8 Best Exercises For Stronger Legs (You’re Not Doing)

8 Best Exercises For Stronger Legs (You’re Not Doing)

Looking for some amazing leg exercises to take your training to the next level? 

Then you’ll love these 8 lower body exercises I’ll share in this video!

These moves take those fundamental movements and add a little twist to the basics to help you progress through not just adding loads but also different types of tension, different loading placements, different bases of support and even different ranges of motion. 

There are so many ways to vary moves to match our specific needs and goals. With these tweaks you can even impact how much you are using specific muscles involved.

And it’s key we find different ways to progress, especially the longer we’ve been training! 

Hey guys, it’s Cori from Redefining Strength where we help you feel, look and move your best at any and every age.

While we are never above the basics, and should always return to them, we can make little tweaks to movements to keep our training fresh and interesting while creating progression in new and different ways. 

Especially the longer we’ve been training, the more we have to explore different options to create that progression and drive muscle growth.

These movement variations can also be fun as we get older to not just beat our bodies up by trying to force heavier loads or even to help us when we’ve hit a stickpoint with the weights we can move during a specific movement.

That’s why I wanted to share 8 amazing lower body exercises that create progression in different ways!

Move #1: Cable Step Up 

Step ups are a great unilateral leg exercise to help you strengthen each side independently to correct imbalances.

And while they work your entire leg, you can make them more glute intensive by changing how you load them down. 

By using a cable anchored down low to apply resistance to the movement, you can emphasize the resistance on the drive up, helping you to even better activate that glute on your working side. 

Hold a cable in one hand on the same side as the foot you’ve put on the bench. Focus on that push through that foot on the bench to drive up to standing as if a string was pulling you up by your head. 

That focus on the drive with the resistance of the cable will make you feel that glute working even more!

To modify this move, lower the bench or box. 

To make it even more glute intensive, use a higher box and even start on top only lowering down till your toe grazes the ground! 

Move #2: Staggered Stance Squat 

Squats are an important movement pattern to train. The more you learn to control that squatting movement, the more you can keep your knees and hips healthy and happy!

The Staggered Stance Squat variation puts an emphasis on each side independently without creating as much instability as a full single leg or pistol squat. 

Because your feet are staggered with your back foot back at the instep of your front foot and the heel raised, you are making one side work harder while also reducing the impact that your ankle mobility can have on your squat depth. 

Limited ankle dorsiflexion, or the ability to draw our toes up toward our shins, can lead to us not being able to squat as deep AND even putting more stress and strain on our knees as all of our weight shifts forward during a squat.

So this variation may be the tweak you need!

Just make sure you are lifting the heel of the foot staggered back and focusing your weight on that fully planted leg.

Do not stagger the foot too far back though and turn this into more of a lunge. 

You can progress this move by adding weights, even making it more core intensive by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell for a goblet squat, or you can modify this move by limiting the range of motion and sitting down to a bench or box.

Move #3: Double Banded Hip Thrusters

Hip Thrusters are a must-do move if you want to build strong glutes. 

But the barbell can be difficult to work with at times. 

And sometimes you want a variation more meant to be that accessory exercises after your lift to create that pump and burn while targeting your glute medius more.

That’s the beauty of the double banded hip thrusters. 

Not only will this move work your glute max, but the mini band around your legs will also really target your glute medius to improve your hip stability. 

The band over your hips, which is easiest to anchor off of j-hooks in a rig or squat rack, applies even more resistance as well at the top of the movement when your glutes are the strongest. 

Just make sure you really drive out against the mini band as you drive up against the resistance band. You want to fully extend your hips, while maintaining a posterior pelvic tilt to better engage your glutes and prevent yourself from arching your lower back and compensating.

Move #4: Deficit Split Squat 

Changing up the range of motion of a movement can impact the benefit we get from it. 

We can limit the range of motion to spend more time under tension or we can increase the range of motion to increase the challenge while also helping to improve our mobility and stability.

With the Deficit Split Squat, you are increasing the range of motion to help you strengthen your quads, hamstrings and glutes, but also improve your hip flexibility and mobility.

This is also a great way to vary up the Bulgarian Split Squat or Balance Lunge we often turn to, putting the emphasis on lifting up that front foot to increase the range of motion we move through. 

Just make sure you actually lower all the way down using that full range of motion. 

If you lift your front foot up but do not lunge any deeper, you aren’t getting the extra benefit of the range of motion. 

To advance this move, you can not only increase the height of what you’re standing on but also add loads.

And if you are just starting out, you can actually LIMIT the range of motion of the split squat as well to learn to control it by placing a block under your knee to help you learn to control the range of motion you have currently. 

