These 31 best bodyweight leg exercises will help you build leg muscle as a beginner, lose weight and improve overall shape. 4 bonus bodyweight workouts for legs are waiting for you at the end of this post.
31 Best Bodyweight Leg Exercises For Beginners (4 Workouts)
5 Reasons Of Why To Train Your Legs
If your goal is to get in better shape and to improve your overall fitness, then training your legs is mandatory. Here are 5 reasons of why it is important to work out your legs:
1. Legs include more than half of the muscles in your body so it's not making sense to skip them from your workout program.
2. Training the lower body with higher focus will result in higher anabolic hormone release, hence, your muscle build, lean muscle mass and body composition will improve.
3. You will burn more calories as training legs is tough and challenging.
4. Your core will get stronger because many leg exercises will recruit the core muscles, especially the single-leg movements.
5. Your upper body will become stronger once your legs get stronger.
Why Is It Important To Have Strong Legs?
Having strong legs will improve not just your overall physique, general fitness, body composition and hormonal balance but your performance in everything else that requires any physical effort. You will walk, squat, lunge, run, sprint, jump, crawl or kick with less effort, hence, you will feel good, more functional and in better overall shape.
Bear in mind that having strong legs doesn't mean having bulky and massive legs. You can develop a stronger lower body without gaining much weight and while keeping slimmer, fast and athletic legs.
Are Bodyweight Leg Exercises Effective?
The bodyweight exercises for legs can be highly effective if you perform them with the right technique, follow the right exercise sequence and follow a well-structured bodyweight training program.
You can use the bodyweight leg exercises as more cardio-orientated workouts such as HIIT (High Intense Interval Training), low-intensity cardio sessions such as running, jumping rope, hiking, or riding a bike, or use as a finisher after a strength-focused lower body routine at home, outdoor or at the GYM.
On the other hand, you can use bodyweight leg exercises as strength and muscle builders when performing stand-alone low body sessions.
Here is a good read on bodyweight exercises.
How To Use This Bodyweight Leg Exercise List?
In the video on top of this page, you will find 31 of the best bodyweight leg exercises for beginners.
Here is how to use this leg exercise list:
1. Try 5-10 of these 31 bodyweight leg exercises. Do 1-2 sets for each and decide which one you like and feel right. Once done, you can use these moves in the future by adding to your lower body sessions.
2. Include some of these movements as leg finishers at the end of your strength and muscle build-focused workouts at the gym or at home.
3. Use these leg exercises in your HIIT bodyweight workouts.
4. Perform complete bodyweight leg workouts by using multiple exercises from the video.
How To Build Effective Bodyweight Leg Workouts as a Beginner?
As a fitness beginner, building workouts by yourself is not the smartest move. Instead, follow an already created leg workouts by different coaches.
However, if you are interested in building such sessions for yourself, here is how to proceed:
Lower body HIIT workouts:
1. Pick 4-6 leg exercises from the video (top of this page).
2. Set an interval timer to 30/20 seconds of work/rest. Download one on your phone.
3. Perform 5-8 total rounds.
4. One round is considered when you move through 1 set of each of the 4-6 leg exercises. You will perform this workout in a circuit manner.
5. Rest between rounds: 60-120 seconds.
Lower body strength-focused workouts:
1. Pick 4-5 exercises from the video above.
2. Do each for 12-15 repetitions. If it is a single leg variation, then 12 repetitions at least per side.
3. Do each exercise separately, avoid combining these in circuits. The focus here is quality repetitions.
4. Slower the tempo - the slower the tempo, the better the muscle-building process will be.
5. Perform 4-6 sets for each leg exercise.
6. Rest between sets: 60 seconds.
7. Rest between exercises: 3 minutes
Increase the repetitions performed for each move every week by 1-2 in order to progress with the lower body strength.
Can You Build Leg Muscle Without Weights?
