Is your gym still shut down due to Covid, or are you just looking to switch your leg workout up with a bit of bodyweight work? We’ve got you covered, with some of the most effect bodyweight workouts for your legs.
These workouts are specifically designed to target all of the muscles in your legs, including the glutes, quads and hamstrings, using nothing but your own bodyweight.
The beauty of these workouts is that since they don’t require any gym equipment, they can be done anywhere. Bodyweight exercises are perfect for days when you can’t make it to the gym, whether due to closures, traffic, or travel.
Now, even if you’re only using your bodyweight, it’s still a good idea to train with a weight belt. Not only will it help protect your back, but by practicing on light weight or bodyweight exercises with your belt on, you’re training your muscle memory how to be more effective while using the belt. This will help when it comes time to bust out a new PR on the squat or deadlift.
Check out some of our Weightlifting and Olympic belts here, or consider a Bespoke Custom Lifting Belt from Gunsmith Fitness. Gunsmith Fitness produce belts renowned for their premium materials and build quality.
Whether you’re just using your bodyweight, or have a fully-loaded barbell pressing down on your back, protection is very important.
Now, before we get into the best bodyweight leg exercises, let’s go over exactly WHY bodyweight exercises can be so effective.
Bodyweight Leg Exercises Can Be Done Almost Anywhere
As we mentioned previously, one of the biggest advantages to using bodyweight exercises is that they can be done just about anywhere.
This means you’re not missing your workout because you didn’t have time to make it to the gym, or because your boss told you to stay late. With bodyweight exercises, it’s easy to crank out a good workout anytime during the day.
What’s better, your legs comprise half of the muscles in your body, and working your legs during the day will pump your energy up and get your metabolism burning calories for the rest of the day.
You can add bodyweight leg exercises to your normal leg workout, use them as part of a conditioning circuit, or simply substitute all leg work for bodyweight exercises.
Popular Bodyweight Leg Exercises
The classic squat is the foundation of modern bodybuilding, and for good measure: it’s incredibly effective at building strong legs while working the quads, glutes and even your core.
When performing your squats, it’s best to have your feet a bit wider than hip width, but not as wide as your shoulders.
As you improve the performance of your squat, you may want to add weight. If you do, be sure to protect your lower back with one of our quality Weightlifting or Olympic Leather Belts.
The lunge is another great bodyweight exercise for building muscle, and works the muscles in a different way from the squat.
Unlike the squat, the lunge is an asymmetric exercise. While performing a single lunge, one leg’s quadricep is being worked, while the other’s leg’s hamstring is primarily bearing the load.
Your hip stabilizers also get a workout, and they’re required to maintain balance.
When performing a lunge, you want your back knee to lightly touch the ground, with both knees forming a 90 degree angle. Keep your back straight and your core tight.
The lunge is also a great exercise for improving hip mobility, flexibility and range of motion, as your hips are split front-to-back in both directions.
Another benefit of the lunge is that, because it’s an asymmetric exercise, it can help to ‘even out’ some of the muscle imbalances in your lower body. Some lifters have one leg that is stronger than the other, and during the squat, the strong leg will lift more of the load.
This isn’t possible with the lunge, and can help balance out the muscles in the lower body.
No list of bodyweight exercises would be complete without the Jump Squat.
Jump squats are like squats on steroids, and greatly increase the intensity of the exercise.
Jump squats are also considered plyometric exercises, meaning they will increase your speed, endurance and strength, targeting the fast-twitch muscle fibers in your legs.
They also greatly increase your heart rate, helping you to burn more calories throughout the day.
When performing jump squats, it isn’t as necessary to go all the way down, like when performing the basic air squat. Instead, focus on jumping high and smoothly transitioning from the landing back into another squat.
Another great exercise for your legs is the step-up. Step-ups are exactly what they sound like: stepping up onto a platform, such as a curb, sturdy box or a step in a staircase.
Step-Ups work the legs in a similar way to lunges, but since you’re putting more weight on a single leg, they’re working much harder.
It’s important to remain safe while performing step-ups, so make sure whatever platform you’re using is sturdy (no milk crates or empty buckets). It’s also best if you’ve got something nearby to balance or hold onto.
If you’ve managed to perfect all of the above exercises, it’s time to move on to one of the most challenging lower-body exercises out there: the one legged squat, or Pistol squat.
Not only does the pistol squat require incredible leg strength, but it’s also a test of balance and coordination.
Most people, even experienced lifters, won’t be able to perform a one-legged squat on their first attempt, so it’s advisable to have something to hold onto with your hands for balance, such as a wall, pole or weight rack.
With just a few bodyweight exercises, you can get a complete lower body workout in without leaving your house. You can even totally redesign your leg workout, and get everything done without using machines.
By incorporating one or two of these bodyweight exercises into your existing leg routine, you’re guaranteed to see improvements in your overall strength and flexibility.