The Best CrossFit Leg Exercises for Power and Endurance

Lexi Lutz
Reading Time: 9 minutes
overhead squat
Table of Contents

In CrossFit, if you want to crush a wide variety of workouts like squats, lunges, box jumps, and kettlebell swings, packing some serious strength and power in your legs is key.

So naturally, you want to find the best CrossFit leg exercises to boost your leg strength, endurance, and overall performance. 

This article is your guide to unlocking the most effective leg workouts for CrossFit enthusiasts, aimed at enhancing strength, endurance, and overall performance. These exercises are tailored to equip you with the leg muscles needed to conquer any challenge thrown your way in the realm of CrossFit.

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned CrossFit athlete, incorporating these CrossFit leg exercises for strength and power into your training routine will take your leg strength to the next level. 

Back Squat – Building Strength from the Ground Up

The back squat is an effective exercise to back up your CrossFit workout. It targets your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, making it a top CrossFit leg exercise for building strength and power. This exercise is crucial for CrossFit leg strength training and is essential in enhancing your overall performance, whether you’re doing CrossFit or just lifting in the gym.

Performing a back squat requires placing a heavy load on your back so it requires proper technique and form to execute safely and effectively. By gradually increasing weight as you gain strength and experience, you will challenge your leg muscles and develop that awesomely desirable functional leg strength.

Proper form is obviously crucial for this CrossFit leg exercise to be effective, start by placing the bar on your upper back, support the weight with your hands and keeping your back and spine in a neutral position. Slowly lower down to a seated position and drive back up, extending your hips, knees, and ankles. Remember to keep your weight centered over your heels.

An incorrect back squat can lead to injury, so always ensure proper form before adding increasing weight or reps!

Overhead Squat – Developing Stability and Balance

The overhead squat is one of my favorite exercises to begin with, but it’s also a staple CrossFit leg exercise that challenges and strengthens your leg muscles, while also improving shoulder stability and core strength. To perform this exercise, you need to hold a barbell overhead while performing a deep squat, which helps develop balance, stability, and leg strength.

The overhead squat targets the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calves, and lower back muscles, making it an efficient exercise for building lower body strength and endurance. It also enhances your flexibility and mobility, making it an excellent option for CrossFit leg strength training programs.

To perform the overhead squat correctly, you must maintain proper posture and alignment throughout the exercise. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and the barbell at shoulder level, then raise it overhead with your arms fully extended. Slowly lower your body into a deep squat, keeping your chest up, knees aligned with your toes and your weight evenly distributed on your feet. Once you reach the bottom position, push with your legs to stand up, keeping the barbell overhead all the time.

Remember to start with a light barbell and gradually increase the weight as you build strength and perfect your form. The overhead squat is one of the most intense CrossFit leg exercises that requires patience and practice, but it is worth it for the improved leg strength, stability, and balance it provides.


Barbell Hip Thrusts – Maximizing Glute Activation

If you’re looking to build a strong lower body and improve your power and explosiveness, barbell hip thrusts are an aboslute must-try. This movement specifically targets the glute muscles and engages the hamstrings, improving hip extension and explosive power.

To perform this exercise, sit on the floor with your upper back against a bench and place a barbell across your hips. Position your feet flat on the ground with your knees bent. Next, drive your hips upward while keeping your upper back in contact with the bench. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and slowly lower your hips back down.

Try incorporating barbell hip thrusts into your CrossFit leg strength training routine for maximum glute activation and leg power.

Deadlifts – Unleashing Full-Body Strength

When I want my clients to unleash their full-body strength, deadlifts are always my go-to exercise to recommend. This killer compound exercise works multiple muscle groups, including your legs, back, and core, making it an effective CrossFit leg exercise for overall strength, endurance, and power. To perform a deadlift, you’ll need a loaded barbell, proper form, and a strong grip.

The key to a proper deadlift is maintaining a neutral spine and hinging at the hips to lift the weight. As you lift the barbell, you’ll target your leg muscles, engaging your hamstrings, glutes, and quads, while also working your back and core. This exercise is a staple in any top CrossFit leg exercises regimen and is essential for building leg strength and full-body power.

If you’re new to deadlifting, start with lighter weights and focus on proper form before adding more weight. As you gain strength and confidence, gradually increase the weight to challenge your muscles and enhance your CrossFit leg strength training routine.

Deadlift strengthening exercise

Tip: Always warm-up your muscles first before attempting heavy deadlifts to avoid injury.