Move #5: Landmine Band Deadlift

Deadlifts, or a hip hinge of some form, should be included in almost everyone’s workout routine at some point.

While deadlifts so often get demonized for causing lower back pain, learning to control the hip hinge properly can actually help you AVOID lower back issues as you get older. 

They are an amazing exercise to build that posterior chain and strengthen your glutes and hamstrings.

You can further target these muscles, and even force yourself to slow down the movement, while progressing it, by using two types of resistance – both bands and a barbell – like in the Landmine Band Deadlift. 

The fixed anchor of the barbell can also be helpful as it prevents the weights from drifting forward and away from your body like they can in a traditional deadlift which is also what can lead to lower back overload.

The band applies more tension at the top of the deadlift to work the glutes even more and forces you to slow down the eccentric portion of the movement, or the lowering down of the deadlift to really work those hamstrings. 

This is a great variation to improve your muscle hypertrophy without you trying to force a heavier load you aren’t yet ready to include.

And if you don’t have a landmine, you implement two types of resistances using dumbbells instead! 

Move #6: Bench Supported Single Leg Deadlift

While many of us don’t like the awkwardness of balance moves, like the single leg deadlift, especially because we can’t use as heavy a weight, they are key to include.

Working on that mind-body connection to improve our balance is key to help us avoid injury as we get older. And unilateral moves also help us correct imbalances and improve our core stability. 

However, if you are finding you’re not yet ready for the full balance challenge of the single leg deadlift, or you want to mix up your unilateral deadlift work while using heavier loads, you can do a bench supported variation.

This variation takes out some of the stability demands which may allow you to even better activate the hamstring of the standing leg. 

With this move, you will put your knee of your lifted leg back on a bench. You can then press down into this knee slightly as you hinge over, pushing your butt back. But you want to focus on really creating that tension through that standing leg. 

Press that standing foot down firmly into the ground and push the ground away as you drive back up to standing. If you add weights, lower the weights back toward your instep to protect your lower back and really help yourself sit your butt back as you hinge over. 

Move #7: Band Lean Backs

While this move may not be right for you if you have knee issues limiting your ability to knee or control knee flexion, this move is often demonized by those with knee pain when it can actually be a key component of rehab for some.

Because you’re also working your quads while in hip extension, this is also a great way to target the rectus femoris more than during a normal leg extension movement. 

And the band creates a great way to progress the basic bodyweight lean back and applies resistance in a different way than just holding a dumbbell up at your chest does. 

The band forces you to really control the eccentric portion of the move, or the lean back, and then applies more resistance on your quads as you drive back up to kneeling tall as the band stretches.

It makes your quads really work through the full range of motion!

The band can also be used to modify the movement if you face the anchor point as it will add assistance to help you control the lean back. 

Just really make sure you are moving at your knees to lean back and not just arching your lower back. 

Even focus on that glute engagement through the movement to keep your hips extended.

And if you really can’t kneel, you can still do quad flexes lying on a bench to get the benefits of a hip extended position to target that rectus femoris. 

Move #8: Airborne Lunge

Even without weights or equipment we can create workouts that challenge us.

One great way to do this is by creating less of a base of support and more instability in a movement. 

With the Airborne Lunge you are creating that instability by using only a single leg for support to balance and even making the basic lunge more challenging because of the range of motion you can perform with this movement.

This lunge can be a great way to build up toward that full pistol squat while targeting your glutes a bit more because it is more of a hip hinge movement.

When you do this exercise, you will hinge at the hips as you bend your knees to drop that back knee to touch the ground. You do not want to touch that back foot down. Just lightly touch your knee. Make sure your front heel stays down as you touch the ground. 

You can then make this move even more challenging by changing up the tempo and including a slower lower down or even a pause at the bottom.

To modify it, you can hold onto something in front of you or even place a block beneath your back knee to limit the range of motion you have to control to start! 

Every move we include should have a purpose and be based on our needs and goals. There is no one right exercise. No one best move.

There are so many ways to create variations that fit our needs and goals! 

And if you are focusing on building muscle, without gaining fat, check out…

–> Can You Lose Fat AND Build Muscle At The SAME Time?

8 Glute Activation Exercises (Improve Hip Stability)

8 Glute Activation Exercises (Improve Hip Stability)

If you want to help prevent lower back, hip or knee pain and improve your lifting, running and riding, you need to include glute activation in your workout routine.

Glute activation exercises are movement generally done with little to no weight and for higher reps (15-25). They are isolation exercises meant to really target the glutes so you can feel them working before you even go into your compound exercises.

And you want to use these moves to strengthen all of actions the glute muscles perform – from abduction to extension to external rotation and even hip hyperextension.

