Lower Body Strength + Plyo Workout

This lower body strength and plyometric workout incorporates dumbbell strength moves with pulsing, isometric holds, and plyometric cardio bursts for an efficient workout and lower body burn. Not only will this workout strengthen and tone your legs, it will torch calories to keep burning fat all day long.
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Lower Body Strength + Plyo

One of the most popular workouts on my blog is the Lean Legs and Strong Back workout. If you haven’t tried this one yet (and you should!), it’s a combination of strength exercises and plyometric moves for a burst of cardio. This combination makes for a heart-pumping, calorie-torching, super-efficient workout. And I’m all about efficiency!

So I decided to pull from that idea y’all seem to love and come up with another strength + plyo workout. But because I’ve been into barre lately (I have some barre-style workouts coming soon for you!), I incorporated some pulses and holds into this workout too.

The result? An incredibly challenging workout that will challenge your muscles in a totally different way.

Pulse + Hold for lower body strength

Have you ever tried a barre or Pilates class? Those pulsing micro-movements and isometric holds recruit different muscle fibers. Whereas traditional resistance training activates fast-twitch muscle fibers, those tiny movements and holds activate slow-twitch muscle fibers. Slow-twitch, or type I, fibers are the muscles responsible for posture and joint position. So exercising these muscles can improve your balance, stability, and endurance.

Because this workout uses both types of muscle fibers, you’ll be sure to feel the burn! Concentrated on using the full range of motion for the first set of strength moves then use a very small range of motion for the pulses. Practice “mind-muscle connection” during the pulses to increase the activation of the muscle and stay focused.

Embrace the shake

You may even start to tremble or shake during the pulses or isometric hold, but this isn’t a bad thing. The shaking just means fatigue is starting to set in and the muscle contraction is being interrupted because of decreased energy available.

In other words, your muscles are not tearing or ripping when they start to quiver, they’re becoming stronger! So push through the burn and embrace the shake.

Shop My Look!

Before I get to the workout, I want to tell you about my amazing new Amazon workout clothes. For less than $20 I got these gorgeous purple-y/mauve squat-proof crops that totally hold up to running, squatting, and the washing machine.

90 Degree By Reflex High Waist Squat Proof Tummy Control 22″ Interlink Capris

Check out some my other affordable activewear finds from my Amazon Workout Clothing Haul!

 

Lower Body Strength + Plyo Workout Structure

  • Strength Moves
    • 10 reps full range of motion
    • 10 reps pulsing
    • 10 seconds isometric hold
  • Plyometric Moves x 10 reps

The Equipment

All you need for this lower body strength + plyo workout is a set of weights. Choose something on the heavier side because your legs are a strong muscle group and you’ll get to drop them for the plyo cardio moves.

 

The Neoprene Hand Weights I’m using in the photos are from Target. They’re durable, comfortable, and available in weights 2-15 lbs. They also go on sale pretty frequently! Or if you’re ready to graduate to something heavier, I definitely recommend that you invest in Bowflex SelectTech weights. I have them and use them all the time because it’s easy to quickly adjust the weight anywhere from 5-52.5 pounds!

The Workout

Do the strength move for 10 reps with full range of motion, 10 reps pulsing, then 10 seconds of an isometric hold. Set down the weights and immediately start 10 reps of the plyometric move. Rest for 10 seconds before moving onto the next strength + plyo combination.

Complete the entire circuit 2-3 times.

1. Squat + Squat Jump

  • 10 Squats: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with legs shoulder-width apart. Squat down until thighs are parallel to the floor or as far as your range of motion allows. Drive through the heels, using your glutes, to to stand back up to the starting position.
  • 10 Pulses: starting at the lowest point in your squat, do tiny pulses (2-3 inches up and down) maintaining contraction of the muscles the entire time.
  • Hold 10 seconds: isometric hold at the lowest point in your squat.
  • 10 Squat Jumps: squat all the way down as far as your range of motion allows then explosively push off your heels and jump into the air as high as possible. Land with soft knees and lower back to the starting position.

2. Left Reverse Lunge + Lunge Jumps

  • 10 Reverse Lunges: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with legs shoulder-width apart. Step back with your right foot and lower your right knee until it nearly touches the ground. Then push of with your right foot to return to the starting position. Make sure your front knee does not extend over past your toes.
  • 10 Pulses: starting at the lowest point in your lunge, do tiny pulses (2-3 inches up and down) maintaining contraction of the muscles the entire time.
  • Hold 10 seconds: isometric hold at the lowest point in your lunge.
  • 10 Squat Jumps:  starting at the lowest point in your lunge, explosively push off both feet and jump into the air as high as possible. Land with soft knees and lower back to the starting position.

