Squats are an excellent exercise for not only building leg strength, but also toning your backside. However, if done incorrectly, squats can cause discomfort in the lower back and possibly an injury to your knee.

If you want to focus on strengthening your hips, toning your backside, while also reducing your risk of injury; try these five lower-body exercises that can help you achieve the results you are looking for!

1. Glute Bridge

Glute bridge

This exercise can be performed on a flat bench or on the floor. To increase the intensity, you can place a weight across your hip bones. For best results, focus on pushing your heels into the floor and lifting your hips up to the ceiling while keeping your lower back stable. Complete 2-3 sets of 12 reps.

2. Hip Hinge

Hip hinge

This is a great exercise for your backside and your upper/inner thighs. During this exercise, make sure your lower back remains stable and the movement is only in your hips. With a stable spine and your knees slightly bent, lean forward by pushing your rear end backward until you feel tightness in the back of your legs. Return to the starting position by pushing your feet into the floor and your hips forward. Once you have learned the proper technique, you can add intensity by adding weight. Complete 2-3 sets of 12 reps.

3. Step-ups


Use a box that is around the same height or slightly lower than your knees. Place one foot up on the step and push your foot into the box to step up. When you reach the top, lift your opposite knee into the air, lower the upper leg and repeat all the reps on one side before switching legs. To increase intensity and build muscle more quickly, hold dumbbells in your hands. Complete 2-3 sets of 12 reps.

4. Rear Lunges

Rear lunges

Start with both feet hip-width apart. Step back with one foot and slowly lower the same knee toward the ground while leaning forward slightly (maintain a stable spine during this forward lean). Return to standing by pressing your front foot into the ground and pulling yourself back to standing with your front leg. To increase the level of difficulty, hold dumbbells in your hands. Complete 2-3 sets (per leg) of 12 reps each.

5. Lateral Lunges

Lateral lunges

For this exercise, start with both feet parallel. Step directly to one side while keeping the opposite foot pressed into the ground. As your moving foot hits the ground, push that same hip backward while reaching toward that foot with your opposite hand. Return to standing by pushing your foot into the ground and pulling with the inner thigh muscles of your stable leg. To increase the intensity, hold on to one dumbbell. Complete 2-3 sets (per leg) of 12 reps each.