Pistol Squat and Walking Lunge – Enhancing Stability and Mobility

Unilateral exercises are an excellent way of enhancing leg strength, stability, and mobility.

The pistol squat and walking lunge are two of the best unilateral exercises for anyone who step foot in the gym. 

The pistol squat is asuper intense one-legged squat that works the entire leg muscle group. It provides an exceptional challenge for those who aim to achieve leg strength and coordination. Performing a pistol squat correctly requires significant stability and control, making it a great way to strengthen hip and ankle mobility. It took me a while to even do one pistol squat with correct form, so remember to be patient with yourself and keep practicing!

A walking lunge, on the other hand, is a unilateral exercise performed by stepping forward and lowering the back knee towards the ground. It targets the quads, hamstrings, and glutes and can significantly improve functional movement patterns beyond CrossFit workouts. Walking lunges will also enhance stability and coordination and challenge unilateral balance and strength.

Incorporating pistol squats and walking lunges into a CrossFit leg workout can significantly enhance performance in the box. Whether it’s improving unilateral strength or functional movement, these exercises are integral to CrossFit leg strength training. 

Wall Ball – Enhance Leg Power with Squat and Throw

Wall ball is an explosive exercise that targets your leg muscles and boosts power and explosiveness. To perform this exercise, you need to squat with a medicine ball and powerfully throw it to hit a target on the wall. Wall ball combines two essential exercises – the squat and throw – to develop leg strength and explosive power.

Box Jump – Build Explosive Leg Drive

Box jumps are an excellent way to build explosive leg strength and enhance your jumping ability. To perform this exercise, you need to jump on a box with a powerful leg drive. Box jumps require strong leg muscles and coordination, making them an effective CrossFit leg exercise for explosive jumps. The height of the box will depend on your personal fitness level. Safety first!

Sled Push and Pull – Maximize Power and Endurance

Sled push and pull exercises are powerful exercises that target your leg muscles while improving your overall power and endurance. These exercises involve pushing or pulling a heavy sled across a distance, engaging your legs and core muscles. Sled push and pull exercises are effective CrossFit leg exercises that build explosive power, strength, and endurance.

Incorporate these top CrossFit leg exercises into your leg workout to build leg strength, power, and endurance. These exercises are effective and challenging, making them perfect for CrossFit athletes aiming to enhance their leg strength and explosiveness.


What are the best CrossFit leg exercises?

The best CrossFit leg exercises include back squats, overhead squats, barbell hip thrusts, deadlifts, pistol squats, walking lunges, wall ball, box jumps, sled push, and sled pull. These exercises target various leg muscles and help build strength, power, and endurance.

How can CrossFit leg exercises improve my strength and power?

CrossFit leg exercises incorporate compound movements that engage multiple muscle groups in your legs, such as the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. By regularly performing these exercises with proper form and technique, you can develop leg strength, improve power output, and enhance your overall athletic performance.

Are the recommended CrossFit leg exercises suitable for beginners?

The recommended CrossFit leg exercises can be adapted to suit individuals of different fitness levels. However, beginners should start with lighter weights or modified versions of the exercises to avoid injury and gradually progress as their strength and technique improve. It is important to consult with a qualified CrossFit coach or trainer to ensure proper form and safety.

How often should I include CrossFit leg exercises in my training routine?

The frequency of including CrossFit leg exercises in your training routine depends on your individual goals, fitness level, and recovery ability. It is generally recommended to incorporate leg exercises at least 2-3 times per week, allowing for adequate rest and recovery between sessions.

Can I build muscle with CrossFit leg exercises?

Yes, CrossFit leg exercises can help build muscle when combined with an appropriate training program and proper nutrition. These exercises target major leg muscle groups and involve both strength and power movements, which contribute to muscle growth and development.

Will CrossFit leg exercises help me improve my jumping ability?

You bet! CrossFit leg exercises like box jumps, wall ball, sled push, and sled pull can significantly improve your jumping ability. These exercises enhance leg power, explosive strength, and stability, key factors in achieving higher vertical jumps and improved athletic performance.

What should I consider to prevent injuries while performing CrossFit leg exercises?

To prevent injuries during CrossFit leg exercises, it is essential to warm up adequately before your training session, maintain proper form and technique, use appropriate weights for your strength level, and listen to your body’s signals. Additionally, incorporating rest days, varying your exercises, and gradually progressing in intensity can help reduce the risk of injuries.




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