You can build leg muscle with bodyweight leg exercises if you focus on the exercise technique, tempo and frequency of such lower body routines. You can build muscle with any training method as long as you are consistent, a progressive overload method is used to cause adaptation and your recovery is optimized well enough in order to allow you maintaining a sufficient lower body exercise performance.
Here is a good lower body muscle-building workout.
8 Ways To Build Leg Muscle Without Weights
You can find below 8 working muscle-building methods and techniques that can be used instantly with your leg training.
1.Progressive overload - The progressive overload principle states as a training methodology where you increase the intensity of your sessions over time.
The progressive overload can be applied by following some of the steps below:
- Increase the repetitions performed for a certain exercise.
- Increase the number of performed exercise sets.
- Decrease the resting periods between each set.
- Decrease the resting periods between each exercise.
By implementing 1 or more of the above-mentioned, you will increase the intensity of your sessions. This will cause adaptation to occure within your body and this will lead to progress.
2. Control the tempo - the slower you perform some of the exercises in your bodyweight leg workouts, the better the mind-muscle connection will be and you will build more muscle and get stronger.
3. Slow eccentric (negatives) - the lowering portion of the leg exercise is called the exercise eccentric. Try next time when you lower down with your squat or lunge and try to go down for 5 seconds. You will notice increased tension in the muscles and the repetition performance will drop significantly, and it shouldn't bother you.
4. Slow concentric - contrary to the increased negatives, you can slow down the tempo of the concentric portion of the exercises. This will be the motion where you create the contraction, shortens the muscle and generate power.
For example, when you move up/away from the ground when doing push up, when standing up from doing a squat when pulling up on a pull-up bar etc. Try this with 2-3 exercises, make sure to do the concentric portion of the exercise for 5 seconds, at least.
5. Pre isometric holds - the pre isometric hold is holding in a contracted position the exercise for a certain period of time and followed by the repetitions for the set.
For example: if you do a push up with pre-iso hold, then you will hold for 30 seconds in a mid-way push up, where the contraction occurs and you are under tension. Once you hit the 30 seconds mark, continue with the repetitions that have to be performed for the set. That would be 30 sec. of iso hold followed by 10-12-15-20 etc. push up reps. You can replicate this approach for any exercise as long you can find the sweet spot and where the muscle contraction occurs and hold there before the reps.
6. Post isometric holds - this is the same approach as above, but instead of holding at the beginning, you will hold after the reps. Example: 12 push ups followed by 30 seconds iso-hold in half-way, contracted position.
7. Pre and post isometric holds - this is the most difficult one as you will hold for X time in contraction, then do the X repetitions of the given exercise and at the end, you will again hold for X seconds.
Example: half-squat hold for 30 seconds, 20 squats (repetitions and finish with 30 seconds hold. This is a brutal and super-efficient way to build leg muscle with calisthenics and bodyweight exercises.
8. 100 repetitions for time - there is a quote that says if a given exercise is too easy for you, do 100 repetitions for time and see how it goes. The answer is always - "it was hard", and there's a simple reason for that.
By doing a single exercise for 100 reps, and for time, with minimal rests applied, you will equally work on your anaerobic and aerobic energy systems.
You will build muscle, strength endurance and cardio at the same time! Combined with a good diet and sleep, you will get results. Fast.
Here's an example of a killer lower body beginner workout:
1. Pick 3 exercises from the bodyweight leg exercise video (top of page).
2. Do each one separately for 100 total repetitions, with minimal rest in between sets.
3. First execute leg exercise 1, then rest 5 full minutes, do leg exercise 2 for 100 reps, rest for another 5 minutes and finish with the third one.
4. Write down your time for each of the exercises. Start the stopwatch once beginning for each of the 3 movements.
5. Repeat the same workout after 3-4 days and make sure to beat the score (time when you hit the 100 repetition mark).
How Often To Do Bodyweight Leg Workouts As a Beginner?