3. Sumo Squat + Frog Jumps

  • 10 Sumo Squats: Hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs and stand in a wide “sumo” position. Squat down until thighs are parallel to the floor or as far as your range of motion allows. Drive through the heels, using your glutes, to to stand back up to the starting position.
  • 10 Pulses: Starting at the lowest point in your sumo squat, do tiny pulses (2-3 inches up and down) maintaining contraction of the muscles the entire time.
  • Hold 10 seconds: isometric hold at the lowest point in your lunge.
  • 10 Frog Jumps:  Starting at the lowest point in your sumo squat, touch the floor then explosively push off both feet and jump into the air as high as possible. Land with soft knees and lower back to the starting position.

 

4. Right Reverse Lunge + Lunge Jumps

  • 10 Right Reverse Lunges: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with legs shoulder-width apart. Step back with your left foot and lower your left knee until it nearly touches the ground. Then push of with your left foot to return to the starting position. Make sure your front knee does not extend over past your toes.
  • 10 Pulses: Starting at the lowest point in your lunge, do tiny pulses (2-3 inches) maintaining contraction of the muscles the entire time.
  • Hold 10 seconds: isometric hold at the lowest point in your lunge.
  • 10 Right Lunge Jumps:  Starting at the lowest point in your lunge, explosively push off both feet and jump into the air as high as possible. Land with soft knees and lower back to the starting position.

5. Left Single Leg Deadlift + Reverse Lunge with Knee Up Jump

  • 10 Left Single Leg Deadlifts: Hold 1 dumbbell in your right hand in front of your thigh and stand with your weight on your left leg. Extend your right leg behind you using your big toe to balance. Keeping a straight back and a slight bend in your left leg, hinge forward as you extend your right leg behind you for balance. Lower until you are parallel to the ground, and then use your hamstring and glutes to return to the upright position.
  • 10 Pulses: Starting at about 75% of the way to the lowest point in your single leg deadlift, do tiny pulses (2-3 inches up and down) maintaining contraction of the muscles the entire time.
  • Hold 10 seconds: isometric hold at about 75% of the way to the lowest point in your single leg deadlift.
  • 10 Left Reverse Lunges with Knee Up Jumps:  Step back into a lunge with your right foot, then explosively jump off your left foot while bringing your right knee up as you jump into the air. Land on your left foot with a soft knee and lower back to the starting lunge position.

6. Calf Raise + Alternating Lunge Jumps

  • 10 Calf Raises: Hold a dumbbell in each hand and stand with legs shoulder-width apart. Raise your heels up until you’re on your tip toes and hold for a moment before lowering back down.
  • 10 Pulses: Starting at the highest point in your calf raise, do tiny pulses (1-2 inches up and down) maintaining contraction of the muscle the entire time.
  • Hold 10 seconds: isometric hold at the highest point in your calf raise.
  • 10 Alternating Lunge Jumps: Starting at the lowest point in your right lunge, explosively push off both feet and jump into the air as high as possible, switching feet in the air so you’ll land in a left lunge. Land with soft knees and lower into a left lunge. Continue alternating each side

 

7. Right Single Leg Deadlift + Reverse Lunge with Knee Up Jump

  • 10 Right Single Leg Deadlifts: Hold 1 dumbbell in your left hand in front of your thigh and stand with your weight on your right leg. Extend your left leg behind you using your big toe to balance. Keeping a straight back and a slight bend in your right leg, hinge forward as you extend your leftt leg behind you for balance. Lower until you are parallel to the ground, and then use your hamstring and glutes to return to the upright position.
  • 10 Pulses: starting at about 75% of the way to the lowest point in your single leg deadlift, do tiny pulses (2-3 inches up and down) maintaining contraction of the muscles the entire time.
  • Hold 10 seconds: isometric hold at about 75% of the way to the lowest point in your single leg deadlift.
  • 10 Right Reverse Lunges with Knee Up Jumps:  Step back into a lunge with your left foot, then explosively jump off your right foot while bringing your left knee up as you jump into the air. Land on your right foot with a soft knee and lower back to the starting lunge position.

8. Glute Bridge + Squat Jacks

  • 10 Glute Bridges: Lie on your back with feet flat about hip-width apart and place weights on your hips. Drive through your heels to raise hips off the floor. Pause at the top for a moment then slowly lower back down.
  • 10 Pulses: starting at the highest point in your glute bridge, do tiny pulses (2-3 inches up and down) maintaining contraction of the muscle the entire time.
  • Hold 10 seconds: isometric hold at the highest point in your glute bridge.
  • 10 Squat Jacks: Stand with feel close together in narrow position squat position then jump your feet out into a wide sumo squat position (maintaining the squat), then quickly jump back to the starting position
Are your legs burning yet?! Do you like these Barre-style moves added into strength and plyo?
Photography credit: Canon Sawyer  canonelizabethphotography.com