That’s why I wanted to share 8 glute activation moves you can do with minimal equipment in a wide range of postures and positions. These moves will help you truly build functional strong glutes to improve your hip stability!

(Video demoing all moves below this 👇)

1: 3-Way Standing Hip Circles

Everything is connected. If you want better glute engagement, you can’t ignore your feet and ankles. And if you want better balance and foot and ankle stability, you can’t ignore your glutes!

That’s why standing moves like the 3-Way Standing Hip Circles are so key to include. They work on improving your balance while activating your glutes.

And with this move, you’ll activate your glute max with the hip extension kicking back, your glute medius with the abduction or knee raised out to the side and even your abs with the knee tuck in and forward.

Make sure to move slowly as you cycle through those moves while focusing on your other foot’s connection to the ground.

And do not lean or rock away to increase the range of motion. Focus on those glutes really working to lift the leg and your abs working to pull the knee in!

2: Hip Airplanes

When working on glute activation, we want to address all joint actions this muscle group contributes to, which is why I love to use Hip Airplanes.

This standing glute move will improve that balance and hip stability while helping you learn to engage the glutes to stabilize as you work through internal and external rotation – targeting all three gluteal muscles (the maximus, medius and minimus)

While you can do this move without your hands on a chair or box, I like to add in that little stabilizing element to start so you can work through a full range of motion.

Really focus on rotating from the hip, feeling your glute work over just allowing your spine to twist. You will not get the full benefit if you don’t focus on that rotation going from your head to your raise foot.

You want to rotate open from your standing leg fully, then rotate back closed toward that standing leg, even dropping the hip of the raised leg toward the ground.

Make sure as you do rotate, your standing foot is firmly pressed fully into the ground and you do not rock out on your foot.

If you have Piriformis issues, be careful with this movement, especially the external rotation.

3: Mini Band Pulse Squats

Many of us have heard the phrase “Squat for a better butt.”

But squats, especially weighted squats, partly because they are a compound movement, really aren’t that great for glute activation. You’re definitely going to feel those quads and adductors even as well.

However, how much we target and activate a muscle is also based on the range of motion and equipment we use with that movement.

By changing the full squat to a pulse squat while adding a band, we can make the squat an amazing glute focused movement that creates metabolic stress so you really feel that pump in those glutes to establish that mind-body connection.

When you do this move, you can add loads, but start with the mini band right below or above your knees. You want the band just above or below your knees to use it to help you really focus on pressing out to activate your glute medius. This will improve your hip stability and actually better activate your glute max as well.

You then want to make sure you’re sitting back as you pulse right around parallel while sitting in that squat. Stay controlled and make sure you’re heels are firmly pressed down into the ground without rocking back.

To modify you can do this move holding on to a suspension trainer or even hovering over a bench!

4: Bench 2-Way Leg Raises

Often with glute activation, we think we have to get down on the ground to do it. And while quadruped moves are an amazing way to target and activate those glutes, you can easily modify all of those movements off a bench if you need extra padding on your knees or simple don’t want to get down on the ground.

And the added bonus of using a bench is that you can even increase the range of motion you work through on many moves because your knee is raised off the ground.

That’s why I love Bench 2-Way Leg Raises. You can work your glutes through both hip extension and abduction and a larger range of motion.

When you do this move, make sure not to bend your arms or lean away. You want to even feel the glute medius or side butt on that leg that is down stabilizing your body as you lift the other leg to work.

Focus on even almost trying to stop the movement with your glute instead of just swinging the leg up higher. Focus on feeling that glute on that kickback stop the leg at about parallel to the ground. Do not arch your lower back to kick up higher. And really feel the side of your butt on that lateral raise. Do not rotate your toe open toward the ceiling as you raise.

To add a bit of progression to this movement, you can even wear ankle weights. But focus more on that mind-body connection over adding loads!

5: Lying Jacks

Often when we include abduction movements or lateral raise movements to work our glute medius, we are standing or seated. But by doing this abduction movement lying down, we can work our glutes while in hip hyperextension even.

We have to remember that by changing the degree of hip flexion involved in the abduction movement we can target different portions of the glute medius, addressing more anterior or posterior fibers!

We will also work our glute max to maintain the reverse hyper position.

When you do this move, you want to focus on pressing out against the band while not just rotating your toes out and open.

You also want to think about your glutes holding your legs up as you press your hips down. Be very conscious you aren’t feeling your lower back compensate to raise your legs up higher!

If you feel your lower back taking over, try a Y Reverse Hyper instead of holding the position as you perform the abduction.

