While strength training might sound synonymous with lifting weights, you don't always need dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells—or any equipment for that matter—to get a solid workout. The best part? Skipping the equipment means you can do bodyweight exercises anywhere and anytime.

What's more: You have better control of your lower body movements without a weight to hoist around. And ditching a weighted counterbalance during stability exercises means you can really focus on how your body moves and what you need to do to keep it steady.

"Bodyweight exercises help you get in touch with how your body is moving and any imbalances you may have on one side," says Nicolas. With these bodyweight leg exercises, in particular, you can also sidestep injury by strengthening typically weaker muscle groups, like the hamstrings and glute muscles. 

The Best Bodyweight Leg Workout

Warm-up: Before you get moving, start your session by foam rolling the quads, glutes, calves, and back, suggests Nicolas. Then do 20 seconds each of air squats, lateral lunges, and inchworms (or walk out to plank position). That way you'll feel warmed up for these bodyweight leg exercises, which work all the muscles of your lower half, while also hitting multiple planes of motion.

How it works: Do each exercise in order, going for at least one round—more if you're ready to maximize the strength benefits of bodyweight training.

Total Time: up to 30 minutes

You will need: No equipment

1. 3 x 6 x 1 Squat

A
B
B.

Slowly push your hips down and back to lower into a squat, moving on a count of three. Hold the bottom of the squat for a count of six. Then, press through the feet and stand back up on a count of one. 

Repeat at this tempo for 45 seconds.

A.

Start standing with feet about hip-width apart.

2. Squat with Alternating Calf Raise

A
B
B.

Then lower your heel back down. Next, lift your left heel up for a calf raise. Then lower it back down. Maintaining a strong squat position with your core engaged.​

Continue alternating for 45 seconds.

A.

Start standing with feet about hip-width apart. Push your hips down and back to lower into a squat. Holding the squat position, lift your right heel up for a calf raise.

3. Quadrupled Hip Extension

A
B
B.

Pull the right heel in toward butt and drive heel up toward the ceiling. Engage your core to make sure your back stays flat and the movement comes from the hamstring and glutes, not the low back. Lower your knee back down toward the floor without touching. (If you want to burn out the right side, do exercises 4 and 5 too, before switching to the left leg.)

Continue for 45 seconds. Switch sides; repeat. 

A.

Start on all fours, shoulders over wrists and knees right under hips, feet flexed. Left the right knee and foot slightly off the ground to start.

4. Quadrupled Hamstring Curl

A
B
B.

Holding leg in line with hip, curl heel in toward glute, bending the knee. Then straighten it back out, keeping leg at hip height to return to start. 

Continue for 45 seconds. Switch sides; repeat. 

 

A.

Get into tabletop position on all fours, shoulders over your wrists and knees right under your hips, feet flexed. Extend your right leg straight back behind you and lift it to hip height to start.

5. Quadrupled Fire Hydrant

A
B
B.

Keeping right knee bent, lift right leg up and out to the side, raising it to hip height. Then lower it back down.

Repeat for 45 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

A.

Start on all fours, shoulders over wrists and knees right under hips, feet flexed.

6. Lateral Lunge Balance

A
B
B.

Press off the right foot to stand, driving right knee toward chest while balancing on the left leg.

Repeat for 45 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

A.

Start standing with feet together. Step out to the side with the right foot, knees and toes pointing forward. Bend through the right knee and press hips back, keeping weight in the right heel. Make sure the right knee tracks over the ankle.

7. Squat Jump

A
B
B.

Then, explosively jump up, straightening legs. Land softly with bent knees, lowering back down into a squat.

Repeat for 30 seconds.

A.

Start standing with feet about hip-width apart. Push your hips down and back to lower into a squat. 

8. Speed Skater

A
B
B.

Then, push off your right foot to jump to the left, landing softly on your left leg. Your right foot should swing behind your left. Continue alternating.

Repeat for 30 seconds.

A.

Start standing with both feet on the floor. Shift weight to the left foot, then press off the left foot and jump out to the right, landing softly on the right leg with the left foot should swinging behind. Arms can swing naturally.

9. Single-Leg RDL

A
B
C
B.

Hinge at the hips and lean forward with the chest as you lift your left leg behind you, body moving in one straight line. Keep the left leg straight and shoulders down and back. Stop once body hits a T shape (torso and leg parallel to the floor).

C.

Bring arms straight out to the sides in an airplane position to help balance. Then, stand up, lowering arms, to return to start.

Repeat for 45 seconds. Switch sides; repeat.

A.

Start standing on the right leg, slight bend in the knee, left leg lifted, and arms by sides.

10. Side-Lying Leg Lift

A
B
B.

With the right foot flexed, lift it up toward the ceiling. Repeat for 45 seconds. Next, hold the right leg lifted at the top and pulse up and inch and down an inch. Repeat for 45 seconds. Switch sides.

A.

Start lying on the right side with legs extended and right hand propping your head up with your elbow on the floor. Draw the left knee in toward chest and rest it on the ground in front of hip.

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