your quads more. For increased tension, use a resistance band around both thighs. Repeat 3 sets of 8 on both sides. 

Fire Hydrant

Equipment needed: Yoga mat

Fit young woman performing the Fire Hydrant exercise on turf.

This is an all-attack on your hips, core, and booty muscles. Performing the Fire Hydrant is easy, it’s all in the name. What does a doggie do when passing by a fire hydrant? Exactly. Starting on your hands and knees (hands directly under shoulders, knees directly under hips), lift one leg directly to your side, keep it up for a second, and then bring it back down. Then repeat on the other side. Remember to keep your elbows locked, your navel drawn in, and your head comfortably looking at the ground under you. You can do two variations of the Fire Hydrant, with your knee slightly in front of your midsection, slightly behind, or both. Try this for 3 sets of 10 per side.

Are you starting to feel it? Ha, you’d better be! (No, seriously, you definitely are.) Now, having the tools to sweat sometimes isn’t enough to get you motivated to stick with your push-pull fitness program. For those who need that extra push (in other words, all of us), be sure to sign up for a 7-Day Free Trial with Studio SWEAT onDemand. Our huge library of online strength training classes like this killer 25-Minute Total Body Pull Workout, cycling workouts, and other full-body cardio explosions is always available to give you a sweat-session you won’t soon forget. Sign up today, and let’s get to work!

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