As a fitness beginner, training and progressing with the lower body will result in fast and effective results like changing the body composition, losing body weight, improving the anabolic hormone production, building muscle and strength. Train your legs 2-3 times per week with any kind of bodyweight exercises for legs. You can use such in your HIIT routines or perform stand-along lower body sessions. The more frequently the stimulus, the better the outcome for your overall body will be.
Can You Do Leg Exercises Everyday?
Training your legs everyday is not the most optimal training approach as it will bring a serious amount of accumulated fatigue not just in the muscles but in the nervous system as well. This will interfere with your lifestyle and might not be the most pleasant thing to experience. Do 3 times per week bodyweight leg exercises and 2-3 cardio and lower-intensity activities such as walking, jogging, jumping rope, or riding a bike and this will be sufficient training volume in order for you to build leg muscle, feel good and progress.
Can You Lose Weight With Bodyweight Leg Workouts?
By doing more bodyweight leg workouts, you will burn lots of additional calories, and more muscles will be recruited in your body. This will result in higher stress applied and if your recovery is on point, you will lose weight, build muscle and get in shape - fast. In addition, training your legs more frequently will stimulate the core in a highly functional way. This will result in a more efficient body in daily activities, a slimmer waist and stronger core and abs muscles.
What Is a Good Lower Body Warm Up?
The warm up increases your heart rate activates the cardiovascular system and enhances the blood flow to your muscles and ligaments. The main idea of the warm up is to increase your body temperature, wake up the nervous system and prepare your body for the upcoming workout so you can produce better performance with your routines. Warming up is important not just from a performance standpoint, but it might save you from injuries.
Below you will find 3 complete and follow along dynamic warm up that you can use:
Dynamic Warm Up Routine
Dynamic Warm Up Routine 2
Here is a great all-round warm up guide that can give you additional ideas for your bodyweight leg warm ups.
You can also try this dynamic 6 minute warm up:
Lower Body Warm Up Routine (Follow Along)
What Is The Best Beginner Bodyweight leg Workout?
The best bodyweight leg workout for anyone will be different. But to state for a lower body session such thing, the following criteria should be met:
1. The exercises chosen should match your training level and fitness goal.
2. The repetitions, sets, rounds, tempo, workout frequency and exercise execution should be aligned with your training level and goal.
3. This workout intensity should be calculated based on the number of leg workouts per week and how much time the training person has to train.
If the conditions above are being met, and you get results for a period of 4-8 weeks with this routine, then we can consider that it is the best bodyweight leg workout for you.
4 Beginner Bodyweight Leg Workouts (High Intensity)
After we have covered multiple things on the topic of leg exercises and training in general, it is time to step on to the main part of this post where you will get 4 bodyweight leg workouts that can be done by the fitness beginner. The more options you have, the better. Now let's move on to each one of these:
Leg Workout Routine Without Equipment
This is a bodyweight leg circuit workout.
Perform 3-5 rounds of the following exercises:
1. 1.5 jumping squat - 12 repetitions
2. Predator jumping jack - 20 repetitions
3. 1.5 jumping lunges - 12 total repetitions (6 per leg)
4. Another 20 predator jumping jacks
No rest between exercises. If you need, you can take 10-15 seconds to take your breath back. However, it is recommended to move through each exercise and then take the rest between rounds, which is 90 seconds.
Bodyweight Legs Circuit Workout
Perform 5 rounds of the following leg exercises:
1. High knees - 30 repetitions
2. Jumping lunges - 12 repetitions (6 per leg)
3. Speed burpee - 10 repetitions
4. Squat to tuck jump - 10 repetitions
5. High knees - 30 repetitions
Rest between each exercise: 15 seconds
Once you move through each of the 5 sets, it is considered as 1 round completed.
Rest between rounds: 90 seconds
Intense Workout Routine For Legs (No Equipment)
Bodyweight leg warm up:
Do 3 sets for each of the following leg warm up exercises.
