Looking for a new leg workout? Celebrity trainer Louisa Drake gives us an insight into how she trains the stars with this intense 5-minute leg workout. If you’re hoping to join the quad squad with a quad workout at home, now is your chance, as Drake has trained the likes of Victoria Beckham and Gwyneth Paltrow, and now you can use one of her go-to workouts to lengthen and strengthen your leg muscles.
This leg workout has been posted to Harpers Bazaar’s YouTube channel and only takes a hot 5 minutes to complete. But don’t be deceived. While it includes just three bodyweight leg exercises — squats, lunges and hip extensions — Drake gives these staple functional exercises a fiery facelift by adding Pilates-inspired pulses and ballet principles to get your legs shaking.
If Pilates is your bag, give this Pilates ab workout for abs and glutes a go. And for more bodyweight workout inspiration, this calisthenics workout only uses four exercises to build full-body strength. Find out what happened when I gave celeb PT Louisa Drake’s 5-minute leg workout a try.
Watch Celeb PT Louisa Drake’s 5-minute leg workout
On the quest for a quick quad workout at home that would challenge me just as much as my local gym, I stumbled across celeb PT Louisa Drake and her 5-minute leg workout. Let’s be real: I’m going to get more of a beasting from lifting heavy kettlebells, barbells, or some of the best adjustable dumbbells to achieve my goals of building stronger leg muscles, right?
Not so fast. Calisthenics (bodyweight training) has been shown to produce significant strength improvements when compared with weight training — as shown in this study published by the Journal of Strength and Conditioning (opens in new tab) — and it’s not impossible to build muscle mass either (but much harder, admittedly).
And research published by the Journal of Experimental Orthopaedics (opens in new tab) found that knee extensions performed using resistance bands showed higher quadriceps muscle activity than when using a machine. Similarly, a one-legged squat and sit-to-stand squat elicited higher peak quad activity than a machine leg press.
Science aside, if you’re short on weights and time, these three bodyweight quad exercises can provide an efficient and effective home workout in just a few minutes. Drake uses time intelligently, so rather than focusing on reps, sets, and rest, she gets you to work for the full five minutes.
I tried celeb PT Louisa Drake’s 5-minute leg workout — and wow
I’m used to lifting weights, so ballet and Pilates-inspired classes are always savagely humbling, and I’m always left hobbling home with jelly legs afterward (luckily, I did this in my apartment). But it makes sense because ballet dancers and Pilates practitioners are some of the fittest people in the world, built from the ground up to pack a strong core, brilliant posture, and solid strength.
This short bodyweight workout won’t appeal to everyone, so if five minutes doesn’t cut it, Chris Hemsworth’s 200-rep bodyweight workout is a weightless killer. If you do commit to Drake’s leg workout, one round is killer enough for beginners, and two will burn out your legs.
Avoid fully extending your legs during the squat-to-lunge exercise, as sitting your hips down and bending your knees will increase the intensity in your quads, and your back knee should gently tap the floor at the bottom of the lunge. Similarly, during the lunge pulses, keep a slight bend in your back knee as you drive up through your front heel to achieve that agonizingly achy sensation through your quad without ever fully standing up.
After all that pulsing, the ‘Arabesque’ leg lifts (hip extensions) are a brilliant finisher. However, your glutes can often go an entire lower body workout without fully switching on, so remember to give them a good squeeze at the top of squats and lunges and keep your core tight throughout. Or, try the best glutes workout after.
If you’re looking for more leg day inspiration, here’s what happened when I tried this 7-move kettlebell leg workout to build bigger legs, and find out how our fitness writer got on when he tried 50 sumo squats every day for a week.