6: Side Plank Clams

Planks are a great core move that you can use to also target your glutes, side planks especially. And often the side plank with leg raise is the one you see being used.

But that move is not only far more advanced than we give it credit for, it also often will lead to fatigue of the muscle over simply helping us prep the muscle for more work.

That’s why I like the side plank clam variation. It can also include more external rotation or be a straight abduction move based on your foot positioning.

However, like the basic clam it is also often misused. Make sure you don’t let your TFL compensate by turning your top toe down toward the ground. And make sure as you lift you drive your hips forward.

If you did want to remove the external rotation, say if you have Piriformis issues, you could actually lift the top leg straight up during the movement, keeping the knee bent, over keeping the foot down which will force external rotation.

Both can be great variations to include and you may alternate which you used based on what you’re trying to target!

Just make sure that, while you’re focusing on the side of your butt, you keep your elbow stacked under your shoulder and your back engaged to support it. You want this move to benefit your entire core, including those obliques as well!

7: Figure 4 Glides

It can be easy to cheat with moves when we struggle to activate a muscle correctly. We call on other muscles to not only assist but we will seek out mobility from other joints. Often with lateral raise movements we will even try to swing the leg up higher as we lean away.

That’s why I love the Figure 4 move, especially with these glides.

This is a very small movement and can allow you to easily focus on that glute working. It can be easy also to feel yourself trying to cheat because you are holding in this raised position as you allow that leg to glide forward and backward.

It also engages the glute medius through hip flexion and extension.

Focus on sitting up nice and tall as you raise that leg on the side up. Think about keeping it level as you allow it to glide forward and backward slowly. You can even watch it to stay conscious of what is working.

And if you really struggle with wanting to lean away, you can put your shoulder against a wall as you set up.

But because you’re holding this position, do that easy assessment every once in awhile to make sure you aren’t leaning away!

8: 80/20 Glute Bridges

Often injuries and aches and pains aren’t just due to weakness but also an imbalance between sides and muscles. That means that often we need to do imbalance prehab, working only one side and even doing more reps on that side.

That’s why unilateral or single sided movements are key.

It’s why most of the moves included here are unilateral. However, unilateral moves can also be super challenging and serve as advancements for bilateral exercises as they add more instability and require to move the load or your own bodyweight with only one side.

That’s why I love these 80/20 Glute Bridges though. They force each side to work more but add in the assistance of your other leg to help you focus on the glutes working.

If you’ve struggled with the single leg glute bridge and feel your hamstrings compensating or lower back engaging in that movement, you can try this 80/20 variation to get that same benefit but with a move you can truly control.

Sometimes we need to regress to progress.

Make sure with this move that you stagger one foot out further so the foot that is closer in does 80% of the work. And then focus on that posterior pelvic tilt as you bridge, driving your knee toward your toe as you press up so you get your glute to power the movement over your hamstrings compensating.


Now how do you include these moves in your routine? The great part is there are a ton of different ways! But you want to probably only pick 1-3 to include as your activation in your warm ups for just 1-2 rounds. 15-25 reps or even about 30 seconds per move is often good.

The goal isn’t to fatigue your glutes but simply feel them start to work and establish that mind-body connection before your full workout.

If you are using them simply as a prehab routine, you may add another move or two on and do 3 rounds instead!

Need more glute activation series? Check out my Booty Burners…

–> The Booty Burner Challenge

Hate Step Ups? Try this move instead!

Hate Step Ups? Try this move instead!

Not every variation of every move is going to be right for you.

Especially if you’ve had injuries in the past you’re rebuilding from.

If you’ve struggled with knee or hip pain, especially on one side, you may want to focus on unilateral moves.

Unilateral, or one sided moves, can help you correct imbalances while making sure that your stronger side isn’t taking over and compensating.

They can allow you to rebuild that weaker side while also avoiding overloading the weaker side by doing a move that your weaker side can’t keep up on.

But what if you’re including unilateral moves like the step up and they are still a struggle? What if you want to target your glutes more because you tend to be quad dominant?

Well then this variation is exactly what you need…


Sometimes it is small tweaks to moves that really add up. These adjustments can help us target specific muscles more and work better with our builds and current mind-body connection.

With the Step Down, this top down approach, can help you better focus on the hip hinge and only work through the range of motion you can truly control.

It is a great way to focus more on your glutes than your quads.

And you can really limit the range of motion to exactly what you can control without being able to cheat and push off your other foot.

It can also work well if you don’t have a range of box heights because you are so in control of how far you lower down.

So how do you do this great step up variation to improve your balance and target your glutes more?

How To Do The Step Down:

To do this move, start standing on top of a box to one side of the box. You want to place the opposite foot from the side you’re standing closest to close to the edge so the foot on that same side can actually hang off the box.

Press that foot on the edge into the box. This can help you better balance as you lower down, especially if you struggle.

Make sure you push the foot on top of the box solidly down into the box. Too often we don’t focus on that foundation to help us better activate muscles up our leg and even improve our stability.

Think of your foot as a tripod and push the two points in the ball of your foot and one in your heel down into the box.

Then begin to push your butt back. You want to start by hinging at the hips as you then bend your knee to lower your foot off the box to the ground. Do not be afraid to slightly lean forward as you lower.

You do not want to round your spine as you hinge.

Lower down only as far as you can control.

If you can lightly graze your toe on the ground, great. BUT you don’t want any weight to shift to the foot lowering down if it does touch the ground.

You will then drive back up to standing off the foot on top of the box. Stand tall at the top and squeeze that standing glute before repeating the move.

You can increase the height of the box as needed or even lower only half way down on the box if needed to start.

But you want to lower down only as far as you can control.

Because of the hip hinge with this movement over the traditional step up, you will be able to target your glutes more while still working your quads and hamstrings.

Make sure as you do this move, your knee stays in line with your hip and ankle. You do not want your knee caving in or bowing out.

Part of keeping everything in line relates back to you also focusing on that foot. Push through the entire foot and be conscious if you do feel yourself starting to rock in or out.


To modify this move, you may start with a smaller range of motion and increase as you build up. You can even start standing on a plate weight or only lower a few inches down on a taller box if that is what you have.

You can also create a balance assist by holding on to a pole or suspension trainer in front of you.

If you really struggle with your knee caving in, to help you better activate that glute medius to stabilize the hip and knee, you can also anchor a very light band to the opposite side of your standing leg and put it around your leg.

This gives you tension to push out against to activate the glute medius or that side butt muscle that stabilizes your hip and will improve that knee alignment. Just go light so you have that reminder but it doesn’t pull you into an incorrect position.

To advance the step down, you can hold a weight in close at your chest or even increase the height of the box to increase the range of motion.

Using This Move:

This is a great unilateral accessory exercise to include and most often will be done for 10-20 reps, although if you are adding loads you may find you do try to create a challenge at 8 reps.

Use it for higher reps if you are just starting out and doing more bodyweight based training!

Ready to design workouts AND dial in your nutrition to match YOUR needs and goals?

Check out my SIMPLE recipe for results…

–> 3-Step RS Recipe

The Right Way To Get A Strong Lower Back (4 exercises)

The Right Way To Get A Strong Lower Back (4 exercises)

Many of us have thought to ourselves, “My lower back is so weak” when we’ve been suffering from lower back aches and pains.

We feel it during ab movements or deadlifts and think that we feel it because we need to strengthen it.

But what if the problem isn’t that your lower back is weak?

What if the issue is that it’s actually OVERWORKED?

This is all too often the case when it comes to our lower back.

The muscles there become overworked due to our daily postures which have created mobility restrictions and underactive abs and glutes.

So all of that strengthening you’re trying to do, all of those superman you’re doing, may actually be perpetuating the issues making them worse instead of better.

Instead you may need to be working on your hip and thoracic mobility while activating your abs and glutes to protect your lower back from being overloaded.

Remember the point of pain isn’t always where the problem started. And feeling a muscle work during a move may not be because it is weak. Instead it may be working when it shouldn’t and become overloaded.

So if you’ve been feeling your lower back during moves and thought, “I need to strengthen it,” try including these 4 moves in your warm up routine instead! And stop overworking your already overloaded lower back more!

Exercise #1: Thoracic Foam Rolling

If one area is lacking in mobility, we will seek out mobility from another area to compensate.

Because we often lack proper thoracic extension due to hunching over our technology or driving in our cars, we tend to compensate for this lack of extension by arching our lower back during exercises.

If you’ve ever felt your lower back during overhead pressing movements or bent over rows or back flyes, you may be arching your lower back in an attempt to maintain a neutral spine because of your limited thoracic extension.

That’s why it’s key we work to improve our thoracic extension to avoid seeking out mobility from our lumbar spine to compensate.

That’s why I love peanut foam rolling. It’s a great way to relax those muscles that may become tight along our spine while improving our thoracic extension.

To do this move, you can use a peanut, which can easily be made by taping two balls together or tying them in a sock. Lie on your back placing the peanut in your mid-back with a ball on either side of your spine.

Place your hands behind your head, pulling your elbows open as you relax over the peanut.

Breathe and hold for a second, then crunch up and relax back down. Do a few of the crunches, extending back over, before moving the peanut up your spine.

You can also reach your arms up overhead and sweep them open and out to your sides before crunching up to stretch out your chest further.

But focus on breathing to relax as you hold and allow your spine to extend over the roller.

To progress this move, you can use something like the Simple Mobility tool which has a larger diameter and will require more spinal mobility to relax over.

Exercise #2: Bench Hip And Quad Stretch with Rotation

Tight hip flexors, and a lack of hip and spinal mobility in general can lead to you overusing your lower back as you then aren’t able to properly engage your glutes or even your upper back and abs.

That’s why stretches to improve your hip extension and spinal mobility are key.

Too often if our hip flexors are tight, we end up feeling moves that should be felt in our glutes in our lower backs and quads. Not to mention we can develop hamstring synergistic dominance where our hamstrings start to become overworked instead of our glutes working when they should!

To address both limited hip and spinal mobility, I love this Bench Hip and Quad Stretch With Rotation.

To do this move, place one foot up on a bench or chair behind you and half kneel on the ground with that back knee down and front foot flat on the ground. Move out far enough that you can squeeze that back glute to drive your hip into extension while keeping that front knee aligned over that front ankle.

In this half kneeling position, place both hands down on the ground even with your front instep.

In this position it is key you squeeze that back glute to drive that hip into extension or you lose out on the hip flexor stretch. Having your back foot up on the bench flexes your knees to stretch your quads at the same time.

Then lift your hand closet to your front foot to rotate toward that front leg. As you rotate your chest open, don’t just move at your shoulder. Focus on engaging your upper back to rotate your chest open.

Reach up toward the ceiling then place that hand back down on the ground. Then lift your other hand up to rotate away from that front leg. You may find it harder to rotate one direction, especially away from the front leg.

Make sure to keep that back glute engaged the entire time to stretch your hips and engage your upper back to help you twist and rotate.

Do not let yourself rock out on that front foot and cheat, seeking out mobility from other areas!

Move slowly and work for about 30 seconds per side even before switching legs.

To modify, you can place your back foot on a block instead of up on a bench. You can also place that back foot on a wall if you don’t have a bench.

If you can’t kneel due to knee issues, do this from a runner’s lunge position, even modifying with your hands up on an incline.

Exercise #3: 3-Way Hip Circles

The best way to protect your back is to strengthen your glutes and your abs so they brace to help protect your spine so your lower back isn’t doing all of the work!

That’s why this 3-Way Hip Circle activation move is so important to include. It not only helps mobilize your hips, but also works on your core engagement, activating your glutes, abs and even obliques.

Avoid leaning away or rotating your pelvis as you focus on moving just at the hip joint.

In this drill you want to pause in each position as the donkey kick will target your glute max while the fire hydrant will target your glute medius and the knee tuck will engage both your hip flexors, but especially your abs if you focus on drawing in your belly button as you pull in to tuck.

By also fighting the urge to lean away you’ll feel those obliques working to keep your hips level toward the ground.

To do the 3-Way Hip Circles, start on your hands and knees with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Flex your feet.

Then, keeping your knee bent to about 90 degrees, kick one leg back like into a Donkey Kick. You may slightly abduct the leg to better engage the glute, but do not let the knee rotate open. Focus on stopping the move with your glute over arching your lower back to lift up higher.

Pause here even assessing if you feel your glute. If you feel your hamstrings, relax your foot or even kick slightly out. And make sure your hips stay level to the ground.

Then, without bringing your knee back down, circle it out to the side into a Fire Hydrant position. Do not bend your arms or lean away to try to get the leg up higher.

Pull your knee in line with your hip, keeping your knee bent to about 90 degrees. Focus on keeping your lower leg about parallel to the ground. Do not let your foot flare up higher. Feel the side of your butt working to hold the leg up.

Pause here then tuck your knee straight in toward the elbow on the same side.

Pull your abs in as you crunch and don’t be afraid to flex slightly through your spine. Focus on those abs working as you drive your knee into your arms.

Pause then repeat the move kicking back into that Donkey Kick position.

Move slowly focusing on avoiding rotation or arching of your lower back as you kick back.

Complete all reps on one side before switching.

You can not only modify this move but also simply add variety to it and a balance challenge, by doing this standing. You can also do a straight leg kickback if you really struggle with arching your lower back or your hamstring compensating.

The key is making sure you actually feel the glutes working. Because doing the right moves, without feeling the correct muscles working may only perpetuate the problem over correcting it!

Exercise #4: Pelvic Tilt Balance March

Improving your pelvic stability to properly be able to brace your abs during movement is key if you want to avoid lower back overload and injury.

It’s why the Pelvic Tilt Balance March.

It is far from an easy move but it is a great way to engage your TVA or transverse abdominis while working your rectus abdominis and obliques to stabilize.

Just make sure you advance it slowly over rushing it.

You don’t want your lower back to take over or your hip flexors to be doing all the work.

To do this move, place a larger foam ball or pilates ball right under the top of your butt.

You want to balance on this ball, pressing down into it with your arms down by your sides, palms pressing into the ground.

Then bend your knees to about 90 degrees, bringing them into that tabletop position. Better to have them slightly out than to tuck them more into your chest as that will make it easier.

Balancing here, slowly touch one toe to the ground, fighting the urge to rotate. Raise that leg back up then touch the other toe down.

Focus on bracing those abs and not letting your abs dome out or your lower back arch. If it feels like too much, bring the ball up slightly higher.

To advance from here, you may bend your elbows or even raise one or both arms off the ground. This will give you less of a base to assist with stabilizing.

But only progress as you’ve earned it. Better to modify and really feel those abs working!

Move slowly with this move and even consider starting without the ball to master that posterior pelvic tilt progression if you haven’t!


Too often our lower back becomes overworked due to hip and spinal mobility restrictions and weak or underactive abs and glutes.

But because we consistently feel our lower back during moves, we assume it is actually weak and instead try to do more to work it.

This only perpetuates the problem.

So make sure you’re also working to improve those mobility restrictions while strengthening supporting muscles so your back doesn’t become overloaded.

Remember where the point of pain is isn’t always where the problem started! And injury doesn’t only mean an area is weak!

Use these 4 moves in your warm up, even just spending 30 seconds per move to start to help you avoid those lower back aches and pains!

Want more workouts, exercises and tips? Join my daily newsletter:

–> Join The RS Newsletter!


The Most Underrated BODYWEIGHT Leg Exercise

The Most Underrated BODYWEIGHT Leg Exercise

Too often we only think about progressing movements to build muscle by adding loads.

However, you can build muscle by creating progression in other ways especially if you don’t have any tools at your disposal.

If it challenges you, it will change you.

So if you’re only training with bodyweight but want to strengthen your legs?

You’ll want to try this amazing move, and one of my favorite bodyweight leg exercises we often aren’t doing – The Airborne Lunge!

Before I go over how to do this move, I want to highlight other ways you can create progression without loads all of which can be done with this great lunge variation.

One, you can use unilateral movements over bilateral moves.

Two, you can create more instability, through changing the surface you’re performing the move on or even the base of support you have, such as doing a fully single leg movement.

Three, you can change up tempo. You can slow down the whole movement, parts of the movement or even speed the move up and make it more explosive. You can even slow down one part and speed up another. Or you can even add a pause or hold.

Four, you change up the range of motion you’re working through. Increasing the range of motion of a move can make it more challenging. It is also a great way to make sure you’re working to maintain the mobility you build through your other prehab work!

It’s key to remember we can find ways to progress movements and build strength and muscle even when we don’t have weights.

So if you’re training at home or when you travel and need to progress the basic bodyweight leg exercise, try this Airborne Lunge Variation.

It’s a great move if you even want to build up toward that pistol squat!

The Airborne Lunge:

The Airborne Lunge is a great bodyweight glute and leg exercise that can help you build up to that full pistol squat even with a more hip dominant movement pattern.

It is however a deceptively hard move.

To do the Airborne Lunge, stand tall and shift your weight to one foot, bending the other knee to bring your heel up toward your butt. You want to keep that foot pulled toward your butt so you only touch your knee down when you lower.

Then sit your butt back to hinge at the hips as you bend your standing knee to drop your back knee down toward the ground. You will lean forward as you hinge, but do not round over. You are leaning forward to counterbalance your weight and sit back.

Touch your knee to the ground gently without letting that raised foot touch down.

Do not reach that raised leg back too far or you will get too spread out. Your standing knee may travel over your toes. This is NOT a bad thing and this ankle mobility is required to build up toward the full pistol squat. Just make sure you’ve pushed your butt back to load your glutes while keeping that standing foot, and especially your heel, firmly pressed down into the ground.

Lightly touch your back knee down, then drive back up to standing. Do not push off that knee or the raised foot.

You want the entire movement to be powered by that standing leg.

Stand tall at the top and squeeze that standing glute. Try not to touch the other foot down.

Repeat the move again, sitting your butt back to hinge as you bend that standing knee to lower down.

The range of motion on this move and the instability of the unilateral movement make it a challenge. To progress it further, you can increase the ROM, by performing the lunge with your standing leg up on something so you have to sink deeper.

Or you can change up the tempo, slowing things down, even pausing at the bottom.

However, you can also modify this movement by reducing the range of motion and touching your knee down to a block or box. You can also reduce the instability by holding on to something to help you balance.

But this unilateral move is a great way to build strong legs and glutes, correct imbalance and progress your bodyweight training WITHOUT adding loads!

And it’s a great way to perform a more hip dominant exercise that can help you even build up toward that full pistol squat as well!


Just remember, if it challenges you it will change you. Muscle growth and strength increases come from forcing our muscles to adapt to a challenge!

The Most Underrated Dumbbell Glute Exercise

The Most Underrated Dumbbell Glute Exercise

I’ve never been a fan of the whole squat for a better butt thing. I think squats are honestly overrated as a glute move, but that’s a video for another day.

And while I do think you need a diversity of movements to really get the best results for any muscle group, I wanted to share one of my favorite dumbbell glute exercises that I think is often forgotten about and overlooked.

It’s the Dumbbell Skier Swing.

The kettlebell swing is an amazing hip hinge exercise to work on that explosive glute power or even your strength endurance based on how you implement it.

It’s not only a great move to improve your conditioning but also your strength.

But if we don’t have a kettlebell, we often then don’t think about utilizing this amazing move.

That’s why I wanted to share a great way to use dumbbells to perform a swing and include this great move in your routine!

However I do just want to mention, before breaking down this movement, how key it is we learn to hip hinge correctly first.

Often swings are blamed for lower back pain. And while swings are NOT bad for your back, they do require core control and proper recruitment patterns during hip hinging to make sure they don’t result in overload or injury.

Because of the fact that they are a more explosive, faster paced movement, you do want to make sure you can properly load those glutes and hamstrings and brace your abs during hip hinging before you included this exercise.

Remember that when you are performing a hip hinge, you are NOT simply leaning forward.

The hinge should be initiated by sitting your butt back as if reaching your butt back toward a wall behind you.

And then, while your knees may soften, you aren’t focused on active knee flexion. You do not want to turn this into a squat.

Feel those glutes and hamstrings load and avoid arching your lower back in an attempt to keep your chest up. Brace your abs and think a nice neutral back.

Focus on this hip hinge as you introduce the swing and do not let your arms try to take over or the speed cause you to shift your weight forward so you aren’t properly loading your posterior chain.

How Do You Do The Dumbbell Skier Swing?

To do Dumbbell Skier Swings, stand with your feet about hip-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand down by your sides.

Start by slightly swinging your arms back toward the wall behind you. As you do, hinge over in response to help balance and build up that spring to propel the weights forward as you stand up.

You will lean forward as you push your butt back to swing the weights up outside your hips. You are leaning forward only in response to help counterbalance your weight.

As you hinge over, your knees should be soft. Focus on pushing your butt back, but not on squatting down.

Then drive the ground away as you squeeze your glutes to explosively come back up to standing, propelling the weights forward and up.

Focus on that exhale as you propel the weights up to further help you brace your abs.

Straighten your legs as you stand tall at the top, squeezing your glutes to extend your hips. Watch your urge to lean back at the top as this can load your lower back.

Let the weights swing up propelled by your legs. Do not try to pull them up higher with your arms. They may come to shoulder height or slightly below but do not focus on the height.

To protect your back and control the move, be patient and wait for the weights to come back down and force you to hinge back over and sit your butt back.

You do not want to hinge over before the weights truly lower down as this can cause overload of your lower back.

As you hinge back over with the weights swinging back outside your hips, your torso will lean forward to counterbalance.

Think about being explosive with each drive back up to standing to propel those weights up as you are patient with the hinge back over to reload. You aren’t slowing the weights down with your arms, you just are only hinging over in response to the weights.

If you’re struggling with the explosive hip hinge and controlling both weights, you may start with a single dumbbell even held between your legs in both hands. This will more closely mimic the basic kettlebell swing.

Using two dumbbells in this skier style swing can be a great way to go heavier though if limited by the weights you have especially.

If you find you struggle with loading your glutes and the weights get too far away from your body causing your lower back to become overloaded as you hinge, you can also start with a Band Hip Hinge.

This move is a great way to learn how to explosively perform the hip hinge while really targeting those glutes.

The pull of the band backward will also help you control that hip hinge to load your glutes while teaching you to truly sit back!


If you’ve been looking for a great strength and conditioning move to target those glutes, and even your hamstrings, but don’t have a kettlebell, give this Dumbbell Skier Swing a try!

Just remember to focus on what you feel working so you get the full benefit of every exercise you include!

Learn to train according to YOUR needs and goals.

Book a call to learn how Redefining Strength can help you dial in your workouts and your nutrition for better results faster…

–> Book A Call