Rest between sets: 75 seconds
Once you complete 3 sets of the first exercise, rest 2 minutes and move on to the second move etc. 1 exercise, 3 sets and you will move on to the next one.
1. Jumping lunge stretch - 20 repetitions
2. Tuck jump - 12 repetitions
3. Hamstring walk - 1 set is 5 times going up and down
4. Sprinter jump - 24 total reps / 12 per leg
5. Ground lunge - 20 repetitions
6. Skater jump to side shuttle combo - 8 total repetitions - 1 rep is 2 skaters + 2 times shuttle.
7. 1.5 forward to reverse lunge - 16 total reps / 8 per leg
8. Side to side high knees to speed burpee - 10 lengths. 1 length is 6-10 high knees per side.
9. Seated bottom ups - 25 repetitions
Intense Bodyweight Workout For Legs
Do 3 sets of the following 3 lower body warm up exercises:
1. Cross body jumping jack - 20 repetitions
2. Feet on fire - 50 repetitions
3. Tuck jump - 10 reps
Rest between sets: 60 seconds
Rest between warm up exercises: 90 seconds
Main bodyweight leg workout: do 4 sets of the following exercises:
1. Bodyweight hamstring walking curl - 8 reps, 1 rep is going up + going down
2. Jump squat - 15 repetitions
3. Bulgarian squat - 24 repetitions / 12 per leg
4. Bulgarian jumping squat - 16 repetitions / 8 per leg
5. Revrse lunge to sprinter step - 20 repetitions / 10 per leg
6. 1.5 jump lunge - 16 repetitions / 8 per leg
7. High knee run in place - 100 repetitions
Rest between each set: 75-90 seconds
Rest between exercise - 2-3 minutes
The idea here is once finishing with 4 sets of exercise one, to rest 2-3 minutes and move on to the second exercise where you will have to do another 4 sets and so on until finishing with exercise number 7.
What Is a Good Stretching To Do After a Lower Body Workout?
Stretching the leg muscles after an intense workout is highly beneficial. When the muscles are warm, the muscle tissues are more flexible and this will allow you to do more efficient stretching by accessing positions and angles that otherwise it will be more difficult. Also, a good bodyweight leg cooldown is great because the feeling of stretching certain leg muscles that you have contracted multiple times during the session is good and will felt mentally and physically satisfactory. Your leg muscle recovery will speed up thanks to this leg cooldown and you will prepare your body for the upcoming leg workout.
Here is a good read on the lower body stretch topic.
Find below 2 complete post leg workout cooldown routines that you can try next time after leg training:
6 Minute Lower Body Cooldown
5 Minute Leg Day Cooldown Stretches
17 Intense Bodyweight Exercises For Legs (Build Muscle)
Build a Killer Bodyweight leg Workouts at Home!
Another addition to today's article is this compilation of 17 killer bodyweight leg exercises!
To build a good bodyweight leg routine, follow these instructions:
1. Pick 4-6 leg exercises from the video above.
2. Do 4 sets for each.
3. Set an interval timer app on your phone and set it to 60/60 seconds of work/rest. If the leg exercise is a single limb, then you will do 1 minute repetitions for each of both legs.
4. Once finishing with 4 sets of exercise 1, move on to the second one and so on.
5. Ret between exercises: 3 minutes.
Summing It Up
Training your legs often enough as a beginner is crucial for achieving good result and progress relatively fast. By stimulating your leg muscles, the hormonal response in the body will help you build more muscle, lose weight and change your body composition. In fact, your upper body will be stronger if your lower body get stronger.
As a beginner, focus on training the lower body at least 2-3 times per week. Also, including 2-3 lower intensity cardio days filled with jogging, walking, hiking in the mountains, riding a bike, swimming. You have many options and activities to perform. Try to stay as active as possible Do regularly bodyweight leg exercises and you will be in good shape and feel great.
What are your favorite bodyweight leg exercises?
Here are a few more resources on the topic of bodyweight leg workouts: